Kobayr Monastery – Armenia - Atlas Obscura

Kobayr Monastery

The ruins of a medieval monastery built on a perilous slope.  


If you are looking for monasteries in scenic locations, Armenia is your place, and Kobayr is a prime example. Kobayr Monastery lays along a trail on the steep slope of a gorge. Nature is reclaiming this 12th-century structure, but for the time being, it makes for a haunting place to visit.

Although part of the monastery has fallen in the gorge, what remains is spectacular, and spectacularly precarious. The first section of the monastery was built in 1171, and several additions and restorations followed. The central section of the monastery was built in 1279 and holy spring water flows through it. Other parts of the complex include three churches, a mausoleum, a refectory, several chapels, and the cloister. 

The inscriptions at the entrance are in ancient Georgian, and so is the style of the frescoes. The inscriptions credit Princess Mariam Kyurikid for the construction of the monastery, and records show that its ownership eventually passed to a noble family by the name of Mikhargrdzelis. Several members of this family are buried in the mausoleum at the site. 

The name of the monastery is an interesting reflection on the history of the monastery, as it means cave-cave in two languages. Kob means cave in Georgian, and ayr means cave in Armenian.

Know Before You Go

Coming from Tumanyan, there is a trail that leads to Kobayr Monastery about 330 feet (100 meters) before reaching the train station at the small village of Kober. It takes about 10 minutes to climb to the top. Theoretically, all parts of the monastery can be accessed, but the terrain and level of disintegration make some parts difficult or dangerous to reach. Renovation work is ongoing.

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November 6, 2018

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