Wed, Nov 27, 2013
The hostel doesn’t have enough visitors to run the tours today or tomorrow, so I set off on a day tour myself via the very inexpensive public transportation. Today’s day trip would be to Echmiadzin on a very grey skied day. I would only see the sun for about 5 minutes today but luckily it really didn’t rain.
Echmiadzin is basically the Vatican of the Armenia church. It is the most holy of all the churches and serves at the school where the Armenian priests study.
The church itself was not super impressive. However, I was there to visit the Treasury which held the most valuable relics owned by the Armenian church. Amongst the items on display were some illuminated bibles, the spear that pierced Jesus’ side, a bit of Noah’s Ark, and two bejeweled wall hangings that had small bits of the cross.
I then set off walking and was lucky enough to come across two different churches. The first was St. Gayane. The other was St. Hripsime. Both churches were named after women who had come from Rome with other maidens. Hripsime was very beautiful and left Rome to avoid marriage. The King of Armenia wanted to marry her but it would require that she give up her Christianity. She refused and was stoned.
I continued walking back towards Yerevan. It was not a pleasant walk because the road was very busy and littered. However, I was walking to Zvartnots Cathedral that was only a few miles from Echmiadzin. This ruined Cathedral was one of the first Cathedrals in the country. It was ruined in the 900’s – most likely by an earthquake but not totally known. The small museum here showed about architecture of the various Armenian churches.
After Zvartnots, I caught a minibus back to Yerevan. We drove past the huge American Embassy there – probably the largest embassy I’ve seen. Arriving in Yerevan, it was early enough to hightail it to the Genocide museum, which was to close at 4pm. So, I walked very fast from the bus station, past the brandy factories and up the hill of a park to the museum and huge monument. The museum had lots of media on the Armenian genocide that took place from 1915-1922. The Ottoman Turks killed 1.5 million Armenians during this period. They also kidnapped some of the women and children to add to their harems and assimilate into the Ottoman culture. This is part of the reason why Armenia and Turkey is to this day unfriendly neighbors with a closed border.
Next, I walked to the fancy mall that was at the bottom of the hill of the park. The Dalma Garden mall appears to very new and they appear to be adding a huge condominium complex attached. For the fun of it, I decided to find out if they had any movies playing in English since all the movies in this whole region from Kyrgyzstan to Armenia have been dubbed in Russian. In fact, they were going to start playing movies in English at this theater – a week from today. So, I just bought some snacks at the huge supermarket and headed back to the hostel where I watched a movie on YouTube.