Lynn & David travelling from Turkmenistan through the Caucasus to Turkey travel blog

Lynn at Zvartnots Temple, Yerevan, Armenia

Stone crosses, Echmiadzin Cathedral, Yerevan, Armenia

Stone cross, Echmiadzin Cathedral, Yerevan, Armenia

Oldest church, Echmiadzin Cathedral, Yerevan, Armenia

Restoring the cathedral, Yerevan, Armenia

View over Yerevan, Armenia

View over Yerevan, Armenia

Fragment of Noah's Ark, Echmiadzin Cathedral, Yerevan, Armenia

Thursday 19 May 2016

In Yerevan, Armenia

Today we spent seeing various sights around Yerevan which is an ancient city. This year it is celebrating its 2797th birthday. The Armenian culture is one of the oldest in the world and because of where they are situated in the world, they have suffered many invasions over the centuries. They were the first country to accept Christianity as their official state religion and these days over 95% of Armenians are Eastern Orthodox Christians. When we woke up in the morning, we looked out of our hotel window and in the clear morning we could see Mt Ararat rising to the west. Mt Ararat and its surrounds used to be in Armenia but because of wars and territorial changes, it is now in Turkey. It is a beautiful mountain with one higher peak of 5165 metres (16,954 ft) and a lesser peak to the left of 3960 metres (12,992 ft) totally covered in snow. Amazing start to the day! After breakfast we set off in the bus with our guide Ani and the first place we visited was Zvartnots Temple, built in the 7th Century AD. It was completely destroyed by an earthquake in the 10th century and was never rebuilt. A beautiful place and Mt Ararat was framed in the distance. We drove back to the city about 12 km and then went to the cathedral, originally built in 303AD and this church is one of the oldest in the world. It was set in beautiful huge grounds with many fine buildings around and lovely gardens. In the gardens were cross stones, mostly about one and a half metres high. These were once found all over Armenia and there used to be over 150,000 but now there are only about 2700 left due to wars and enemies destroying them. We then visited the Armenian Genocide Museum, a very moving memorial to the millions of Armenians who were put to death between the 1880’s and the 1920’s by the rulers of Turkey. The main losses occurred in 1895-96 and then in 1915. Armenia suffered greatly and lost over 1.8 million people at the hands of the Turks. Many survivors fled overseas and in Armenia today there are only about 3 million people whereas 8 million Armenians live in various countries overseas, mainly in the USA, Russia, France and South America. It was very sad to see, but the museum is very interesting and sets out the history very clearly (albeit from the Armenian point of view). Some countries have accepted this as genocide, others haven't. After a late lunch we visited the Manuscript Museum that had manuscripts from all over the world, some very old and all very interesting to see. There are a number of experts in Armenia who specialise in restoring these documents and some were just stunning. We finished the day with a walk to a living arts centre which had a large display of modern art on various levels inside a building (fortunately with escalators) up a very steep hill. We then went back to the hotel for a rest, out for dinner to the same restaurant as last night. There was a table near ours that was having some kind of celebration and on the end one man was playing a viola and three men played lutes. They played some wonderful music and we listened while we ate dinner. Back up the street to the hotel. Very exhausting day, fine and warm (about 28C maximum).

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