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Interior of St. Astvatsatsin Church at Khor Virap Monastery

Interior of St. Astvatsatsin Church at Khor Virap Monastery



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Armenia on Transcaucasian Trail

Arrival at the Yerevan airport. Meeting with the staff.
Transfer to the hotel. Accommodation.
Overnight in the hotel in Yerevan.

Day 2: Yerevan City tour – History Museum of Armenia - Tsitsernakaberd B/L/D

Yerevan. Breakfast in the hotel.
You are going to have unforgettable overall city tour in Yerevan. Yerevan is the capital and largest city of Armenia, and one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities. Situated along the Hrazdan River, Yerevan is the administrative, cultural, and industrial centre of the country. It has been the capital of Republic of Armenia (1st Armenian Republic) since 1918, the thirteenth in the history of Armenia, and the seventh located in or around the Ararat plain. The history of Yerevan dates back to the 8th century BC, with the founding of the fortress of Erebuni in 782 BC by king Argishti I at the western extreme of the Ararat plain. Erebuni was “designed as a great administrative and religious centre, a fully royal capital. In 2018 Yerevan celebrated its 2800th anniversary.
Yerevan was named the 2012 World Book Capital by UNESCO. Yerevan is an associate member of Euro cities.

Visit to History museum of Armenia. Here you will get interesting information about the antiquity and features of Armenia.

During the tour you will also visit Tsitsernakaberd – the memorial complex of 1915 Armenian Genocide by Ottoman Turkey, (Museum and Memorial). The Armenian Genocide Museum & Institute (AGMI) located on the hills of the Tsitsernakaberd Park, makes up part of the Armenian Genocide Victims’ Memorial Complex. This sacred site embraces and reflects the memories and values for Armenians worldwide. The Memorial and the Museum function as a source of understanding and acknowledgement of this monumental tragedy in the history of Armenia.

Welcome dinner in typical Armenian restaurant with folk show.

Day 3: Yerevan – Sevaberd – Lake Akna B/L/D

Yerevan. Breakfast in the hotel.
Drive to Sevaberd village. The climb to Geghama Mountains starts from the Village Sevaberd of Kotayk region. After crossing about 12km road, participants reach Lake Akna, where the first camp for overnight stay will be installed. Camp and other items will be transported by off-road vehicles.

Trekking route: Sevaberd village – Lake Akna
Trekking distance: 14 km
Elevation gain: ↑1100m ↓162m
Elevation: Sevaberd 2062 m –Lake Akna 3032 m

Day 4: Lake Akna – Mount Azhdahak (3597m) – Lake Badi (B/L/D)

The next day starts with trekking from Lake Akna to the highest peak of Geghama Range, specifically the volcano Azhdahak, located in the western part of the range. The extinct volcano houses a lake inside the crater which is formed of melting snow. Ascend to the top – the view is worth a thousand words. From Azhdahak summit you’ll admire a magnificent view – biblical Mount Ararat, lush Kotayk Valley, picturesque Lake Sevan and the whole Geghama Mountain Range. Descend from the mountain and continue trekking towards Lake Badi. Camping and stargazing will be the perfect ending to this saturated day.

Trekking route: Lake Akna – Mount Azhdahak – Lake Badi
Trekking distance: 18 km
Elevation gain: ↑906m ↓759
Elevation: Lake Akna 3032 m – Azhdahak 3597 m – Lake Badi 3100m

Day 5: Lake Badi – Mt. Spitakasar – Gegharkunik – Dilijan B/L/D

Breakfast in a camp.
The day starts with a trek to Mt. Spitakasar. Spitakasar is a volcanic massif (3555m). By its height it is the second peak in Geghama Mountains after Azhdahak Mountain (3597m). It is dome-shaped, made of liparit, obsidian and perlite.
Descent to Gegharkunik village and drive to Dilijan for overnight stay.

Trekking route: Lake Badi – Mt. Spitakasar – Gegharkunik village
Trekking distance: 23km
Elevation gain: ↑540m ↓1600m

Day 6: Dilijan – Lake Parz – Lake Gosh – Goshavank – Dilijan B/L/D

Dilijan. Breakfast in the hotel.

Start short city tour on foot in Dilijan old town. Dilijan is a resort town with mild climate and fresh air. It is famous for its amazing surroundings, called the “Armenian Switzerland” by the locals, due to the densely forested valleys and mountains with alpine meadows around. It is an excellent centre for walking.

Begin this leg of your hiking from Parz lake to Gosh village. The trail goes through the forests and alpine fields.
Lake Parz is a small lake located in the Dilijan National Park east of Dilijan in Armenia. The lake was formed by natural climatic changes. “Parz” in Armenian means clear. Trees growing along the coastline are reflected on the water surface and create an amazing “painting” effect.

