Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Discovering Armenia 9 day circuit - Day 4 (afternoon) - Gyumri 's Local History and Craft Museum - The 19th of April 2014

We then headed towards Gyumri located in the North western part of the country, known as the capital city of the Shirak Province and labelled as the "city of the trades and arts".

Before visiting the local History and Craft Museum we had a rather special lunch which included a local speciality of double filling rolled lavash at the Phaeton Alek restaurant pertaining to the Museum.

The Museum located in a restored 1872 town house, whose façade was stunningly beautiful with its black and orange-red tuff blocks and a wrought-iron balcony attached to a wooden carved building housed quite a few artefacts dating back to the Tsarist period being exhibited in quite tastefully furnished rooms.

Having strolled along those multiple rooms turned into galleries allowed us to feel the atmosphere of the epoch, to come across the wide variety of trades, to get acquainted with the traditional  costumes people wore and the instruments they played and ultimately see how rich merchants lived then. The insight such an exhibition provided was beyond what one might have envisaged.

By the time we walked out it was as if we had to re-adjust to the "modern" life outside such was the intensity of the experience.

(To be continued)

Discovering Armenia 9 day circuit - Day 4 (morning cont.) - Haritchavank Monastery, Shirak Province - The 19th of April 2014


The landscape colours changed again as we drove towards the Shirak Province ... at times it looked as if one might be going across very different countries such were the differences in terrain and atmoshpherical conditions.

We drove by a rather Soviet-like city developed as a centre of tuff mining in the past, which with the recent upsurge of construction work has led to a fall in unemployment that had reached a very high level since the colapse of the Soviet Union.

We finally reached the village of Harich, which displayed gas pipes  along the streets on the outside, similarly to many other villages I had seen from inside the bus on several other occasions. I cannot help saying that it looked rather odd with all its twists to accommodate the terrain.

Founded by the 7th century and further expanded during the 13th the Harichavank Monastery is situated on the edge of a ravine in the Harich village. It had a cruciform shape with a tall 20-hedral drum cupola with rosettes as decoration.
A rather unusual feature, which naturally caught our attention was a small chapel perched on top of a high pillar of rock in the gorge.

The whole ensemble was peopled with young men attending the Monastic Centre. We could see some reading and discussing under some trees on our left, while the youngest were playing football on the Monastery grounds.

 An intricately detailed tympanum could be seen above the rear door.

A large gavit could be seen between the churches, whose porch was finely decorated with small twisted columns.

Its Eastern façade featured a relief carving depicting the Zakarian brothers (under whose orders the Monastic complex was built in the 13th century) holding a model of the Cathedral in their hands.

As I walked out I came across a lady with four children to whom I handed a few presents. There they stood holding them, almost motionsless whilst I photographed them.