Day 1: Vorotan gorge and its abandoned cave villages
Early in the morning we will move to Syunik region, where we will see several abandoned villages with huge houses carved out of the rock. After seeing all these you can easily imagine how people once lived in the caves.
Old Khot is one of the oldest inhabited ares of Syunik. People call this place “armenian Machu Picchu”. Hin Khot is of great interest for archaeologists due to its 2nd-1st century BC burial grounds. In one of the local cemeteries the ruins of the Red Church are situated, which was built in the 12th century.
After taking a walk in the village Khot, we will continue our way through the narrow forest paths to another abandoned village – Old Shinuhayr (Father of settlements). Shinuhayr is one of the oldest villages of Syunik. However the exact age of the village is still unknown. The very last resident of the village lived here until 2017. In the XII century a strong earthquake destroyed the central monastery of the village, which was built in IV-V centuries. The monastery was restored after the earthquake and is standing today in the territory of Old Shinuhayr. After we will walk along Vorotan Armenia till the village Old Halidzor. Old Halidzor is known for its old dwellings, where the roof of the lower house serves as the floor and courtyard of the upper one. The walls of these houses are made of traditional white river stones. After exploreing the village we will move to the village Tatev, where we will stay for the night.
Day 2: Tatev monastery, Devil’s bridge and Khndzoresk
Early in the morning we will visit Tatev monastery. Tatev monastery was a great center of science and philosophy in the medieval era. The site, overlooking the the Vorotan river gorge, was originally used for pagan worship, until the first church was built there sometime between 895 and 906, dedicated to the saints Paul and Peter. It was the bishopric seat of the Syunik region and wielded considerable influence.
After exploring the monastery complex we will move to the Devil’s bridge. This is a natural bridge, which is made by the nature itself. There are stalactite formations and natural “baths” of mineral water. If the weather would be hot , we can swim under that natural baths.
We will continue our way to the one of most visited villages of Armenia – Old Khndzoresk, which is famous for its cave dwellings and a 160-meter long suspension bridge. At the beginning of XX century the population of Old Khndzoresk was reaching 8000 people. The cave dwellings were inhabited until the late 1950s. After the Soviet officials deemed the caves unfit and uncivilized, forcing the remaining villagers to leave to the new village.
So passing through the centuries, we will reach, let’s say, the late medieval period and visit Noravank monastery, which the locals also call Red monastery. The gorge where the monastery is situated is known for its steep red cliffs, towering behind the monastery. In Soviet times the championship of rock climbing passed here. Noravank is also known for its bas-relief where the image of God is.
In the evening we will return to Yerevan.
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