According to the legend, the cliff monastery complex of Geghard was built by the first Armenian Catholic St.Gregory the Illuminator in the 6th century. It has a unique architecture; some of the complex churches are entirely hollowed in the rocks. It is believed that the churches were built from above. Moreover, the builder descended into the pit he dug, tightly holding onto the long braids of the headmaster's sister. And the longer grew the girl’s hair, the deeper became the pits. According to another legend, the spring water, which runs through one of the cliff churches, possesses healing properties, and is mainly used to treat infertility.

The name Geghardavank – interpreted as “the Monastery of the Spear” – goes back to the story of the Lance (or Spare) of Longinus – the soldier who used it to pierce the side of Jesus Christ – which was later brought to Armenia by the Apostle Thaddeus. For a long time the relic was kept in Geghard. Currently, the spear is exhibited at the Treasury of Etchmiadzin Cathedral.

In 2000, the monastery along with the surrounding it cliffs of the Azat Gorge were inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.


Some buildings of the monastery are accessible for visiting, however, the presence of a step at the entrance to the church and the rough, unhewn floor in the rocky part of the monastery make a visit impossible without accompanying or special equipment.