Ruins of Arates Monastery in Armenia

Ruins of Arates Monastery in Armenia

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The Ancient Ghost City of Ani

Situated on the eastern border of Turkey, across the Akhurian River from Armenia, lies the empty, crumbling site of the once-great metropolis of Ani, known as "the city of a thousand and one churches." Founded more than 1,600 years ago, Ani was situated on several trade routes, and grew to become a walled city of more than 100,000 residents by the 11th century. In the centuries that followed, Ani and the surrounding region were conquered hundreds of times -- Byzantine emperors, Ottoman Turks, Armenians, nomadic Kurds, Georgians, and Russians claimed and reclaimed the area, repeatedly attacking and chasing out residents. By the 1300s, Ani was in steep decline, and it was completely abandoned by the 1700s. Rediscovered and romanticized in the 19th century, the city had a brief moment of fame, only to be closed off by World War I and the later events of the Armenian Genocide that left the region an empty, militarized no-man's land. The ruins crumbled at the hands of many: looters, vandals, Turks who tried to eliminate Armenian history from the area, clumsy archaeological digs, well-intentioned people who made poor attempts at restoration, and Mother Nature herself. Restrictions on travel to Ani have eased in the past decade, allowing the following photos to be taken.

The Monastery of the Hripsimian Virgins, in the ruins of the city of Ani, Turkey, on April 19, 2011. The monastery is thought to have been built between 1000 and 1200 AD, near the height of Ani's importance and strength. The Akhurian River below acts as the modern border between Turkey and Armenia. #

Ruins of the Mausoleum of the Child Princes in the Citadel in Ani, on April 19, 2011. Located in the Inner Fortress on Citadel Hill, this structure is thought to have been built around 1050 AD. #

The ruin of the Church of Saint Gregory of Tigran Honents on the edge of the border with Armenia, in Ani, the now-uninhabited capital of a medieval Armenian kingdom in Kars at the Turkey-Armenia border. #

Inside the Cathedral of Ani, on June 4, 2013. Construction of the structure began in 989, completed in either 1001 or 1010. Designed as a domed cruciform church, both the dome and the drum supporting it collapsed in an earthquake in 1319. Original here. #

The Virgin's Castle, atop cliffs along the Akhurian River, photographed on June 4, 2013. Original here. #

Ani, as viewed from across the border, in Armenia. Original here. #

The medieval walls of Ani, seen on July 30, 2008. Original here. #

The Ani Cathedral, in the Turkey-Armenia border province of Kars, Turkey. #

Inscription on an exterior wall of the cathedral. Original here. #

Damaged frescoes of the church of St Gregory of Tigran Honents, at the historical site of Ani in Kars province, on February 19, 2010. #

The remains of the church of the Holy Redeemer, among the ruins of the historical city of Ani, on February 19, 2010. #

Remains of an ancient bridge below Ani, photographed on June 19, 2011. Armenia is on the right, Turkey on the left. Original here. #

The Turkey-Armenia border, on June 19, 2011. Original here. #

Ani cathedral with Armenia's Little Ararat in the background. Original here. #

A Military warning sign with the Citadel behind, in Ani, on June 8, 2011. Original here. #

The ruined church of the Holy Redeemer, seen on February 19, 2010. #

The Citadel (left) and Mosque of Minuchihir (right). The mosque is named after its presumed founder, the emir Minuchihr, who ruled Ani beginning in 1072. Original here. #

The Ani Cathedral, photographed on September 12, 2008. Turkey launched a project to conserve the ancient cathedral and a church in what is seen as a gesture of reconciliation toward neighboring Armenia. #

Frescoes inside the Church of Saint Gregory of Tigran Honents, on June 4, 2013. Original here. #

Showing the scale of some of the ruins, an interior shot of the Ani Cathedral, on June 24, 2012. Original here. #

Damaged frescoes of the church of St Gregory of Tigran Honents in Ani, on February 19, 2010. #

Church of Saint Gregory of Tigran Honents, Ani, on June 19, 2011. Original here. #

The meager remains of King Gagik's church of St Gregory, a structure built between 1001 and 1005, but collapsing soon thereafter, photographed on June 24, 2012. Original here. #

