IMG_09881960799_1404414203131407_8919080854450028645_o This weekend we joined a hiking group for one of their day drips –  people from all walks of life rent a couple mini-buses and leave town for lots of laughs and wonderful comaraderie. It was a great way to enjoy Armenia’s beautiful landscape together. We sang songs, walked up waterfall streams, and sang Armenian folk songs. We would have liked to do this every weekend! It was great fun, and we learned a lot about Armenians – some of them doctors, lawyers, programmers, etc. – who love nature and love to have a good time. IMG_0900 This time the group went to Debed Gorge in Lori province (near Georgia). We walked from Sanahin to Haghpat, two important 10th century university monasteries across the gorge from one another. In between was the Kayan Berd (fortress) built in 1233, and sacked by the Mongols.

Sanahin has a very neat scriptorium, and has this first example in Armenian architecture of a narthex, or meeting area before you enter the church. It’s impossible not to walk on graves – this is because people thought walking on graves was a good thing in the 10th century – it gave you the power and energy of the people buried beneath.


Ruins of a small chapel, where you can see the watchtowers signaling the Mongol invasion.
After a nice cool dip in the river, we walked to the edge of the gorge to the surprise entrance route to Kayan Berd fortress.
On the precipice of Debed Gorge. We took a nap in the fortress below.


On top of Kayan Berd, across from Haghpat monastery.

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Haghpat – I thought this one was slightly better than Sanahin. One room had holes in the ground (buried karas gourds) where monks stored food, honey, wine. Haghpat also has the first instance in Armenia of Jesus carved on a khachkar, with God staring down at him.

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Apparently these corner details are Seljuk in origin.
Separate bell tower. Still works.