Day 40 (2): Not-so World Heritage Listed Monasteries
Dilijan Travel Blog› entry 59 of 260 › view all entries
May 15th, 2010 – by: Biedjee
It was a long drive to the town of Dilijan, which is dubbed the 'Switzerland' of Armenia. Well, with a lot of imagination you could see where they come from. Apart from the obvious drab Soviet buildings there are also many lovely wood and brick houses which, set in the alpine surroundings, could resemble Switzerland... I guess.
We weren't here to marvel at townscapes though, there were more monasteries to explore.
The weather had taken a turn for the worse and all throughout the drive to Dilijan it had been pouring down. By the time we reached Goshavank the sun started to break through the clouds though, resulting in a magnificent double rainbow above the monastery.
Naturally this made the three photographers in the group very happy.
It was nearing 7 o'clock, and we still had another monastery to visit. Well, a good thing they have the daylight saving saving time here, it doesn't get dark until 10. But still, this was one long exhausting day.
And if I'm totally honest, we might as well have skipped Hagartsin, that last monastery. Once considered a jewel in this are, the monastery buildings are now being restored by a Persian financier and turned into some sort of resort place. A hotel is being built next to the main church, the former banquet hall has been turned into a congress centre and the churches and chapels themselves are being restored with very little regard for its history.
A brand new iron roof was being fitted when we visited, and the walls of the main chapel had been reconstructed using sandstone bricks and columns which don't match the original colour scheme at all.
One thing that had particularly pissed of Gevorg was the fact that the builders had cemented up a loose column, not realising this was actually a trap door leading to a secret passage behind the chapel wall.
We did not get back to Yerevan until 22:30 all of us hungry and completely knackered. Today's tour had been too long and too monotonous. I told Gevorg he should consider changing it into a two-day tour, including city walks in Vanodzor and Dilijan and possibly skipping that last monastery, but including some of the sights we visited the first day instead (we drove past the Sevan monastery on the way back from Dilijan to Yerevan).
While I was glad to have seen the Haghpat and Sanahin monasteries, I wouldn't recommend visiting them as a day-trip from Yerevan, despite the Envoy tours being really good value.
After a quick dinner (returning to the restaurant where we had eaten the first night) it was time to say goodbye to the girls and Antonino, and head off to bed. There would be a very early alarm sounding for me tomorrow morning.
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