In 2017 the Trans Caucasian Trail was created to connect Parz Lake with the town of Dilijan and in the opposite direction with Gosh Village and Gosh Lake. The trail was created through the building of new trail segments to connect existing trails or dirt roads together

Lake Gosh is located in the heart of the Dilijan Reserve. The name of the pond comes from the village named after the outstanding Armenian writer and public figure Mkhitar Gosh, who lived in the 12th-13th centuries. Dense forests stretches around the lake. This place is loved both by tourists and by the residents of Armenia due to the rich nature and picturesque views.

At the end of hike you will reach to the impressive monastic complex of Goshavank (12-13th century) which has remained in relatively good condition and also houses one of the world’s finest examples of a khachkar. Goshavank was erected in the place of an older monastery once known as Nor Getik, which had been destroyed by an earthquake in 1188. Mkhitar Gosh, a statesman, scientist and author of numerous fables and parables as well as the first criminal code, took part in the rebuilding of the monastery. The impressive monastery which has remained in relatively good condition also houses one of the world’s finest examples of a khachkar.

Trekking route: Parz lake – Gosh village – Gosh lake
Trekking distance: 12 km
Elevation: Parz lake 1330 m – Gosh village 1190 m – Gosh lake 1410 m
Elevation gain: ↑531m ↓665m

Day 7: Dilijan - Sevan – Orbelyan’s Caravanserai - Yeghegnadzor B/L/D

Dilijan. Breakfast in the hotel.
Next thing to be admired is Sevan Lake, the “blue-eyed beauty” of Armenia. Being one of the biggest highland freshwater lakes in the world it is 1900 m above sea level. The tour will continue along the coast of Lake Sevan to the peninsula. After rising to the peninsula, you will see the monastery of Sevanavank (IX cent.). An amazing view to the lake and surrounding beauties opens from the hill. The monastery of Sevan (Sevanavank), which stands on what was once an island of the same name, can be dated to the 9th-10th centuries. For several hundred years, as an important spiritual centre, housing many monks, it has been visited by thousands of pilgrims from all parts of Armenia.

Drive through the Vardanyats Pass (2410m) and visit Orbelian’s Caravanserai built in 1332 by Prince Chesar Orbelian. It is used to be an important trade point on the famous Silk Road, accommodating weary travelers and their animals as they crossed from or into the Vayots Dzor mountains.

Drive to Yeghegnadzor. Dinner. Overnight in the hotel.

Day 8: Yeghegnadzor- Halidzor – Tatev – Goris B/L/D

Yeghegnadzor. Breakfast in the hotel.
Continue driving to Vayots Dzor province up to Halidzor village where the world’s longest cableway is situated (Wings of Tatev) inscribed in in Guinness Book of Records. Take the cable car and enjoy 15 unforgettable minutes over the beautiful Vorotan river canyon and arrive to Tatev Monastery.

In the morning visit 9th century Tatev monastic complex located on a large basalt plateau near the village of the same name in Zangezur. Taking Tatever cableway (included in the Guinness World records as the world’s “longest non-stop double track cable car”) you will admire a wonderful and unique view of the mountains, gorges and a beautiful landscape of the Syunik region.

Start your hike to Tatev Anapat and Devil’s bridge located on the bottom of the Vorotan River gorge. On the way you will have a chance to see the Great Hermitage of Tatev (Tatevi Mets Anapat), founded by monks in 1608-1613. Hermitage ofTatev is visible from the cabin windows on the third longest section of Wings of Tatev cableway., Devil’s bridge is the final point of our hike, where you can have a bath in the warm mineral pools. Transfer back to Goris for overnight.

Trekking route: Tatev village – Tatevi Mets Anapat – Devil’s bridge
Trekking distance: 6km
Elevation: Tatev village 1550 m – Tatevi Mets Anapat / Devil’s bridge 1000m
Elevation gain: ↑113m ↓626m

Day 9: Goris - Kapan – Navchay B/L/D

Goris. Breakfast in the hotel.
Transfer from Goris to Kapan and get to the village Baghaburj in few kilometers from Kapan. From here starts our trek to the mountain Khustup – through the labyrinthine paths and trails. During our walking tour there will be feeling, like the peak of Khustup is looking at us and following our every step. The mountain is so beautiful, that there is a feeling, like we are in some kind of Hollywood movie. After nearly 5 hours of walking we will reach this Navchay mountain village, hidden in one of mountain gorges. This is where we will organize our camp zone and prepare a delicious dinner and then go to sleep – surrounded by wildlife, under spectacular starry sky.

