Monday, May 23, 2016

Monday, May 23rd, Yerevan, Armenia


Today, we drove to the Geghard Cave Monastery for another "hard to believe they did this" experience.  It was founded by Gregory the Illuminator in the 4th century at the site of a sacred spring inside a cave, much of the site is carvd into the side of a mountain.  Originally named Ayrivank (Cave) Monastery, it was renamed the Monastery of the Spear when the Spearhead which pierced Christ's side was stored here for a thousand years (then moved to the Cathedral of Echmiadzin).

Chapels and the addition of Khachkar Crosses (Carved stone cross scenes) came in the 13th century, and pilgrims and tourists have made it one of the most visited religious sites in Armenia.

The Temple of Garni down the road a bit is one of the oldest pre-Christian sites in Armenia.  Looking like it belongs in Greece or Southern Sicily, the Temple was built in 77AD by Tridates I, and was dedicated to the Sun God (Mihr or Mithra) of the Zoastrian-influenced Armenian mythology as a symbol of friendship between Armenia and Rome.

Perched next to a cliff overlooking a vast river valley, it was protected by fortress walls in the fourth century when it was converted into a summer house for Trdat's sister (Khosrovidukht).   Some think its use as a tomb earlier kept it from being destroyed by Trdat when he converted the country to Christianity.  It collapsed in the 1679 Earthquake, and was rebuilt in the 1960s.

We returned in the late afternoon, rested up, and headed down the street to a popular public square called the Cascades.  We had been there a few days ago, and did not get a chance to go inside, or up to its balconies.

A partnership between a private foundation (Gerald Cafesjian Foundation) and the city government, the museum has placed quite a number of sculptures in the seven levels of the structure.  We plan on going back tomorrow, as the main museum is closed on Mondays.

Our group then met at the best restaurant we've eaten in on the entire trip (Charles), and celebrated one of our last nights together.

To see all of the photos taken today, click on:
Monday, May 23d, Yerevan,  Armenia

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