Various stone-carved detail on the side of the Geghard Monastery © Adrian Chan
Visiting Geghard on a Sunday morning is an enthralling experience with beautiful singing from the choir.
One of the great sites of Armenia and on the UNESCO World Heritage list since 2000, Geghard (Spear) Monastery in its gorge setting should ideally be seen when several of the country’s less extraordinary churches have been visited. It is then easier to appreciate what makes this one different. Its unusual feature is that it is partly an ordinary surface structure and partly cut into the cliff.
The name dates from the 13th century and reflects the bringing here of a spear said to have been the one which pierced the side of Christ at Calvary. (This spear, a shaft with a diamond-shaped head into which a cross has been cut, can now be seen in the treasury at Etchmiadzin. It is inside a gilded silver case made for it in 1687.) Visiting Geghard on a Sunday morning is an enthralling experience with beautiful singing from the choir, and beautifully groomed animals brought for matagh (sacrifice) after the service.