In the 10th century, Princess Sophia, daughter of Armenia's King Gagik and wife to Prince Smbat of Siunik, would journey as a pilgrim to a region known for its deep canyons, where dwelt an order of holy hermits.
In response to a revelatory dream, Sophia became determined to build a church there, for the sake of her eternal soul, and to procure divine favor for her husband and sons. Encouraged by the priests Sarkis and Yeghishe, the church was built between AD. 931 and 936, and Sophia gave it the name "Gndevank."
Eventually it became a monastery inhabited by anchorites and hermits, and was renamed for St. Mardiros. Carved reliefs of the four Evangelists decorating the interior of the complex, and some fragments of a portrait of Christ, are visible today, and testify to the beauty of Sophia's original vision.