Day 40 (1): World Heritage Listed Monasteries

Alaverdi Travel Blog

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No idea who he was, but he picked the right spot (and the wrong day) to shoot his new video
People I met here and/or travelled with: Gevorg (Armenia), Sara (UK), Paola (Italy), Andrea (Croatia), Antonino (Italy)

Originally my plan had been to leave Yerevan last night and spend the night in the Soviet-style city of Vanodzor. From there I wanted to visit the two World Heritage listed monasteries of Haghpat and Sanahin, before travelling to Tbilisi.
The Envoy hostel doesn't offer regular tours to these monasteries, but an exception was made for the three girls from London. I decided it would be much easier to tag along and then maybe take a marshrutka to Tbilisi after lunch or so.

While this option might have been adventurous than travelling to Vanadzor by myself, it sure was a lot easier.
on the way to Alaverdi
Hey, I never claimed to be a hardcore traveller. I can be quite lazy in fact! But more importantly, I enjoyed their company, so why would I travel to a grey, drab, industrial city by myself if I could travel with three girls instead?
In the end I even decided to join the full day tour and sleep one more night in the Envoy hostel and simply take an early marshrutka tomorrow morning. If I'd take the earliest one at 8, I would be in Tbilisi around midday, so that would give me plenty of time to explore the city.

Apart from the four of us, Antonino also joined us on the tour as did two French guys and an elderly American lady who was staying a few days in Yerevan after she'd chaperoned a group of Armenian exchange students on their return to Yerevan after a year in the States. Gevorg's brother had also joined us, he was about to head off to serve in the Armenian army and had never been to these monasteries, so this was his going away present.
Haghpat


The reason why this tour isn't in the standard offering of Envoy tours is because it involves a lot of driving. And I knew exactly how much, since I'd come this route from Tbilisi last week. It was a good three hours drive north to the Debed canyon.

A few kilometres out of Yerevan we stopped at a monument of the Armenian alphabet. The Armenians are jolly proud of their alphabet and sculptures of all 36 letters have been place in a grassy field. We weren't the only ones to have a look here, as some local artist had decided to shoot the video for his new single here. No idea who he was, but judging from the reactions of the other (local) day-trippers he is quite the celebrity.

We drove on to the town of Alaverdi, which lies at the top of the Debed canyon.
bell tower of Haghpat monastery (and Sara)
Here both monasteries can be found, seven kilometres apart, along the canyon rim.

The 10th century Haghpat monastery was the first we visited and I have to admit that monastery fatigue was beginning to set in a little. It was a very impressive building, don't get me wrong, but I couldn't see why this one would be on the World Heritage list and so many others weren't.
Apparently it has to do with the way the monasteries have been preserved/restored/reconstructed. For inclusion on the World Heritage list a building must be at least 60% original, and should be restored/rebuilt using only techniques available at the time.

The Sanahin monastery was constructed around the same time as Haghpat, but completed a few months earlier. The name Sanahin translates as “older than that one”. Unlike Haghpat, Sanahin is still occasionally used as a place of worship.

We had a lovely barbecue lunch in Alaverdi town, under the smoke of the nearby copper mine which employs most of the Alaverdi population.

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No idea who he was, but he picked …
No idea who he was, but he picked…
on the way to Alaverdi
on the way to Alaverdi
Haghpat
Haghpat
bell tower of Haghpat monastery (a…
bell tower of Haghpat monastery (…
Sanahin monastery
Sanahin monastery
The alphabet monument
The alphabet monument
Photographers in action
Photographers in action
His manager, producer and mistress…
His manager, producer and mistres…
Alphabet monument
Alphabet monument
Alphabet monument
Alphabet monument
Some local tourists arrive by slig…
Some local tourists arrive by sli…
The alphabet monument where some d…
The alphabet monument where some …
on the way to Alaverdi
on the way to Alaverdi
interesting place to put a toilet …
interesting place to put a toilet…
Beautiful Vanodzor
'Beautiful' Vanodzor
Approaching Alaverdi
Approaching Alaverdi
Alaverdi town
Alaverdi town
Local girls must do this challenge…
Local girls must do this challeng…
Haghpat monastery
Haghpat monastery
gravestones which form the floor i…
gravestones which form the floor …
Haghpat
Haghpat
Haghpat
Haghpat
inscriptions at Haghpat
inscriptions at Haghpat
Haghpat monastery
Haghpat monastery
Haghpat
Haghpat
The whole group in front of Haghpat
The whole group in front of Haghpat
Haghpat
Haghpat
Armenias second-most beautiful cr…
Armenia's second-most beautiful c…
Armenias second-most beautiful cr…
Armenia's second-most beautiful c…
grave stone of a family who died i…
grave stone of a family who died …
Alaverdi
photo by: Biedjee