Monastery of Geghard, Armenia

The height of medieval Armenian architecture and art: Stunning churches and tombs built into the cliffs of Kotayk province.



CyArk and TUMO scanning the monastery by CyArkCyArk

Expedition Overview

In January 2015, CyArk traveled to Armenia to facilitate a two-week training session in digital preservation for high school students at the TUMO Center for Creative Technologies. This workshop guided students through the process of site documentation at Geghard Monastery through the use of 3D laser scanning and close-range hand scanning with the Artec scanner. The students learned how to develop conservation materials, such as drawings, 3D perspective images, animations, and virtual tours.  This project was made possible through donations from the Armenian-American community.

Rock-cut churches in the snow from the Monastery of Geghard by CyArkCyArk

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.

A Khachkar in the Monastery of Geghard by CyArkCyArk


Khackars or Armenian stone crosses are one of the important cultural traditions in Armenia and they mostly date from the 13th century during the middle ages. It was customary for khackhars to be donated to the church in memory of a living or deceased relative for the salvation of their soul. Reaching up to 1.5 meters (5 feet) in height, Khachkars are carved by hand from local stone with a decorative cross in the center resting on a symbol of a sun or wheel of eternity. Khachkars often also display carvings of saints, animals, and plants.  In Armenia today, there are more than 50,000 Khachkars documented, with no two alike.

A video touring through the 3-D point cloud scan of the Monastery of Geghard by CyArkCyArk

A video of a photogrammetry reconstruction of a Khachkar from Geghard by CyArkCyArk

Open Heritage 3D by CyArkCyArk

Data from this project is now freely available through Open Heritage 3D.

Download the data from this project.

About Open Heritage 3D

The mission of the Open Heritage 3D project is to:

● Provide open access to 3D cultural heritage datasets for education, research and other
non-commercial uses.

● Minimize the technical, financial and legal barriers for publishers of 3D heritage data.

● Promote discovery and re-use of datasets through standardized metadata and data formats.

● Foster community collaboration and knowledge sharing in the 3D cultural heritage community.

● Share best practices and methodologies for the capture, processing and storage of 3D cultural heritage data

Credits: Story

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This project was made possible with the following partners:

TUMO Center for Creative Technologies

The Ministry of Culture of Armenia

Credits: All media
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