This formidable 11th century walled monastery stands half ruined on an outcrop across the Garni River gorge from the village of Goght.
The Havuts Tar monastery complex is located to the east of Garni on the left bank of the Azat River and was one of the major religious and cultural centres of medieval Armenia. This formidable 11th century walled monastery stands half ruined on an outcrop across the Garni River gorge from the village of Goght.
Havuts Tar can be reached in just under an hour on foot, either from Goght or from the dirt road at the bottom of the gorge, accessible by car from Garni. When leaving Goght take the track that starts at the end of the village square and past the ruined church and then fork to the left on the road at the end and through a gate into a farmyard.
Passing through the farmyard take a path to the right and down some concrete steps to a small wooden bridge across the river and up to the monastery. Most of the way up, a clear path goes right and you will reach a cluster of small shrines/tombs with the monastery lying just beyond.
Havuts Tar, which was destroyed by an earthquake in 1679, was reconstructed by Catholicos Astvatsatur in the 18th century. The monastery complex consists of two groups of buildings. The western group, which dates from the 13th century and is built with plain reddish tuff, contains the main church.
Though in ruins, the architecture is multicolored and richly carved although the dome. Two half-ruined and one-nave shrine join the church on the south. The eastern group of edifices was fully reconstructed in the first half of the 18th century using the original masonry. To the north the partial outline of the St. Karapet Church which was started by Catholicos St. Astvatsatur in 1721, but lies unfinished due to Lezgin’s first invasion. Habitable rooms are adjacent to the fences on the northern side, and a vaulted guest-house is on the south-western side. Beyond this on an outcrop lies the Amenaprkich church which was built in 1013 by the young Grigor Pahlavuni, son of the lord of Bjni and nephew of the sparapet Vahram Pahlavuni.
A fascinating character that went down in history as Grigor Magistros from the Byzantine imperial titles he received after the Armenian kingdom of Gagik II Bagratuni passed into Byzantine hands in 1045. Having given his own lands to the Emperor, Grigor Magistros received estates in Mesopotamia and was ultimately appointed governor of large tracts of historical Armenia.