Tsaghkevank Monastery near Yerevan

About 35 kilometers from Yerevan, tucked in the mountains of the Aragatsotn region, you'll find Tsaghkevank (Tsaghkavank), a remarkable Armenian monastery. This unique place of worship is carved into a rock, its sturdy walls seemingly holding up the majestic Mount Arailer. While the monastery's exact foundation date is shrouded in mystery, historical texts allude to a holy site that existed here in the 4th and 5th centuries A.D., which attracted pilgrims from far and wide.

There are fascinating tales attached to Tsaghkevank and Mount Arailer. One tells the story of Tsakhik, a beautiful maiden whose name means "flower" in Armenian. A local prince, taken with tales of her beauty, tried to forcefully take her as his bride. Fleeing from the prince, Tsakhik took refuge in the vast cave system of the monastery, but when he found her, she escaped his clutches by leaping off a cliff. Now, locals believe the water seeping from the monastery's vaulted ceilings are Tsakhik's tears, collecting it for its believed curative properties.

Also known as the Monastery of St. Barbara, Tsaghkevank witnesses a surge of pilgrims on St. Barbara's day of reverence. A related legend tells of Barbara, who sought sanctuary within the caves from her tyrannical father intent on killing her for her Christian faith. Captured and brutally tortured, she prayed for the healing of the sick in her name before her death. The story reinforces Tsaghkevank's status as a sacred site, attracting visitors seeking relief from various illnesses.

This ancient monastery is nestled amid lush green meadows dotted with poppies and an array of other wildflowers, adding to its serene, picturesque charm.