11 January 2014

Cavorting in the Caucasus: Matenadaran

Finally, my blog series pertaining to my travels in Armenia and Georgia are coming to an end. The last thing I saw in Armenia was the Matenadaran. This is a museum that was very unique and extraordinary. It contained the oldest books and manuscripts that I have seen, in a very good preserved manner. It also is located in a very prime location in Yerevan. It is on a hill, overlooking the city.

The museum is located in a stark and huge stone building. You can see some statues of important Armenian historical figures in the front. And you can also see a statue of Saint Mesrop Mashtots, who is credited to be the one who devised the Armenian alphabet. The statue shows him teaching his alphabet to someone.

The interior of the museum is huge. One buys a ticket at this side office from the outside, and then climbs the stairs to enter. In order to take photographs, one must buy a photo ticket, which I did. After all, I love taking pictures, remember?

I also noticed that Armenians do visit their museums. The museum was a little crowded, though not uncomfortably so. And many visitors were Armenians, although you also see the occasional bus load of group tourists from other places in Europe. Surprisingly, I didn't bump into a lot of Americans and Canadians during my trip. Maybe because it is rather far away given their starting location.

I really enjoyed my visit here: it was quite interesting to see that these displays were centuries old! Some of the manuscripts were dated from the 12th century, and they were all tattered but otherwise well-preserved. The Armenian visitors sometimes chided me for taking photographs; it is because taking photographs are forbidden, unless one buys a photo ticket. And I guess they just visit to see these things, but they don't know that a photo ticket exists. I just show them my photo ticket and they apologize for disturbing my visit. Otherwise, they are the most charming and hospitable people I have ever met.

If you are ever in Yerevan, I suggest that you visit this place. It is not to be missed. If you are into maps, history, or other old stuff, then this is a very good place to go to. It is a short walk from Opera Square, north of the city.

So, finally, I am finished blogging about my trip to Georgia and Armenia. Wow, my trip was back in August, and it took me until January to blog about them all. Don't worry, there are a couple of new travelogues that are coming up, so there is something new and different to look forward to!

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