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  • Tavush - Armenian Travel & Tourism Portal
    are locked a local caretaker has the keys Near contemporary Kirakos Gandzaketsi tr R Bedrosian had warm praise for the blessed vardapet Khachatur Taronatsi director of the holy congregation of Haghartsin a holy virtuous man renowned for his learning especially for his musical knowledge He made the holy congregation which he directed sparkle prior to his coming it was desolate and withered The king of the Georgians Giorgi Tamar s father especially esteemed Khachatur and he gave to the church under his own signature two villages Abasadzor and Tandzut and a vineyard in Mijnashen And by all the saints he placed a curse on anyone who dared to shore these properties from the monastery Khachatur passed to Christ and is buried on the western side of the church There is an ancient nut tree just E of the Astvatsatsin shading a fine view point and various remains of graves including royal graves of the Bagratuni family S of the S Grigor church Admire the fine families of pigs rooting on the surrounding hillside Five km N of Teghut were found and taken to the museum two Aramaic inscriptions of Artashes I Continuing E on the main road first village is Haghartsin until recently called Kuybishev after the famous Bolshevik till 1940 Zarkhej In the mountains somewhere north 15 km W of Ijevan in the locality of Dzorapor on the side of Mt Aghjanots are substantial remains of Kayan Berd a castle that presided in medieval times over a substantial district It was probably build in the 10th century under King Ashot Yerkat but was restored under various masters including Atabek Ivane Zakarian Besieged here by the Mongols in 1236 Avag the son of Ivane prudently surrendered and became a valued Mongol ally The castle was destroyed at the end of the 14th century during Timur Lenk s invasions At 15 8 km is the turnoff right S toward Gosh and Chambarak Krasnosyelsk Take the first right up to Goshavank or Nor Getik Vank in the village of Gosh The monastery was founded in 1188 by famous Armenian cleric scientist author and law giver Mkhitar Gosh died 1213 with the help of Prince Ivane Zakarian as replacement for Old Getik Vank SW near Martuni in Gegharkunik on the Jivikhlu road which was destroyed by earthquake in 1188 The monastic complex is large and well endowed and was for a brief period an important center of Armenian medieval culture The architect Mkhitar the Carpenter and his disciple Hovhanes also took an active part in building the monastery The rectangular room next to the reading room stands out from the rest of the complex by its walls of large unworked stones In all probability this room is a holdover from an early Iron Age fortress built on the site perhaps 2000 years before The reading room of the monastery school itself is unusual built in several stages with a chapel bell tower built on top in 1291 Note the intricately carved khachkar the

    Original URL path: http://www.travel.am/tavush-marz-armenia/44/ (2015-06-14)
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  • Vayots Dzor - Armenian Travel & Tourism Portal
    the cliffs Noravank New monastery was founded by Bishop Hovhannes Abbot of Vahanavank in Syunik W of Kapan who moved there in 1105 and built the original S Karapet church According to Stepanos Orbelian Hovhannes went to the Persian actually Seljuk Sultan Mahmud and came back with a firman giving him possession He gathered religious folk and established a rule barring women and lewd persons Unfortunately the evil amira lord of the nearby castle of Hraskaberd scanty ruins of which not firmly identified are somewhere in the hills SE plotted to kill him and destroy the monastery Hovhannes who was gifted in languages went to Isfahan cured the Sultan s sick son and came back with the title deeds to Hraskaberd and 12 nearby estates and a trusty band of heavily armed men who pushed the amira and his family off a cliff A century later Stepanos says a group of Persians rebuilt Hraskaberd but two lieutenants of the Zakarian brothers kicked them out in favor of Liparit Orbelian see end of chapter and reestablished the monastery s claim to the estates surrounding Bishop Hovhannes led a holy life and worked numerous miracles such as catching in his hands unharmed a woman and infant who fell off the cliff During the 13th and 14th centuries a series of princes of the Orbelian clan built churches which served as the burial site for the family The monastery became the center of the Syunik bishopric The nearest and grandest church is the Astvatsatsin Mother of God also called Burtelashen Burtel built in honor of Prince Burtel Orbelian its donor The church completed in 1339 is said to be the masterpiece of the talented sculptor and miniaturist Momik In modern times the church has had a plain hipped roof but in 1997 the drum and conical roof were rebuilt to reflect the original glory still attested by battered fragments The ground floor contained elaborate tombs of Burtel and his family Narrow steps projecting from the west facade lead up to the entrance to the church oratory Note the fine relief sculpture over the