To the South with the Patriot 500 km
The Khor Virap (Armenian: Խոր Վիրապ, meaning “deep dungeon”) is an Armenian monastery located in the Ararat plain in Armenia, near the closed border with Turkey, about 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) south of Artashat, Ararat Province, within the territory of ancient Artaxata. The monastery was host to a theological seminaryand was the residence of Armenian Catholicos.
Khor Virap’s notability as a monastery and pilgrimage site is attributed to the fact that Gregory the Illuminator was initially imprisoned here for about 14 years by King Tiridates III of Armenia. Saint Gregory subsequently became the king’s religious mentor, and they led the proselytizing activity in the country. In the year 301, Armenia was the first country in the world to be declared a Christian nation. A chapel was initially built in 642 at the site of Khor 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 the “St. Astvatsatsin” (Holy Mother of God) was built around the ruins of the old chapel, the monastery, the refectory and the cells of the monks. Now, regular church services are held in this church. It is one of the most visited pilgrimage sites in Armenia.
Surb Karapet Monastery
Surb Karapet Monastery (Armenian: Մշո Սուրբ Կարապետ վանք, Msho Surb Karapet vank, “Surb Karapet monastery of Mush”,[A] also known by other names) was an Armenian Apostolic monastery in the historic province of Taron, about 30 km (19 mi) northwest of Mush (Muş), in present-day eastern Turkey. Surb Karapet translates to “Holy Precursor” and refers to John the Baptist, whose remains are believed to have been stored at the site by Gregory the Illuminator in the early fourth century. The monastery subsequently served as a stronghold of the Mamikonians—the princely house of Taron, who claimed to be the holy warriors of John the Baptist, their patron saint. It was expanded and renovated many times in later centuries. By the 20th century it was a large fort-like enclosure with four chapels.
Historically, the monastery was the religious center of Taron and was a prominent pilgrimage site. It was considered the most important monastery in Turkish (Western) Armenia and the second most important of all Armenian monasteries after Etchmiadzin. From the 12th century the monastery was the seat of the diocese of Taron, which had an Armenian population of 90,000 in the early 20th century. It attracted pilgrims on several occasions annually and host large celebrations. The monastery was burned and robbed during the Armenian Genocide of 1915 and later abandoned. Its stones have since been used by the local Kurds for building purposes.
Noravank (Armenian: Նորավանք, literally “new monastery”) is a 13th-century Armenian monastery, located 122 km from Yerevan in a narrow gorge made by the Amaghu River, near the town of Yeghegnadzor, Armenia. The gorge is known for its tall, sheer, brick-red cliffs, directly across from the monastery. The monastery is best known for its two-storey Surb Astvatsatsin (Holy Mother of God) church, which grants access to the second floor by way of a narrow stone-made staircase jutting out from the face of building, one of the earliest examples of cantilever architecture.
The monastery is sometimes called Noravank at Amaghu, with Amaghu being the name of a small and nowadays abandoned village above the canyon, in order to distinguish it from Bgheno-Noravank, near Goris. In the 13th–14th centuries the monastery became a residence of Syunik’s bishops and, consequently, a major religious and, later, cultural center of Armenia closely connected with many of the local seats of learning, especially with Gladzor’s famed university and library.
The walls were made from smoothly hewn yellow stones, decorated in places with red and black stones, which formed patterns of crosses, swastikas and chessboard motifs. The towers and walls of the fortress were decorated with many bas-reliefs of a dragon, seizing the heads of a bull or an eagle or holding a lamb in its talons and a tiger in movement. The architectural design of the “Kars” and “Dvin” gates give the “Smbat” walls a monumental aspect. These massive gates, found by archaeologists during excavations, were covered in thick iron plates and were held shut by beams, encircled with hoops at the end.