Trekking route: Baghaburj – Navchay
Trekking distance: 9.5km
Elevation gain: ↑910m

Day 10: Navchay – Mt. Khustup – Goris B/L/D

Breakfast in a camp.
In the morning, after breakfast we will begin our climbing to the top of Mt. Khustup. During our journey we will meet herd of horses living in freedom. After three hours of walking we will reach one remarkable place, which is called “Gates” for its look. The magic of this place is that on separate sides of the “gate” the nature is so different, that there is a feeling if it’s really a gate from one place in a totally different dimension. After the “Gates” we will reach closer to the peak of the mountain. Here we will find cold and very tasty water spring, where we will make a short stop, and then continue our way to the top of the mount. Just before the peak we will meet quite big cliffs, which look impassable at first glance. Here we will meet wild mountain goats and flocks of wild turkeys, which are on the verge of extinction. At the top we will meet the monument, erected in memory of Armenian national hero, Armenian fedai, whose nickname was “Khostup Eagle” – Garegin Nzhdeh. From here we will rise the top of the mountain through the safest secret path. Soon the unbelievable scenery will open in front of us – breathtaking scene of clouds under our feet, which are penetrated by mountain peaks. After a rest on the top of the mountain, we will return to the “Gates”, and then – to the mountain village Navchay. Transportation to Kapan town by Willys. Drive to Goris by your transport for overnight stay.

Trekking route: Navchay – Mt. Khustup – Navchay
Trekking distance: 10km
Elevation gain: ↑1174m ↓1174m

Day 11: Goris – Amaghu - Noravank– Khor Virap – Yerevan B/L/D

Goris. Breakfast in the hotel.

Noravank (meaning “New Monastery” in Armenian) is a 13th century Armenian monastery, spiritual centre of Orbelyan princes dynasty. The monastery is best known for its two-storey Surp Astvatsatsin (Holy Mother of God, Burtelashen) church, which grants access to the second floor by way of a narrow stone-made staircase jutting out from the face of building.

Hiking from Amaghu village to Noravank Monastery. Continue to Khor Virap.

Here Khor Virap monastery (meaning “deep pit” or “deep well”) is located. The monastery was host to a theological seminary and was the residence of Armenian Catholicos. Khor Virap’s notability as a monastery and pilgrimage site is attributed to the fact that Saint Gregory the Illuminator has been imprisoned here for 13 years. A chapel was initially built in 642 AD at the site of Kirat Virap by Nerses III the Builder as a mark of veneration to Saint Gregory. Over the centuries, it was repeatedly rebuilt. In 1662, the larger chapel known as “St. Astvatsatsin” (Holy Mother of God) was built around the ruins of the old chapel. Now, regular Church services are held in this church. Khor Virap Monastery continues to be a holy site of the Armenian Apostolic Church and an important pilgrimage location. The walled, religious complex also stands before the snowcapped flanks of Mount Ararat, offering a spectacular view of the mountain and cutting a striking silhouette in and of itself.

Trekking route: Amagahu – Gnishki gorge – Noravank
Trekking distance: 3.5km
Elevation gain: ↑284m ↓348m

Day 12: Yerevan – Lake Kari – Mt. Aragats – Lake Kari – Yerevan B/PL/D

Yerevan. Breakfast in the hotel.

Drive to Lake Kari (Stone Lake) located on the slopes of Mount Aragats, mostly formed by ice and snow. Aragats (the highest mouintain in Armenia) has sub-alpine and alpine zones, as well as 4 peaks (the Northern peak is the highest., at 4090 m) and one of the biggest craters in the world, created by a volcano eruption in the distant past. Ascend to the Southern summit of the mountain (3887 m). This summit of Aragats is covered with snow until the middle of July. After finishing the hike drive to Yerevan for the last night of your trip to Armenian beauty.

  • Optional:
    – On wish people can continue trekking to the Western Summit of Mt. Aragats.

Trekking route: Lake Kari – South Aragats (Western Aragats) – Lake Kari
Trekking distance: 9 km / 5 hours
Elevation gain: ↑694m ↓694m
Elevation: Lake Kari 3200 m – Southern Aragats 3887 m

Day 13: Yerevan – Geghard – Garni – Azat gorge – Yerevan B/L/D

Yerevan. Breakfast in the hotel.
Drive to Kotayk region. Geghard Monastery, which is cut into the rock (13th c), is one of the most famous medieval monasteries in Armenia. The complex of medieval buildings is set into a landscape of great natural beauty, surrounded by towering cliffs at the entrance to the Azat river valley. According to the legend, the monastery housed the spear which had wounded Christ on the Cross and from which comes its present name, Geghardavank (the Monastery of the Spear). Allegedly it was brought there by the Apostle Thaddeus, first recorded in a document of 1250. The church with its surrounding structures is included in the UNESCO World Cultural heritage List.

