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What to see in Armenia

Noravank

This UNESCO World Heritage Site, located deep within a narrow gorge, dug out by the Amaghu River, and surrounded by brick-red cliffs, is an astounding vision of an Armenian Monastery complex. Built in the 13th-century by the architect Momik, the complex is composed of a collection of churches and was once the residence of pious bishops in the 14th century. It is situated 122km from Yerevan, close to the city of Yeghegnadzor and rumours have it that part of the bloodstained ‘True Cross’, which Jesus died on, is hidden somewhere within the site.

Within the complex, the St. Astvatsatsin Church is perhaps the most admirable construction thanks to its beautiful second-storey dome, decorated with columns, and its intricate carving of Jesus and his disciples, Peter and Paul, above the door way. The site also contains the St. Karapet Church which is decorated with intricate floral khachkars, Armenian crosses and has a series of inscribed gravestones in the floor, showcasing the complex ancient Armenian alphabet. Lastly, the St. Gregory Chapel contains a number of tombs and a fantastically carved image of a half-lion, half-human figure on one of the tombstones, dating back to 1300 and covering the grave of Elikum, son of Prince Tarsayich Orbelian.

As the sun sets across the gorge, mystical shadows and warm red hues are cast across the buildings. The remote location of the complex evokes feelings of admiration for the devotees who lived their monastic lives in this very place. Although the idea may seem quite bleak, the beautiful craftsmanship of the buildings and its stunning setting are phenomenal, making Noravank an unmissable stop on a trip to Armenia.

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