For more than two weeks, I accompanied the Sayat Nova Dance Company of Boston. The company toured the entire country, making stops in Yerevan, Gyumri (to the north), Goris (to the south) and also made the 10-hour trip to Stepanakert, the capital city of the region of Artsakh (formerly known as Gharapagh).
|In and Around Yerevan|
Khor Virap is one of the most popular destinations in Armenia, primarily because it is where Grigor Luisavorich (St. Gregory the Illuminator) was imprisoned for 13 years before curing King Trdat III of a disease. This caused the conversion of the king and Armenia into the first officially Christian nation in the world in the year 301. To this day you can visit the underground chamber he was imprisoned, located in the nondescript St. Gevorg Chapel apart from the main church.
|The Armenian Genocide Memorial
In 1965, the Armenians throughout the world commemorated the 50th anniversary of the 1915 genocide by the Turks. The lack of any tangible symbol in Armenia itself was the reason the genocide memorial was created in 1967. The monument itself has two parts. One is a 44 meter tall spire reaching to the sky. The other is a ring of 12 large inwardly leaning basalt slabs. The 12 Slabs represent the 12 lost provinces of western Armenia. The flame inside the monument, referred to as the Eternal Flame, is always burning...
|The Sardarabad Monument
The Sardarabad monument commemorates the victory by Armenian troops commanded by Daniel-Bel Pirumian over attacking Turkish troops who were coming down the railway from Alexandropol (Gyumri). The battle of Sardarabad lasted from May 22 to May 26 1918 and was a decisive victory resulting in the delcaration of independent Armenia on May 28, 1918. The monument was unveiled in 1968 to commemorate the 50th anniversary and each year on May 28 celebrations are held here; the bells are tolled and there are performances by folk song and dance groups.
Holy Etchmiadzin, the worldwide headquarters of the Armenian Church and the Mother Cathedral of all Armenians.
In Armenian, Geghard translates as spearhead. The Monastery was named after the lance which pierced Christ's side at the crucifiction. It was housed here for quite a few centuries, but can now be found at the main church in Echmiadzin. The Geghard Monastery was founded in the 4th century. The oldest of the cave churches, St Gregory's dates from the 7th Century. The Monastery complex contains a number of churches and tombs, most of them cut into the rock.
Artsakh is a parcel of land that was historically part of Armenia, but had been under Azerbaijan's rule until recently. Overwhelmingly populated by Armenians, they revolted against Azerbaijan about 10 years ago and succeeded in taking the land back, but with heavy casualties and much loss. The area is beautiful, but scars of the war still remain in the buildings and structures. Known as Gharapagh in it's Azerbaijan days, it now goes by it's traditional Armenian name, Artsakh.