Visit open-air museum of Garni pagan temple. It is the only surviving monument of the Hellenistic period in Armenia. The temple is dedicated to the God of the sun Mithra and was built in the 2nd half of the 1st c AD during the reign of king Tiridates I. Garni pagan temple has unique design and is the only type of temple across the Caucasus and the former Soviet Union.
Start hiking through Azat river gorge.

Garni temple is situated on a high hill (height above sea level is 1413 m) and behind the hill you can find an unforgettable view of the canyon of the Azat river. So you are going to hike along the canyon to see cliff walls of well-preserved basalt columns. These wonderful basalt rocks seem to be artificial – so much beautiful they are. For their beauty rocks are called «Symphony of the stones».
Lunch in a peasant house in Garni village.

Trekking Route: Garni – Azat river gorge – Garni village
Trekking distance: 3.5km
Elevation gain: ↑332m ↓332m


(En) Easter in Armenia & Georgia

(En) Arrival at the Yerevan airport. Meeting with guide and driver.
Transfer to the hotel. Accommodation. Free time.
Overnight in the hotel in Yerevan.

(En) Day 2 (April 19): Yerevan city tour / Echmiadzin / Zvartnots / Yerevan B/-/D

(En) Yerevan. Breakfast in the hotel.
After breakfast you are going to have unforgettable overall city tour in Yerevan. Yerevan is the capital and largest city of Armenia, and one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities. Situated along the Hrazdan River, Yerevan is the administrative, cultural, and industrial centre of the country. It has been the capital of Republic of Armenia (1st Armenian Republic) since 1918, the thirteenth in the history of Armenia, and the seventh located in or around the Ararat plain. The history of Yerevan dates back to the 8th century BC, with the founding of the fortress of Erebuni in 782 BC by king Argishti I at the western extreme of the Ararat plain. Erebuni was “designed as a great administrative and religious centre, a fully royal capital. In 2018 Yerevan celebrated its 2800th anniversary.
Yerevan was named the 2012 World Book Capital by UNESCO. Yerevan is an associate member of Euro cities.

(En) Heading to Armavir province.
Visit to Echmiadzin – the spiritual centre of the Armenian Apostolic Church and the residence of the Catholicos of All Armenians. Visit the Mother Cathedral of Holy Echmiadzin – one of the most ancient and most beautiful examples of Christian architecture. It was founded to commemorate the proclamation of Christianity as the national religion of Armenia. The original building was completed in 303 AD. The Echmiadzin Cathedral is the seat of the throne of the Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians. Since 2000, it is a UNESCO world heritage site.

(En) On the way back to Yerevan you will visit Zvartnots temple (means “celestial angels”) 7th century wonderful architectural masterpiece. The remnants of Zvartnots, even in ruins, are a majestic sight. These sights are listed among the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The site has been the focus of worship from pre-Christian times. Excavations also uncovered Urartian temple foundations, a sacrificial alter and a large cuneiform stone celebrating the construction of a large canal system during the reign of King Russa II. The canal system, connecting to the Hrazdan River, is still in use.
Arrival in Yerevan.

(En) Welcome dinner in typical Armenian restaurant with Armenian folk music and dance.

Overnight in the hotel in Yerevan.

– In Echmiadzin, in Machanents cultural tourism centre dolma making master-class may be organized. Dolma is ground meat, beef, lamb or whatever you like, mixed with rice and herbs of your choice and wrapped in grape leaves. You may even cook it in vegetables, like in peppers or tomatoes.
The price for the event is 95 EUR per group.

– Coming back to Yerevan you may visit History Museum or National Gallery.

(En) Day 3 (April 20): Yerevan/ Saghmosavank / Amberd / Armenian Alphabet Monument / Byurakan / Yerevan B/L/D

(En) Yerevan. Breakfast in the hotel.
Drive to Aragatsotn region where Mount Aragats is located. This is the highest peak of Armenia (4090 m). Visit to Saghmosavank – 13th century monastic complex. Saghmosavank is situated atop the precipitous gorge carved by the Kasakh river. Its silhouettes dominate the adjacent villages and rise sharply against the background of the mountains crowned by Mount Aragats.

(En) Here at an altitude of 2300 m above sea level the fortress Amberd is situated (8th c). Amberd is one of the rare witnesses of Armenian military architecture of the Middle Ages. During the walk to the fortress you can enjoy the scenery of colorful alpine meadows and mountain.

(En) Located near the village of Artashavan, close to the highway, in Armenia, stands 39 giant carved Armenian letters dedicated to the language its speakers take pride in. The Armenian alphabet is more than 1,600 years old and it’s still used today in its original form. It was devised by Saint Mesrop Mashtots, an Armenian linguist and ecclesiastical leader, in 405 CE in order to make the Bible accessible to Armenians and spread Christianity.

