Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Discovering Armenia 9 day circuit - Day 7 (afternoon cont.) - Khor Virap and the Ararat Mountain - The 22nd of April 2014

We were supposed to have just seen the Khor Virap Monastery and the mount Ararat from  a so called desirable distance and photographed both before continuing our journey to Yerevan, but the moment Armine suggested we briefly stopped at the Monastery, as we were once more ahead of schedule, we all accepted willingly.

The view was absolutely stunning and though the Ararat Mountain could not be photographed the way any of us would have liked, at least from a closer range, we were nevertheless happy that it was sightable.

Being one of the most popular destinations of Armenia apart from the so called "conventional" souvenirs doves are also "sold" for the purchaser to later release so they may "fly" to mount Ararat, though the reality is they are "homing" doves, which will soon fly back to the vendors.

The historical and religious significance of Khor Virat is considerable though mainly because of having been the place where King Trdat III is said to have imprisoned Gregory the Illuminator for thirteen years in the late 3rd and early 4th centuries.

It is said to be very popular for wedding ceremonies or any other special religious events and the fact is that as we were approaching the entrance of the Monastery complex a recently wedded couple was being taken photographs with the Moint Ararat just behind, with its snow-capped peak Armenians are said to liken to a bride covering her head with a veil.

Mount Ararat is now in Turkey, though it is only 33 kilometres form Khor Virat Monastery and the views are as stunning as we had been told they would. The name of the province is still named after it in honour of the biblical mountain.

Dedicated to the Mother of God the main church of the Monastery compound stood there humbly if compared to the majestic posture of the mount just in front of it.
We visited the complex very briefly, though none of us ventured walking down the stuffy claustrophobic chamber where St. Gregory was imprisoned.
Three of us (Annick, Yves and I) decided to take a path uphill on the north side of the Monastery instead, where we had a stunning view over the Monastery complex, as well as the plain, with its extended cemetery to one side and the cultivated fields on the other.
It was worth having ventured up even if I must confess it was hard and discouraging half way up.



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