Tanahat

Tanahat is a medieval religious and cultural centre located southeast of Armenia, 7 km from the village of Vernashen. It is located in the southeastern province of Vayots Dzor. Vayots Dzor is the least populated province in the country. The provincial capital and the largest city is Yeghegnadzor. The province is home to many ancient landmarks and tourist attractions, including the Areni-1 Cave Complex and the Chalcolithic Areni Winery, the 10th-century Smbataberd Fortress and the 13th-century Noravank. Here, the spa town of Jermuk is located as well.

The people of this region are mainly conservative. They celebrate religious and traditional festivals including Trndez and Vardavar. An important festival for this region is the harvest festival, which is celebrated every year on the second Sunday in October in Yeghegnadzor. Locals from all villages take part in the parade on flower-studded cars and bring their own fruits, typical of their areas. Theatrical performances and concerts take place during the festival. Another popular festival in the province is the wine festival, which is celebrated every year in October in the village of Areni. The traditional Armenian lavash and gata are still baked in Tonirs in the villages of Vayots Dzor. Local dishes include sour banjar, kyalaglosh, shorva with ghavurma and other local delicacies. Yeghegnadzor is the cultural centre of the region. It has a Culture House, a public library and an archaeological museum. The public park of the town is home to a dragon stone from the 2nd millennium BC. The cultural heritage and natural beauty of the region attract many local and foreign tourists especially in summer. The monastery Tanahat is rich in inscriptions and sculptures. The church has a composition of arched rectangular patterns from outside and inside - cross-shaped, with corridors on all four sides. On the south wall, there is a sculpture of a Proshyan eagle with a lamb in his claws. To the north, there is a chapel built in the 13th century. Particularly noteworthy is the sign of the hunting scenes. Its main church, Surb Stepanos (St. Stephen), was built between 1273 and 1279 under the patronage of the Proshyan family. The church has a cruciform interior with extensions in its four corners. Those flanking the main altar in the east are two-storeyed. The exterior is rectangular with a slender 12-facet drum and a dome with a tented rooftop. The Proshyan emblem, an eagle holding a lamb in its claws, is carved on the southern wall of the church. The 13th-century single-nave church Surb Nshan (Holy Sign) adjoins the monument from the north and has an expressive bas-relief carving on the lintel above the entrance which creates a notable hunting scene. In 1970, the excavators found a single-nave church with two outbuildings southwest of the monastery, a number of secular buildings and numerous tombstones from the 13th-14th centuries. A gavit with a square plan was also found west of the church. Some scholars believe that the monastery housed Gladzor University (founded in 1282), the most famous educational institution of its time in medieval Armenia, where science, mathematics, theology, geometry, astronomy, chronology, miniature painting, and other subjects were taught. Others insist that the location of Gladzor University is still unknown. Famous medieval students of the university included the historian Stepanos Orbelyan, the philosophers Yesayi Nshetsi and Hovhan Vorotnetsi, the architect Momik and the miniature painters Toros Taronatsi and Avag. The monastery is an interesting place to visit in Armenia.