Tatev (Տաթեվ) is a village in Southern Armenia which is famous for its medieval monastery and for the Wings of Tatev, which is, as of 2019, the longest reversible aerial tramway built in only one section, and holds the record for longest non-stop double track cable car.
- 1 Tourist Information Center (adjacent to Wings of Tatev terminal station), ☏ , (Russian & Armenian). This small information center can provide with you with hiking routes, maps, etc. Operated by the Arshakyan family, it fosters economic development in the area by supporting local providers of touristic services and functioning as a link between the local community and the tourist population. Since it opened, it has grown to include a souvenir shop and a cafe, and also functions as a meeting place for local groups like the Tatev Youth Center. There's free Wi-Fi.
If it is raining or there is fog you may not see anything of the landscape, if you intend to take the cable car. The advantage of a car or taxi is that you can stop and visit the Devil's Bridge enroute. But you might only take the cable car one way and the other way go by marshrutka, taxi or on foot. The road between the two cable car stations is 13.4-km long and sealed as of Sep 2019.
Marshrutkas depart Goris for Tatev at 08:30 and 15:30, cost 700 dram, and take 60 min. The return times are 07:30 and 14:30.
A taxi from Goris to the Wings of Tatev cable car terminal at Halidzor should cost around 2,000 dram one way and 4,000 dram return. Though, some drivers may want an extra 1,000 dram per hour waiting time. Just take a taxi one-way, there will be more than enough alternative rides happy to take you back to Goris.
If you intend to go the whole way into Tatev itself, prepare yourself for a steep increase in the price since the taxi has to go down into the Vorotan Gorge and back up again, potentially waiting for you. But of course, you can always try arguing on the regular 100-dram/km basis.
By cable car
See #Get around below.
You can also hike from/to Halidzor. The 13.4 km long hike is a very hilly and zig-zagging. You pass a series of pools near the Devil’s Bridge. You’ll also get a view of some abandoned monastic cloisters, and pass the Lord of the Rings-like Harsnadzor Watchtower atop another mountain about 3/4 of the way back to Halidzor. There are excellent views from the watchtower. If you’re walking, be sure to stock up on water before embarking.
Tatev is about 1 km in diameter and thus easily explored on foot.
By cable car
This connects the village of Halidzor and the village of Tatev, which is a short walk from the monastery. The 5.7-km-long cable car system over the Vorotan River Gorge is the world’s longest non-stop double-track cableway.
- 1 Wings of Tatev (Tatev Cable Car), ☏ , , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com. Best: daily 10:00-18:00 (closed on Mondays from Sep-Jun). The cable car has a complex set of opening hours, but the times indicated here, serve best. Cars depart every 15 min but if you go on a weekend be prepared to wait, sometimes up to 2 hr. The dangling cars travel at 37 km/h, take 11 min one-way and offer stunning views from heights of up to 320 m. There is a restaurant on site, along with toilets and a small gift shop. There is free Wi-Fi at both of the terminal stations. Pre-reserved time slots: One-way/return 5,000/7,000 dram (Mar-Nov); 3,500/5,000 dram (Dec-Feb).
- 1 Devil's Bridge / Satan's Bridge (Satanayi Kamurj) (along the road to Tatev). At the bottom of the Vorotan River Gorge, this natural land bridge over the river on the road from Halidzor to Tatev is called Devil's Bridge (Satanayi Kamurj) by locals. It has a carbonated spring, that you can drink from, along the side of the road, and if you go down a short trail you can swim in a spring fed pool. A tough climb down below the land bridge will reward you with stalactites, stalagmites, and little pools in a cavernous tunnel. Plenty of space around to camp and picnic.
- 2 Harsnadzor Watchtower. This watchtower overlooking the Vorotan Gorge was the third in a chain of stations established in the Zangezur Mountains to warn of approaching enemies. Upon seeing a potential threat, sentries in Kordzor would raise an alarm, which a bell in Khot relayed to the watchtower at Harsnadzor and on Tatev Monastery, those the big bell would be rang to inform residents of the threat. This bell could be heard across a 50-km radius. Enemies severed the chain of notification when they burned the bell in Khot. A rotunda with the chains that once supported the bell still remains at the site of the Harsnadzor watchtower. According to legend a young man and woman once were traveling along the ravine edge. They were unexpectedly attacked by Persian soldiers. The man was killed, while his bride, deciding she would rather die than be taken captive, crossed herself and jumped into the ravine. Her dress miraculously inflated and gently lowered her to the ground. Ever since then, this part of Vorotan Gorge has been named Harsnadzor ('Gorge of the Bride').
- 3 Tatev Oil Mill (Dzit Han) (northeast of the Tatev Monastery). This oil mill was built in the 17th century outside the walls of the monastery so as not to disturb the monks. It has four production rooms including two domed storage rooms and pressing chambers with arched ceilings. One of its rooms still has a massive millstone that was rotated by an ox. The oil press workers would first dry sesame, mustard, flax seeds, or whole plants on a stove, then grind them, place under a press, and the oil would flow into jars through stone grooves. The oil was consumed locally for food and was also used for the monastery’s defense. Surplus oil was either sold or traded. This mill is one of the best preserved in Armenia and was one of the first facilities in the monastery restored in frame of Tatev Revival Project.
- 4 Tandzatap (Տանձատափ). A nearby small village to visit and hike to.
- 5 Tatev Monastery (Տաթևի վանք) (accessible by a long, bad road, which deters many visitors, or simply by cable car). Notable even in a country known for stunning landscapes and architecture, this massive monastery complex is a continuation of a sheer cliff that drops below it for hundreds of meters. Once the seat of great wealth, this monastery controlled much of the surrounding countryside. It saw invasions, peasant rebellions and earthquakes. A severe earthquake in the 20th century caused great damage that was partially fixed during Soviet times. Now, it's still a spectacular site.
- 2 Viewpoint.
There are cafés and restaurants near the monastery.
- 1 Free Camping Zone.
Many accommodation options (and information) can be found on the semi-official Tatev BnB homepage, including:
- 2 Tatev 1 Bed and Breakfast, House 36, 17 Street, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 5,500 dram (single).
- 3 Alina's Bed and Breakfast, House 13, 12 Street, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. 5,750 dram (single).
- 4 Vazken's Guest House (Vazken's B&B), House No. 8, 3 St., ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 5,440 dram (single).
- 5 B&B Big independent house (Հայերեն), ☏ . Run by Melania, who works in the shop next to the B&B. 5,440 dram (single).