(En) After your excursion you will head to Byurakan village to celebrate Holy Saturday of Armenian Easter. Coming to Byurakan, in Tonatsuyts house you will participate in master-class on how to make traditional Armenian Easter dishes, then have a lunch. The event will be followed by Armenian national dances and songs. The Easter atmosphere will be proliferated upon everyone.

(En) After your lunch you will dye eggs. Many years ago, when there was no food dye, Armenians used to dye eggs with red onion shells. All you need to do is to put a lot of red onion shells in boiling water, then carefully place the eggs in the bowl and cook it. The result will be nicely cooked red eggs. This dying method is still alive today. The majority of Armenians dye Easter eggs just like this, even though they may also have eggs dyed with food coloring. The more colorful the table, the better.

(En) In the evening of Saturday prior to Easter, the holy light is fired which people take home. The main aim is to get a candle of the holy light home to bring Easter blessings to the household. Special Easter liturgy will be held in St. Hovhannes church. The St.Hovhanes church was built in the first quarter of 10c. At the late mid-century the vault and entries were re-constructed, then double walls from the north and the west were built. In 19th c. the church still had the chapels from both sides, where religious ceremonies took place, but in 1841 after re-building the vault of the church, the ceremonies were held there. In 18th c. the Catholicos Hakob Djughaetsi made Byurakan the property of St. Echmiadzin. And in 1874 Catholicos Gevorg IV made it the patriarch’s residence.

(En) Coming back to Tonatsuyts house you will have an Easter dinner. In your dinner you will have symbolic and typical Armenian Easter dishes (rice, greens, fish), as well as Armenian Easter bread: chorek. It’s essentially a sweet Brioche Bun. Chorek is a rather sweet puff bread. It’s not an everyday dish but is made once a year during Armenian Easter. There is an interesting tradition of cracking eggs during Easter. Each person sitting at the table takes one egg, then chooses a player to crack each other’s eggs. The one whose egg cracks loses.
Drive back to Yerevan. Overnight in the hotel.

(En) Day 4 (April 21): Yerevan / Khor Virap / Noravank / Areni / Yerevan B/L/-

(En) Yerevan. Breakfast in the hotel.
Today’s excursion will take you to Ararat region. Here Khor Virap monastery (meaning “deep pit” or “deep well”) is located. The monastery was host to a theological seminary and was the residence of Armenian Catholicos. Khor Virap’s notability as a monastery and pilgrimage site is attributed to the fact that Saint Gregory the Illuminator has been imprisoned here for 13 years. A chapel was initially built in 642 AD at the site of Kirat Virap by Nerses III the Builder as a mark of veneration to Saint Gregory. Over the centuries, it was repeatedly rebuilt. In 1662, the larger chapel known as “St. Astvatsatsin” (Holy Mother of God) was built around the ruins of the old chapel. Now, regular Church services are held in this church. Khor Virap Monastery continues to be a holy site of the Armenian Apostolic Church and an important pilgrimage location. The walled, religious complex also stands before the snowcapped flanks of Mount Ararat, offering a spectacular view of the mountain and cutting a striking silhouette in and of itself.

(En) Noravank (meaning “New Monastery” in Armenian) is a 13th century Armenian monastery, spiritual centre of Orbelyan princes’ dynasty. The monastery is best known for its two-storey Surp Astvatsatsin (Holy Mother of God, Burtelashen) church, which grants access to the second floor by way of a narrow stone-made staircase jutting out from the face of building.

(En) After exploring the sight you will drive to Vayots Dzor province. Have lunch in national restaurant near Noravank monastery. Here you will also have an opportunity to watch the process of baking Armenian bread – lavash (inscribed in UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity).

(En) Drive to village Areni. Here the most ancient winery in the world Areni-1 is located. This winery had been discovered as a result of excavations done in 2007-2008.


History

King Artashes I, founder of the Artashesid dynasty, established his Armenian capital at Artashat (also known as Artaxtisata) around 180 BC. It is believed that Hannibal, the Carthaginian General who was persecuted by Rome, was also instrumental in establishing Artashat. [4] Artashat remained the capital of the dynasty till the reign of King Khosrov III (330–339) when it was moved to Dvin. [10] Subsequently, Artashat was destroyed by the Persian King Shapur II. [8] Artashat is close to the hillock of Khor Virap. [11] Until its chapel was built, Khor Virap was used as royal prison.

