This is a perfect place to visit on the way to Jermuk, or heading to souther in Armenia. The ancient monastery complex is a thousand years old, and in good condition. If you take the new highway to Jermuk, you will have to exit into the village of Gndevaz, and hike down the ca ny on (approx 45 minutes down) to reach the monastery. Before you do this, you might take the time to visit the village church which is old and plain, for its frescos.
The hike down the canyon wall will afford you with great views, and depending on your route, a waterfall and cave (on the inside corner formed by the joining of the canyon walls). Also, depending on your route, you will either arrive above or below the vank.
The other way to reach Gndevank is preferable if you are willing to try a rather dilapidated road, usually wide enough for only one car. This is the old Jermuk road, and will take you all the way to Jermuk. If that is your final destination, you should try to take this road on your way either in or out. This road which goes through the canyon along the stream, is breathtaking compared to the new road. The stone walls often look like massive grills (for lack of a better analogy).
The Gndevank turnoff over a little bridge is not very well marked, so watch carefully for it! The upper parts of the canyon, past Gndevank are the most beautiful and would be perfect for mountain biking down (drive the bike up and enjoy the ride down!), camping, backpacking and all sorts of other outdoor activities.
Once inside one of the entrances or walls, you see the entire complex. There is a very nice church, with some great carved stones all around it, a large courtyard partly shaded by a large walnut tree, and the fort like walls, which have many chambers to explore. If you enter certain rooms you can just crawl into lower chamber after chamber and in this fashion go about 3 stories underground, so bring a flashlight! The excavations are incomplete, so like many monasteries there is the story that there is a tunnel leading to the river.
photo: Vigen Hakhverdyan/ Travel-Armenia