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Pictures of our trip to Armenia – part 1
- From Juli 2 to 9, 2013 Georgia - Akhtala - Haghpat - Dilijan - Lake Sevan - Selim - Arates - Nagorno-Karabakh
Georgia Part 2a June 24 to July 2, 2013: Azerbaijan Border - Tbilisi - Armenia Border
Azerbaijan June 13 to 24, 2013: Georgia Border - Balakən - Şəki - Lahı - Baku - Xınalıq - Quba - Laza - Baku - Gəncə - Georgia Border
Georgia Part 1 June 4 to 13, 2013: Turkey Border - Ajaria - Tbilisi - Kakheti - Azerbaijan Border
Turkey May 28 to June 4, 2013: Iran Border - Esendere - Hakkari - Van - Doğubayazıt - Kars - Ardahan - Hopa - Georgia Border
afterwards in the Caucasus:
Nagorno-Karabakh July 9 to 17, 2013: Armenia - Stepanakert - Gandzasar - Martakert - Tigranakert - Tnjri - Shoushi - Armenia
Armenia Part 2 July 19 to 22, 2013: Nagorno-Karabakh - Goris - Tatev - Noravank - Khor Virap - Echmiadzin - Geghard - Gyumri - Georgia
Georgia Part 2b July 22 to 31, 2013: Armenia Border - Ninotsminda - Tbilisi - Mtskheta - Kazbegi - Kutaisi - Zugdidi
Georgia Part 3a July 31 to August 5, 2013 - Zugdidi - Swaneti - Zugdidi - Abkhazia Border
Abkhazia August 5 to 13, 2013: Georgia - Sukhumi - Tsebelda - Novyy Aton - Lake Ritsa - Gagra - Pitsunda - Georgia
Georgia Part 3b August 13 to 15, 2013 - Abkhazia Border - Poti - Ferry to Ilyichevsk/Ukraine
Armenian Map
Mid-East Map          Caucasus Map
latest picture: July 7, 2013
  • click a picture to see details

001  Armenia is known for its many
monasteries. 15 miles from the north-
easterly border post of Bagratashen
lies the Akhtale Monastary from the
13th century, situated at the edge
of the same named village .....
002  ..... it is mainly appreciated for
its fine frescoes. The almost surreal
power of the coloring is characteristic
of typical Byzantine art while the
themes are more Armenian
003  The setting on a high plateau
and the peace surrounding the fortress
church of Akhtale make it an ideal
spot for a relaxed picnic
004  After Akhtale we drive through
green forested hills to the next
“sacred building” .....
005  ..... the Haghpat Monastery,
situated on a lofty plateau only 8 miles
further on. It is praised as pearl of a
monastery and was given UNESCO
World Heritage status .....
006  ..... in its bright stone walls there
are niches with beautiful reliefs of Smbat II
Bagratuni, King of Armenia, and his junior
brother Gurgen I, King of Lori. A similar
relief is in the Sanahin Monastery (pic # 20)
007  The northwestern corner of the
Haghpat Monastery: Right „tower“
St. Astvatsatsin Church; left ”tower“
St. N'shan Church
008  Gallery and academy of the
Haghpat Monastery. The cross stone
on the plinth is called ”Amenaprkitch
Khachkar” dating from 1273
009  A swallow peeks curiously from its
earthy nest, built on a vaulted ceiling of an
archway of the Haghpat Monastery.
Ruins are a heaven for birds
A modest church altar and intricately elaborated cross stones are part
of the spacious area of the Haghpat Monastery hidden behind thick walls
013  The first rays of the sun reach the
Haghpat Monastery with its wonderful
free standing belfry (right on the picture)
014  The dining hall in the service
building along the northern wall
015  Stone inscriptions in Armenian
016  Emil is swapping tips with Maya
and Wilfried from Germany. We
camped together on a little meadow
with view to the Haghpat Monastery
017  A still working factory from the
Soviet era on the opposite side of the
Debed Valley ejects stinking smoke
into the sky. Today most of them are out
of business and are just rusting away
018  Further down the "Monastery
Road" dense mountain forests dominate
the landscape of the Lori province
019  High over the Debed Valley, flanked
with age-old huge trees lies the moss
covered Sanahin Monastery with its
century old gravestones. It is also a
UNESCO World Heritage site .....
020  ..... the relief of Smbat II Bagratuni,
King of Armenia, and his junior brother
Gurgen I, King of Lori that is cut into the
dark walls spread a sense of vitality. A
similar relief is in the Haghpat
Monastery (pic #6) .....
021  ..... in the overgrown cemetery
there are fenced-in family tombs with
pictures of the deceased
022  Chervil (Anthriscus cerefolium)
like we remember it from back home,
with the exemption that here it reaches
an enormous size
023  The Debed River is meandering
picturesquely through the narrow valley.