When King Tiridates III ruled over Armenia, his assistant was the Christian Grigor (Gregory) Lusavorich who preached the Christian religion. However, Tiridates, a pagan was not pleased and he subjected Gregory to severe torture. When news reached the king that Gregory's father Anak the Parthian was responsible for the murder of the king's father, the king ordered that Gregory's hand and legs be tied and that he be thrown into the Khor Virap to die in the dark dungeon located in Artashat. In addition, Gregory's refusal to offer sacrifice to the goddess Anahita provoked the king to torture him and condemn him to imprisonment in the Khor Virap. [12] He was then forgotten and the King pursued his wars and persecution of Christians. [13] However, Gregory did not die during his 13 years of imprisonment. His survival was attributed to a Christian widow from the local town who, under the influence of strange dream vision, regularly fed Gregory by dropping a loaf of freshly baked bread into the pit. [13]

During this period, the Roman Emperor Diocletian wanted to marry a beautiful girl and he sent others to search for the most beautiful woman. They found a girl named Rhipsime in Rome who was under the tutelage of Abbess Gayane in a Christian nunnery. When Rhipsime heard about the king's marriage proposal, she fled to Armenia to avoid the marriage. After a search was launched to locate the girl and punish the people who had helped her to escape, Tiridates located Rhipsime and brought her forcibly to his palace, trying to woo her. He was not successful against the strong defence put up by Rhipsime. He then ordered that she be dragged into his presence by putting a collar around her neck in hopes to persuade Rhipsime to agree to marry him. [13]

However, what ensued was the persecution and murder of Rhipsime, Gaiane and many Christians. Tiridates went mad and is "said to have behaved like a wild boar while torments fell on his household and demons possessed the people of the city." [14] [15] It was then that Tiridates's sister, Khosrovidhukt, had a vision in the night, where an angel told her about the prisoner Gregory in the city of Artashat who could end the torments with the words "when he comes he will teach you the remedies for all your ills". [13] People did not place much reliance on this dream vision as they thought that Gregory had probably died within days of his being cast into the pit. But Khosrovidhukt had the same dream repeatedly with a threatening message that if the dream's instructions were not followed, there would be dire consequences. Prince Awtay was deputed to get Gregory from Kirat Virap. He went to the pit and shouted to Gregory saying "Gregory, if you are somewhere down there, come out. The God whom you worship has commanded that you be brought out". Gregory was brought out in a miserable state. He was taken to the king who had gone mad "foraging among the pigs at Valarshapar", tearing his own skin. Gregory cured the king and brought him back to his senses. Gregory knew of all the atrocities that were committed and saw the bodies of the martyrs who were later cremated. The king, accompanied by his court, approached Gregory seeking forgiveness for all the sins they committed. Henceforth, Gregory started preaching Christianity to the king, his court and army. [13]

King Tiridates, who had embraced Christianity as his religion following the miraculous cure effected by Gregory's divine intervention, proclaimed Christianity as the state religion of Armenia in 301 AD. Gregory became the Bishop of Caesarea and remained in service of the King till about 314 AD. [10] [15] Another version attributed to Tiridates's conversion to Christianity is that it was a strategic move to create national unity to checkmate the hegemony of Zoroastrian Persians and pagan Rome, and since then, the Christian Church has acted as a strong influence in Armenia. [16]


Interior of St. Astvatsatsin Church at Khor Virap Monastery - History

Khor Virap is arguably the most amazing sight in Armenia. It is an ancient monastery, shrouded in mystery and stories. After all, it is here that, according to legend, St. George the Illuminator was tortured and kept in the dungeons for 14 years.

The complex of the monastery is located above the cave that tourists today have access to, and offers stunning views of the wide fields at the foot of Mount Ararat.

Full of legends, Khor Virap is a cult place for the Christian history of Armenia. After the events unfolding here, Armenia became the first country (301) to adopt Christianity as the state religion.

In the gorge of the Aspa River, among the red rocks “burning” at sunset, is located one of the essentials of Armenian architecture, namely, the Noravank monastery complex.

Built in the 13th century, Noravank was a religious place for the entire spiritual world of Armenia, and it also carried the role of a cultural and educational center. The whole complex consists of two churches and one chapel. They are Surb Astvatsatsin, Surb Karapet and Surb Grigor, but the most memorable and unique among them is the Church of Surb Astvatsatsin.

The church is decorated with special splendor. It is a structure of three floors including the dome, fully decorated with subtle patterns. The interior looks more modest, yet you can’t stop wondering about the courage of the architect and miniaturist Momik, who completed the church structure in 133. The church is believed to be his most tremendous work.

The main element of the church is the narrow cantilever staircase that leads to the second floor, yet has no handrails. They say your faith helps to keep balance. It is impossible to convey the feeling of rising above the world into words

We are sure that you will certainly be intrigued by Noravank and its mysteries.

