Geghard is a medieval monastery in the Kotayk province of Armenia, being partially carved out of the adjacent mountain, surrounded by cliffs. The monastery was founded in the 4th century by Gregory the Illuminator. The site is that of a spring arising in a cave which had been sacred in pre-Christian times. The name commonly used for the monastery today, Geghard, or more fully Geghardavank that means "the Monastery of the Spear", originates from the spear which had wounded Jesus at the Crucifixion, allegedly brought to Armenia by Apostle Jude, called here Thaddeus, and stored amongst many other relics.The Temple of Garni
The Temple of Garni is the best-known structure and symbol of pre-Christian Armenia. The structure was built by king Tiridates I in the first century AD as a temple to the sun god Mihir. The exterior of the temple is richly decorated. The stones in the front cornice have projecting sculptures of lion heads. A fragment of the architrave bearing a lion head was removed by Captain J Buchan Telfer in the late nineteenth century and bequeathed by him to the British Museum in 1907. The staircase has nine unusually high steps—30 centimetres high, about twice as high as the average height of stairs. It’s said that the unusually high stairs compel a person ascending the staircase to feel humbled and make physical effort to reach the altar. In the early fourth century, when Armenian King Tiridates III adopted Christianity as a state religion, virtually all known pagan places of worship were destroyed. The Temple of Garni is the only pagan to have survived the widespread destruction. It remains unknown why the temple was exempted from destruction, but one of the philosophers argues that its status as a "masterpiece of art" possibly saved it from destruction.Symphony of Stones
Garni Canyon lies across the length of the Azat (Garni) River and its confluent Goght. The canyon is attractive for the wonderful natural rocks, formed of regular hexagonal cylinders. These rocks start from the beginning up to the highest point of the canyon. The canyons formation is so unique that it almost looks artificial. Here is no human intervention. The composition is called “Symphony of Stones” or “Basalt Organ”.
Lake Sevan is the largest body of water in Armenia and the Caucasus region. Its is also one of the lagest freshwater high-altitude lakes in the world. It is considered the "jewel" of Armenia and is "recognized as a national treasure" in the country. Sevan was recognized as being a major potential water resource in the 19th century. Set 1900m above sea level, Lake Sevan covers 940 sq km, and is 80km long by 30km at its widest. The lake supports a healthy fish population, including ishkan, crayfish, sig, ets.
The most famous cultural monument in Gegharkunik province is the Sevanavank monastery. Initially the monastery was built at the southern shore of a small island. After the artificial draining of Lake Sevan, which started in the era of Joseph Stalin, the water level fell about 20 metres, and the island transformed into a peninsula.According to an inscription in one of the churches, the monastery of Sevanavank was founded in 874 by Princess Mariam, the daughter of Ashot I (who became a king a decade later). At the time, Armenia was still struggling to free itself from Arab rule.
|Destination||Geghardavank, Garni temple, Symphony of Stones, Sevanavank|
* The unused portions of the itinerary are not refundable.