Gandzasar Monastery is a monastery which is believed to date back to around 10th ~ 13th century for its origin. It is located in the Mardakert District of Nagorno Karabakh. It is also considered as one of the most important monuments in Karabakh. The importance of this monastery stems from the fact that it is the seat of the Archbishop of Artsakh (Armenians usually call Karabakh as Artsakh) under the appointment of Etchmiadzin of the Armenian Apostolic Church.
Both interior and exterior are very rich in uniqueness that has been making it very distinctive from other Armenian architectures in some respects. The architecture holds attractive decorations inside and outside itself with some very nice carvings. The stone made structure seems to be carefully considered in order to be both protective and divine. Spending time inside to observe these structures and decorations will be an excellent activity while you are staying in Karabakh. In addition, rather than simply exploring the architecture, the monastery is still functioning so that the visit will let you experience the true Armenian Apostolic Church in Artsakh as well as the priests and monks contributing to the monastery provide you with a tour to its history and a lecture in general.
Within the complex are found a church (Cathedral of St. John the Baptist), which is believed to have been built sometime between 1232 and 1238, a gavit (unique Armenian style of narthex) and some offices. They are protected by the surrounding high walls that represents how important it used to be in history. Notably, for many centuries, it plays a very important role for Armenians as well as the reason as a cultural center as well as to preserve historic style of Armenian architecture in medieval time.
Its location is not distanced from the capital of Nagorno Karabakh, Stepanakert. It takes only 2 hours from the city to this monastery on ride. Due to the its location on the top of Mt. Gandzasar, on sunny day, not only you can be impressed with the complex but also with the excellently beautiful nature with a large green hill which rises above Vank, a historical town in the region.