Since old times Tsaghkadzor has been attractive both as a settlement and a resort. The “Gorge of Flowers” was first inhabited in the 3rd - 5th centuries. In the forests of the picturesque valley located in the south-eastern part of the Tsaghkunyats mountains Armenian kings and sovereigns used to go hunting. For the more privileged class of population this area was attractive with its healthy, mild climate. For centuries Tsaghladzor was under the reign of sovereigns. In early Middle Ages (4th – 5th centuries) this area belonged to the dynasty of Varazhnunis who were disposing of the Armenian king’s estates. In the 4th century the valley passed to the reign of the Armenian influential Kamsarakan dynasty.  In 1033 the follower of the Kamsarakan dynasty and the leader of the Pahlavuni dynasty Gregory the Magister ordered to erect a church in Tsaghkadzor which was named after St. Gregory the Illuminator. And so was founded Kecharis monastery complex – the true treasure of the valley.     

                                       KECHARIS MONASTERY COMPLEX

To  legend, that a big fortress with a splendid flower garden was built in this beautiful basin by the wish of a noble girl from the Pahlavunyats dynasty. The girl demands that the most gracious flowers of Armenian world grow in her garden. And her wish comes true. But one day a furious spring wind destroys her garden and scatters the flowers all over the gorge. The basin fills with flowers and the gorge receives the name of Tsakhkadzor (Gorge of Flowers). Then the noble girl asks her father to build a monastery near that fortress for the priests to pray day and night and bring the dispersed flowers back. And so clip_image0222.jpgthe monastery of Kecharis was built. However, God doesn’t adhere to the prayers of the priests and odorous flowers spread all over the province.

The monastery complex of Kecharis (XI-XIII) was one of the prominent cultural and religious centers of medieval Armenia (8km northwest of Hrazdan, the district center of Kotayk Marz). Eminent scientists and politicians of all times, such as Gregory the Magister, Vasak Khaghbakyan, Khachatour Kecharetsi and others have lived and worked in Kecharis.   The complex consists of 4 churches, 2 chapels and a vestry.  According to the inscription on the southern entrance the main church St. Gregory the Illuminator was erected by St. Gregory Magister the Pahlavouni in 1033.  Being of a domed-hall type by its structure, it has two-floored vestries on both sides. The exterior of the church is restrained; the eastern façade has two “Armenian niches” from where windows overlook the altar. A 10.4m in diameter– the dome reigns over the whole structure. The church is bordered with the four-column rectangular central porch (12th century) the central part of which is covered with an octahedral dome. In comparison with the simplicity of the facades, the interior decoration

 is very rich.   

South to the main church is the small church of St. Nshan  (“holy cross” in Armenian) with swift uniformity. The dates of its erection are not clear but judging from the architecture-characteristic details and the historical information according to which St. Gregory the Magister built another church in Kecharis in 1051, it is supposed to be the St. Nshan church.

 The third is Katoghike Church in the southern part of the complex, near St. Nshan, was built by the order of king Vasak Khaghbakyan in 1203-1214s probably by architect Vetsik. The church belongs to the cross-winged domed type and has two-storey vestries in all the four corners. With its decoration Katoghike is the most luxurious among the other churches of the monastery of Kecharis. 120 meters west to the main group of the churches stands the small Saint Haroutyun Church, which according to inscription was built in 1220. The vestibule adjacent to the western façade stands in exterior unison with the decoration of the church.  There are numerous 12-13th century khachqars (cross-stones) in Kecharis which add color to the monastery complex, thus becoming its inseparable element. One of the important structures of the complex is the gravestone-khachqar (13th century) in memory of architect Vetsik erected by his brother-architects. In the monastery are also buried Prince Gregory Apiratyan  (1099), Prosh the Great

Prince (1284), who perished in the fight against the seljuks. The monastery of Kecharis, with its total appearance, is harmonious with the surrounding landscape.

clip_image002333.jpgKecharis monastery was ruined, deserted and once again revived through various times. It is known, for example, that the monastery was ruined in the beginning of monghol invasions, but soon after in 1248 it was reconstructed by Hasan Khachentsi Ddjalal  Doli,  famous Artsakh sovereign and builder of the church of Gandzasar. 

And as in medieval times Armenian noblemen used to build and reconstruct Armenian churches, today also private enthusiasts continue this nice tradition.

Kecharis was reconstructed under the sponsorship of Vladimir Haroutyounyan and under the control of Araqel Bishop Qaramyan, leader of Kotayk eparchy.          

