Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Friday 17 September |
Saint of the Day: St. Hildegard of Bingen
home iconArt & Culture
line break icon

World’s longest aerial tramway revitalizes 9th-century monastery’s tourism

J-P Mauro - published on 07/27/18

If you build it, they will come.

As the new millennium began the future of the Tatev Monastery in Armenia’s Syunik province was looking bleak. Tourism was at an all time low due to the 9th-century grounds’ desperate need of renovations and the monastery’s hard-to-reach location. Resting atop a plateau at the edge of the dramatic Vorotan Gorge, Tatev Monastery required a difficult drive on a less than stable road, which had been ignored as tourism dwindled.

Ruben Vardanyan, a social entrepreneur and co-founder of the IDEA Foundation, told

“In theory at least, Tatev had potential to become a key point on a tourist route that would connect Yerevan with Artsakh and South Armenia—but because of its remote location, there was little likelihood of it being included in organized tourism drives. Local authorities did not have the funds to reconstruct the road to the monastery and, given the harsh winters and sparsely populated surrounding villages, did not consider it worthy of being earmarked.”

This all began to change, however, when Vardanyan and his friends with the IDEA foundation began an effort to revitalize the monastery, as well as the surrounding area. Dubbed the Tatev Revival project, it enlisted the Austrian-Swiss company Doppelmayr/Garaventa to build the Wings of Tatev tramway, which has since been recognized by Guinness World Records as the longest non-stop double-track cable car.

The cable car travels over 3.5 miles from Syunik to Tatev, hanging 1,000 feet over the Vorotan River Gorge. For the duration of the 12-minute ride visitors are treated to a breathtaking view of the river and surrounding mountains.

Vardanyan noted that before the cable car, there were not many visitors that would brave the dangerous mountain road to reach the monastery. In 2009, they only recieved about 5,000 tourists, but today the site accounts for 20 percent of Armenian tourism. Now, more than 640,000 people have come from Russia, the USA, Europe, and Asia.

A round-trip ride on the tram costs about $10 and the majority of the proceeds are being put towards the revitalization of the monastery grounds, its frescoes, and building renovations. The renewed interest in the site has also drawn new sources of public funding, allowing the IDEA foundation to bring their efforts to other aspects of the communities in the surrounding area.

“Along with the various stakeholders,” Vardanyan explained, “we are developing logistical, technical and educational infrastructure in the nearby villages: improving the water supply and street lighting system, improving road safety, building children’s playgrounds, repairing schools and pre-schools, opening engineering laboratories in local schools, etc. The thrust of our commitment is also environmental conservation: planting trees, rubbish collection and installing litterbins in settlements, and general upkeep of natural monuments.”

The good works of the Tatev Revival project have allowed the important historical site to re-open its doors to the community and once again become the important cultural center it had been for over 1,000 years. reports that Church holidays are once again celebrated within its walls, and the Tatev Monastery Choir performs regularly. The facility also hosts theater performances, concerts, festivals and even sporting events.


Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
Cerith Gardiner
Our favorite stories of celebrities who inspire us in daily life
Philip Kosloski
How receiving Holy Communion can drive away demons
Kathleen N. Hattrup
Pope considers what to do with pro-abortion Catholic politicians
Berthe and Marcel
Lauriane Vofo Kana
This couple has the longest marriage in France
As irmãs biológicas que se tornaram freiras no instituto Iesu Communio
Francisco Veneto
The 5 biological sisters who joined the religious life in just tw...
Philip Kosloski
Why is the feast of the Holy Cross celebrated on September 14?
Philip Kosloski
This prayer to St. Anthony is said to have “never been known to f...
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.