I’m not really that well versed in Christianity, especially as far as all the different directions are concerned. And I’m not that interested in it either. But I think I could share a little bit of what I found out here.
Armenia belongs to the Armenian Apostolic denomination. If you are interested, you can find more about it on the internet. Armenia boasts of being the first Christian dominion, founded in 301 AC. That is the Armenian version, Wikipedia also speaks of other historical research with the dates 315 or 405. But is perhaps not quite as relevant, in any case Christianity has a very long tradition there.
Gregor played an important role in this. Gregor the Illuminator. He wandered around in those days preaching Christianity with all his might. The Armenians didn’t like that and they threw him to the hungry lions. But then – wonder of wonders – they just didn’t want to eat him! A sign from God! Then there must have been something to this Christianity after all, and all of a sudden they all let themselves be taught! It worked better than any sermon!
In any case, many churches were built and then there was a back and forth and back and forth with all these religions. I find it interesting that the Soviet occupation also propagated atheism, i.e. social institutions (often in church hands) were nationalised and religious symbols were banned in public. But the church did not disappear, even though the situation threatened to become unbearable under Stalin before the Second World War. And what did the church do? It supported Stalin in the Second World War! They were more interested in getting one over on the stupid Germans, because they had supported the Ottoman Empire (at the time of the genocide). Many Armenians fell – but got Stalin’s respect. At the end/after the war, the Church was able to re-establish itself well.
I like listening to podcasts, even here on the trip. I then turned on the search function and entered “Armenia”. Very little came up, but I came across a Christian contribution that was quite interesting. It was a recording of a mass held in Germany in 2015 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the genocide. It was analysed guiltily that the Church did not intervene when its brothers and sisters were killed because the different faiths had too much conflict among themselves and could not bring themselves to help. The Pope tried to make amends that day by canonising all those who died/were murdered during the genocide as martyrs.
So, enough of words, now there are pictures! And these are of Tatev, a former large and influential monastery built in the 9th century:
I don’t want to go into detail here. In any case, the monastery is a good attraction for tourists. It was very important (it was considered a university), had to suffer destruction and is eagerly being rebuilt and restored to attract a lively Christian life and not just tourists.
You go through a gate and then there is an inner courtyard.
Then there is a large church. For women, there are scarves for the hair hanging at the entrance
Many visitors are also devout and use the visit for prayers
Memory-pics have to be done
Whether there is such a thing as church services? No idea – in any case there is no seating furniture anywhere.
The day before, I passed by the Great Hermitage of Tatev (Tatevi Mets Anapat), which was very picturesque far down in the gorge.
The complex was begun in 1660 after another hermitage around the corner was destroyed. 700 believers could find shelter here. It was considered unique architectural art at the time. Today it is abandoned. Why? No idea, cursory google search brought me no result. But it was nice to have a look around.
Here the courtyard and the church building from inside
That was it for the Syunik region. The next day I went back to Goris, where I had left my large luggage, and the following day I set off for a new destination. I wonder where it was going?