The re-consecration of the church took place on 9th July, 2000 by the Catholicos of All Armenians Garegin Nersisyan II. The monastery of Kecharis is the eparchial residence of Kotayk Marz. 

In the 17th century the nomadic tribes invaded the “Gorge of Flowers” and named the area Darachichag (the city was renamed Tsaghkadzor in 1947). And when Eastern Armenia joined the Russian Empire in 1828 Tsaghkadzor was included in the state of Erivan.

In the soviet times the city still preserved its famous state as a resort. 20 pioneer camps and rest homes functioned in the valley.

Tsaghkadzor is located on the same height as Mexico City. Thus, on the eve of the Summer Olympic Games of 1968 to take place in the capital of Mexico the general Soviet sport complex was built in Tsaghkadzor. And when in 1972 the ropeway was built on the slopes of Teghenis Mountain - Tsaghkadzor also became known as a mountain ski resort. And even nowadays Tsaghkadzor Sport Olympic Complex hosts

many visitors from abroad and various marzes of Armenia, who have come here either for rest or with the intention of heightening the level of their sport proficiency.

With its tourism infrastructures and wonderful environment today Tsaghkadzor is a modern resort, in fact one of the high-priority tourism centers in Armenia and Southern Caucasus.


clip_image002.jpgThe comfortable ropeway will take you to the heights of Teghenis Mountain in only 40 minutes. The ropeway was reconstructed in 2004-2008. The first lift (1137m, carrying capacity – 1200 men/hour) is a 4-seat er chair lift; the second is 1458m long (800 men/hour). The length of the third lift is 1624m with 800 men per hour capacity. The fourth one is 926m long, transporting 800 men in an hour. The second, third and fourth are 2-seater lifts. Skiers and snowboarders can easily switch from one lift to another, without taking off their kit.

The beginners-skiers and snowboarders are provided with comfortable rope tows. Ski equipment and other sports facilities can also be hired there.clip_image001.jpg

The special fifth lift (1030m, 800men/hour) has been recently put into service for those, who haven’t mastered the sticks yet. The warm chairs guarantee full comfort during the ascent. Well-tended pistes of various complicacy start from the top of Teghenis. The total path length is over 30km The non-stop ski paiste makes 6800m. Professional rescue team works at the territory.

                                            ORBELI  BROTHERS’  HOUSE-MUSEUM

clip_image501.jpgIn Tsaghkadzor city of significance is the house-museum of brothers of Orbeli. The museum was created  in 1972 in Tsaghkadzor in the summer residence of the Orbelis.

In the separate halls of the museum one may find approximately 1500 samples belonging to the various stages of life and scientific activity of the brothers: private objects, certificates, notes, handwriting, books, and publications in different languages.

Scientific studies, reports and film-watching is realized at the museum.

The Orbeli brothers, Rouben, Levon and Joseph are the heirs of those dedicated to Armenian science and culture. Their grandfather, Joseph, after graduating from Moscow Lazaryan Seminary, became the archpriest of Tbilisi temple. Their father, Abgar (1849-1912) getting legal education at Saint-Petersburg’s Imperial University, carried on a legal practice and was married to Princess V. Argutinskaya-Dolgorukova.

Abgar’s eldest son Rouben (1880-1943) followed his father’s wake. After graduating from the same university and faculty, he served as a secretary in Russian Senate Cassation Committee. Later he got engaged in marine archaeology. Professor Rouben Orbeli is    considered the founder of marine archaeology and one of the best specialists of underwater engineering.    

Levon Orbeli (1882-1958), the middle son, was born in Tsakhkadzor. Graduating from the Saint-Petersburg’s Military Medical Academy, he became the adherent of the world-famous physiologist Pavlov in studies of animals’ higher nervous activity. In 1942 Levon Orbeli was elected as vice-president of USSR Academy of Science. Later he was appointed to the position of head of Military Medical Academy. Levon Orbeli was a full member of Academy of Science of USSR and Armenian SSR.   The junior Orbeli, Joseph (1887-1961), also graduated from the Saint-Petersburg’s Universit y (Faculty of History and Philology).  Since university years he took part in archaeological excavations of Armenian middle-age capital Ani and was the student of famous orientalist-armenologist Nicholas Marr. For many years Joseph Orbeli was the director of the State Hermitage Museum of Leningrad.  In 1943 he was elected as first president of Academy of Science of Soviet Armenia.