Armenia

Kotayk Province

Tsaghkadzor (Armenian: Ծաղկաձոր, also Romanized as Tsakhkadzor), is a spa town and a popular health resort in Armenia, located north of the capital Yerevan in the Kotayk Province (marz). According to the 2011 census, the town has a population of 1,256, down from 3,400 reported in the 1989 census. Tsaghkadzor was known as Tsaghkunyats Dzor (Armenian: Ծաղկունյաց Ձոր) during the medieval period. In the 11th century, the town was known as Kecharuyk (Armenian: Կեչառույք) or Kecharis (Armenian: Կեչառիս) derived from the Kecharis Principality under the Armenian Pahlavuni family. Later, during the 17th century, the towns was called Darachichag by the Turkic invaders, keeping the name until 1947, when it was renamed Tsaghkadzor. Tsaghkadzor literally means valley of flowers in Armenian. The name of Tsaghkadzor is associated with the name of the nearby Tsaghkunyats Mountains, located to the west of the town.
Kecharis (Armenian: Կեչառիս) is an 11-13th-century monastery, located 60 km from Yerevan, in the ski resort town of Tsakhkadzor in Armenia. Nestled in the Bambak mountains, Kecharis was founded by a Pahlavuni prince in the 11th century, and construction continued until the middle of the 13th century. In the 12th and 13th centuries, Kecharis was a major religious center of Armenia and a place of higher education. Today, the monastery has been fully restored and is clearly visible from the ski slopes. Badly damaged in an earthquake of 1927, reconstruction was not begun by the Armenian SSR until the 1980s. A series of nationwide problems led to a halt in reconstruction for about a decade as the 1988 Armenian earthquake hit, the Soviet Unioncollapsed in 1991, the Nagorno-Karabakh War broke out, and Armenia was blockaded by its two Turkic neighbors. As Armenia recovered slowly from these catastrophes, the reconstruction of Kecharis finally resumed in 1998 and finished in 2000 thanks to a donation by an Armenian benefactor from Vienna named Vladimir Harutyunian, in memory of his parents Harutyun and Arsenik.
You will find Charent's Arch along the road to Geghard & Garni. The arch was built in 1957 and itself is not very impressive. On a clear day, the view is redeeming, offering sights all the way to Mount Ararat. The arch is dedicated to one of Armenia's most famous poets, Yeghisheh Charents and features his quote: "Pass the whole world with its mountains white, to the beauty of Masis equals none!"
Geghard (Armenian: Գեղարդ, meaning "spear") is a medieval monastery in the Kotayk province of Armenia, being partially carved out of the adjacent mountain, surrounded by cliffs. It is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. While the main chapel was built in 1215, the monastery complex was founded in the 4th century by Gregory the Illuminator at the site of a sacred spring inside a cave. The monastery had thus been originally named Ayrivank (Այրիվանք), meaning "the Monastery of the Cave". The name commonly used for the monastery today, Geghard, or more fully Geghardavank (Գեղարդավանք), meaning "the Monastery of the Spear", originates from the spear which had wounded Jesus at the Crucifixion, allegedly brought to Armenia by Apostle Jude, called here Thaddeus, and stored amongst many other relics. Now it is displayed in the Echmiadzin treasury. The spectacular towering cliffs surrounding the monastery are part of the Azat River gorge, and are included together with the monastery in the World Heritage Site listing. Some of the churches within the monastery complex are entirely dug out of the cliff rocks, others are little more than caves, while others are elaborate structures, with both architecturally complex walled sections and rooms deep inside the cliff. The combination, together with numerous engraved and free-standing khachkars is a unique sight, being one of the most frequented tourist destinations in Armenia. Most visitors to Geghard also choose to visit the nearby the pagan Temple of Garni, located further down the Azat River. Visiting both sites in one trip is so common that they are often referred to in unison as Garni-Geghard.
The Temple of Garni (Armenian: Գառնիի հեթանոսական տաճար) is a reconstructed classical Hellenistic temple near Garni, Armenia. It is the only Greco-Roman colonnaded building in Armenia and the former Soviet Union.[3] It is the best-known structure and symbol of pre-Christian Armenia. It was probably built by king Tiridates I in the first century AD as a temple to the sun god Mithra (known as Mihr in Armenian). After Armenia's conversion to Christianity in the early fourth century, it was converted into a royal summer house of Khosrovidukht, the sister of Tiridates III. According to some scholars it was not a temple but a tomb and thus survived the universal destruction of pagan structures. It collapsed in a 1679 earthquake. Renewed interest in the 19th century led to its eventual reconstruction between 1969 and 1975. It is one of the main tourist attractions in Armenia and the central shrine of Armenian neopaganism.
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