A gorge below Ani, showing numerous caves dug into cliffs, as well as fortifications. A modern border fence can be seen at bottom center, Armenia is on the left, Turkey, on the right, photographed on June 8, 2011. Original here. #

Careless restoration of the Merchant's Palace, adding mismatched modern materials to ancient ruins. Original here. #

An overview of Ani, on June 24, 2012. Original here. #

The Virgin's Castle, visible at center, on cliffs above the Akhurian River, at the ancient city of Ani, on June 24, 2012. Original here. #

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Pilgrim Lights a Candle at Khor Virap Monastery in Armenia

In the dim light of Saint Astvatsatsin chapel at Khor Virap Monastery in Armenia, I carefully picked my way over the uneven stone floor. I was concentrating so hard on where to put my feet that I didn’t look up until I reached the center of the candlelit cavern. Having visited pilgrimage sites all over the world, I wasn’t surprised to find someone lighting a candle. What astonished me was the man doing it, specifically his wide mustache. I could barely look away. He was just one of thousands of people who make their way to this famous pilgrimage site each year.

At the end of the second century, King Tiridates III of Armenia imprisoned Gregory the Illuminator in a cave on this site. Gregory languished in the small stone hole for 14 years, until the king fell ill and asked for Gregory’s help. He miraculously cured the king, who then converted to Christianity and became an ardent follower of Gregory. In the year 301, King Tiridates III declared Armenia to be a Christian nation, the first nation in the world to do so.

A small chapel was built over the cave site in 642. It was rebuilt and enlarged multiple times, until 1662, when St. Astvatsatsin (Holy Mother of God) chapel was built around the ruins of the old chapel and the monastery. Today Khor Virap Monastery is considered to be one of the most important pilgrimage sites in Armenia, some say in the world. It is also a popular site for traditional Armenian weddings and baptism ceremonies indeed, there was a baptism occurring on the day I visited.

The Mysterious Ruins of Ani Are a Traveler’s Dream

Located on a secluded plateau overlooking a stunning ravine that shapes the natural border between Turkey and Armenia, the ghost town of Ani has some of the world’s most striking ancient ruins. A real discovery for travelers with a knack for adventure, check out the story of amazing Ani.

Situated in Turkey’s Kars province along the border with Armenia, the ancient city of Ani is literally in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by untouched valleys and mountains. Apart from the beautiful natural scenery, the remnant structures themselves are also exceptional, including the ruins of a stunning cathedral and six churches. When Ani became the capital of the Armenian kingdom of the Bagradites, it flourished, profiting from having control over one section of the Silk Road.

The city, which lived out its golden age during the 10th and 11th centuries, was also able to later maintain its importance during the Byzantine, Seljuk, and Georgian sovereignty as a predominant crossroads for merchant caravans. It wasn’t until 1319 that the city began to lose its splendor due to a Mongol invasion and an intense earthquake. After changing hands several times (including local Turkish dynasties, the Timurid dynasty, and the Persian Safavids), Ani became part of the Ottoman Empire in 1579. A small town continued to exist within Ani’s walls until around the 17th century, but it was abandoned entirely by 1735 when the last monks left Kızkale.

It wasn’t until the first half of the 19th century that European travelers happened upon the ruins of Ani and began to write about their impressions in academic journals and travel accounts. In 1878, Ani had become part of the Russian Empire’s Transcaucasian region, and when the first archaeological excavations took place, they were sponsored directly by the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences. During WWI, when Ottoman armies captured Kars in 1918, as many of the artifacts uncovered during the excavation as possible were saved, and they continue to be on display at the Yerevan State Museum of Armenian History. Sadly, the remaining artifacts were either looted or destroyed, leaving Ani in the dilapidated state in which it continues to live today.

However, despite the corrosive effects of time and human interaction, the ruins of Ani continue to fascinate travelers. Nowadays, no permission is necessary to visit Ani, and anyone can take a round-trip from Kars with a cab or minibus to see the ancient city. While there, make sure to see the Cathedral of Ani (Surp Asdvadzadzin), completed in 1001 with a design by Armenia’s most celebrated architect, Trdat.

