The Wings of Tatev: Armenia Launches World’s Longest Areal Tramway

TATEV, Armenia (Combined Sources) — Armenia on Saturday launched the world’s longest cable car line, a 5.7-kilometer (3.5-mile) engineering feat that spans a spectacular gorge to the country’s ancient Tatev monastery.

Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian, Nagorno-Karabakh leader Bako Sahakian, the supreme head of the Armenian Apostolic Church, Catholicos Karekin II, government officials and other high-ranking guests on Saturday attended a ceremony launching a 5.7-kilometer-long tramway, named “The Wings of Tatev.”

President Sarkisian, Catholicos Karekin II, other ministers were the first to take a ride along the aerial tramway connecting the village of Halidzor in Armenia’s Syunik province with the ninth-century monastery of Tatev, one of the country’s most important religious centers and a major tourist attraction.

The new tramway will function throughout the year and will allow visitors to bypass a grueling 90-minute drive in and out of the rocky Vorotan River Gorge.

At the opening ceremony, Sarkisian said the link was of “exceptional importance for Tatev and the surrounding region” and praised the project for overcoming the many difficulties involved in construction.

“This cable car line shows that even dreams that seem unrealistic can be realized with faith and purpose,” he said.

The monastery of Tatev is among the oldest and most prominent monasteries in Armenia. A UNESCO World Heritage candidate, it played an important role in the life of the region as its major spiritual, political, cultural and educational center.

Because of its architecture, its history and its spectacular natural setting, it is also an invaluable asset with the potential to catalyze tourism development in the region.

Karekin II said the launch of the link was an important step in restoring access to “a centuries-old holy shrine which was a place of pilgrimage from apostolic times.”

“Through its beauty and stunning construction the monastery at Tatev is among the exceptional creations of Armenian architecture which for centuries has been a vibrant center of Armenian spiritual life, science and culture,” the Catholicos said.

The reversible cable car line cost 18 million dollars (13 million euros) with much of the funding coming from private donations, according to the National Competitiveness Foundation of Armenia, which oversaw the project through its Tatev Revival Project.

It runs from the village of Halidzor near a highway connecting the Armenian capital Yerevan to the village of Tatev, within walking distance of the monastery.

The cable car travels at a speed of 37 kilometers per hour (23 miles per hour) and a one-way journey takes 11 minutes. At its highest point over the gorge, the car travels 320 meters (1,056 feet) above ground level.
It has two cabins, each capable of carrying up to 25 passengers. Local residents will be able to ride the cable car for free while others will have to pay 3,000 Armenian drams (eight dollars/six euros.)

An ex-Soviet republic bordering Turkey, Iran, Azerbaijan and Georgia, Armenia is keen to develop its tourism industry, showcasing its history as the first country to have adopted Christianity.

Residents said they hoped the new link would help restore the economy of the local area, which like much of rural Armenia has suffered from deep poverty and an exodus of young people looking elsewhere for work.

“I hope the opening of this cable car will help revive tourism so that there are new hotels and new jobs and so that the young people who have been leaving for Russia or other countries will instead stay home and work here,” said Armais Minosian, an 80-year-old local villager.

The cable car is part of a 50-million-dollar (36-million-euro) public-private effort to develop tourism at Tatev and in the surrounding region, one of the traditional 15 provinces of the ancient Kingdom of Armenia.

The Tatev Revival Project will leverage the monastic and touristic significance of the complex to develop the region into an attractive destination nestled in a prospering local community.

The project consists of several components: conserving the monastery, reviving its monastic and scholarly traditions, and developing tourism in the adjacent river gorge and six local communities.

The project has also seen the government renovate 26 kilometers (16 miles) of the highway from Yerevan to Tatev and the restoration of parts of the monastery complex.

The Sandia Peak cable car in the US state of New Mexico, which runs 4.3 kilometers (2.7 miles), had previously billed itself as the world’s longest cable car line.