doors Christ flanked by Peter and Paul The earlier church is the S Karapet a cross in square design with restored drum and dome built in 1216 1227 just N of the ruins of the original S Karapet destroyed in an earthquake Forming the western antechamber is an impressive gavit of 1261 decorated with splendid khachkars and with a series of inscribed gravestones in the floor That of the historian bishop Stepanos dated 1303 is toward the western door Note the famous carvings over the outside lintel The side chapel of S Grigor built in 1275 contains more Orbelian family tombs including a splendidly strange carved lion human tombstone dated 1300 covering the grave of Elikum son of Prince Tarsayich and brother of Bishop Stepanos Alas nothing is preserved of the rich church ornaments and miraculous relics Stepanos and his predecessors assembled for the glory of God In its heyday Noravank housed a piece of the True Cross stained with Christ s blood This wondrous relic acquired forcibly by a notable family of Artsakh from a mysterious stranger after it raised a villager s dead child was purchased by the Orbelians for cash when the family became refugees Noravank was hot in July August even in the 13th c Bishop Stepanos reports that the bishops and monks moved to Arates monastery in the mountains E of Shatin to avoid the summer heat Summer tourists should arrive early morning or late afternoon for a more pleasant visit The warm light on the red cliffs is spectacular as the sun sets Arpi founded in 1965 About 6 4 km after Areni just before the Arpi sign the first road turning right to cross the Arpa r leads in 7 6 km to an old guardhouse on the left and immediately beyond on the right beside the road the tin covered entrance to the Mozrovi cave Discovered in the 1970s during road building the easy to navigate first 400m is deep and full of spectacular colored stalagmite and stalactite formations Entrance is perilous through a hole in the cover and down a steep slope and should not be attempted without an experienced caver The deep Arjeri cave system and several others are in the same general area Another mile further up is the village of Mozrov and on an increasingly poor dirt road Gnishik almost abandoned in 1975 due to landslides Some 2 km NE is Dali Khach ruined shrine In the village are khachkars of 9 17th c and a church of 1463 There are 1st millennium BC graves 2 km N of village by bad road SE about 10 km is Hraseka berd of the 9 12th c Four km E of Gnishik are the remains of old Boloraberd village with a 13 14th c Tukh Manuk chapel S of Boloraberd are remains of Vardablur village with a ruined church and cemetery There is a medieval Vardablur fortress E Some 4 km NE of Gnishik is the former Gandzak village with a medieval cemetery and church Selim Caravansaray and the Yeghegis Monasteries At 34 3 m is the Yeghegis River with roads leading N to Getap on both sides of the stream Take the far E road bypassing Getap River bank known until 1935 as Ghoytur home of some of the Areni vintages Two km NE of Getap atop a hill are ruins of Aghli Vank church with inscriptions Continuing N along the Yeghegis R note at 5 8 km the spur of a medieval bridge At 9 1 km is the first turnoff to the right for Shatin Continuing straight N now along the Selim river you seen on the left at Hors with the Chibukh Kyorpi bridge of the 14th c the tomb of Chesar Orbelian and a 14th c church with khachkars On the right is Salli then on the left Taratumb with a khachkar of 1251 and a church of 1880 again on the right is Karaglukh Some 3 km S on a high plateau are the ruined 13th c walls of Mamasi Vank built according to medieval legend to house the relicts of St Mamas carried back to Armenia by the princes of Syunik from Caesaria in Asia Minor in the 4th c The 13th c church is called S Poghos St Paul On a hill 3 km E of Karaglukh is a simple Tukh Manuk shrine built by the ruins of a substantial earlier church There are numerous khachkars Aghnjadzor formerly Aghkend a mixed Armenian Azeri village with church cemetery is the site of Lernantsk Caravansaray located about a kilometer N of the village appearing east of the road like a half buried Quonset hut Take the dirt road just past the bridge crossing the early bridge and heading up the stream valley A smaller and cruder structure than the Selim Caravansaray it was built in roughly the same period A one nave caravanserai built from basalt the foundation date isn t known A smaller hall is covered with a cylindrical vault supported by arches There are stony troughs inside The only entry is from the western side This monument too is lit by means of the roofing which together with some other data shows the influence of Armenian residential architecture on that of caravanserais Four km N are the so called Kapuyt Berd Blue Fort ruins Shortly beyond the new Lincy funded road begins to switchback up the mountain toward the Selim Pass It is a brand new smooth road all the way to Lake Sevan but ask about passability in the winter months Selim Caravansaray lies below the road just before the summit on the south side of Selim Pass 2410 m a splendid relic of the days when an international trade route connected