The road that follows the river bed is the
main artery linking the capitals of Yerewan
in Armenia with Tbilisi in Georgia .....
024  ..... near the stony riverbed we
find a quiet spot for our lunch break
025  Between Vanadzor and Dilijan a
fertile valley with vegetable cultivations
is spreading near Lemontovo. Special
looking are the deep corrugated iron
roofs of the farmers houses .....
026  ..... a white wagtail (Motacilla
alba) observes the world from
its perspective .....
027  ..... the neatly divided vegetable
fields and the straight farming village
of Margahovit contribute to the
peacefulness of the rural scene
028  4 miles east of Dilijan a good tarmac
road leads to the forested Dilijan Nature
Reserve. After another 3 miles up it stands
in front of us: The Haghartsin Monastery
what means "Dance of the Eagles" .....
029  ..... the monastery has three churches:
For Gregory the Illuminator, for the Virgin
Mary and the chapel of St. Stepanos.....
030  .....it is hidden away in a lovely
forest valley and was built in the 12th century
by two princes of the Bagratuni Kingdom
031  Close to the Haghartsin Monastery -
in an overgrown forest area - are lovely
medieval carved cross stones
032  Delicate white bells are one of the
many flowers that bloom around the
region of the Haghartsin Monastery .....
033  ..... a pair of clover (Trifolium)
flowers glows from the lush green
034  A cute gingerbread-style house in
Dilijan. “Alpine” Dilijan is also called
"Switzerland of Armenia". Here was also the
main link between Armenia and Azerbaijan
before the start of the 1988 war
035  No, also here corncobs don’t grow
on trees! They are stuck on branches to
draw the attention to the next street
vendor of hot corncobs
036  Red papaver or oriental poppy
(Papaver orientale) is widespread and
attracts us in its intensive luminosity
again and again to make a picture
On the old Sevan Pass road (6’936 ft.) from Dilijan to Lake Sevan the explosion of spring hits us with full power.
Wonderful carpets of flowers in white, red, lilac, yellow, pink and blue glow from all sides – the variety of colors, species
and combinations are endless. Each time we think it cannot get more beautiful, there is another accumulation. It is a party
for our senses. And we have all this beauty to ourselves, as people prefer the faster, 7’054 ft. long tunnel
We enjoy not only the endless seeming flower carpets but also the uniqueness
of each delicate blossom that we discover on the Sevan Pass on the way to Lake Sevan
The height of nearly 7’000 ft. of the Sevan Pass on the 22 miles long road from Dilijan to
Lake Sevan is almost a paradise for the growth of alpine flowers. We just cannot stop taking pictures!
046  Across the carpets of meadows
looms Lake Sevan. It lies on an altitude of
6’234 ft. above sea level and covers 363
sq.mi., and is therefore the biggest lake in
the Caucasus region. The fresh water lake
supports a fish population including the
"Ishkhan" (Salmo ischchan), the prince trout
047  The Sevan Monastery
“Sevanavank” is situated 4 miles
before the same-named village and
offers a commanding view over the
same-named lake .....
048  ..... exquisitely chiseled
ornaments decorate one of the
ancient stone walls
049  The marshland of the Sevan National
Park does not attract the mass tourism that
overruns the Sevan Lake during the ten
weeks’ summer holidays
050  On a promontory 18 miles south
of Sevan stands the 1100 years old
Hayravank Monastery directly on the
lakeshore, built of tuff stones that
cover the landscape in this region .....
051  ..... richly decorated "Khachkars"
– cross stones from medieval times
– line the stairs to the Hayravank
052  A lovely contrast: Tuff stones
covered with rust-red lichens and the
deep blue of Lake Sevan at the
Hayravank Monastery
053  Our wild but romantic night spot with
lake view between tuff stones near the
Hayravank Monastery where thunder and
lightening kept us awake until after midnight
054  Happy horse to be able to roam
around freely in such a lovely place
055  Snow patches still cover parts of
the 11’800 ft. high Azhdahak mountains
west of Lake Sevan, which is situated
itself already on an altitude of 6’234 ft.
056  This is not an isolated case: An
unfinished building including crane from the
Soviet time at Lake Sevan's shore. It should
have become a hotel, but the money supply
was cut off due to the war with Azerbaijan
and it is left now to its destiny
057  Globe thistles (Echinops
sphaerocephalus) that look especially
lovely against a dark rock
058  A bit southwest of the Hayravank
tuff monastery lies the village of Noratus,
famous for its ancient headstones, called
"Khachkars", which are characteristic
of medieval Christian Armenian art
059  The cemetery on the east side
of the village is studded with over
800 headstones and graves, which
were carved between the
9th and 17th century .....
