one during the mini-school and one during the
workshop, were an integral part of
the scientific programme, as a
forum for informal discussions among participants. They were
complemented by shorter
visits in Yerevan, to the Matedanaran and to the Tsitsernakaberd, and
by self-organized trips around the country, to help
us get a first taste of Armenia.
excursion, on Tuesday 6, was to Garni and Geghard. Garni (above) is the one
standing Hellenistic temple in Armenia, in the Azat valley, on a site
used as a fortress since the III millenium B.C. The temple, probably
from the first century, was destroyed by an earthquake in the
seventeenth, and painstakingly rebuilt thirty years ago. Geghard (right) is an ancient
monastery, partly carved out of the
higher up in the valley, and dating back to the 4th century - though
church is 'only' from 1215.
Friday 9 we went to Khor Virap,
monastery on the border with Turkey, in the
place where St. Gregory the Illuminator was thrown in a dungeon for 13
years. He is said to have been able to heal King Trdat III, who had
imprisoned him, which persuaded the king to convert, thus making
Armenia the first officially Christian nation in the
world, in the year 301. We did spend time in the dungeon, and took a
closer look at Mount Ararat.