From Khor Virap Monastery the view of Mount Ararat is unbeatable, but unfortunately its summit is almost always hidden behind thick clouds. Therefore, I had watched the weather forecast carefully, and Monday March 21st, was the day to do it! Clear skies, off to Khor Virap.
Though Mount Ararat is 8km across the border onTurkish territory, this 5,300m high mountain seems so close. While marveling at its beauty you wonder where exactly Noah’s Ark stranded on the mountain, during the biblical flood. If you have time to visit only one monastery while in Armenia, choose this one.
My friend Polya had taken me to the bus station, but there a taxi driver interfered – identifying us as Russian (!) tourists. He offered to take us to Khor Virap for 20 US, thus avoiding the walk from the main road to the monastery. I did not hesitate and I jumped in his car. A few minutes later, while still in Yerewan, Mount Ararat was in full view: majestically, all of its 5,300 meters, not a cloud anywhere near, a very rare thing. I clapped my hands that’s how excited I was, but soon I got itchy. A small band of clouds was moving in and sure enough, by the time we got to Khor Virap half of the mountain was hidden, as well as the sun. How could I ever get good photos? I hung around the small monastery -waiting.
The monastery itself has quite a history: In 301 AD, the Armenian King Trdat III imprisoned Gregory the Illuminator for 12 years in the pit of a well. The king was so impressed by Gregory’s survival and his ability to heal the king when he felt he was going mad that he converted to Christianity making Armenia the world’s first Christian nation.
I cannot see how anyone could crawl through the small hole down into the dungeon. Maybe Gregory was really tiny. Anyway, back from my non- attempted descent into the dungeon, the sky was cloudless again and stayed like this until the evening. So I shot away.
The toughest was to choose some photos of the many. The best time for photography at this site must be early fall, when the leaves in the surrounding vineyards turn into all kinds of colors.