Levon’s Divine Underground

Levoni Astvatsayin Getnapor


Useful Information

Location: 15 minutes from the heart of Yerevan, Armenia in Arinj. Catching a taxi or use a tour guide.
Open: All year daily. [2020]
Fee: Free, donations welcome. [2020]
Classification: SubterraneaCave Church
Light: electric.
Dimension: VR=21m, T=10°C.
Guided tours:
Photography:
Accessibility:
Bibliography:
Address: Levon’s Divine Underground, 5th street, 9th house Arinj, Kotayk, Armenia, Tel: +374-77-178850.
Envoy Yerevan, 54 Pushkin Street, (Entrance via Parpetsi St.), Yerevan 0002, Tel: +374-10-530-369.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.

History

1985 begin of digging by Lyova Arakelyan.
1995 hard layers penetrated, start of excavation in tufa below.
2013 excavations completed.

Description

This underground structure is a series of hand dug cellars named Levoni Astvatsayin Getnapor (Levon’s Divine Underground). They are named after Lyova Arakelyan, whose first name is generally pronounced Levon. The legend says his wife told him to dig a potato cellar, but when he started he could not stop for 28 years.

However, Lyova Arakelyan himself states, that he was visited by an angel who gave him visions of a temple that he should build, with exact measurements. Once he started digging he couldn’t stop until the temple was completed. The wife Tosya Gharibyan tells that her request to her then 44-year-old husband to build a potato cellar in the basement was a small task. But he was motivated by his visions and as he tells got unnatural strength from the spirits to the cut through the hard rock. Below the soil there is a thick layer of rather hard basaltic rock, and it took him 10 years to build a staircase through this hard layer using only a hammer and a chisel. Below this hard layer is a thick layer of of rather soft tufa, in which the actual temple was dug.

The temple is very well known in Armenia, it seems many people are fascinated by the exceptional efforts of this man. And the temple itself is a rather weird and strange labyrinth with plain passages, sculpted pillars and capitels, niches with religious symbols and altars. Seven rooms are interconnected by passages.

Levin himself died a few years ago, according to legend one day after he completed the temple, and the place is now owned by his widow, who is happy to guide visitors. Located in an unimpressive and unpaved back road of a Yerevan suburb, there is a wall erected of rough rocks without mortar and a massive iron door. The sign above the door tells the name: Levoni Astvatsayin Getnapor (Levon’s Divine Underground). In the ground floor there is a sort of museum or shrine for Levon, with pictures, his tools, his working clothes, and all the awards and honours he recieved.