The monastery, originally consisting of 3 churches once rested on an island, which then became a peninsula due to a decrease in the lake's surface altitude (around 2000m above sea level). In the 9th century, it was the residence of King Ashot (Yergat), who led the a resistance against the invading Arabs.
One such battle took place on the beach of Sevan. The Arabian army was assembled on the shore. King Ashot was said to have led a hundred of his Royal Guard at dawn from the island in several ships, tricking the Arabs into thinking that a huge Armenian army was coming. After arrows raining down upon them as the enemy advanced, the Arabian army didn't stand long enough to realize the truth; they fled from the Armenian king.