Hovhanavank in Ashtarak

Armenian churches, monasteries and legends in one day tour

December 4, 2013 - Travel to Armenia

How did you like our tour suggestions for one-day tour? If in that one we were going to the west, today we take you for one day trip to the north-west from capital. On our way we will discover legends from medieval time period and offer you places with unique spiritual atmosphere.

So, if you take a drive in this direction, must-see sights are: Saghmosavank and Hovhannavank monasteries, as well as Karmravor monastery. One might think that all destinations suggested are monasteries, but each of them has something special to offer to their guests.

Near the town of Ashtarak there are three churches with names Karmravor (meaning “Reddish”), Spitakavor (“whitish”) and Tsiranavor (“apricotish”). Most of the guides will tell you the explanation of the names based on the color of the material the churches were built.

Karmravor Church in Ashtarak

However, there is a legend regarding this area and those names. The legend seems to be very close to reality. Well… as close as a legend can be attached to reality. Three very beautiful sisters lived in Ashtarak city, eventually it was found out that they were in love with the same prince. To deal with this situation, sisters decided that only one of them can be happy with their beloved one and elder sisters decided to commit suicide to give the love to the youngest sister. One of the elder sisters was dressed in apricot color, the other one in red, and both of them threw themselves off the cliff. When the third sister found out about it, she decided to follow the sisters and threw herself from the cliff as well. She was dressed in white.

Tsiranavor Church in Ashtarak

Maybe because of this dramatic background, Karmravor area which is quite small, is a very modest one and more for silent prayers. Some of the visitors travel here for the purpose of staying in solitude and describe this place as a space for gaining peace and harmony.

Hovhannavank and Saghmosavank are monastery complexes which are situated five kilometers apart from each other and are located in the villages of the same names. By the way, if you are hungry by the time you get here, you can knock local people’s doors and ask if they can organize the lunch for you. Residents here are really hospitable and will surely arrange for you a tasty Armenian lunch with a kindness and humor you will never forget!

Hovhanavank in Ashtarak

Both monasteries look down from the edge of the precipitous gorge of the Kasakh River. The decoration of the monuments is not a standard one. The southern and western facades, facing the approach ways and well illuminated by the sun are more decorated than the eastern and, especially, northern ones, which look very modest in comparison. While everyone is amazed by this scene, we recommend you to do something alternative. After being inside those monasteries try to look at them differently. Make sure you have a chance of going and enjoying the scene of the monastery complex from the opposite side of the Kasakh river canyon. You will have the general view of a stunning expressive picture. The eastern walls of the churches verge on the edge of the abyss and seem to be an extension of it.

Saghmosavank in Ashtarak

Well… we gave you all instructions on how to enjoy a good time and take good photos, don’t forget to share them with us after your visits!

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