Armenia: Yerevan and area
Today, we begin with our visit in Geghard Monastery. The name of the monastery comes from the relic that was kept here for long time – the spear with which a Roman soldier pierced Christ on the cross. The relic is now kept in the Museum of Etchmiadzin. Geghard monastery is fascinating because it is partly carved out of a mountain.
When you climb up the stone stairs here, you can see khachkars beautifully carved in the rock:
One the other side of the small river, you can see trees with ribbons attached to them. So far, I have seen sacred trees with prayer ribbons like that in two countries: Ireland and Georgia. Now I found them in Armenia. The ribbons express people’s prayers or wishes. According to our Armenian guide, the Church is discouraging this tradition because it comes from the pagan times. At the end of the year, they remove the ribbons from branches but local people don’t want to give up that ancient tradition. They choose trees located near monasteries and other sacred sites.
Garni Temple, like Geghard Monastery, is located near the capital of Armenia – Yerevan. It is a Greco-Roman temple dedicated to the sun god Mithra. Destroyed by earthquakes, it was rebuilt in the 1970s during the Soviet era.
The Cascade is a giant stairway made of limestone in the centre of Yerevan. The large square in front of the Cascade is decorated with large sculptures and fountains.
The statue of Alexander Tamanyan, one of the architects who designed the Cascade:
Armenian Genocide Memorial and Museum was built in 1967 to commemorate the massacre of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire from 1915 to 1922. On our way to the Memorial, we passed near trees planted by dignitaries from different parts of the world.
From the museum, a broad pathway flanked by a 100m-long wall engraved with the names of massacred communities leads to the memorial, which was built in 1967. It consists of a 40m-high spire next to a circle of 12 basalt slabs leaning over to guard an eternal flame. The 12 tilted slabs represent the lost provinces of western Armenia, land lost to Turkey in a post-WWI peace deal between Ataturk and Lenin.
Our day ended with a wonderful meal and entertainment: