The Haghartsin complex is located high in the wooded mountains where eagles are found, and the name of the monastery is translated from Armenian as “game of eagles”. The image of an eagle – a proud strong bird – is often found in the walls of Haghartsin. So the sculptural group of the Eastern facade of the Church of Surb Astvatsin (Holy mother of God) depicts two men in monastic attire and an eagle sitting on the dome of the Church.
The oldest building of the Haghartsin Complex is the Church of St. Grigor. It was built in the X I century by monks who fled from persecution from Western Armenia under the rule of Byzantium. The Church itself is small – rectangular in plan. The internal space is made in the form of a cross. The Church is crowned by a cone-shaped dome on an octagonal drum. At the end of the XII century, extensions were added to the Church – a small Church made of blue basalt with a vaulted ceiling, a narthex – a room that unites the place of prayer and burial.
In 1244, a small Church of St. Stepanos was built – a miniature copy of the main Church of St. Grigor.
The refectory is a rare example of architecture. It was built by the architect Minas in 1248. The room is divided into two square parts, covered by a system of intersecting arches. Stone benches run along the wall, and at the Western end, near the door, there is a wide arched opening provided for the entrance and exit of numerous pilgrims.
Church Of St. Astvatsatsin (Holy mother of God) was originally built in the XI century, rebuilt in 1287. This is the largest structure of the monastery dominating the entire ensemble.The 16-sided dome of the Church is decorated with stucco arches that increase the height of the dome and make it more slender and majestic. The Church building itself has a cross-domed architecture with a magnificent decorative design of the facades.
In the 13th century, the monastery became a major center of spiritual and cultural life in Armenia. Near the refectory there are ruins of the monastery kitchen, and the ruins of several chapels are visible on the approaches to the monastery. At the southern wall of the narthex of the Church of St. Grigor, the bases of the tombs of two graves of kings from the Kurikid dynasty with inscriptions are preserved: “King Smbat” and “this is the grave of king Gagik” ( X – XI century).
2 km from the monastery are the ruins of the medieval village of Haghartsin which gave its name to the monastery