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14 Comments

  1. ed said:

    hhhhhhuuuuuuraaa :-)

    Bravo to all who were involved in this project. I was fallowing closely this project from the very beginning. This is indeed a great achievement.

    I hope this project will more and more include the villages and settlements around Tatev to protect the environment and in the same time Tatev/Syunic become an attractive tourist destination for all of us Armenians,. Without neglect to protect alternative beautiful routs for pedestrian walkways

    Armenian authorities should not ignore the local tourists and there potential to develop different parts of country! When most Armenians in Armenia prefer to spent there holidays in Antalia or Georgia, because Armenia is too expensive or better to say “it is made to become too expensive for locals!” , in this case the authorities and ”tourist planers” doing something wrong.

    In order to avoid – both for locals and tourists – misunderstanding, It is impotent to train people and families in villages, who offer “bad and breakfast“services too tourist. This includes save roads. No drunk drives and tour operators. Respect for NON smokers. Educating how to welcome and deal with non Armenian tourists from neighbouring countries… Tourism to villages and offering Bad & breakfast by locals should not become for abusing the living conditions of people an become a trip for looking after brides and so on !.

  2. robig said:

    awesome! i know when i go to armenia for my next vacation, i will definitely visit the vank and ride the tramway. looking forward.

  3. Satenik said:

    Wonderful! The Independent had an article about this today. The more people who can see this architectural gem of Armenia the better!!!!!!

  4. Seervart said:

    Too bad for me, I just came back from Armenia and this wonderfully wonderland Tramway wasn’t ready yet for me. This calls for another trip to Armenia sometime soon! Hoorrayyy!!!!!

  5. Hovik derashotian said:

    I visited the Tatev monastery last year, it is an absolutely beautiful and marvelous architectural wonder. The tram will be greater opportunity for visitors to see the monastery. It is wonderful to see our beloved home land to move forward. “VISIT ARMENIA”

  6. ARA said:

    Awesome indeed. I was there in 1978-1980 when I was a grad student in Armenia- loving family there took to Tatev and the Vank-by car-the old mineral water bath-the road then was hairy but ok inthe summer of course. Great Armenia-we love yah-our country- much more work to do-

  7. Osik said:

    Wow it’s amazing but in the old days it was customary to put the engineer and his family in the first ride instead of the top officials :-)))

  8. eddy said:

    soory, i mean Caucasian leopard for Syunik

    In Armenia
    In Armenia, people and leopards co-existed since the early Holocene. By the mid-20th century leopards were relatively common in the country’s mountains.[7] Today, the leopard stronghold is the rugged and cliffy terrain of Khosrov Reserve, located south-east of Yerevan on the south-western slopes of the Geghama mountains, where between October 2000 to July 2002 tracks of no more than 10 individuals were found in an area of 780 square kilometres (300 sq mi).[8] Leopards were known to live on the Meghri Ridge in the extreme south of Armenia, where only one individual was camera-trapped between August 2006 to April 2007, and no signs of other leopards were found during track surveys conducted over an area of 296.9 square kilometres (114.6 sq mi). The local prey base could support 4–10 individuals, but poaching and disturbance caused by livestock breeding, gathering of edible plants and mushrooms, deforestation and human-induced wild fires are so high that they exceed the tolerance limits of leopards.[9]

    !

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  10. David said:

    An iPhone application is available on the App Store featuring a great Photo Gallery of the tramway, Tatev Monastic complex and the fascinating landscapes of Armenia, as well as information about the aerial tramway and the history of the beautiful Tatev Monastic complex.

    Please visit tatev.developway.am to read more and download the application.

  11. David said:

    An iPhone application is available on the App Store featuring a great Photo Gallery of the tramway, Tatev Monastic complex and the fascinating landscapes of Armenia, as well as information about the aerial tramway and the history of the beautiful Tatev Monastic complex.

    Please visit http://tatev.developway.am to read more and download the application.

  12. Banan said:

    I think they should repair all the roads there and not build this monstrum. Will local people use this?

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