Armenia has a lot of cultural treasures and that includes many centuries old monasteries. Some of them can be found in the Ararat Province. During our third day in the country, we spent the entire day exploring 2 of its significant historic sites – the Khor Virap and the Noravank Monasteries.
Speaking of Ararat, it has been said that Noah’s ark settled on Mount Ararat after the great flood. I’m sure most of you are familiar about the story of Noah and the great flood. It was actually one of my favorite Bible stories of all time. Interesting right? Aside from the sites that we visited during our Armenian sojourn, Derick and I were most excited to see the place where the ark rested. Actually the mountain is located right along the border of Armenia and Turkey. Actually it is more easily accessible from the Turkey side rather than in Armenia. Nevertheless we were happy to see it even from afar.
Mount Ararat, Khor Virap Monastery, the vineyards and the flying stork.
On a clear day Mount Ararat is visible in some parts of the capital, Yeravan. It was a hazy day when we were there, but I’m quite satisfied to capture some nice shots of the Khor Virap Monastery with the Mount Ararat at the background. (Picture shown above)
Local produce for sale along the road.
Khor Virap Monastery
First constructed as a chapel in 642 AD, it was again built and repeatedly rebuilt during 1662. Khor Virap means “deep pit or deep dungeon”. According to our local guide, this monastery is significant for them since it was the place where their Saint Gregory the Illuminator was imprisoned. He was kept under a deep dungeon here for 13 years. Today it is one of the most visited pilgrimage site in Armenia.
The second monastery we have visited was Noravank. Its name means “new monastery” in Armenian. Situated on the edge of a narrow gorge by the Amaghu River, the gorge is known for its tall, sheer and brick-red cliffs which offers breathtaking views of the monastery.
Noravank is a 13th century monastery that is known for its two-storey feature.
Wine Tasting at Areni Winery
In between our monastery visits, we had a stop at Areni Winery. This place is one of the major wine producers in the country. We had a wine cellar tour and then orientation on how their wines are produced. After which, wine tasting followed. We got to try some of their premium wines and assorted fruit wines as well.
It was a very relaxing day trip from Yerevan. We saw new sites and learned a lot of things about Armenia. We were back in the city at around 3 o’clock in the afternoon. Hence, we still have a lot of time to check out the flee market and buy some souvenir items.