Vayots Dzor to the Sevan basin and points North According to the Armenian inscription on the right inside the door Prince Chesar Orbelian and his brothers built this rest house in 1332 in the reign of Abu Said Il Khan the ruler of the world whose death in 1335 deprived the world of an enlightened Mongol despot and ushered in a new wave of invasions The Persian inscription on the outside lintel almost effaced by recent vandals gives the date 1326 7 The Armenian inscription reads In the name of the Almighty and powerful God in the year 1332 in the world rule of Busaid Khan I Chesar son of Prince of Princes Liparit and my mother Ana grandson of Ivane and my brothers handsome as lions the princes Burtel Smbat and Elikom of the Orbelian nation and my wife Khorishah daughter of Vardan of the Senikarimans built this spiritual house with our own funds for the salvation of our souls and those of our parents and brothers reposing in Christ and of my living brothers and sons Sargis Hovhannes the priest Kurd and Vardan We beseech you passers by remember us in Christ The beginning of the house took place in the high priesthood of Esai and the end thanks to his prayers in the year 1332 The best preserved caravansaray in Armenia Selim saw reconstruction during the 1950s It is built of basalt blocks with a cavernous central hall for animals separated from the two vaulted side aisles by rows of stone mangers A chapel which once abutted the E side of the caravanserai is now in parial ruins Bring a flashlight though the dim light through the smoke holes in the roof adds a proper medieval flavor There is a little spring fountain monument just uphill beyond the caravansaray The bad road continues N over the pass and ultimately to Martuni Shatin and Eastward Tsakhatskar Smbataberd At 10 0 km from the Yeghegnadzor road is the second turn off for Shatin till 1935 Hasankend where the Yeghegis river turns E Main attraction is Shativank a fortified monastery 3km E up the gorge Directions Toward the far end of the village take the right fort down to the bridge and cross About 150 m further take the right fork and then about 5 further the left fork steeply up to a tiny cemetery From there a jeep road winds up and around to the monastery Preferable option particularly for the jeepless is to walk up the gorge a rewarding 45 minute climb The path can be found by taking the left fork above the bridge going about 100 m until 15 meters before a white painted garage gate On the right between a telephone pole and an iron rod a faint trail ascends steeply At the power pylon on the spine to the left the path becomes wide and clear Inside a substantial fortification wall Shativank consists of the S Sion Church rebuilt in 1665 two story monks and guest quarters SE corner is best preserved a grain storage silo NW khachkars and outside the walls SE a waterworks Other antiquities in the vicinity reportedly include Berdakar fort 2 km S 5th c Shatin bridge a shrine S and a 10th c church in Hostun Going E from Shatin one follows the Yeghegis river upstream Note that many of the village names have changed since 1988 along with the population At the first fork beyond Shatin signposted Tsakhatskar Vank 13 km turning left N on a paved road brings one to Artabuynk until 1946 Erdapin then Yeghegis until the recent transfer of populations when Alayaz reclaimed the name Its inhabitants were brought in 1830 from Khoy region Follow the lower road parallel to the stream until about 1 km past the village An unmarked jeep track angles steeply down to the right fords the stream and climbs up Just after passing a spring on your right The left fork and left again leads 6 km NE of village to the splendid ruined Tsakhatskar Monastery with S Hovhannes church of 989 S Karapet church of the 10th c and a host of other ruined buildings set apart from the two churches decorated with splendid khachkars on the flank of the mountain Retracing the track and taking the first right fork leads to the 9th century fortress of Smbatabert This spectacular castle sits on the crest of the ridge between Artabuynk and Yeghegis or as most people still call them Yeghegis and Alayaz and includes an upper citadel The castle received water from a buried clay pipe leading from the monastery According to legend the Turks compelled the fort s surrender by employing a thirsty horse to sniff out the pipeline Beyond Artabuynk on the main dirt road is Horbategh with S Hreshtakapetats Holy Archangels Church rebuilt in 1692 and khachkars Returning through Artabuynk to the main E W paved road one soon reaches the village of Yeghegis until 1994 Alayaz historically Armenian as attested by the rich sprinkling of antiquities When its Azeri inhabitants departed the houses were occupied by Armenians half refugees from Sumgait in Azerbaijan and half locals seeking a house and land of their own Entering the village one sees on the left a stone enclosure with khachkars commemorating the Orbelian family Left on a narrow village road takes one first to the Astvatsatsin basilica rebuilt in 1703 then to a small domed 13th c church of S Karapet with cemetery and then on a green hill E of town a few meters past S