Օn the right slope of Debed canyon, յust below the village of Dsegh, lay the ruins of the 13th-century Armenian monastic complex known as the Monastery of Forty Children. Located in the area of the gorge called “Takhter,” this monastery was built in 1241-1256. According to an inscription left on the facade of the main church, it was consecrated in the year 1256 by the abbot of the Haghpat monastery.
The monastery owes its unusual name to the Forty Saints of Sebaste. According to tradition, in the 4th century, 40 young men, soldiers of the Roman army, were accused of following the Christian fate, for which they were tortured and martyred. Local lore has it that some time after the martyrdom of the 40 young men, a number of Christians who were escaping persecutions settled here on the slope of Debed canyon and built a church dedicated to the young martyrs.
According to another legend, in the 17th century, 40 children took shelter in the monastery, hiding from the invading enemy. The children were never found. Time, unfortunately, didn’t spare this complex, and very little survives from what once was a lively religious community consisting of the main church, a chapel, the dwellings, a cemetery, and other structures. A number of khachkars are found in the area, too. The ruins of the Forty Children Monastery of Dsegh are easily reached from the village center.