Other important sights include the Surp Stephanos Church, the Church of St. Gregory of Tigran Honents, the Church of the Holy Redeemer, the Church of St. Gregory of the Abughamrents, King Gagik’s Church of St. Gregory, the Church of the Holy Apostles, the citadel (Kızkalesi), and the city walls. Right outside of Ani, there is also a cave village where inhabitants may have found shelter when the city became too overpopulated. The highlight is a cave church that still has beautiful original frescoes on its walls and ceiling.

Day 3

Onwards to Mtskheta and on to Akhasheni

Leave Tbilisi behind as you head to the ancient capital of Mtskheta. Known as the religious centre of Georgia, you'll revel in the twin UNESCO World Heritage sites - the 6th-century Jvari Monastery and 11th-century Svetitskhoveli Cathedral. Delve into the city's Christian history which saw it granted the status of a 'Holy City', then retire to your hotel where you'll enjoy dinner.

Trip Summary Accomodation Icon Hotel - Wine Resort

Trip Summary Meals Icon Included Meals - Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Ruins of Arates Monastery in Armenia - History

Srbanes Monastery, Ardvi, Armenia

Srbanes Monastery (built in VIII-XVII centuries) which is known also as St. Hovhannes or Hovhan Odznetsi Monastery is located in Lori Province of Armenia, at the north-west edge of Ardvi village. The monastic complex is consists of two small churches and a belfry. There is a tetrahedral monument, khachkars (cross stones) and ruins of dwelling and utility structures on the territory of the monastery.

The two churches are single-nave vaulted halls. The entrance along common longitudinal wall connects them. The northern hall is smaller it has a square prayer house and an apse like a horse shoe. Once the church had an entry from the west too, but now it is closed. In XIII century a small vaulted hall was attached from the western part of the church. The floor of the southern hall is studded with gravestones.

The churches are built of small uneven andesite stones. Only three lower ranges of the eastern wall are laid with large smooth-hewn stones.

Analysis of structural elements of the two churches shows, that they weren`t built at the same time. It`s obvious that the northern church was built earlier than the whole complex. It is supposed that the church was restored when the other structures of the monastery were built (supposedly in XVII c.).

The belfry (XVII) was erected at the southern part of the monastery. The lower tier of the belfry is cubic and it is crowned with rotunda supported by six columns.

Srbanes Monastery is surrounded by low-height walls. There is a medieval cemetery with noteworthy khachkhars and gravestones at the western part of the monastery. In XIX century the Srbanes was reconstructed by Stepanos Tarinyan, and in 1902 — by Melikset Kalantaryan.

34th Armenian Catholicos Hovhannes Odznetsi (Cath.717-728) is buried at Srbanes monastery. Prominent theologian, lawyer, thinker and reformer after his death was canonized by Armenian Apostolic Church as St. Hovhannes Imastaser (Wise). He is an author of numerous sharakans (psalms) which are sung at Armenian churches till now, and theological works. His «Book of Rules» was the first collection of Armenian Church law.

Srbanes Monastery also went down to history of world cinematograph as the place where a prominent film director Sergey Parajanov shot his famous «The Color of Pomegranates».

Diocezo de Vajoco-Dzoro

Diocezo de Vayots Dzor (armene: Վայոց Ձորի թեմ Vajoc Dzori tem ), estas unu el la plej novaj diocezoj de la Armena Apostola Eklezio kovranta la provincon Vajoco-Dzoro de Armenio. La dioceza ĉefsidejo situas en la urbo Jeghegnadzor. La sidejo de la episkopo estas la katedralo Sankta Dipatrino de Jeghegnadzor 8konstruita dum la 12-a jarcento).

La diocezo estis establita en 2010, kiam ĝi estis apartigita de la Diocezo de Sjunik. La prelata konstruaĵo situas sur la strato Grigor Narekatsi en la urbo Jeghagndzor. [1] .

Ruins of Arates Monastery in Armenia - History

A mosque is being built in front of the historical Seven Church and Kevork Church in Van, while only one wall remained of the church of St. Bartolomeo.

