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біля Tekher, Aragatsotn (አርሜኒያ)
Tegher Monastery is located in the village of Tegher in the province of Aragatsotn. It is a beautiful place, and the old, grey and faded walls of the church are especially admirable in sunny weather. The small stone chairs offer a calm place to sit, to have a rest, eat something and to take breath before the long hike ahead. Because of the abundance of herbs growing in proximity to the village, the church and the village are called Tegher, or Degher (medicine, in Armenian). As the hike continues from the church through the village, a nice open field provides views of Mount Ararat – the highest mountain of the Armenian highland – and the four peaks of Mount Aragats are also visible. Along the route, the flora varies depending on the terrain. The beginning of the route is rich with high stem plants, which become sparser towards the end of the route. Amberd Fortress, located on this route, was built in the 10th century as a defensive shelter and an educational center.
Tegher Monastery is located in Tegher village. It is included in the list of Historical and Cultural Monuments of Armenia. According to the inscriptions on the stone façade of the narthex’s entrance, Mamakhatun, the wife of the Prince Vache Vachutian of Ararat, built the monastery. The complex consists of the St. Astvatsatsin (Surb Astvatsatsin) Church and its narthex.
According to the inscriptions on the southern side of the cupola, St. Astvatsatsin Church was built in 1213. Inwardly it has cruciform layout with two storey sacristies in each of the four corners, and outwardly, it has a rectangular form. The church is distinguished through its moderate architectural style. The complex, located on a hill, was built in dark grey basalt.
The narthex is to the west of the church, and according to inscriptions on one of the pillars, the construction of the narthex lasted 11 years and was completed in 1232. In size, it is larger than the church. Of interest are the domed chapels, on the northwestern and southwestern corners on the narthex roof, which were designed according to a new style and are a unique phenomenon in church architecture that gave a distinctive shape to the building (i.e. the entrance from the chapel to the narthex is from the roof).
The narthex is notable for its spatial design and has a special place among other similar narthexes (or gavits, in Armenian) popular of that period.
For defensive reasons the monastery was fortified. Sargis Byurakantsy reconstructed it in 1468, and it was further renovated at the end of 18th century. An earthquake in 1949 considerably damaged the monastery, so further reconstruction was carried out between 1950-1953 and 1975-1976.
The last stop of the hike is the medieval fortress, Amberd. Located 7km north of Byurakan village, Amberd is a 10th century fortress, on the southern slopes of Mount Aragats at 2,300 meters above sea level, at the confluence of the Arkashen and Amberd rivers in the historic province of Aragatsotn, Armenia.
The main features of medieval Armenian fortification construction can be seen in Amberd’s architecture. The noble family, Kamsarakan, built the castle and some sections of its battlement earlier, in 7th century. Later the castle belonged to the House of Pahlavuni, being one of the most important military and defensive bases during the Bagratid Kingdom of Armenia. Amberd lost its significance after the Turk-Tatar invasions and was finally abandoned at the end of the 14th century, during the reign of Tamerlane.
Vahram Pahlavuni constructed the church of Amberd, in 1026. It was among the first churches, which had two storey sacristies in each of the four corners of its cruciform layout. The well-preserved bath, built in the 11th century, is located on the southern side of the castle, near which the ruins of the small chapel are. The pyramid walls were constructed as a defensive structure taking into consideration the local terrain as well as the carefully positioned entry towards the roads. The three-storey palace located to the northwest, outwardly looks like an impenetrable castle, as it is one of the highest and most inaccessible parts of the fortress, and covers an area of 1500 sq. m.
Through archaeological excavations in Amberd, a variety of metal objects, weapons, jewels, ceramics, glass and coins were discovered.
The flora of Aragatson is rich and varied, as it is in the surroundings of Tegher village and in areas near Amberd castle. In spring months middle-aged women hurry to the fields to collect edible greens (astrodaucus, sorrel (lat. Rumex, falcaria, etc.), from which they cook tasty meals. The area is also rich in herbs they use to make tea. From May to July, the surrounding area of Amberd is covered with various flowers, among which are Ornithogalum, Pulsatilla (Pulsatilla armena), Corydalis (Corydalis nariniana) and Gladiolus (Gladiolus tenuis).
The grass is dense and splendid in both places. While walking, bushes such as rosehip and rose bushes, and a whole variety of spring and summer flowers can be seen.
It is common to not encounter any animals on this hike, although there are some on the lower slopes of Aragats. These include grey bear, wolf, fox, rabbit, jerboa, lizards, turtles and snakes, some types of mice, many types of birds, insects and beetles. Due to the rapid changes in weather, they are generally quite reserved and evasive.
Safety and Security
Mobile telephone coverage is available at times throughout the hike, and the 911 emergency service operates throughout Armenia in case of any accidents.
Be aware of rapid changes in weather, especially in spring, as lightning storms are common. Hiking on the mountain in gloomy and rainy weather is not recommended.
Be sure to bring bottled water!
Best period: April -October
Distance: 39 km from Yerevan
Duration: 50 minutes
Hiking trail length: 4.8 km
Walking duration: 3.5 hours
Altitude from Sea Level: 1,666-2,154m
Existing Trail Surface: 10% existing, 90% easily discernible
How to Get There
In order to reach this hike, the most convenient option is to take a taxi from Yerevan to Tegher. It is advisable to take a taxi with a working meter (be sure the driver uses it), or agree on a price beforehand.