The astounding Geghard monastery is situated 6 km from the temple at Garni and is revered throughout Armenia as one of the countrys greatest spiritual and cultural centers. First called Ayrivank, or the Monastery of the Caves, the history of Geghard dates back to pre-Christian times.
The present buildings here date back the 10th-13th centuries, when the monastery was renamed Geghard, meaning «spear» or «lance» in Armenian.
The association itself harkens back to the times of Jesus, when a spear was used by a Roman soldier to pierce the body of Christ during the Crucifixion.
The spear was long housed at Geghard, but is now in the museum of Ejmiatsin Cathedral. Geghard is an architectural wonder – a complex of churches hewn from within a mountain of solid rock.
The most ancient cave-church of St Gregory (7th century) is outside the monastery walls.
Geghard Monastery was inscribed into the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2000 and is one of only four such sites in the country