The monastery Tatev is located on a large basalt plateau near the village Tatev in Syunik region of Armenia. The monastery complex stands on the edge of a deep gorge of the Vorotan River. Tatev is known as the bishopric seat of Syunik and played a significant role in the history of the region as a center of economic, political, spiritual and cultural activities.
In the 14th and 15th centuries the monastery hosted one of the most important Armenian medieval universities, the University of Tatev, which contributed to the advancement of science, religion and philosophy, reproduction of books and development of miniature painting. Scholars of the Tatev University contributed to the preservation of Armenian culture and creed during one of its most turbulent periods in its history.
The fortified Tatev monastery consists of three churches (St. Paul and Peter, St. Gregory the Illuminator and St. Mary), a library, dining hall, belfry, mausoleum as well as other administrative and auxiliary buildings.
The St. Paul and Peter church was built between 895 and 906. An arched hall was added adjacent to the southern wall of the St. Paul and Peter church in 1043. Soon afterwards, in 1087, the church of St. Mary (Holy Mother of God) was added along the northern fortifications. In 1295, the church of St. Gregory, which had been destroyed during an earthquake, was replaced with a new one through the initiative of the Metropolitan Stepanos Orbelian. In 1787, the mausoleum of St. Grigor Tatevatsi was built adjacent to the western wall of the St. Gregory church and at the end of 19th century a vestibule and belfry were added at the west entrance of the St. Paul and Peter church.
Aside from the buildings, the monastery boasts an upright pendulum, known as the Gavazan (staff). This column was built in the 10th century following the completion of the St. Paul and Peter church and has survived numerous invasions and earthquakes relatively unscathed.
In the 14th century, fortifications were built to the south, west and north of the monastery with buildings for habitation, administration and other purposes. In the 18th century, additions were made to house - the bishop’s residence, cells for the monks, storage, dining hall, kitchen, bakery and winery. Sixteen rectangular classrooms, covered with arched ceilings, were built along the main fortifications.
To the northeast of the monastery, outside of the fortifications there is an olive press. It has four production rooms including two domed storage rooms and pressing chambers with arched ceilings. This mill is one of the best preserved in Armenia and is an excellent illustration of olive presses built in the region during the Middle Ages.
The school buildings of the Tatev Monastery characterize the architectural style of monastic educational architecture used in the late medieval period.
The monastery is the "best-known site" in Syunik. Wings of Tatev, a cableway from Tatev to Halidzor village was opened in October 2010. It was included in the Guinness World Records as world's "longest non-stop double track cable car."