Haghartsin: The monastery has three churches: the first for Gregory the Illuminator; the second for the Virgin Mary, named Surp Astvatsatsin (Holy Mother of God); and the last, a chapel to St Stepanos. The church is also famed for housing an image of the Virgin and Child, which has distinct Mongolian features – added to convince the next wave of Mongol invaders not to destroy the church (at the time of writing this carving was on display in an overseas museum and it is unknown when it will return to Haghartsin). The brothers’ family seal can be seen on the back of St Stepanos chapel.
There are some stunning khatchkars, a sundial on the wall of the St Gregory Church, and a refectory (1248) with amazing arching interlocked stone beams. Mass is held in the Surp Astvatsatsin at 11am on Sunday. At the time of research the monastery was undergoing a massive renovation project funded by the Sheikh of Sharjah. In a somewhat controversial move, a hotel and cafe are also part of the building project. The project is to be complete by the time you read this.
The monastery is 4km off the main Dilijan–Ijevan road. You can get a lift to the turn-off and easily walk the rest of the way (or possibly hitch there, especially on a weekend when there is more traffic