Haghpat Monastery, Lori Province, Armenia
Haghpat Monastery, located in the Lori province and overlooking the lush hills of Debed Canyon, is for many one of the main reasons to come to Armenia.
Built in the 10th century, this Byzantine monastery played an important role as a religious and educational centre for three centuries. Together with Sanahin Monastery, which was built around the same time, Haghpat has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for representing “the highest flowering of Armenian religious architecture, whose unique style developed from a blending of elements of Byzantine ecclesiastical architecture and the traditional vernacular architecture of the Caucasian region.”
Both monasteries are well worth visiting. Firstly, due to their well-preserved Medieval architecture and great atmosphere not tainted by mass tourism (yet!) and secondly due to their stunning mountainous surroundings and awe-inspiring views. If you have time to visit both, do it. If you don’t have enough time to cast your eyes on both monuments, choose Haghpat, as it’s bigger and more varied than Sanahin.
How to get there?
It’s pretty straight forward. Follow the M5 road inside Debed Canyon and turn into H25 road, 10km east of Alaverdi. If you ask locals for directions they will be glad to help you and everyone knows where the monastery is.
You can also hitchhike. Armenian people are extremely nice and somebody will give you a lift. We waited around 30min on the corner of M5 and H25 and got a ride in an Italian package tour coach :-)
Alternatively, you can get a marshrutka from Alaverdi for about 200 Dram (between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.)
Geographic coordinates: 41.093889°N 44.711944°E
If you are a girl, remember to cover your head and shoulders before entering any Armenian church. If you are a man, remember to take off your hat or head covering before you go in.
(Click to enlarge)