In 1996 Sanahin Monastery was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The exact date of the foundation of Sanahin is unknown. Documentary evidence and monuments of material culture suggest that these structure date back to the middle of the 10th century. The name “Sanahin” literally translates from Armenian as “this one is older than that one”, presumably representing a claim to having an older monastery than the neighboring Haghpat Monastery. The two villages and their monasteries are similar in many ways, and lie in plain view of each other on a dissected plateau formation, separated by a deep crack formed by a small river flowing into the Debed River. This monastery was the educational center of Armenia. There were academies, libraries, scriptoriums and schools where the books were copied. Sanahin owned vast land resources. Sanahin Academy is an original work of civil architecture built in two stages at the end of the 10th century and at the beginning of the 11th century. This structure, rectangular in the plan, is roofed over numerous closely spaced arches resting on pillars attached to the church walls.
Moss-covered Sanahin is a fascinatingly detailed church and monastery complex, packed with ancient graves, darkened chapels and medieval gallery schools (study halls where pupils sat on benches on either side of a corridor). Next to the Haghpat and Sanahin monasteries, a part of the heritage is also the Bridge of Sanahin, built over the heavy waves of the river Debed. Owing to its firmness and the harmonic construction of all the parts, the Bridge of Sanahin has its unique place among the numerous bridges of medieval Armenia and an outstanding one in the whole Transcaucasia.