The Khor Virap monastery is located about an hour’s drive away from the capital Yerevan, and offers an amazing view of Armenia’s defining symbol – the majestic Ararat. “Khor Virap” translates as “deep dungeon”, and was built of the place of the former royal prison, located on the historical site of Artashat. It was this very prison in which they kept Gregory the Illuminator, the first Armenian Catholicos, for a whole 13 years.
Therefore, it comes as no surprise that this place is one of the most sacred spots for Armenians around the world. Likewise, it’s also the closest point to the Mount Ararat from Armenia; very often this spot becomes the number 1 reason to visit our country!
Our fantastic tour will introduce you to the exotic Pagan history of Armenia, and show the later development and spread of Christianity in the country. Garni Temple (77 A.D.) – our first stop – is the only standing heathen temple in the whole post-Soviet area. The temple gracefully stands on a high plateau overlooking the Azat river gorge. The plateau itself is incredibly beautiful and is included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site along with the surrounding area. It is also home to the roman bath house with the mysterious mosaic, made out of 30,000 pieces of natural stones, as well as the ruins of the royal palace, dating back to 3rd century A.D.
The monastic complex of Geghard is another historical site included in this tour. Approximately translated into English as “Monastery of the Holy Lance”, it refers to the lance with which Longinus pierced Jesus still hanging on the cross, later brought to Armenia and kept in the Geghard monastery for 5 centuries. The complex is a representation of 13th Century Armenia, which is considered to be the Golden Age of the country’s architecture. However, the most astonishing part is the virtue of the architect, who cut the church right into the solid rock whilst considering all the rules of Armenian architecture.
Also, on the way to the temple, there will be another short stop at the Charents Arch, where you will be given the chance to enjoy one of the best moments of your trip to Armenia – a picturesque view of the Biblical Mount Ararat.