(Gelard, Gheghard, Ayrivank)
Near Garni, Abovian region, Republic of Armenia.
AA Vol. 1, Fiche # 115-126.
The Monastery of Geghard (the Lance) is located 40 km southeast of the
city of Erevan in the mountainous region of Kotayk. It is near the town
of Garni in the Republic of Armenia (coord. 40-17 / 44-59). Inscriptive
and documentary references to the monastery, also known as Ayrivank, date
from the 7th and 10th centuries, respectively. Ayrivank has also been called
'the monastery of the the cave', 'the monastery of seven churches' and
'the monastery of the forty altars'. Alternately, it was also called Gheghardavank,
'the monastery of the spear or lance'.
The monastic complex presently located within the existing walls dates to the 13th century and includes the main structures of the Katholike, a gavit, two rock-cut churches which were hollowed out of the steep cliffs on the north side of the monastery and a zhamatun. In the enclosure are numerous chapels and cells carved out of the natural rock on several levels of the mountain slope. Outside the walls to the west is the rock-carved chapel of S. stvadzadzin (Mother of God) on which the earliest inscription is dated 1164 AD.