Traveling in Armenia
|Armenia is a beautiful and clean country with its capital being safer than several major European cities. The only no-go part of Armenia is the on the Azerbaijan border, because the two countries have had wars over territory in this area. In the capital, people are very polite and almost every one speaks English so it’s very to travel. In the day time people go jogging down the streets, some walk their dogs, couples are out at night; everyone seemed to be happy! Armenia is also rich in history, and it was the first country to adopt Christianity.|
|My first pictures here are of the downtown part of Armenia’s capital of Yerevan. With such a long history, Armenia has had over 12 capitals in the past centuries, and though Yerevan is an ancient city, it has only been Armenia’s capital after World War I, officially declared in 1918. Today the city has grown to a population of over one million. After the year 2000, Yerevan reconstruction has been more apparent with the building of new roads, restaurants, and infrastructure all over the city. For around 70 years, Armenia was controlled by the Soviet Union.|
|Yerevan’s ancient history dates all the way back to the time before Christ, when King Argishtis ruled the empire of Urartu. All of the country’s history along with artifacts can be found in Armenia’s history museum located in republic square. Republic square is formed by the intersection of several major streets and is also home to many government programs such as the ministry of foreign affairs, post office head quarters, ministry of energy and more. There is an enormous building located in Republic Square that looks to be another major government office, but it’s the famous Yerevan Marriott with prices starting at $600 a night!. Above is a night shot of, and Armenia’s history museum.|
|These photos are from the Erebuni fortress found right alongside Yerevan. This fortress was built as a military base for King Argišti in 786BC. Back then the area was part of the country Urartu, and this fortress existed well over a thousand years before Yerevan was founded.|
|These four surrounding photos are also from Erebuni fortress which was used defend the northern part of King Argisti’s country. The site was excavated in the 1950s, and they recovered hundreds of artifacts which are in display in the museum of history. It’s amazing that 2,800 years later, Erebuni fortress is still standing today and is in excellent condition considering that nearly three millenniums have passed by.|
|One of Armenia’s greatest tragedies was the Armenian Genocide which took place in 1915. Just after World War I, the Ottoman empire at the time controlled the area and was responsible for killing over a million Armenians. On the left is the Tsitsernakaberd Armenian Genocide memorial in Yerevan, close by is the actual Genocide Museum. The photo on the upper right is unrelated to the genocide, but I found it interesting how Armenia’s put drawings of their dead on tombstones. I think that actually makes more sense. This is also done in Azerbaijan.|
|This enormous 9th century monastery known as Tatev is located high in the mountains of southeast Armenia. The view from a distance is one of the most amazing in the country, but when I visited they had a 21st century crane doing some maintenance so I couldn’t get a good photo of the entire complex. Completed in 895, the monastery has received several additional structures over the centuries.|
The two photos above are more pictures from the complex of Tatev. Above is a hallway found in the Tatev complex. The structure on the left is called ‘Gavazan’ the swinging column. It is unique because it actually tilts if someone leans on it then goes back to it’s original position. This has allowed it to absorb shocks and survive dozens of earthquakes that have occurred in Armenia.
These two pictures are from a church complex located near the border of Iran that is called Noravank. You can see how the stones that are used are different in color from other churches in Armenia. The area around the church complex is made up of a gorge that has reddish cliffs and is very scenic.
Founded in the 1205, Noravank actually means ‘New Monastery’ in Armenia. Above is the garden and fountain, on the right is the inner chapel of the S. Astvatsatsin Church.
These surrounding pictures are of Haghartsin Monastery, built between the 10th and 14th century. Within the monastery complex are three churches, a 13th century reflectory, and other works of art that are still standing today.
|Above is the church complex Khor Virap, with Mt. Ararat in Turkey behind it.|
|Inside Khor Virap, is the story of Gregory the Illuminator, a saint who helped convert Armenia from Pagan to Christianity. The story goes that Gregory the Illuminator was ordered to be dropped into a pit by Tiridates III, the son of a King. The reasons where mostly that the father of Gregory the Illuminator was enemies with Tiridates III. After over a decade, Gregory the Illuminator was pulled from the pit to help cure Tiridates III who was have said to go insane. After helping Tiridates III recover and baptize him, Tiridates III asked Gregory the Illuminator convert the entire country, making Armenia the first official Christian nation.|
While Stone Hedge in England is famous around the world for being one of the first megalithic astronomy devices, another similar site called Karahunj is estimated to be even older. Unfortunately Karahunj doesn’t get the same popularity because the ruins don’t match the huge boulders and impressive heights as its Stone Hedge counterpart do. Above you can see two photos I took of Karahunj, the first shows the entire ruins while on the right are some smaller stone circles outside the main area. Karahunj was believed to be used for astronomy as well, and even has holes in the stones that line up with stars at the right time of the year. On the right is some type of special arrangement of stones that was dead center of Karajunj.
|Another place in Armenia where you’ll never run out of water is called Lake Sevan. Since Armenia is a landlocked country Lake Sevan is also their beach, and is between Armenia and the country Azerbaijan. On the left is a shot looking over the lake from a good viewpoint. On the other side are a bunch of Armenian’s swimming along the shores of Lake Sevan. Many people also take both power and paddle boats out into the lake for fun.|
|A good place in the summer to go hiking is the Valley of Flowers, or Tsakhkadzor in Armenian. The upper right photo shows the lift going to the top of the mountain where you can do hiking and enjoy some scenery. In the winter Tsakhkadzor is actually a small ski resort. On the left is an old fashioned way to travel in Armenia.|
Here are three more pictures of Armenia’s natural beauty. Armenia has many amazing rock formations throughout the country like in the two photos above. During one part of my trip we drove through a steep valley that had orangish rocks with very dark green plants growing off of them. For some reason it all looked prehistoric to me, like something you would see from the dinosaur ages. On the left side is a famous waterfall named Shaki in southern Armenia. The waterfall was pretty dry when I visited but just as beautiful. Normally after it rains the rocks are completely covered by a wall of rushing water.
|Armenia has some amazing natural beauty. My favorite was the Vorotan canyon, where there is a natural bridge that crosses over a river. On the left is a picture of the entire canyon, to the right of that is a picture looking down into the river from the natural bridge. It doesn’t seem that far from the photo but it is a long ways down. I couldn’t see anyone down there but you can hear kid’s voices echoing back up as they played in the water below.|