Armenia was part of our trip to the Caucasus region, including Georgia and Azerbaijan. We entered the country through Debed Canyon, spent a couple of days in Dilijan and took a 4 hour bus to Yerevan. You simply cannot go to Yerevan and not visit two outstanding temples: Geghard and Garni. Several tour operators offer day excursions to one or both of them. As you know, we are not into pre fabricated tours, so we decided to hire a taxi for a day and visit both places on our own.
Nothing beats being driven through beautiful nature while chatting to your driver. You get to know local people and their culture directly. Plus we got to stop whenever there’s something not to be missed. The journey to Geghard was pretty cool. It was pretty cloudy when we left, so the mountains around Yerevan looked very dramatic. The sky cleared through the day and we could see Mount Ararat in all its glory.
Even though Garni is closer we got first to Geghard at the end of the road. It’s the privilege of having a driver who knows his way around. The whole place is surreal: a millenary monastery perched on a mountain and inside a cave. However, the best was yet to come. Geghard was built in 1215 and it’s still in use today. We were able to experience a real Armenian Orthodox Mass, inside this masterpiece! I was back in 13th Century. The priest was fully covered, ladies were singing, I believe the mass was in Armenian. There was even a huge curtain drawn, the priests behind, and people in front. I am not religious but I’ve got to admit that the vibe was peaceful. We left the Monastery knowing we had just experienced something special.
Then we went even further back in time.Yes, Garni is the only Hellenic temple in the former Soviet Union and it was built in the 1st Century. Almost on ourselves we admired the temple, walking slowly around. The sun was setting. We sat quietly and enjoyed a killer sunset over the rugged mountains. What a perfect day. Armenia has it all, breathtaking nature, outstanding architecture and real millenary experiences.