Monasteries of Khor Virap, Noravank and Tatev.

Monday morning, it’s time to hit the road again. I take Anush to her office and take the highway south. Hoping to reach the famous Tatev monastery in the evening. Visiting two other wonderful monasteries along the road. My first stop will be Khor Virap. One of the place I’ve seen so many times while preparing my trip to Armenia. The photo of Khor Virap is featured on many books about Armenia and has been catched on many films and digital media. Unfortunately, when I arrived, there was still some early morning fog and low clouds blocking a clear view on the famous Mt. Ararat which is usually the background of all the photographs of Khor Virap.

A bit sad about all these clouds, I parked my car and walked around in the monastery. I didn’t spend much time there. I think I spent as much time on the toilet behind the monastery as I spent inside the monastery. Yes, my body was not yet used to all the fruits and vegetables I ate without washing them first…

Next stop is another well featured monastery of Armenia. Noravank. This monastery can be spotted high on the hills while approaching it from the road. Once arrived, it’s obvious this site is also well visited by tourists. A remarkable feature of this monastery its two-storey church. A narrow staircase grants access to the second floor from the front of the building.

Another long drive was waiting for me from Noravank but I was a bit ahead of schedule. I even got the idea it might be possible to reach Tatev monastery today. I picked up three hitchhikers to accompany me during this long drive. A young guy only stayed for a few kilometers but an Iranian couple was hitchhiking all the way from Tbilisi in Georgia, through Armenia to Iran. They got out in Goris.

I had read about the Tatev Wings, a 5.7 km cableway between Halidzor and the Tatev monastery. It is the longest reversible aerial tramway built in one section only. My plan was to take a ride to the monastery just before closing time of the cableway and camp on the hills around the monastery. However, I picked up another hitchhiker from Russia who had the exact idea as I had for camping. Only he didn’t wanted to spend money on the cableway so I changed my plans and drove all the way to the monastery. A spectacular road that took me about an hour to complete. The cableway would have been 12 minutes.

Tatev monastery is definitely my most favourite. Not only the location, but also the whole complex within the walls of the monastery is truly fascinating. There should also be a hidden tunnel that would bring you to the bottom of the monastery deep down in the valley. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find it myself. I’ve heard from a good source you can find it easily from the old kitchen.

I think most visitors don’t really get the view on the picture above. It requires to continue the small road up the hill behind the monastery. My hitchhiker and I  decided we could set our tents together. So we found a place in a field on the hill behind the monastery and called it an early night.

That night we would find out it wasn’t the best place to camp. More about this little nightly adventure near Tatev can be read in my next story.