The Aerial Tramway
Spanning 5.7 kilometers across the spectacular Vorotan River Gorge, the Tatev Aerial Tramway - the longest passenger aerial tramway in the world - is poised to be one of southern Armenia's most popular attractions.
Truly an engineering marvel, the tramway will offer a spectacular journey with breathtaking views of the river gorge below, but most significantly, it will link visitors to one of the jewels of Armenia's medieval legacy - Tatev Monastery. In fact, you could say that the monastery is both the beginning and endpoint of the aerial tramway, because it's where - and why - the idea was conceived.
It all started with the idea of reviving the monastery. The Armenian Holy See of Etchmiadzin was looking for a way to bring life back into the walls of the once vibrant Tatev monastic complex. Discussions were all leading to one point: in order to revive the monastic, academic and cultural traditions for which Tatev is celebrated and in order to give it the recognition it deserves as part of the world's cultural heritage, the monastery has to be made more accessible. The Tatev Revival Project was born when one of its future benefactors suggested an innovative and ambitious solution to address the problem of accessibility which would also contribute to the economic development of the region and provide exciting new opportunities in the surrounding communities - building the world's longest aerial tramway.
The Tatev Aerial Tramway is being built by Garaventa, a world leader in the accessibility industry that has been building award-winning aerial tramways around the world for over 30 years. The design process and foundation work began in 2009, and construction will be completed in the fall of 2010, with the opening ceremony of the aerial tramway and the official launch of the Tatev Revival Project set for October.
The 5.7-kilometer aerial tramway is supported by three towers between its two terminals. One terminal is on a hill overlooking the village of Halidzor and the other is near Tatev Monastery, on the road to Tatev village. At top speed, the tramway will travel at 37 kilometers per hour and the ride will take approximately 11 minutes, with its deepest drop at 360 meters aboveground. Two cabins (each with the capacity to hold 25 people) will operate at once, traveling in opposite directions. There are six cables altogether (three per cabin, with two cables suspending and one cable pulling each cabin), each uniquely built for the specifications of this project. They are capable of carrying 10-15 times more than the nominal load. The tramway is equipped with a diesel drive unit which will operate immediately in the case of a power outage.
Despite some major engineering challenges - the team had to invent a new type of foundation for the Tatev terminal because of poor soil conditions - and months of bad weather which hindered construction, the project is running on schedule and anticipation is in the air for the inauguration of the Tatev Aerial Tramway this fall.