Jermuk is a leading Armenian spa city, divided into two parts by the splendid gorge of Arpa River. The mineral waters of Jermuk have been used by both ordinary people and Armenian princes to treat various diseases. This statement is supported by the remains of the medieval pools uncovered there and reconstructed in the 19th century. The name Jermuk comes from the Armenian word “jerm”, meaning “warm”. The Jermuk region is rich with unique springs of both sweet and mineral water. Another tourist attraction in this region is the Jermuk waterfall, 72 m high, which flows into the river Arpa. The waterfall reminds girly hair. Hence the other name of the waterfall: mermaid's hair.


Interior of St. Astvatsatsin Church at Khor Virap Monastery - History

Khor Virapis arguably the most amazing sight in Armenia. It is an ancient monastery, shrouded in mystery and stories. After all, it is here that, according to legend, St. George the Illuminator was tortured and kept in the dungeons for 14 years. The complex of the monastery is located above the cave that tourists today have access to, and offers stunning views of the wide fields at the foot of Mount Ararat. Full of legends, Khor Virap is a cult place for the Christian history of Armenia. After the events unfolding here, Armenia became the first country (301) to adopt Christianity as the state religion.

In the gorge of the Aspa River, among the red rocks “burning” at sunset, is located one of the essentials of Armenian architecture, namely, the Noravank monastery complex. Built in the 13th century, Noravank was a religious place for the entire spiritual world of Armenia, and it also carried the role of a cultural and educational center. The whole complex consists of two churches and one chapel. They are Surb Astvatsatsin, Surb Karapet and Surb Grigor, but the most memorable and unique among them is the Church of Surb Astvatsatsin. The church is decorated with special splendor. It is a structure of three floors including the dome, fully decorated with subtle patterns. The interior looks more modest, yet you can’t stop wondering about the courage of the architect and miniaturist Momik, who completed the church structure in 133. The church is believed to be his most tremendous work. The main element of the church is the narrow cantilever staircase that leads to the second floor, yet has no handrails. They say your faith helps to keep balance. It is impossible to convey the feeling of rising above the world into words.

Tatev or wings of Armenia

“May the holy spirit send wings!”, this was the phrase with which one of the workers who built the Tatev monastery dropped from the cliff and abruptly ascended into the sky on the wings, according to legend. The scale and beauty of Tatev can really be seen completely only from high up in the sky. It is the place the longest reverse cable way in the world was laid. During the “flight” you will discover dense forests, the gorge of the Vorotan river and the Tatev monastery itself. All this appears before your eyes in all its glory from a height of 320 meters above the ground. It seems like everything is floating here. The only reminder that you are still on earth are the ruins of an ancient village and huge ancient trees around, but even among them there are amazing “aerial” sites, such as the desert Tatev, abandoned and forgotten after an earthquake. Tatev is a must-see point for those who are never enough to be only on earth.


Interior of St. Astvatsatsin Church at Khor Virap Monastery - History

Khor Virap is arguably the most amazing sight in Armenia. It is an ancient monastery, shrouded in mystery and stories. After all, it is here that, according to legend, St. George the Illuminator was tortured and kept in the dungeons for 14 years.

The complex of the monastery is located above the cave that tourists today have access to, and offers stunning views of the wide fields at the foot of Mount Ararat.

Full of legends, Khor Virap is a cult place for the Christian history of Armenia. After the events unfolding here, Armenia became the first country (301) to adopt Christianity as the state religion.

In the gorge of the Aspa River, among the red rocks “burning” at sunset, is located one of the essentials of Armenian architecture, namely, the Noravank monastery complex.

Built in the 13th century, Noravank was a religious place for the entire spiritual world of Armenia, and it also carried the role of a cultural and educational center. The whole complex consists of two churches and one chapel. They are Surb Astvatsatsin, Surb Karapet and Surb Grigor, but the most memorable and unique among them is the Church of Surb Astvatsatsin.

The church is decorated with special splendor. It is a structure of three floors including the dome, fully decorated with subtle patterns. The interior looks more modest, yet you can’t stop wondering about the courage of the architect and miniaturist Momik, who completed the church structure in 133. The church is believed to be his most tremendous work.

The main element of the church is the narrow cantilever staircase that leads to the second floor, yet has no handrails. They say your faith helps to keep balance. It is impossible to convey the feeling of rising above the world into words

We are sure that you will certainly be intrigued by Noravank and its mysteries.

Have you ever seen vivid canvases of Armenian artists? The abundance of colors, the complexity of the landscape and endless mountains. All this is not a figment of imagination, but the amazing nature of the edges of Armenia. The village of Areni, near the river Arpa, which flows right through the center of the village, is one of the instances of such an amazing entity of colors and memorable places.

Its fascinating nature has been creating gorges, high mountains and endless hills. Areni is a living picture that can make you fall in love with this land forever.


