Armenia prides itself to be the first country that made Christianity its state religion. Consequently, the country is plastered with monasteries that have one thing in common: a setting with a breathtaking view. The inside of these mostly small stone buildings is usually simple: an altar without much décor, no seats, very few paintings, the omnipresent candle tray, that’s it. Those monasteries are Armenia’s main touristic attractions, although I wanted to avoid this touristic itinerary, I ended up doing exactly that, for one long day.
While I was gazing at Mount Ararat from Khor Virap Monastery, Polyna’s grandmother called to tell that I had to continue to Noravank, another monastery. Quickly a price was negotiated with the driver, who spoke only Russian and Armenian, so image in the communication since I speak neither. Anyway, even without a common language he convinced me to continue to Garni and Geghard Monastery, both close to Yerevan.
Perched up on a hill, at the feet of dramatic cliffs sits Noravank, two tiny churches. The wintery scenery added to the charm. Again the inside of the church itself is nothing to write home about, it definitely the setting and the landscape all around it. The famous gorge that serves as the entry point for the road up to the monastery is about 0,5km long and maybe when the light is right, could be quite a sight.
The pre-Christian temple is definitely worth a visit, an easy one-hour trip from Yerevan. By the time we got there the sun had set and it was impossible to take good photos. Well, you cannot have it all. There are public busses going as far as Garni, to continue further to Geghard Monastery you need a taxi and the road was really bumpy.
Nearby Geghard Monastery is tugged away on a mountain slope, surrounded by a rather high wall, inside sits the tiny church. At least in my opinion it doesn’t not come across as spectacular as the other monasteries, especially since it lacks the famous view they all have in common.