Have you ever dreamed of starring in an Indiana Jones movie?

Yes? Then pack your bags, book a flight to Armenia and head straight for the stunning monastery of Geghard.

Geghard monastery was founded in the 4th century already, making the place one of the oldest Christian places of worship in the world. Already the monastery's site is spectacular: Hidden in a secluded canyon in the mountains 40 kilometres east of Tbilisi, the impossibly ancient monastery simply overwhelms you with a solemn atmosphere of hard-to-describe old age. Even the church, which is the main architectural feature of the complex, doesn't really "feel" like a church at all, but something much more older, something "pagan". The strange and ornate Khachkars, the intriguing ancient Armenian characters on the surface of the stout pillars in the nave and last but not least the caves hewn into the surrounding rock walls all evoke the long-gone days, when the Holy Lance (= Geghard), which pierced the side of Jesus Christ was kept, before it was transferred to Etschmiatsin cathedral. But, who knows, maybe – behind a secret door or inside a hidden cache – there are still relics to be discovered in this sacred place.

At the end of the 19th century the English writer/traveller Lynch visited the region around Geghard. Here are his impressions:

Henry Finnis Blosse Lynch (1862-1913)
"On the further side of the Araxes, opposite Aralykh, is situated the celebrated monastery of Khor Virap, which marks the spot where, according to Armenian tradition. Saint Gregory, the founder of Christianity in Armenia, was imprisoned for thirteen years in a deep pit. The country about and behind the cloister is extremely rich in historical and archaeological interest, and I would recommend the traveller to prolong his excursion up the romantic valley of the Garni, whence he can return across the mountains to Erivan. He will examine the sites of Artaxata and Dvin, and, proceeding up the river, will reach the gorge with the basaltic columns, an—d the platform where once stood the temple of King Tiridates a beautiful Greek shrine given to these solitudes, like the temple of Segesta to the lonely Sicilian hills. Hard by this platform above the river are found the relics of the city of Garni ; and, near the sources of the stream, at a distance of some five miles from Garni, the caves and monastery of Surb Geghard, reputed to have been founded by St. Gregory, respond to the spirit of a landscape which for grandeur and severity is unsurpassed among these wilds."

Lynch, H.F.B.: Armenia. Travels and studies, vol. 1. London 1901, pgs. 200-201.

The easiest way to get to Geghard, the monastery of the Holy Lance, is hiring a car in Yerevan. The cheapest way is to take a Marshrutka leaving at Gai station in Yerevan. The Marshrutka will take you as far as Garni. In Garni pay someone to take you to Geghard by car or just hitchhike.

1 Kommentar:

  1. Geghard was one of my favorite sites in Armenia. Amazing the churches half carved into the mountain!