15 October 2013

Cavorting in the Caucasus: Khor Virap

Mount Ararat is the symbol of Yerevan and Armenia as a whole. It features on so many products from Armenia. Unfortunately, the sad thing is that Mount Ararat is actually in Turkish territory right now. That is quite ironic and sad, in my opinion. Hence, all Armenians can do is look westwards in order to gaze at the lovely and huge mountain that has become their national symbol.

Now why am I talking about Mount Ararat? Because one of the places I have visited while I was there was Khor Virap. This is perhaps the closest I have been to to Mount Ararat. This monastery with a superb located is located right near the foot of the mountain, and has the best view of the mountain, assuming the clouds clear up and, according to my tour guide at that time, "the Turkish weather makers don't hide it with clouds". Of course, she meant it jokingly, but actually, during the time we were there, Mount Ararat was indeed hidden by the clouds in the Turkish side of the border.

Khor Virap is built originally in 642, again, a very early date compared to other branches and flavors of Christianity. There is a church in here, which I have visited. The above pictures show it to you, but actually, this place is more impressive when you're outside the compound. I should say this was one of the best places I have seen.

The thing is that Khor Virap has a lot going on when it comes to setting. This monastery used to house a theological seminary, and as far as my research goes, apparently, the Armenian Catolicos also lived here at one point. It is surrounded by a fortress like wall, and looking at it from the top, or from the hill nearby, makes the view more superb.

As I said, unfortunately, there were clouds that covered Mount Ararat, and therefore I couldn't see it that day.

There, see what I mean when I say fortress? When you climb the hill outside the monastery, this whole structure definitely looks like a fortress. This was definitely one of the best views I liked while I was there.

Aside from the things I showed you in these pictures, there are also plenty of church interiors that one can visit here. Unfortunately, when we were there, there was also a large group of Armenian students on a field trip, and therefore it was a little crowded. I therefore did not attempt to descend into the pit which was said to be where one of the saints were imprisoned. But you can check out pictures of it online. It looks really creepy. I just didn't do it because it was really hot.


  1. The view and the landscape are pretty cool!

    1. Zhu,

      Oh yes, definitely. This is one of the coolest places I have been to. But stay tuned, there's more!