Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian, Nagorno-Karabakh leader Bako Sahakian, the supreme head of the Armenian Apostolic Church, Catholicos Karekin II, government officials and other high-ranking guests on Saturday attended a ceremony launching a 5.7-kilometer-long tramway connecting the village of Halidzor in Armenia’s Syunik province with the ninth-century monastery of Tatev.
The project in an area situated some 280 kilometers to the southeast of capital Yerevan cost about $18 million and was completed within less than a year.
The new facility allows up to 25 passengers at a time to get to the monastery within as little as 11 minutes in a tramway cabin traveling at a maximum speed of 37 km/h and passing at a maximum height of 380 meters.
The new tramway will function throughout the year and will allow visitors to bypass a 90-minute drive in and out of the rocky Vorotan River Gorge.
Armenia -- Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian at the aerial tramway opening ceremony in Tatev, 16Oct., 2010
President Sarkisian, Catholicos Karekin II, other ministers were the first to take a ride along the aerial tramway that is 1,700 meters longer than a similar facility in Santa Fe, in the United States, so far considered to be the longest in the world.
Talking to RFE/RL’s Armenian service, Prime Minister Tigran Sargsian said that the new tramway will particularly stimulate the development of tourism in Armenia.
Historically, the monastery of Tatev played an important role in the life of the region as its major spiritual, political, cultural and educational center. It was seriously damaged during an earthquake in 1931 and is now under reconstruction.
The new facility can also be used for transporting cargoes.