Akhtala, also known as Pghindzavank (meaning Coppermine Monastery) is a 10th century Armenian Apostolic monastery located in the town of Akhtala in the Lori Province of Armenia, 185 kilometers (115 mi) north of Yerevan and 87 kilometers south of Tbilisi . The monastery is currently inactive.
The etymology of the name Akhtala is believed to be of Turkic origin, meaning “White Glade”. The original Armenian name of the settlement where the monastery is built is Pghindzahank, which means copper mine. The 13th-century historians Kirakos Gandzaketsi and Vardan Areveltsi called the area Pghndzahank (copper mine), because of rich copper deposits in the surroundings.
The fortress played a major role in protecting the northwestern regions of Armenia (Gugark) and is among the most well preserved of all in modern Armenia. The main church in the compound is famous for its highly artistic frescoes, which cover the inside walls, the partitions, and the bearings of the building. The modern name of Akhtala was first recorded in a royal decree in 1438.
One of the cliffs that surrounds Akhtala is known as Lenktemur, named after Tamerlane, who according to local tradition buried one of his wives under the cliff.
The prominent Armenian filmmaker of the 20th century Sergei Parajanov filmed two episodes of his film “The Color of Pomegranates” at the Akhtala Monastery.