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Pictures of our trip to Armenia – part 2
- From July 17 to 22, 2013 Nagorno Karabakh-Goris-Tatev-Noravank-Khor Virap-Echmiadzin-Geghard-Gyumri-Georgia
Nagorno-Karabakh July 9 to 17, 2013: Armenia - Stepanakert - Gandzasar - Martakert - Tigranakert - Tnjri - Shoushi - Armenia
Armenia part 1 July 2 to 9, 2013: Georgia Border - 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:
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 21, 2013
  • click a picture to see details

076  Bizarre eroded pillars of tuff stone
rise like spears through the grassy slopes
above the town of Goris on the road to
077  A herd of sheep crosses us unruffled.
As always we stop. The animals are not
screwed up by our LandCruiser and we
enjoy watching them
078  Goris, a town on an altitude of
4’550 ft. of about 25’000 people, lies
picturesquely in a basin, embedded in
greenery. It is a comfortable stopover
between the capital Yerevan, Nagorno-
Karabakh or the Iranian border
079  Chimneys and cave dwellings in
the hillsides east of the town of Goris are
similar to those of Cappadocia in Turkey.
According to locals the caves of "Old Goris"
were built and inhabited in the 5th century
080  In Armenia there is no shortage
of lonely picnic and camping possibilities.
Liliana prepares lunch above the
Vorotan Canyon .....
081  ..... close to our lunch spot
grow head-heigh tall milk thistles
(Silybum marianum)
082  Neatly embedded into a row of
trees lies the village of Halidzor at the
edge of the Vorotan Canyon, from where
a cable car runs to the Tatev Monastery
(see picture #91 below)
083  Slowly nature is taking over again:
Walled Harants Anapat Monastery at
the bottom of the Vorotan valley, a
hermitage that was built in the 17th century
084  The infamous, bad and adventurous
track with narrow switchbacks leading up
to the Tatev Monastery is now improved
by a relatively wide gravel road,
manageable also by busses
085  The Tatev Monastery is situated
in a dramatic setting at the edge of the
deep Vorotan Canyon (see also picture #97
below). It is a UNESCO world heritage
site (picture taken at evening light) .....
086  ..... we camp on a tiny flat meadow
600 yards above the monastery. Shortly
after we get up, the red ball of the sun
appears behind the still dark
mountain ridge .....
087  ..... and gives the Monastery a
different touch of color than the evening
before. Tatev is rated as one of the
most beautiful sites in Armenia
088  In the early morning hours a white
cloud of fog sails along the Aramazd
mountain range, southwest of the
Tatev Monastery
089  Breakfast with a stunning view of
the Tatev Monastery, the surrounding
mountains and the Vorotan valley. There
is still complete silence, only the dull
sound of the church bells echoes
through the mountains
090  In the inner courtyard of the
Tatev Monastery stands the mausoleum
of Grigor Tatevatsi, a teacher in the 14th
century, adorned with intricate carvings
The Tatev Monastery that earlier was accessible only by 4x4 is now connected by an Aerial Tramway, known as "The Wings of Tatev".
With each ride it can transport 25 people. With a length of 18'865 ft./3.57 miles it is the “world's longest cable car line of one section”.
This record made it into the Guinness Book of Records. It was built by Swiss and Austrians. Was it a gift? It’s just a pity that the summit
station was built just 200 yards away from the Monastery – a disfigurement of the whole place, we find
091  Technical description
(Guinness Certificate)
092  Cabin with maximum
25 passagers and 1 attendant
093  8'888 ft. long free-hanging rope, more
than 1'000 ft. above bottom of the valley
094  A horseman visits us galopping with
dog and foal. We are surprised how the
still very young foal can compete with
the speed of probably 20 miles/h
095  A rural scene that we often
encounter early morning: A herdsman
guides his cattle in the Tatev region
to a grazing ground
096  A horseman is greeting us. In
mountain regions the horse is still an
often used mean of transport
097  It looks like a fairy-tale castle:
The Tatev Monastery built on a
natural “rock fortress” on the
edge of the Vorotan Canyon
098  In ancient times it was reachable only
on donkey paths: The village on the plateau  
is Bardzravan on an altitude of 5'000 ft.
