7.88 mi

Elevation gain

2,844 ft

Technical difficulty


Elevation loss

2,267 ft

Max elevation

5,731 ft



Min elevation

3,667 ft

Trail type

One Way
  • Photo of Tatev Monastery and Old Harjis
  • Photo of Tatev Monastery and Old Harjis
  • Photo of Tatev Monastery and Old Harjis
  • Photo of Tatev Monastery and Old Harjis
  • Photo of Tatev Monastery and Old Harjis
  • Photo of Tatev Monastery and Old Harjis


5 hours 50 minutes




November 15, 2015


November 2015

Weather Forecast

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5,731 ft
3,667 ft
7.88 mi

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near Tat’ev, Syunikʼ (አርሜኒያ)

Hiking trail description
This hike is located in the Syunik province. Departing from the Tatev Monastic Complex, it winds through the narrow streets of Tatev village and forest. From there it descends to the Vorotan estuary and follows it through the canyon until it becomes a lake, where swimming is allowed.
Old Harjis village is located 3.5 km above the canyon, with its old roads and an ancient stone bridge built high on the mountains to the left. Inhabitants of the village tell stories of pilgrims and traders that journeyed on these roads long ago.
While following the canyon’s path to New Harjis,this unique trail brings together stunning natural beauty and the forgotten village of Old Harjis. The village is full of ruins, with their abandoned walls sprouting weeds and their roofs covered in a thick layer of grass. Cliffs to the east and the Vorotan River to the south enclose the area.
There are a number of other highly recommended trails around the Syunik province. There are B&Bs and other forms of accommodation in Tatev, ideal for planning longer stays and experiencing the area in more depth.Staying in the guesthouse located behind St. Minas Church, in the center of Tatev village, the marvelous scenery of Mount Aramazd and the Bargushat Mountain Chain can be enjoyed.
En route to the trail there are also some other important sights such as Noravank Monastery in Yeghegnadzor, Zorats Karer in Sisian, the Tatev Ropeway in Halidzor/Tatev, and the Devil’s Bridge at the bottom of the Vorotan gorge.

Monuments description
The monastery was established in the 4th century, though it wasn’t until the 8th century that it gained the name Tatev, in honor of Eustateus, a disciple of St. Thaddeus the Apostle, who preached Christianity and was martyred in this region.
Legend has it that after finishing the construction of the original Tatev Temple, the stonemason told the workers standing below to give him two pieces of wood shavings. Once he got them, the stonemason kissed them and uttered the words “May the Holy Spirit give me wings”. Immediately the master grew wings and flew away in an unknown direction. Without the assistance of their master, the workers were not able to remove the wooden supports. Some time passed and news arrived of the master being seen in Constantinople, so a man was sent by the the inhabitants of the area requesting him to come and remove the supports. However, he refused to return and only informed of how to do so. The words of the master “May the Holy Spirit give me wings” are hence said to be the origin of the name Tatev.
During feudal times, Tatev Monastery was a political, spiritual and cultural centre, governing over Tatev village and its surroundings. The Tatev diocese ruled over 47 villages and received tithes from 677 other villages. It gained such economic power that in 940-950 Bishop Hakob attempted to secede from the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin.
Between 1381-1387, during Timur the Lame’s military campaign into Syunik, Tatev Monastery was looted, burnt and dispossessed of a significant portion of its territories. In the late medieval period, a belfry and a mausoleum were added to the temple.
In the 14th century, Tatev Monastery played a notable role in the advancement of cultural life in Armenia.The monastery had a school of miniature (illuminated manuscript) painting, a manuscript repository as well as a university.Sixteen rectangular classrooms, covered with arched ceilings and heated by the hearth, were built beside the main fortifications. The basement rooms were attached to each other.The school operated until the 20th century when it was demolished due to archaeological excavations in 1981-1982. Simultaneously, between 1974-1998, the monastery was completely renovated.
In the central part of the village is the St. Minas Church, built by Nerses Archimandrite in 1646, according to an inscription on the barrel vault above the southern entrance. The vestibule of the western door has outstanding ornamentation.
New and Old Harjis are villages in the Syunik province of Armenia, located 79 km to the north of the center of the province, Kapan, on the left bank of the Vorotan River, at an altitude of 1,700-1,730 m. The closest city is Goris, at 24 km.The easiest path leading from the village to the Vorotan Canyon descends to the west of the cliff, and is comfortably covered by foot. The villagers used to be engaged in cattle-breeding and cultivation, and would actively trade with the travelers on the important roads leading to Nakhijevan, Karabakh and Gardman.
In the mid 18th century, Turks from the Upper Kirder region had intentions to capture Harjis, but they were afraid of its brave chief. In the evening, they invited him to dinner, got him drunk, and left him in a slumber. In the morning, he woke up, went outside and looked in the direction of Harjis only to see smouldering houses, his village burned. He died on the spot of a heart attack. Only two people were saved, a young girl and boy; the former settled in the nearby Halidzor village, the latter was sold to Turks in Nakhijevan. A priest followed his tracks, found him and returned the boy to Tatev Monastery.
The boy, Ghukas, matured and though the initial idea was for him to become a friar, the priest changed his mind, saying that as his home village was now deserted, they should start it anew through him. Instead of taking him back to Old Harjis, they built a church (St. Minas) and a rock-hewn house (Hambu ghab) into the base of the cliff. Ghukas married a girl from Tatev and around their new home grew a village, Yayji, a natural hiding place visible neither from plateau, nor from the road near the Vorotan River. In 1931, an earthquake flattened the village, fortunately without human casualties.

The river’s melody, rustling leaves, starry sky, intoxicating scent of plants and other sounds of nature will definitely leave an unforgettable impression of this place.
The hike crosses through oak and hornbeam forests, where hawthorn, brier, wild pear, wild apple, maple and elm trees also grow. The Vorotan River, the largest river of the Zangezur region, flows through the Harjis Canyon. The vast Vorotan Canyon is quite well-known in the Caucasus, with a depth of almost 800 m.
The “Sosi and Zangezur” and “Shikahogh” reserves are also in this region. Within them are a number of other valuable and unique species, such as Greek walnut, Araks oak, Greek Silk vine, and velvety spindle tree. A number of species of fir grow near Harjis.

Brown bears, wolves, foxes, porcupines, moles, seven species of lizards, eight species of snakes, and two species of turtles are often seen in the area. Lizards (including the shy European snake-eyed skin), cat snakes and Transcaucasian snakes are uncommon but not unheard of. The song of forest magpies and black thrushes will accompany hikers during the whole length of the trail. Other species of bird living here are eagles, large and small titmice, chaffinches,the blackhead, mountain and garden heaven-keepers and the corn bunting.

Safety and Security
Mobile telephone coverage (via VivaCell-MTS and U-Com) is available throughout the area, and the 911 emergency service operates throughout Armenia in case of any accidents. Watch out for bears and snakes, especially in the hotter summer months.
Bottled water can be purchased in Tatev.

Technical parameters
Best period: April -November
Distance: 251 km from Yerevan
Duration: 4 hours 30 minutes
Hiking trail length: 13.3 km
Walk duration: 6-7 hours (do not rely on the GPS-derived time)
Altitude from Sea Level: 1,190 – 1,725 m
Existing Trail Surface: 100% Existing

How to Get There
In order to reach Tatev from Yerevan, the most convenient option is to take a taxi. It is advisable to take a taxi with a working meter (be sure the driver uses it), or agree on a price beforehand.















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