Danette Mcchesney

Danette Mcchesney

Published: 21 Sep 2023

Source: Traveltoarmenia.am

The Sanahin Monastery is a testament to the rich history and culture of Armenia. Situated in the Lori Province, this ancient monastery has been attracting visitors from all over the world with its stunning architecture and intriguing stories. With a history dating back to the 10th century, Sanahin Monastery stands as a symbol of religious and architectural excellence.

In this article, we will delve into 19 intriguing facts about Sanahin Monastery that will leave you amazed. From its UNESCO World Heritage status to its connection with prominent medieval figures, each fact unravels a different aspect of this remarkable landmark. So, get ready to dive into the secrets and mysteries of Sanahin Monastery, and be prepared to be mesmerized by its timeless beauty and historical significance.

Table of Contents

A UNESCO World Heritage Site

Sanahin Monastery, along with Haghpat Monastery, was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in These monastic complexes are prime examples of medieval Armenian religious architecture.

The Origins

Sanahin Monastery was founded in the 10th century by the Armenian Church leader, Sarkis I. It served as a center for learning, religious worship, and manuscript production.

The Name “Sanahin”

The name “Sanahin” translates to “this one is older than that one” in Armenian. It is believed to refer to the monastery’s historical rivalry with Haghpat Monastery, its neighbor.

Architectural Marvel

The monastery complex is renowned for its unique architectural style, characterized by intricate stone carvings, decorative elements, and harmonious proportions.

Extensive Library

Sanahin Monastery was not only a religious center but also housed a significant library. It contained numerous priceless manuscripts and religious texts, some of which are now preserved in museums.

The Bell Tower

The monastery’s imposing bell tower, dating back to the 12th century, stands tall as a symbol of its spiritual significance and serves as a prominent landmark in the surrounding landscape.

A Center for Education

Sanahin Monastery had a renowned scriptorium and school where various sciences, arts, and crafts were taught. The educated clergy produced exquisite manuscripts, contributing to the cultural heritage of Armenia.

Frescoes and Khachkars

The walls of Sanahin Monastery are adorned with beautiful frescoes depicting scenes from the Bible and Armenian history. The complex also features intricately carved khachkars, Armenian cross-stones, displaying exceptional craftsmanship.

The Crossroads of Trade Routes

Situated along the Silk Road, Sanahin Monastery thrived as a hub of trade and cultural exchange, connecting the East and the West during medieval times.

Defense and Fortification

To protect against invasions, Sanahin Monastery had defensive walls, towers, and secret tunnels. Its strategic location on a hill provided clear views of the surrounding area.

Pilgrimage Site

Sanahin Monastery became a popular pilgrimage site attracting devotees from far and wide due to its sacred relics and spiritual aura.

Restoration Efforts

In recent years, extensive restoration work has been carried out to preserve Sanahin Monastery’s architectural splendor and prevent further deterioration.

John the Baptist Church

The main church within the monastery complex is dedicated to Saint John the Baptist, featuring beautiful stone arches and an ornate altar.

UNESCO’s Recognition of Outstanding Universal Value

Sanahin Monastery’s inclusion on the UNESCO World Heritage List acknowledges its outstanding universal value, highlighting its cultural and historical significance.

Intricate Stone Crosses

One of the distinctive features of Sanahin Monastery is its collection of intricately carved stone crosses, symbolizing the spirituality and devotion of the Armenian people.

A Symbol of Armenian Identity

Sanahin Monastery is not only a sacred site but also a symbol of Armenian identity, representing the country’s rich cultural heritage and resilience throughout history.

Spiritual Retreat

Visitors often describe their time in Sanahin Monastery as a spiritual retreat, offering a serene and tranquil atmosphere for reflection and contemplation.

Musical Performances and Cultural Events

The monastery occasionally hosts musical performances, cultural events, and festivals, breathing life into its ancient halls and courtyards.

Sanahin Monastery Today

Today, Sanahin Monastery stands as a testament to Armenia’s architectural brilliance, attracting tourists and pilgrims alike who seek to explore its centuries-old secrets and immerse themselves in its spiritual legacy.

Exploring the 19 intriguing facts about Sanahin Monastery provides a glimpse into the captivating history and cultural significance of this remarkable Armenian landmark. Whether you are a history enthusiast, an architecture lover, or a spiritual seeker, a visit to Sanahin Monastery promises an unforgettable experience. Discover the timeless beauty and spiritual serenity that define this UNESCO World Heritage Site.


In conclusion, Sanahin Monastery is truly a remarkable landmark with a rich history and intriguing facts. Its architectural beauty, cultural significance, and spiritual aura make it a must-visit destination for history enthusiasts and travelers alike. From being a center of learning to its unique frescoes and stunning location, there is much to discover and appreciate about this centuries-old monastery. Whether you’re interested in exploring Armenia’s heritage or simply admiring breathtaking landmarks, Sanahin Monastery promises an unforgettable experience. So, plan your visit and get ready to immerse yourself in the wonders of Sanahin Monastery.


1. When was Sanahin Monastery built?

Sanahin Monastery was built in the 10th century.

2. What is the significance of Sanahin Monastery?

Sanahin Monastery was a major center of religious and cultural activity in medieval Armenia. It played a crucial role in the development of education, science, and spiritual teachings.

3. Can visitors enter the monastery?

Yes, visitors are allowed to enter the monastery. However, it is important to respect the religious and cultural significance of the site and adhere to the rules and regulations set forth by the authorities.

4. Are there any unique features of Sanahin Monastery?

Yes, Sanahin Monastery is known for its intricate stone carvings, impressive architectural design, and well-preserved frescoes. The unique khachkars (cross-stones) found in the monastery are also a notable feature.

5. Can I take photographs inside the monastery?

Photography is generally allowed inside the monastery, but it is essential to check with the authorities or guides for any specific restrictions. Some areas might have certain restrictions to preserve the historical artifacts.

6. Is there any entry fee or ticket required?

As of now, there is no entry fee or ticket required to visit Sanahin Monastery. However, it is advisable to check for any changes or updates before your visit.

7. Are there any nearby attractions to visit?

Apart from Sanahin Monastery, the Haghpat Monastery is another UNESCO World Heritage Site located nearby, which is well worth a visit. The beautiful landscapes of the Debed Canyon and the town of Alaverdi are also popular tourist spots in the region.