south of the 2'300 ft. deep Vorotan Canyon
099  Natural pools squeezed into the
deep canyon have been formed at the
Devil’s (Satan's) Bridge over the Vorotan
river, about 1’650 ft. below Tatev
100  A butterfly – Glanville fritillary
(Melitaea cinxia) – opens its wings
and shows us its beautiful design
101  During the summer weeks it’s
humming und buzzing everywhere:
A black beetle on yellow flowers
102  These delicate white blossoms
would make a lovely bridal bouquet
On M2 – the only road connecting Yerevan and Nagorno-Karabakh and Iran
flower carpets in white, pink and yellow stretch along the road. They compensate for the miserable road condition
106  Not in a village, but in plain nature
near the Spandaryan Reservoir a row of
tombs are standing on a slope: A
Christian cemetery near Gorayk
107  Zorats Karer, mostly referred
(a bit exaggerated) as Armenian's
“Stonehenge”, is located on a rocky
promontory near Sisian. About 223 large
stone tombs can be found in the area .....
108  ..... it is assumed that the circular
holes in the standing prehistoric stones
could have been used for astronomical
109  The Spandaryan Reservoir southeast
of Gorayk was built around 1980. It feeds
Armenian's biggest hydro power plant
110  We recall cattail (also bulrush)
(Typha angustifolia) as dry ornamental
plants in a flower pot; here we see
them in their natural environment
111  You would think that this beautiful
flower was growing in a garden. No, we
admire it on a meadow. It belongs most
likely to the “carrot” family (Heracleum)
112  The evening sun plunges the rock
already in shiny red when we approach
the Noravank Monastery (means New
Monastery) that ranks as one of the most
beautifully situated Armenian monasteries
113  We catch a first glimpse of
this masterpiece from the 13th century,
which was founded in the wild
romantic Amaghu valley
114  What a most beautiful sight of the
Saint Astvatsatsin Church in the warm
evening light: It gleams in the same earth
colors like the surrounding mountain walls
115  The depiction of Maria with Child
Jesus above the portal of the Saint
Astvatsatsin Church, flanked by two
angels, shows that a master was at work
116  A cross stone (Khachkars)
at the Noravank's Monastery. Again
we stand with admiration in front
of a jewel of an engraving
117  It is real and fits wonderfully
into the chapel of Saint Gregory: A tame
white dove caught by the morning sun
118  Beside the chapel of Saint Gregory
lies a carved tombstone on the grassy
ground showing a lion-human figure:
It’s the grave of Elikum III Orbelian,
son of Prince Tarsaich Orbelian
119  The depiction of Godfather with
his crucified son that decorates the upper
portal of the Saint Karapet Church is
another lovely detail of the Noravank
120  Three fluffy swallow babies rest
on the portal of Saint Gregory chapel
and look still a bit shy into
their young world
121  The complex of the Noravank
Monastery in the morning light: At left
the Saint Astvatsatsin Church; at right
the Saint Karapet Church
122  Most tourists climb the broken
stone steps of the Saint Astvatsatsin
Church for a picture in front of the
portal – so does Liliana
123  "The early bird gets the worm": At
5.30am we crawl out of our LandCruiser.
The parking and the monastery complex are
still empty. At 9.30am when the first visitors
arrive, we are ready to leave – it doesn’t take
anymore long until the crowd will take over
124  Road over the 5'890 ft. high Tukh
Manuk pass, where the main traffic consists
primarily of heavy trucks rolling between
Iran and Yerevan. It follows for 25 miles
the border of the Azerbaijani exclave of
Naxivan, sometimes only mile away
125  The Monastery of Khor Virap,
19 miles south of the capital Yerevan, is
a famous pilgrimage site built picturesquely
on a hill. The farmland behind the complex
is already in Turkey. The here inaccessible
Iranian border lies also only
7 miles in the south .....
