Spitakavor Monastery

MODERATE 1 reviews

Spitakavor Monastery is a 8.9 kilometer moderately trafficked loop trail located near Vernashen, Kotayk', Armenia that features beautiful wild flowers. The trail is rated as moderate and primarily used for hiking and nature trips.

DISTANCE
8.9 km
ELEVATION GAIN
540 m
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

hiking

nature trips

views

wild flowers

wildlife

historic site

Overview This hike is located in the province of Vayots Dzor. From Vernashen village, the trail meanders towards the 14th century Spitakavor Monastery. It is an easy route, delineated by the dirt road it follows. The route returns via the same path, and on return, one can visit the Gladzor University Museum. Cultural and Historic Monuments According to inscriptions on the walls, Prince Eachi, of the noble Proshyan family, founded the main church of Spitakavor Monastery, St. Astvatsatsin– and his son, Amir-Hasan B., completed its construction in 1321. Located around 7km north of Vernashen, in a landscape punctured by deep gorges, the monastery gets its name from the white polished felsite stone with which it was built (Spitak means “white” in Armenian). The complex comprises of a single church, its narthex, a three-storey belfry (both built by spouses Hovhannes and Tandzna in 1330) and the fortified walls encompassing it. The church’s only entrance is on the western side, above which is a relief of St. Mary, the Mother of Jesus – a remarkable example of Medieval Armenian Sculpting. There are many other carved figures around the church, both spiritual and secular, including one of Prince Eachi and his son Amir Hasan, and one of Amir Hasan hunting. Spitakavor is also home to the graves of the Armenian military leader, Sparapet, and the political thinker, Garegin Nzhdeh – which makes it a place of pilgrimage to Armenians all over the world. It is also the location of some scenes in the film “Lonely Walnut Tree”. Nearby, the ruins of Boloraberd Fortress can be seen on a hilltop. Its almost 1.5ha are surrounded by durable basalt walls, that defend the arsenals, the barracks and the Palace of the Proshyan Princes, for whom it was a governmental seat. An aqueduct supplied the fortress with water, and remains of its pipes are still visible today. Only one of its chapels remains, on the eastern side and many of its other features have been destroyed over time, and are now covered in a thick layer of soil. Although not part of this hike, Proshaberd Fortress is located under 7km to the north of Gladzor and Vernashen, on the peak of a mountain. Built in the 13th century, it gets its name from its founder, Prince Prosh. Historical Overview A Persian Khan attacked Proshaberd many times unsuccessfully, before deciding to lay siege upon the fortress. However, thanks to the aqueduct system in place, two months passed without need to surrender. The Khan realised that it had to be closed if there were any hopes of conquering the fortress, so he went to a wise man who told him to keep a mule thirsty for seven days, and upon release to follow it. After the seven days, the thirsty mule searched for a water source, and feeling its humidity, found the point from which the fortress was obtaining its water. Once closed, the defenders had no choice but to surrender. Flora Vayots Dzor is known for its very hot summers and cold winters, making its steep mountain slopes a tough environment for plants to grow, giving an impression of a dry, arid desert. However, there are a wide variety of colourful flowers and bushes, and in spring, seas of flowers surround the monastery. Due to this, it is sometimes referred to as the Flower Monastery. There are lots of bellflowers, dandelions, red tulips, narcissus, and blue forget-me-nots near the monastery. Locals pick many plants and flowers that grow here for their medicinal value. Fauna The fauna of Vayots Dzor is rich and varied, especially on the higher mount slopes. Bears, roes, wild boars, Armenian vipers, different types of lizards, black vultures, blackbirds, quails, sparrows, swallows, and many types of butterflies are often found in this picturesque landscape. Route Characteristics Best Time/Weather: April to November Route Distance: 11 km Duration: 4 hours Altitude (from Sea Level): 1,615-2,150m Existing Trail Surface: 100% existing Trail Difficulty: Easy Distance from Yerevan: 128km (2 hour 15 minutes) Cost to get there from Yerevan (by taxi): 13,000 AMD (1km = 100 AMD) Safety and Connectivity Mobile telephone coverage is available at most times throughout the hike, and the 911 emergency service operates throughout Armenia in case of any accidents. Be aware of bears and snakes. Although there are potable fresh water springs nearby, be sure to bring bottled water!