Karapet where the road turns left S Zorats cathedral or S Stepanos built in 1303 by a grandson of Prince Tarsayich Orbelian This is a pretty unique church design not only for Armenia but in general The congregation is meant to stand outside facing the open air altar The church has been extensively restored Its name comes allegedly from the custom of consecrating arms and horses there before battle In the NW part of the village incorporated into house and garden walls are substantial remains of cyclopean walls and caves cellars Right of the road inside the village is a small ruined basilica In 2000 a team from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem under Professor Michael Stone excavated on the S side of the Yeghegis river opposite the village take the road that winds under the damaged Azeri cemetary and cross the footbridge a Jewish cemetery with some 40 gravestones with Hebrew inscriptions attesting to the existence of a literate and prosperous Jewish community in Yeghegis in the 1200 s Somewhere on the mountain a few km NE are ruins of 13th c Gyulum Bulaghi Vank probably Upper Noravank attested in manuscripts A few km E on the main road is Hermon until recently Ghavushugh Guney Vank plausibly identified with the anciently attested monastic center Hermoni Vank of the 9 17th c is somewhere nearby up a difficult road with S Grigor Lusavorich church and a 12 13th c cemetery N of Hermon is the former village of Kalasar with scant remains of a church and cemetery Taking the left fork in Hermon and then the next left signposted for Arates Vank an asphalt road winds N to a small military checkpoint beyond which is the village of Arates formerly the Azeri village of Ghzlgyul 0 p Arates Vank has the 7th c S Sion church Astvatsatsin of 10th c church and S Karapet of 13th c church a ruined gavit built in 1265 70 by order of Prince Smbat Orbelian architect Siranes under Abbot Hayrapet Dirt roads lead beyond into the mountains Keeping right at the turnoff for Arates one climbs to the village of Vardahovit formerly the three Azeri hamlets of Gyulliduz with huge khachkar Gharaghaya Gyadikvank The current population 130 families in summer 30 in winter is half refugees from Azerbaijan half locals When the weather holds they scratch out a bare existence with wheat and potatoes Continuing straight through the village a deteriorating dirt road leads to the large totally ruined hamlet of Gyadikvank which has left of the road a few khachkars and worked blocks from a disappeared monastery According to the mayor the inhabitants of Gyadikvank were removed with compensation before the Karabakh crisis with the aim of building a reservoir Somewhere a few km NE is supposedly a monastery of the 10th c Kotur Vank Ghoturvan with a church of 1271 Beyond Gyadikvank the jeep track leads on through the mountains to Vardenis and Kelbajar Returning to Hermon the other S fork leads in 3 2 km up to Goghtanik formerly Ghabakhlu with an artificial cave a 13th c bridge and 13th c church Climbing out of the Yeghegis R valley the road becomes a mud track impassible in winter summit of pass 8 6 km from Hermon On the far side of the pass 15 7 km on the Herher river is Karmrashen 65 families originally Kyotanli from 1963 a construction site for the Arpa Sevan tunnel which was completed in 2000 On a hill E are ruins of a small church and 1 5 km SW are ruins of two more There is a carved votive to Saints Peter and Paul set up by Prince Elikum Orbelian in 1291 one km S of town The road improves markedly at Herher with its Surp Sion Monastery one km NE on a hilltop first attested in the 8th c There are S Sion and Astvatsatsin churches On the interior S wall of the latter an inscription reads By the will of Almighty God this is the memorial inscription and the indelible monument of the glorious Baron Varham son of Vasak grandson of the great Magistros and of his pious wife Sandoukht and of their handsome offspring Ukan and of the powerful and great general Varham and of his Christ loving mother Mamkan and the well born lady wife of Gontza who built this church with much toil and ornamented it with rich plate for my long life and that of my wife and our children Ukan An offering to the Holy Monastery in

    Original URL path: http://www.travel.am/vayots-dzor-marz-armenia/45/ (2015-06-14)
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  • Yerevan - Armenian Travel & Tourism Portal
