Armenia has monasteries coming out of its ears so the country isn’t short of them by any stretch. However we had about 10 days in Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh so had to pick and choose which ones we wanted to check out. The first of these (more to follow) was Haghpat Monastery which is in the north part of Armenia. We hit it up as soon as we got into the country (an easy border crossing from Georgia to Bagratashen).
Getting to Haghpat Monastery
Transport to spots like this in Armenia aren’t always available or easy to negotiate. You really have 4 options:
1. Hire a driver and go there yourself. Agree a price. Fill the car with 4 people (fellow travellers). He can sit around and wait and drive you back. Pay no more than 8,000 Dram for the car in total (2,000 each).
2. Marshrutky from Alaverdi. If you’re based in Alaverdi you can get a Marshrutky. They start at 10 am and run until 5pm ish. They will leave Alaverdi when they are full. This will cost 200 Dram. Cheapest way to do it!
3. Walk it. Unless you’re staying nearby in Akner or Sanahin, this isn’t really an option. It’s uphill and it’s far and you might get lost. You could ask around for homestays at Haghpat itself to save the effort.
4. Hitchhiking. easier than you’d think in these parts – and a lot of travellers do this.
Arrival at Haghpat Monastery
It’s a World Heritage Site but there is no entrance fee. Donations are welcomed and inside the main church is a small stall selling souvenirs (I bought a postcard).
When was Haghpat Monastery Built?
It dates back to approximately the year 976, however over the next 2 centuries other buildings were added to it. The main building is known as the Surp Nishan, this one is also the oldest part of the structure.
Main Points of Interest at Haghpat Monastery
I admit I’m not an expert and used my notes, my guidebook and my eyes when there to make this list of things I thought were interesting!
1. The views. Got to admire the views of the area in and around the Debed Canyon.
2. Surp Nishan. The main church building in the middle. You can’t avoid it!
3. Bell Tower.
4. Surp Astvatsatsin. A smaller chapel inside Haghpat.
5. Random holes in the floor. I never found out what they meant! Leave me a comment if you know. I was intrigued.
There is also the option to stay near Haghpat Monastery, a local family could arrange a homestay for sure, or there’s the Gayane B and B further down the hill. Most people, like us, do it on a day trip, and we also did Sanahin in the same region, which I also hope to write about. If you’re in the Debed Canyon or northern Armenia, try and check Haghpat out!!
Here are my videos from Haghpat: