Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Discovering Armenia 9 day circuit - Day 3 (afternoon and evening) - The Genocide Memorial and Yerevan's new Cathedral - The 18th of April 2014

A fairly strong and hot meal was what I felt I was in need of soon after having left the Fort Amberd ensemble. The low temperature and the humidity had really had a strong impact on me, most probably because I was not as well prepared for them as my French and Belgian travel companions were.

After lunch we made our way back into Yerevan and  soon after having reached the capital city's outskirts found ourselves driving up the Tsitsernakaberd hill, so as to visit the Genocide Memorial, considered to be of utmost importance for anyone wishing to understand Armenia and its people.

As Armine was giving us detailed information on the site and the Genocide three young men walked by and I noticed one was carrying a few flowers, which he later placed in the circle where an eternal flame burns.

On the surrounding park there is a collection of tress (mostly pine trees) each of which has been planted by a distinguished visitor. On the left hand side leading to the Memorial itself there is a wall of basalt on which are carved the names of villages and towns where massacres of Armenians by Turks are known to have taken place.

The 44 metre tall stele reaching to the sky are meant to symbolise the survival and spiritual rebirth of the Armenian people, with the deep cleft symbolising the separation of the peoples from Eastern and Western Armenia, while at the same time enhancing the unity of Armenia as a whole.

Adjoining the stele a ring of 12 inward leaning basalt  slabs representing the 12 lost provinces of Western Armenia, whose shape is a reminder of the  traditional Armenian khatchkars but whose reclining position emphasises mourning.

The steps leading down are said to be deliberately steep so as to have visitors approaching the circle bow in an attitude of reverence as they descend them.

After having paid my respect I wandered around the site which provided magnificent views over the capital city and although there was a slight breeze it was warm enough for me to feel a lot more comfortable than I had felt all day.

Having reached the Republic Square we were given some free time to stroll around before heading back to the hotel, so I joined Marie France and Yves as we made our way to the new Cathedral, consecrate in September 2001 to celebrate what  was officially the 1,700th anniversary of Christianity becoming the state religion, having therefore to this specific end a seating accommodation for an equal number of people.

At the entrance one could see a beautifully decorated panoply said to have been brought from the church of Gayane at Etchmiazin.

I found it to be particularly well lit, due to the number of windows, which differed significantly from most churches and Cathedrals we had seen so far.

As we walked out we came across a rather strange looking building with a two-part roof, referred to as the two peaks of Mt. Ararat, said to have been a former Russian cinema now turned into a clothing bazaar. 

Worth being referred the statue of  Alexander Greboyedov (1795-1829), a satirical playwright, whose best known play was only published and performed posthumously. Having been a diplomat he is known to have played an important role in both Russia's peace negotiations  with Turkey following the war of 1828-9 and during the negotiations with Persia in Teheran, where he lost his life having been actually murdered by an angry mob.

As we walked back to the Republic Square I photographed an alley which had been painted similarly to some others I had already seen from the bus. Noah's Arch book store is where we headed to afterwards, once we had been told it did have quite a wide choice of books in foreign languages. 

I ended up buying a book on Armenian illuminated manuscripts before finally making it to the hotel in time for dinner.

We were taken to a traditional restaurant not too far from the hotel in which we had what we all ended up unanimously considering to be the best meal we had had in Armenian territory so far. Food was not only particularly well prepared but also specially well presented.

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