History of the Monastery
The Geghard Monastery complex was first founded in the 4th Century by Gregory the Illuminator, the religious leader who is credited with converting Armenia from paganism in 301 CE. The remote site rests at the entrance of the Azat Valley in central Armenia. Surrounded by towering cliffs, the complex contains a number of churches and tombs that are partially carved directly into the rock. The principal church was built in 1215 and features numerous khackars or stone crosses. The monastery became famous because of the relics it housed. Its full name, Geghardavank, meaning the Monastery of the Spear, originates from the spear that wounded Jesus during his Crucifixion, allegedly brought to Armenia by Apostle Jude, also known as Thaddeus in Armenian.