I guess it’s probably obvious if you’ve been reading these dispatches that there are quite a few monasteries in Armenia. That’s true. And like European churches, they are breath-takingly beautiful. And like European churches, you start to get bored of them very quickly. But we still had a ways to drive on this road trip, and there were other monasteries to see.
But I’ll not bore you with all the historical details. The links here can do that. Suffice to say, we saw Sanahin monastery (woodsy, nice, lots of cross carvings), the Odzun monastery (high atop a mountain, lovely view, fresh air, more, uh, cross carvings), and finally the Haghpat monastery, easily the best of the bunch, as it is laid out on a grassy plateau with a view of the entire valley below. The buildings themselves here are magnificent examples of the classic Armenian monastery style…round tower, conical roof…and the setting is like something out of a EM Forester novel.
If I have one complaint…actually, you might call this more of a screaming rage, it is the presence, right in your immediate view from the monastery, of an unsightly, working copper factory that rumbles and booms and spews an impossibly long tail of industrial cottonous filth into the sky. Thankfully, the wind was blowing in the direction away from the monastery…but man, the vision of this behemoth from the monastery grounds is a real downer. That said, as the picture of Haghpat here attests, it’s a lovely place.