Cathedral, Churches, Temple and Amazing Rocks

Trip Start Sep 18, 2013
Trip End Oct 19, 2013

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Where I stayed
Hotel Regineh Yerevan
Read my review - 4/5 stars
What I did
Garni Yerevan
Read my review - 5/5 stars
Republic Square (Yerevan, Armenia)

Flag of Armenia  , Yerevan,
Sunday, September 29, 2013

Hmmm, I just tried to upload my photos and ran into a problem with windows explorer, or windows something, and the photo viewer wouldn't work anymore.

So we started on tour at 9 am this morning.  We drove to the ruins of Zvartnots Cathedral.  It is only partially reconstructed because <75% of the stones are available.  This is a UNESCO World Heritage standard for reconstruction.  Lots of churches were destroyed by invaders and some by the various earthquakes.  This church was built by a famous architect and is basically round.  There were models found.  I think this church was on an old Hellenic site and they thought it was shaped differently until they found drawings or the model or dug far enough to find the foundation.  As we were to see, models are kept in the churches and one even had its model on the roof.  What was special here was a little museum with a model and a choir singing beautifully among the ruins.

Then we went to the Echmiadzin Cathedral - this is the Vatican of the Armenian Apostolic Church.  There was a procession in which the Catholicos was preceded by other clergy.  They wore black hoods and some of them had beards - black and white.  I saw some people running up to the Catholicos and kissing his hand, but I couldn't identify him in any of my photos - not remembering what he looked like.  We got to go into the Cathedral for a service...with more beautiful singing.  People seem very devout:  praying and lighting candles, kissing religious items.  There was a wonderful waxy smell in the church and a heavy haze from the candle smoke.  The complex holds another library - repository of manuscripts - and a seminary with about 200 seminarians, but Armine told us that most men these days want to marry and thus stay priests.  They cannot ascend the clerical hierarchy to become the Catholicos.  The grounds were very impressive and we saw more khachkars (stone crosses) and the gate had significance through the representations.  Did we see pomegranates?  There were doves here I think - or were there more eagles, representing power maybe?  There were grapes and vines - grape leaves - which are prominent symbols used in church decoration.

We drove back to Republic Square and had almost 1 1/2 hours for lunch and an activity.  I thought I was smart and ate my yogurt, Clif bar and grapes ahead of time so I could do something else but after mailing my postcards, Emma and I tried to get into the art museum and ended up at the Jazz ?? Restaurant to eat where we had previously asked for directions to the Museum.  After several directions and walking around the entire building without finding the entrance, we gave up.  It turns out that it was on an upper floor inside the building which also houses the history museum.

We drove back out again to the Geghard Monastery and Garni.  At Geghard we visited the cave church - there was a service here too but the church was smaller and we had only a brief time to visit the core part of the church.  I was now fixated on buying one of the sweet breads that Nour had told me about.  It was pricier than I expected -- but HUGE.  I have it now - I gave a little bit away - ate some but have lots left.  Hmmm, too much food.  I still need to finish my peaches.  Many people took my photo with my wonderful bread.

On to Garni and our hike through the gorge.  I lost ground on the downhill and then through taking so many photos and finally on the uphill until our young guide took me by the hand and pulled me up.  The gorge with its basalt palisades was spectacular.  We none of us expected such a marvel!  The formations went on and on.  I loved the hexagonal structure of the formations.  There was a rushing mountain stream, great views of the valley and the rocks - what rocks!!

Finally I made it to Garni Temple.  It was very striking on the edge of the cliff in the late afternoon light.  We saw the Roman baths and the foundation of a cross-shaped church.  Leo asked if he could have a photo of the temple and the basalt gorge since his battery ran out.  I would have looked for some to give him tonight but now my computer seems to have more problems than just the internet.  I rebooted once and windows still wasn't cooperating so I went to paper.  Now I will eat my peach and prepare for tomorrow.

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