Interior of St. Astvatsatsin Church at Khor Virap Monastery - History

Khor Virap is arguably the most amazing sight in Armenia. It is an ancient monastery, shrouded in mystery and stories. After all, it is here that, according to legend, St. George the Illuminator was tortured and kept in the dungeons for 14 years. The complex of the monastery is located above the cave that tourists today have access to, and offers stunning views of the wide fields at the foot of Mount Ararat. Full of legends, Khor Virap is a cult place for the Christian history of Armenia. After the events unfolding here, Armenia became the first country (301) to adopt Christianity as the state religion.

Have you ever seen vivid canvases of Armenian artists? The abundance of colors, the complexity of the landscape and endless mountains. All this is not a figment of imagination, but the amazing nature of the edges of Armenia. The village of Areni, near the river Arpa, which flows right through the center of the village, is one of the instances of such an amazing entity of colors and memorable places. Its fascinating nature has been creating gorges, high mountains and endless hills. Areni is a living picture that can make you fall in love with this land forever.

In the gorge of the Aspa River, among the red rocks “burning” at sunset, is located one of the essentials of Armenian architecture, namely, the Noravank monastery complex. Built in the 13th century, Noravank was a religious place for the entire spiritual world of Armenia, and it also carried the role of a cultural and educational center. The whole complex consists of two churches and one chapel. They are Surb Astvatsatsin, Surb Karapet and Surb Grigor, but the most memorable and unique among them is the Church of Surb Astvatsatsin. The church is decorated with special splendor. It is a structure of three floors including the dome, fully decorated with subtle patterns. The interior looks more modest, yet you can’t stop wondering about the courage of the architect and miniaturist Momik, who completed the church structure in 133. The church is believed to be his most tremendous work. The main element of the church is the narrow cantilever staircase that leads to the second floor, yet has no handrails. They say your faith helps to keep balance. It is impossible to convey the feeling of rising above the world into words. We are sure that you will certainly be intrigued by Noravank and its mysteries.


Interior of St. Astvatsatsin Church at Khor Virap Monastery - History

The Persian word is Keliseh Darre Sham, on the Iranian side of the border with Azerbaijan. It was first built in 62 AD by St. Bartholomew, but the site currently seen was built in the 14 century AD.

Along the Aras River Valley to the San Stefano Monastery, the sky was lightly snowed, and the Azerbaijani train on the opposite bank of the Alas River made us excited for a while, and we all said that we would be able to visit Azerbaijan from here. I sighed again about the passport of my great celestial dynasty. The Abbey of San Stefano is hidden in a valley, lonely, and it is indeed suitable for penance. There is an Armenian church in the monastery. People come to visit and then someone opens the door. Then he stands by your side. After you leave, he locks the door and walks away. It's so quiet. This is also a world cultural heritage. After seeing a lot of Iranian mosques, I suddenly came to this deserted place and saw such a monastery, which made me completely forget that this is the land of Iran.


History

During the 1st half of the 17th century, monk Movses Syunetsi built a monastery complex with the financial support of the residents of Yerevan. The complex was made up of the Surp Astvatsatsin church, the chapel of Saint Anania, as well as of chambers for the members of the congregation and the prelacy building, all enclosed with fortified walls. A monastic school was opened within the complex as well. The construction of the monastery took place during the reign of Philip I of Armenia (Pilipos), the Catholicos (1632–1635). However, the newly built monastery did not last long. It was completely destroyed by the earthquake of 1679.

Present-day Surp Zoravor Astvatsatsin Church was built in 1693-94, on the same site of the ruined monastery, thanks to the donation of Khoja Panos who was one of the wealthiest residents of Yerevan. According to an inscription recorded 100 years after its construction, the church was renovated by Gabriel Haryurapet during the reign of Catholicos Luke I.

The church is of three-nave basilica type without dome. On the eastern side of the prayer hall is the main altar with vestries at the northern and southern corners. Architecturally, the interior and exterior features of the church are characterized by a striking simplicity. To a certain extent the three-vaulted porch in the western part of the church with decorative columns provides a substantial liveliness. On the flat parts of the external walls, there are beautifully carved khachkars (cross-stones) dating back to the 17th century.

In 1889, the Saint Ananias' Chapel was constructed on the northeastern side of the church, with stairs leading to the graveyard of Saint Ananias on its eastern flank.

After serving for different purposes throughout the years of the Soviet rule, Surp Zoravor Astvatsatsin Church was finally returned to the Mother See of the Armenian Apostolic Church during the 1970s, when it was entirely renovated. The decayed and falling parts of the walls and roofs were repaired and restored, a choir was added, and a new house was built for the priests. Saint Ananias' Chapel was also renovated.


Watch the video: KHOR VIRAP ARMENIAN: Խոր Վիրապ, lit. DEEP DUNGEON. NORAVANK ARMENIAN: Նորավանք,NEW MONASTERY (August 2022).