In Van, where the Armenian population lived once, there are nearly 100 churches left by the Armenian people. However, in recent years, most of the churches have been demolished, especially under the AKP government, and many churches have been turned into stables.
If things continue like this event the last remaining churches will soon disappear completely. The most important of the remaining hundred Armenian churches are Akdamar, Aziz Bartolomeo and the Seven Churches. Due to international interest and public pressure, various restorations were made on the island of Akdamar, allowing it to survive.

The Seven Churches (Varaganak Monastery), also known as the place where Armenians published the Van Kartalı Newspaper, is located in the village of Bakraçlı, on the foot of Mount Erek. The walls of the Seven Churches, whose ceiling collapsed due to its use for barns, is about to collapse. One of the important features of the monastery, where important religious people were trained, is the printing press established in 1858 and the Van Kartalı Newspaper, defending the independence of Armenia.

The walls of the monastery, which were covered by trees and woods on the side of the villagers, are also about to collapse.

Surp Kevork Church and Surp Astvadzadzin Vankı (Ankık Virgin Mary Monastery) in the Döneç district are also about to disappear. There is now only one wall left of the Surp Kevrok Church in the middle of the village where 678 Armenians lived before the 1915 Genocide. A mosque was built adjacent to the church, which stood until the 1990s. Government officials claim that the church was destroyed in the earthquake. The surroundings and interiors of the church are filled with pits excavated by treasure hunters.

One of the important values ​​of Van is St. Bartolomeo Monastery in Başkale district. The monastery, which is expected to be restored for about a hundred years, is quickly deteriorating. St. Bartolomeo Monastery is located in Albayrak Village of Başkale and date back to the XIII-XIV century. The church was converted into a police station in the 1990s. No renovation work was carried out after the Albayrak outpost was moved to another region in 2013.

The historical Çarpanak Church, located on Çarpanak Island in Van Lake, known to be built in the IX century, also faces the danger of destruction. The historical church on the island, located near the village of Dibekdüzü in Van, is waiting to be restored.

The Ardzvaper Monastery, located in the Salmanağa neighborhood of Van's Erciş district, faces the danger of extinction, just like the historical Armenian Pilgrimage Church in Hacıkas village. Ardzvaper Monastery, which has been destroyed and damaged by treasure hunters is disappearing due to neglect.

Stating that there are 100 churches left by the Armenian people in Van and many of them have only the foundation left, Ali Kalçık said: "Some churches are still to be restored and opened. We have churches in the villages of İn and Başkale. The mosques are being built in front of the churches in Van. Hagia Sophia is not a first in this sense. They have tried to erase and destroy history since the past. We are losing our historical heritage churches in Van. Many years ago, we complained to the Provincial Directorate of Culture on this issue many times. We said, 'It is our history, our past’ but unfortunately nothing was done.”

Ruins of Arates Monastery in Armenia - History

Walking city tour Yerevan - Dilijan

Breakfast at the hotel. Walk to Cascade complex, which is considered the modern art center of Yerevan, from top of which you can enjoy the panoramic view on the city and Mountain Ararat. Optional:Coffee break in one of the cozy open-air cafes surrounded by beautiful sculptures, redolent flowers shining brightly with magic colors. Walk to the Republic square via North avenue, which is a pedestrian avenue connecting the Opera with Republic Square.

Drive to mountanieus resort Dilijan (96 km, 1.5 hours), or so called “Armenian Switzerland” which is well-known for its forests as well as with its mysterious flora and fauna. Dilijan, is a home to numerous Armenian artists, composers, and filmmakers. Walk on craftsmen street.

O/N in Dilijan.The program includes lunch and dinner.

Dilijan - Parz Lich (Clear Lake) - Goshavank monastery - Dilijan

Breakfast at the hotel. Drive to Parz lich (Clear Lake). The route goes through rolling hills of grazing fields, meadows of endless wildflowers, and the lush, deep forests of the Dilijan Highlands. The road ends at the small green lake. Walking around the lake. Optionalcoffee break on terrace raft (equipped with chairs and tables). From the lake hiking to Goshavank (8 km, 2hours).The route goes through lush woodlands. Appearing unexpectedly, out of the thick forests, in front of the visitors, the breathtaking medieval monastery creates a magical impression of the lost world. Walking around the monastery Goshavank which is well-known for its khachkars decorated with complicated carved patterns.