    N 44 31 E and is the administrative cultural and industrial center of the country The history of Yerevan dates back to the 8th century BC with the founding of the Urartian fortress of Erebuni in 782 BC Early history The territory of Yerevan was settled by humans since the 4th millennium BC fortified settlements from the Bronze Age include Shengavit Karmir Blur Karmir Berd and Berdadzor Archaeological evidence indicates that an Urartian military fortress called Erebuni Էրեբունի was founded in 782 BC by the orders of King Argishtis I at the site of current day Yerevan to serve as a fort citadel guarding against attacks from the north Caucasus thus Yerevan is one of the most ancient cities in the world Irrigation canals and an artificial reservoir were built on the territory of Yerevan during the height of Urartian power The fortress of Teishebaini Karmir Blur was destroyed by the Scythians in 585 BC Between the 6th and 4th centuries BC Yerevan was one of the main centers of the Armenian satrapy of the Achaemenid Empire The timespan between 4th century BC and 3rd century AD is known as the Yerevan Dark Ages due to absence of historical data The first church in Yerevan the church of St Peter and Paul was built in the 5th century collapsed in 1931 Yerevan Geography and climate Yerevan is located in Eastern Armenia in the North Eastern part of the Ararat Valley The upper part of the city is surrounded by mountains on three sides while to the south it descends to the banks of the river Hrazdan a tributary of the river Arax that divides the city into two within a picturesque canyon The elevation of the city ranges between 900 to 1 300 meters over the sea level displaying a

    Original URL path: http://www.travel.am/yerevan-armenia/46/ (2015-06-14)
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  • Geography - Armenian Travel & Tourism Portal
    and Parcel Armenia History Regions Aragatsotn Ararat Armavir Gegharkunik Kotayk Lori Shirak Syunik Tavush Vayots Dzor Yerevan Geography Demographics Culture Language Religion Holidays Useful Electricity Climate Currency Telephone Telecommunications Official Government Embassies Visas and Passport Transportation Photos Yerevan Landscapes Historical monuments Nature People Events Reviews Related History Regions Geography Demographics Culture Language Religion Holidays Useful Official Transportation Armenia Geography Armenia is a landlocked country in the southern Caucasus Located between the Black and Caspian Seas the country is bordered on the north and east by Georgia and Azerbaijan and on the south and west by Iran and Turkey Though geographically in Western Asia politically and culturally Armenia is closely aligned with Europe Historically Armenia has been at the crossroads between Europe and Southwest Asia and is therefore seen as a transcontinental nation The Republic of Armenia covering an area of 30 000 square kilometres 11 600 sq mi is located in the north east of the Armenian Highland covering 400 000 km or 154 000 sq mi otherwise known as historic Armenia and considered as the original homeland of Armenians The terrain is mostly mountainous with fast flowing rivers and few forests The climate is highland continental hot summers and

    Original URL path: http://www.travel.am/geography/9/ (2015-06-14)
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  • Demographics - Armenian Travel & Tourism Portal
    Syunik Tavush Vayots Dzor Yerevan Geography Demographics Culture Language Religion Holidays Useful Electricity Climate Currency Telephone Telecommunications Official Government Embassies Visas and Passport Transportation Photos Yerevan Landscapes Historical monuments Nature People Events Reviews Related History Regions Geography Demographics Culture Language Religion Holidays Useful Official Transportation Armenia Demographics Armenia has a population of 2 982 904 July 2005 est and is the second most densely populated of the former Soviet republics There has been a problem of population decline due to elevated levels of emigration after the break up of the USSR The rates of emigration and population decline however have been decreasing in the recent years a trend which is expected to continue In fact Armenia is expected to resume its positive population growth by 2010 Ethnic Armenians make up 97 9 of the population Kurds make up 1 3 and Russians 0 5 There are smaller communities of Assyrians Georgians Greeks and Ukrainians Most Azerbaijanis once a sizable population have been forced to leave their homes since the independence and the occupation Armenia has a very large diaspora 8 million by some estimates greatly exceeding the 3 million population of Armenia itself with communities existing across the globe including France Russia Iran Lebanon and North America Approximately 120 000 Armenians now live in the disputed Nagorno Karabakh region The predominant religion in Armenia is Christianity The roots of the Armenian Church go back to the 1st century AD According to tradition the Armenian Church was founded by two of Jesus twelve apostles Thaddaeus and Bartholomew who preached Christianity in Armenia in the 40s 60s AD Because of these two founding apostles the official name of the Armenian Church is Armenian Apostolic Church Armenia was the first nation to adopt Christianity as a state religion in AD 301 Over 93

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  • Culture - Armenian Travel & Tourism Portal
    and unusual for one to go inside an Armenian household and not be offered coffee pastry food or even water The weddings are usually quite elaborate and regal The process begins by the man and woman becoming promised The man s immediate family Parents Grandparents and often the Uncles and Aunts go over to the woman s house to ask for permission from the woman s father for the relationship to continue and hopefully prosper Once permission is granted by the father the man gives the woman a promise ring to make it official To celebrate the mutual family agreement the woman s family opens a bottle of Armenian cognac After being promised most families elect to have a semi large engagement party as well The girl s family is the one who plans organizes and pays for the party There is very little involvement by the man s family At the party a priest is summoned to pray for the soon husband and wife to be and give his blessings Once the words of prayer have concluded the couple slide wedding bands on each other s right hands the ring is moved to the left hand once a formal marriage ceremony is conducted by the Armenian church The customary time to wait for the marriage is about one year Unlike other cultures the man and his family pay for the wedding The planning and organization process is usually done by the bride and groom to be The National Art Gallery in Yerevan has more than 16 000 works that date back to the Middle Ages It houses paintings by many European masters The Modern Art Museum the Children s Picture Gallery and the Martiros Saryan Museum are only a few of the other noteworthy collections of fine art on

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  • Language - Armenian Travel & Tourism Portal
    Holidays Useful Electricity Climate Currency Telephone Telecommunications Official Government Embassies Visas and Passport Transportation Photos Yerevan Landscapes Historical monuments Nature People Events Reviews Related History Regions Geography Demographics Culture Language Religion Holidays Useful Official Transportation Armenia Language Linguists theorize that 5 000 7 000 years ago the Proto Indo European language splintered into dialects one of which was Armenian a separate branch of the Indo European language family As Indo European speakers spread throughout Eurasia from Iceland to India many languages such as French and Spanish developed from a common intermediate source like Latin whereas the Armenian language evolved directly from its Proto Indo European roots Armenian Alphabet Before creating an Armenian alphabet Armenians used Aramaic and Greek characters Foreign language schools existed from the 2nd century BC on Early Armenian churchmen sought knowledge and wisdom mainly in Assyrian and Greek When Armenia became the first country to adopt Christianity as its state religion the need of an indigenous language arose in order to translate the Bible A devoted scholar and monk Mesrop Mashtots created a distinctly Armenian alphabet after traveling all over Armenia to gather the sounds of Armenian speech In 405 AD he introduced the thirty six unique characters that make up the basis of the Armenian alphabet During the Middle Ages two additional characters were added to write words borrowed from foreign languages St Mesrop Mashtots went on to build schools across Armenia to teach the alphabet He later developed the alphabets of neighboring nations His contribution to Armenian culture was immense since the invention of the Armenian alphabet paved the way for the first Golden Age of Armenia Armenian writers philosophers mathematicians and scientists have achieved world acclaim building on the seminal work of St Mesrop Mashtots Over the centuries the Armenian language underwent grammatical and

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  • Religion - Armenian Travel & Tourism Portal
    dotted the country and one symbol example of that era a Greek style temple in the village of Garni was restored in the 1960s and still stands Pagan practices did not deter Christian missionaries in spreading the word of God to Armenians Among them was Gregory the son of Partev Anak who was baptized a Christian in Caesaria a city in Cappadocia Gregory was thrown into a pit by the Armenian king Trdat III where he survived for 13 years only by the grace of a kind woman who secretly fed him King Trdat fell in love with a Christian nun named Hripsime When she refused the king s proposal of marriage the king had her and her entire order put to death Thereafter the king went mad and only after the king s sister released Gregory from captivity to heal her ailing brother did the king regain his sanity King Trdat was baptized by Gregory and converted his entire kingdom to Christianity in 301 AD making Armenia the first nation to accept Christianity as its state religion Gregory came to be known as the Illuminator and was named the first Catholicos the head of the Armenian Church After seeing a vision of the descent of the Only Begotten Son pointing to a site in current day Echmiadzin St Gregory the Illuminator built the mother cathedral of the Armenian church In future years churches were built near the Echmiadzin Cathedral in honor of the martyred nun Hripsime and the head of her order Gayane who were canonized The church of Khor Virap meaning Deep Pit was built on the spot of St Gregory s captivity As Armenians began to practice Christianity many churches and monasteries were erected some on the foundations of pagan temples Armenia s innovative architectural traditions can

    Original URL path: http://www.travel.am/religion/13/ (2015-06-14)
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