YAC = Yet Another Church: a running joke in our group. Armenia is a very churchy country, as befits the first country to adopt Christianity as its official religion (in 301 AD). Much to my amazement, the many churches and monasteries we visited—though largely built on similar plans with similar materials— were visually different in significant details, and good subjects for photography. Here are the four we saw today, along with some secular stuff.
Hovhannavank monastery, notable for its use of colored stone
Interior stairway and wall in Hovhannavank
The cherries in orchard next to the monastery were just becoming ripe.
Saghmosavank, a 13th C, still working monastery
Art students in the field outside the monastery trying to paint en plein air in a stiff wind
Painting of Gregory the Illuminator, the monk who converted Armenia in 301 AD,
over a door in Saghmosavank
St. Astvatsatsin (Mother of God) church, in Aperan. It is in basilica form,
and its stone has led it to be called the Black Church.
Pews in the Black Church
A door of the Black Church
We passed a large market, largely a bakery, with a display of huge wedding cakes in the window.
Inside, there was a bread-baking area with a baker who had perfected the performance of jumping halfway into the tandoor oven to plaster the dough against the side of the oven. Quite an act.
Karmravor, the Red Church in Ashtarak near Yerevan.
Perhaps the closest contemporary analog to these ancient churches in modern Yerevan is some of the impressive buildings, with many columns, around Republic Square. This is a government building...
... and this is the facade of the Marriott Hotel, proving that
Armenian stone carvers have not lost their skill.
We're leaving early tomorrow morning from Armenia for a month in western Europe, so there will be no more postings from the TransCaucasus for a while. However, I have many more good photos from this beautiful and interesting region, so they will eventually begin to appear again.