126  ..... the border to Turkey, which analog
to the one of Azerbaijan can nowhere be
crossed, is marked with a barb wire fence
only about 100 yards away from the
monastery. The Islamic neighbor is greeting
with a slim white minaret and watchtowers
127  Khor Virap is a still a “working”
monastery. It is also used for baptism
or to perform a "matagh" after a wedding
– a sacrifice, often of sheep or chicken.
Here the Church Saint Astvatzatzin that
is found in many monasteries
128  This is the picture book setting of
the Khor Virap Monastery with the back-
drop of the snow-covered 16’854 ft. high
and 19 miles distant peak of Mt. Ararat
on the Turkish side. The entire quadripoint
area (Armenia, Turkey, Azerbaijan and
Iran) is politically fiercely disputed
129  Our camp at the nature reserve
near the monastery of Khor Virap
offers us two highlights: swarms of
birds returning to their sleeping place
and a gorgeous sunset
In rural Dashtavan between Masis and Echmiadzin we first spot one stork nest on an electricity pylon,
then count ten in a row. We are amazed about the height of a nest and enjoy the family with their young one
133  West of Yerevan lies the holy city
of Echmiadzin, the "Vatican of the
Armenian Apostolic Church". Its cathedral
“Mayr Tachar Surp Ejmiatsin” looks rather
modest despite its importance as
“Armenian Holy See” .....
134  ..... Liliana steps through
the richly ornated main portal .....
135  ..... the interior of the cathedral
gleams with beautiful frescoes. The altar
is the place where Saint Gregory the
Illuminator saw the divine light
strike the ground
136  Northeast of "Holy Echmiadzin"
at the Komitas Square stands the new
grey Apostolic Cathedral of St. Gregory
the Illuminator that was built for the visit
of Pope John Paul II in 2001, where he
held also the Ecumenical Celebration
together with Patriarch Karekin II
137  The Geghard Monastery is built
in the scenic Azat Canyon 6 miles
beyond the small village of Garni.
Legend has it that it was founded
in the 4th century – however the
main cathedral only 1215
138  Recent sculptures of the
Apostles Saints Bartholomew and
Thaddeus in the Geghard Monastery
139  According to history the big complex
was cut out of the rock during different
epochs. It is also a UNESCO
World Heritage Site
140  Very impressive is the deep
into the rock cut chapel with its fine
ornaments. It almost looks ghostly
with the light of the flickering candles
141  The carving of a lion and an ox
above the portal to the Katoghike
Church of the Geghard Monastery
142  More wonderful artwork
(Khachkars): Crosses that were carved
at the northeast corner of the Geghard
Monastery into the 800 years old walls
143  This richly carved south entrance
of the Katoghike Cathedral (main church)
is testimony of great craftsmanship
144  On the same corner as the left picture
#142 lean ancient "Khachkars" (carved stone
crosses) against a wall. They all look similar,
but each one is an artwork on its own
145  A remembrance picture of the
unspectacular mountain lake “Lake Kari”
at the observatory of the 13’419 ft. high
Mt. Aragats (not to be confused with
Mt. Ararat on picture #128 below), which
we reached on a partly very bad track .....
146  ..... enjoyed however
the alpine flora along the way
147  Below the observatory nomads
have set up their summer camp to let
their sheep feed on the young grass,
despite the chilly temperatures
above an altitude of 10’000 ft.
148  Globe thistles (Echinops)
are developing their full beauty
149  The fortress of Amberd from the
7th century on an altitude of 7’500 ft.
north of Agarak overlooks farms and
trade routes of the Ararat plain. No army
ever succeeded to breach its high stone
walls and rounded towers. Left of the
castle stands the typical Armenian church
of Vahramashen from the 11th century
150  Who can resist taking a picture
of this wonderful pink flower? Not us!
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 May 2013
Turkey: Iran Border-Esendere-Hakkari-Van-Doğubayazıt-Kars-Ardahan-Hopa-Georgia Border May/June 2013
Georgia - Part 1: 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
Armenia - Part 1: Georgia Border-Haghpat-Dilijan-Sevan-Tatev-Goris-Nagorno-Karabakh July 2013
Nagorno-Karabakh: Armenia-Stepanakert-Gandzasar-Martakert-Tigranakert-Tnjri-Shoushi-Armenia 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