Garni Gorge and Temple
Garni Gorge located in Garni, Armenia is truly a sight to see. Carved by the Goht River, this geological oddity consists of mainly well-preserved basalt columns. These columns, referred to by locals as “Symphony of Stones” look almost man-made. Busses will not make drips down the area, so to reach the bottom you must drive or walk.
Another remarkable feature of the gorge is Garni Temple. Despite dating back to the first century AD, Garni Temple has been preserved quite well. It was originally built for the worship of Greek gods prior to Armenia adopting Christianity in 301 AD. Roman Emperor Nero is believed to have funded the building of the temple.
Khor Virap Monastery
Khor Virap, or Deep Dungeon, Monastery is a popular pilgrimage and holy site of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Locals will visit the site for baptism or to perform a sacrifice or “matagh” of sheep and chicken following a wedding. The history behind Deep Dungeon is fascinating, though be warned. If you’re claustrophobic, it may be better not to explore St.Gregory’s Pit.
For thirteen years, Grigor Lusavorich was housed in an Armenian hillock, at the bottom of a pit with a cell. He survived by being fed secretly by local Christian women After his release, he is said to have cured King Trdat III of disease and converted him to Christianity. After the king converted, Armenia followed suit and was officially recognized as the first Christian nation. Grigor was then sainted as Gregory the Illuminator and the hills became what they are today.
Geghard Monastery, translated as Monastery of the Spear, is a complex named after the spear used during the Crucifixion to would Jesus. It was alleged the spear had been brought to Armenia following the Crucifixion and is now housed at the Echmiadzin Treasury. St. Gregory the Illuminator declared a sacred spring ran through the small cave chapel and from there the site grew. By 1215, the main chapel was built from carved out rocks on every side. Armenian stonework and carved crosses mixed with the bare caves are a classic.
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