Drive back to the hotel. The program includes lunch and dinner.

Dilijan - Aghavnavank Village - Redwood Grove

Breakfast at the hotel. Drive to Aghavnavank village (1052m). A small medieval monastery that has been almost completely overtaken by nature. Hiking to Redwood Grove (2.3 km, 1 hours 20min.). Park occupies a special place in the diversity of the Dilijan National Park Redwood registered in the Red Book occupies a unique place. From the past geological era to the present day it is preserved almost unchanged. Walk back to Aghavnavank.

Drive back to the hotel. The program include lunch and dinner.

Sevan - Selim - Vayots Dzor ( 4hours, 235km by bus)

Breakfast at the camp before driving onto Sevan Lake (1 hour, 80 km), one of the great mountainous freshwater lakes of Eurasia. Climb to Akhtamar Peninsula where breathtaking panoramic views open on Sevan Lake. Visit of the 9th century Sevanavank Monastery. Continuation to Noratous "forest of khachkars" (cross-stones), dating as far back as 996. Driving (2.5 hours) to Vayots Dzor, visiting en route Selim Pass Karavansaray.

O/N in the cottages camp in Hermon village. The program includes lunch and dinner.

Hermon - Smbataberd - Tsaghats Kar

Breakfast. Hike the road up to Arates church (4km). Continuation to the west towrd Tsaghats Kar (2078m) one of the spiritual place of medieval Armenia. After visit to the church continuation to Smabaterd fortress (1950m) across the valley . Smbataberd Fortress is one of the most interesting and memorable places in Armenia, which was protected by the deep canyons of rivers Artabun and Yeghegis. It is one of the most inaccessible fortreses in Armenia. Camp within the ruins of Smbataberd.

The program includes lunch and dinner.

Smbataberd - Shativank (11km)

Breakfast. Hike down the hill toward Yegheghis village. Visit Zortas church, medieval Jewish cemetery, visit Hostun church. Hike to Shativank, a fortified monastery. Camp for overnight at the monastery ruins.

Shativank - Areni Wine - Yerevam (150km, 2,5 hours by car)

Breakfast. Drive to Areni village (38km, 40 min), where archaeologists found the earliest known wine press for stomping grapes, fermentation and storage vessels, drinking cups, etc. Later in 2008 here’s found a 5,500-year-old leather shoe, which is a one-piece leather-hide shoe that has been dated few hundred years older than the one found on Ötzi the Iceman, making it the oldest piece of leather footwear in the world. Stop at Areni winery, local wine degustation.

Drive to Yerevan (110km, 1 hour, 50 min). Free time. O/N in Yerevan. The program includes lunch and dinner.

Noravank Monastery

The centuries-old Armenian monastery known as Noravank is a hauntingly preserved religious complex sitting in a picturesque valley. However it may not be standing today if it were not for the eyes on a representation of God.

Built in the 13th century, the monastery is a lovely example of the ornate architecture of the period. The site is comprised of three surviving churches, each decorated in intricate designs and religious reliefs. The sculptor of the grandest portions of Noravank was a man by the name of Momik, who created the lovely stonework that survives today. He also carved a number of uniquely Armenian religious monuments known as “khachkars” which usually depicted an image of a cross surmounting a circular symbol. The sculptor is also buried in a simple grave at the site.

However for all of its crumbling historic beauty, Noravank almost didn’t make it out of the Middle Ages. When the Mongols conquered Armenia in the 13th century they set about sacking many of the historic temples of the country. According to tour guides at the monastery, Noravank was spared this fate thanks to a relief of God himself, depicted with large almond-shaped eyes. This appeasement to the Mongols’ phenotypically Asiatic heritage, seemed to calm the horde enough to leave Noravank be.

And it’s a good thing too since the existing ruins of the churches are one of the most lovely historic sites in modern Armenia. The Mongols might not have appreciated it much at the time, but Noravank both accents and rivals the natural beauty all around it.

Watch the video: Exploring the beauty of Haghartsin Monastery in the Tavush Province of Armenia. 4K resolution