060  ..... and show all kind of
wonderfully elaborated motifs
Besides the hundreds of cross stones there are also grave stones with fine details at Noratus dating from the 1st and 2nd century:
061  Crosses with different engravings
062  A herdsman on a horse
and a musician on a chariot
063  A woman in front of a water jar (?)
064  Recalls the Canadian tundra on the
way to Inuvik in the Northwest Territories:
Landscape south of Martuni at the north side
of our ascent to the 7’907 ft. high Selim Pass
065  On the 7’907 ft. high Selim Pass is
the old Selim Caravanserai where in earlier
times caravans stopped on their “Silk Road”
trade route over the Geghama Ridge .....
066  ..... the interior of the Caravanserai
067  A nicely paved road with many
switchbacks leads from the Selim Pass
down to the Arpa river valley. With
each mile it gets warmer
068  Halfway between Selim Pass and
Arpa Valley we make a side trip from
Shatin to the Yeghegis Valley which is
famous for its concentration of churches.
Here the Zorats Church dating from
1303 near the village of Yeghegis
069  The Yeghegis Valley surprises
with a beautiful mountain scenery and
apricot and walnut plantations
070  Discovering a shining beetle on a
flower is always an enjoyable moment
071  Close to Yeghegis village hides an
800 year old overgrown Jewish cemetery
behind a metal door on the south side of
the river. Where the Jewish community
arrived from and why it disappeared
again remains still a mystery .....
072  ..... the tombstones with Hebrew
inscriptions show biblical verses and
names of the deceased. The oldest dates
from 1266 and the newest from 1346
073  Up the mountain from the village
of Hermon sits the Arates Monastery with
three churches from the 7th and 13th century.
There is not much left of the beauty except
the lovely mountain setting .....
074  ..... the wall with inscriptions is
one of the only pieces that survived
075  Liliana prepares breakfast. We
camped on an overgrown track below
the monastery ruins of Arates at an
altitude of 5’900 ft
The "Greater"-Middle East trip 2012/13:
Sharjah/Dubai/1st Traveler's Festival/Emirates National Auto Museum - UAE with car Nov. 2012 to Jan. 2013 - part 1
Western UAE - Liwa - United Arab Emirates  with car in January 2013 - part 2
Oman 2013 - Part 1 - February 2013: Musandam Peninsula
Oman 2013 - Part 2 - February 2013: Sohar - Muscat - Rustaq - Nizwa
Oman 2013 - Part 3 - March 2013: Sur - East Coast - Island of Masirah - Dhofar
Oman 2013 - Part 4 - March 2013: Salalah & Surroundings (Dhofar) - Nizwa
Oman 2013 - Part 5 - March 2013: Western Hajar Mountains
Al Ain, Eastcoast & Ras al Khaima - United Arab Emirates with our car in April 2013 - part 3
Iran - Part 1: Ferry Port Bandar Abbas-Shiraz-Persepolis-Pasargad (between Persepolis and Yazd) May 2013
Iran - Part 2: Pasargad (excl.)-Yazd-Esfahan May 2013
Iran - Part 3: Esfahan (excl.)-Chelgerd-Hamadan-Sanandaj-Orumiyeh-Turkey Border May 2013
Turkey: Iran Border-Esendere-Hakkari-Van-Doğubayazıt-Kars-Ardahan-Hopa-Georgia Border May/June 2013
Georgia - Part 1: Turkey Border-Ajaria-Gori-Tbilisi-Kakheti-Azerbaijan Border June 2013
Azerbaijan: Georgia Border-Balakən-Şəki-Lahı-Baku-Xınalıq-Quba-Laza-Baku-Gəncə-Georgia Border June 2013
Georgia - Part 2a: Azerbaijan Border-Tbilisi-Armenia Border June/July 2013
Nagorno-Karabakh: Armenia-Stepanakert-Gandzasar-Martakert-Tigranakert-Tnjri-Shoushi-Armenia July
Armenia - Part 2: Nagorno-Karabakh-Goris-Tatev-Noravank-Khor Virap-Echmiadzin-Yerewan-Geghard-Gyumri-Georgia Border July 2013
Georgia - Part 2b: Armenia Border-Ninotsminda-Tbilisi-Mtskheta-Kazbegi-Kutaisi-Zugdidi July 2013
Georgia - Part 3a: Zugdidi-Swaneti-Zugdidi-Abkhazia Border July/August 2013
Abkhazia: Georgia-Sukhumi-Tsebelda-Novyy Aton-Lake Ritsa-Gagra-Pitsunda-Georgia August 2013
Georgia - Part 3b: Abkhazia Border-Poti-Ferry to Ilyichevsk/Ukraine August 2013