Havuts Tar Monastery near Garni

Havuts Tar Monastery is a little-known monument in Armenia’s Khosrov State Reserve which awards visitors with a crumbling glimpse of medieval history and amazing views of the rocky landscape of Azat River Gorge. Visible from the famous Garni Temple and Garni Gorge, Havuts Tar’s elevated location allows for a pleasant hike to and from the mountain base.


According to historian Mkhitar Airivanetsi, the Armenian prince Gevorg Marzpetouni built Surb Amenaprkich (Savior Church), the main chapel of Havuts Tar Complex, in the 10th century. Subsequent historical sources indicate that the monastic complex was rebuilt in 1013 by Grigor Magistros, an Armenian prince, scholar and linguist.

Monastic life at Havuts Tar flourished from the 12th-14th centuries, during which time the monastery served as an important religious, educational and cultural center in Armenia. Havuts Tar was also famous for manuscript writing, and today manuscripts written here as early as 1214 have been preserved.

A strong earthquake damaged the monastery in 1679. Catholicos Astvatsatur Hamadantsi rebuilt parts of the complex in the early 18th century, but another earthquake in 1840 further destroyed the hermitage. Currently, Havuts Tar remains in need of extensive restoration work.


Despite the deteriorating state of Havuts Tar Monastery, its historical significance is palpable to all who visit. Defensive walls surround the complex, adjacent to which are the monks’ chambers and a guest house. The compound may be accessed through an arched entrance on the southeast corner.

In the courtyard center are two adjoined churches - the main chapel is relatively intact and is noted for its cross-dome, cylindrical drum and central elevated altar, while the second church lays in ruins. Visitors may also notice an underground chamber, which was once used as the manuscript library.

St. Karapet Church on the northern end was founded by Catholicos Astvatsatur I in 1721. Originally intended to be a hall church, it was never completed and remains in a half-finished state to this day. Cross-domed Amenaprkich Church on the western ridge has two small decorative niches and a window on the apse, as well as visible inscriptions on the outer southern and western walls.

Hiking Options

Engulfed in solitude and surrounded by untouched nature, Havuts Tar Monastery offers its guests delightful hiking options. Tourists can easily reach Havuts Tar from the foot of Havuts Tar Mountain in Khosrov State Reserve, which can be reached by 4WD. From this point, a round-trip hike of 2.4 kilometers will take you to the monastery and back. The trek is of average difficulty, and while much of the trail is uphill the path is not very steep. The best time to hike to Havuts Tar Monastery is from April through November.