Matosavank: a silent witness to history in the middle of the forest

Today we will embark on a virtual journey to one of the ancient monasteries lost in the forests of Dilijan National Park - Matosavank, which is one of the most important architectural monuments of Medieval Armenia.

There are no gates, doors, no noisy sales-woman with Armenian dishes, often found at popular tourist locations. Matosavank is a special place, an island of peace and silence, which is disturbed only by the singing of birds and other sounds of the forest.

The monastery is located far from civilization. To get to it, you need to walk through the forest, observing the pristine nature of the reserve along the way. There is a mystery and a plan in this: the ancient Armenians believed that the way to religious buildings, to God, should be exactly like this. There is also a rational reason: in secluded places, away from roads, churches were more protected from the encroachments of robbers and enemies.

The legend of the foundation of the monastery

According to a legend told by local residents, a prince once lived here, who wanted to thank God for the victory, but did not find a temple nearby. Then the prince went deep into the Dilijan forest, climbed the steep slopes and disappeared... the prince was battered, wounded and gloomy. When he returned, he was unrecognizable: he literally glowed all over, there was not a scratch on him. Later, the church of Surb Astvatsatsin (Holy Mother of God) was built on the site of his prayers, but it is still called Matosavank - in honor of the first abbot of Matos.


Matosavank is a temple complex of the Armenian Apostolic Church of the 13th century, 4 km west of Dilijan, near the village of Shamakhyan. The complex consists of a small church, a vestibule and a scriptorium (book depository), located right next to each other. A cemetery is located to the southeast of the buildings. The small church of 1205 was built with large semi-finished stones. An inscription about the foundation is carved on the facade stone, and khachkars stand on both sides of it. Under the wall of the church, in the northern part, a khachkar of special beauty, dating from 1251, stands apart.


Matosavank Monastery was founded by Avag, a representative of the princely Zakarian family. This family became famous for their heroic deeds in the name of Armenia, as well as for the historical and cultural heritage left behind. According to sources, the temple complex was built in honor of the victory of the united Armenian-Georgian army over the Seljuk Turks. This, in principle, explains its remote location.

The magic of the place

Despite the abandoned state, the moss-covered Matosavank has a special atmosphere. From the hole of the collapsed dome, khachkars and inscriptions are illuminated in the darkness of amazing beauty. How much information and stories does this place store? Today we see the ruins of the monastery in the thicket of the forest, but a few centuries ago, life was raging here, the light of knowledge was spreading. Church ministers copied manuscripts, translated, studied books and spent days discussing them.

You can lift the veil of history and plunge into the energy of the place together with #GotoDili. Our team will be your guide to Matosavank - a silent witness of centuries-old history, hidden in the thicket of the Dilijan forest.

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