Having completed his construction work on the fortress, king of Armenia Smbat went on to build a number of beautiful buildings and a marvellous palace complex on the acropolis. The palace, which stood on the top of a hill, was surrounded by a separate system of fortress walls and was the principal residence of the Bagratids. The king’s official rooms and the residential part of the palace were divided off from one another by a wide corridor and the whole palace took up one sixth of the acropolis (4,900 square metres) and consisted of many rooms. In the North-Western corner of the palace there was a reception room (21 metres x 10.5 metres), which was faced with smoothly hewn stone and decorated with a multi-faceted carved colonnade. In the next room, figures of animals, framed with plants were moulded in plaster. In a third room, which was built in the form of a basilica, the walls were decorated with military scenes and covered in gold leaf; the arched wooden ceiling was decorated with carvings.
Jermuk (Armenian: Ջերմուկ), is a mountain spa town and the centre of the urban community of Jermuk in Vayots Dzor Province at the south of Armenia, at a road distance of 53 km east of the provincial capital Yeghegnadzor. It was considered one of the popular destinations for medical tourism in the Soviet Union.
Jermuk is known for its hot springs and mineral water brands bottled in the town. It is attractive for its fresh air, waterfall, artificial lakes, walking trails, the surrounding forests and mineral water pools. The town is being redeveloped to become a modern center of tourism and health services. It is also being set up to become a major chess centre, with numerous chess international tournaments scheduled in the town. As per the 2016 official estimate, Jermuk had a population of around 3,400. However, as of the 2011 census, the population of Jermuk was 5,572. The nearby villages of Herher (pop. 706), Karmrashen(pop. 252), and Gndevaz (pop. 829) are also part of the municipality (community) of Jermuk.
Jermuk occupies an area which is historically considered as part of the Vayots Dzor canton of the Syunik province of Greater Armenia. It was first mentioned during the 13th century by historian Stepanos Orbelian in his work History of the Province of Sisakan. The remains of an ancient cyclopeanfortress and the ruins of an 8th-century basilica testify that the region around the fountains of Jermuk has been settled long before the 13th century. The area of Jermuk has been ruled by the Siunia dynasty between the 10th and 13th centuries, when Vayots Dzor was part of the Kingdom of Syunik. The princes of Syunik regarded the mineral springs of Jermuk as healing and built several pools filled with it, thereby making the little town their holiday destination. During the Middle Ages, the Silk Road passed through the area of Vayots Dzor, particularly the road that currently links the town of Martuni with Yeghegnadzor to the northwest of Jermuk.
(Armenian: Սևանավանք; meaning Sevan Monastery) is a monastic complex located on a peninsula at the northwestern shore of Lake Sevan in the Gegharkunik Province of Armenia, not far from the town of Sevan. Initially the monastery was built at the southern shore of a small island. After the artificial draining of Lake Sevan, which started in the era of Joseph Stalin, the water level fell about 20 metres, and the island transformed into a peninsula. At the southern shore of this newly created peninsula, a guesthouse of the Armenian Writers’ Union was built. The eastern shore is occupied by the Armenian president’s summer residence, while the monastery’s still active seminary moved to newly constructed buildings at the northern shore of the peninsula.
Due to easier accessibility (once it became a peninsula), good highway and railway connections with the Armenian capital Yerevan, a well-developed tourist industry in the nearby town of Sevan, and its picturesque location (although less picturesque than it was before the lake level drop), Sevanavank is one of the most visited tourism sights in Armenia
Temple of Garni
The Temple of Garni (Armenian: Գառնու տաճար, Gaṙnu tačar ) is the only standing Greco-Roman colonnaded building in Armenia and the former Soviet Union. An Ionic pagan temple located in the village of Garni, Armenia, it is the best-known structure and symbol of pre-Christian Armenia. The structure was probably built by king Tiridates I in the first century AD as a temple to the sun god Mihr. After Armenia’s conversion to Christianity in the early fourth century, it was converted into a royal summer house of Khosrovidukht, the sister of Tiridates III. According to some scholars it was not a temple but a tomb and thus survived the universal destruction of pagan structures. It collapsed in a 1679 earthquake. Renewed interest in the 19th century led to excavations at the site in early and mid-20th century, and its eventual reconstruction between 1969 and 1975, using the anastylosis method. It is one of the main tourist attractions in Armenia and the central shrine of Armenian neopaganism.