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Yesterday I showed the view of the Geghard Monastery as you approch it from the road in the River Azat Valley. But it is the interior of the church that makes it so unusual.

Northeast of Garni, higher up the gorge of the Azat river, there is a magnificent monument of medieval Armenian architecture— Geghard monastery. The specific character of this monument reflects, no doubt, the peculiarities of the austere and majestic scenery around it. The picturesque gorge of Gegharda-dzor with its high and precipitous cliffs is extremely winding, and the monastery opens to view unexpectedly behind a turn of a steep path leading to it. In the 1950s a road sign was put up near this turn — a lioness on a high pedestal, with its head turned as if showing the way. Its figure is stylistically connected with the decoration of the monastery. The exact date of Geghard’s foundation is unknown. In one of the caves of Gegharda-dzor there still gushes a spring which was believed to be a sacred one in heathen times. Following a tradition, it continued to be worshipped even after Christianity had spread in Armenia. As a result, a monastery called Airivank, or a “cave monastery”, was founded there at the beginning of the fourth century. The present name can be traced back to the 13th century when, as a legend says, the legendary spear — geghard — [that pierced Christ] was brought there.
Geghard is another incredible ancient Armenian monastery, partly carved out of a mountain. Though the monastery has been around since before the 4th century, the main cathedral was built in 1215. The monastery is located literally at the end of the road. From here you walk up a path which has a few vendors of souvenirs and snacks. (try the sweet "sujukh", sweet lavash and gata if you have never tasted them before). (From http://www.armeniapedia.org/)

I was very impressed by these sculptures in the cave, so different from i have seen before. But I am afraid it has been very difficult to present it as the light in the caves was dim.

Other views in Workshops.

daddo, snunney, fritzi007, ikeharel, jjcordier, jurek1951, mcmtanyel has marked this note useful

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Additional Photos by Malgorzata Kopczynska (emka) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4974 W: 81 N: 12513] (73471)
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