Suitcase and World: Sevanvank.

Thursday, April 28, 2016



Today was our last day of sightseeing with Gurgen. I am sad because we've really enjoyed our time with him and it will soon come to an end - we leave for home day after tomorrow.

Sevanvank  was on my list of places to see in Armenia and I was able to cross it off my list today.

It was another overcast day as we set out from Yerevan this morning.  Raindrops occasionally hit the windshield.  Not an ideal day for sightseeing.  I was grateful is was still cool weather.

On our ride out of town, Gurgen told us that he and Anush also left last night's dance performance shortly after Pat and I left.  Apparently, they moved down to the seats that Pat and I had relocated to but in the end, they were simply too tired to stay for the entire performance.  Truthfully, it had been a long day for all of us and poor Gurgen must have been especially tired as he had to do the driving. So, Pat and I didn't feel quite so bad about bailing out at intermission.

A little over an hour's drive  from Yerevan and we were skirting along the shores of Lake Sevan, a popular resort area.  The small town of Sevan was founded as Yelenovka  (named after Yelena Pavlovna the daughter of Tsar Paul I of Russia) in 1842.  It was renamed in 1935 after Lake Sevan.

Gurgen parked the van and we followed him to a lakeside dock.  Along the way, we passed a small row of vendors selling souvenirs.  I have to say that so far, on this trip, neither Pat nor I have bought anything from roadside souvenir vendors and today was no different.  We did glance at things but nothing was so interesting that we would consider buying.  They do have some very interesting looking stones here but I'm not in the mood to carry rocks home with much as I love rocks.

As we walked, I glanced up to see two small churches perched atop the hillcrest.  That's Sevanvank.

If the sky had been crystal blue, with no clouds, the still waters of the lake would have reflected that and we would have seen a beautiful lake with blue waters.  Today, we got blue gray.  Not so pretty.

We turned around and headed back towards the monastery complex.  We walked with Gurgen past another row of souvenir vendors and then up the long flight  of steps leading up to Sevanvank.   Along the way, Pat and Gurgen stopped to admire the works of art done by some local painters.  Gurgen had his eyes on a particularly one which we had helped him choose.  He did a bit of bargaining with the painter but in the end decided to walk away.   He does have to come down so you never know.


I stopped part way up to take in the lovely view of the lake.  It really is a shame that it's a cloudy day today.

It's still early spring here; the trees have yet to leaf out.

Sevanavank is a monastic complex located on a peninsula on the shore of Lake Sevan. Originally, Sevanvank was built at the southern shore of a small island. After the artificial draining of Lake Sevan, which started in the era of Joseph Stalin, the water level fell about 20 metres, and the island transformed into a peninsula.

According to an inscription in one of the churches, Sevanavank was founded in 874 AD by Princess Mariam, the daughter of Ashot I (who became a king a decade later).  Both churches were reconstructed in the 1950s.

Looking back down at the main street that arrived in on.

Today, Sevanvank consists of only the two churches - Surb Astvatsatsin (Holy Mother of God Church) and Surb Arakelots (Holy Apostles Church) and a ruined gavit which are all situated on the  hill overlooking the lake.  Both churches are very similar in appearance though Surb Astvatsatsin is smaller in size.

Surb Astvatsatsin (Holy Mother of God Church) on the left; Surb Arakelots (Holy Apostles Church) on the right.

Adjacent to  Surb Astvatsatsin are the ruins of a square shaped gavit that has been dated to the 9th or 10th century.  Above the original gavit was an erdik (corbelled lantern or dome) that was supported by a six wooden columns.

Surb Arakelots.

Surb Astvatsatsin.

After having been to a few monasteries, I can honestly say that I have seen several dozen khachkars but the several of the ones I saw in Sevanvank were quite unusual - they were carved from a greenish colored stone rather than the reddish tuff stone I've seen elsewhere.  Both Gurgen and I were on the lookout of pieces of greenish colored rock but apparently, this is stone that is mined.  Determined to have one for his garden, Gurgen managed to talk someone into giving him the name of someone else who might know where to get a boulder.  It is beautiful rock - I think it's a limestone.

Most of the loose rocks as well as the khachkars here are covered with orange lichen.  I think it makes them look eerily abandoned.  I loved the look.

Speaking of rocks, once Gurgen was sure that Pat and I were okay to explore Sevanvank on our own, he left us behind to go on a short mission.  On our way into the town of Sevan, Gurgen had spotted several orange lichen covered rocks that he thought would look good in his garden.  He had to go back to retrieve them.

I roamed the grounds going in and out of doors as I found opened ones.  Of course, I took a lot of photos.  Unfortunately, I can't tell which church I took which photos in.

Surb Arakelots.

Another view of Surb Arakelots.

Khackhars in the ruins of the gavit.

The carved door dates back to the 15th century.

It's like someone spatter painted the rocks orange.  It's such and intense color.

Interior of Surb Arakelots.

Had to take a picture of the miniature church.  It looked like Noravank.  So cute!

Pat pointed this miniature church out to me.  Very folksy.

Gurgen was waiting for us on the grounds of Sevanvank and when Pat and I were ready to leave, we walked with him back down the steps to our van.  Along the way, we stopped at the stand of the local painter.  Once again, Gurgen spoke with the man and once again, he walked away.  This time though, the painter followed Gurgen.  Long story short, Gurgen ended up buying the painting.  On the surface, it looked like it was a hard bargain.  In the end, as long as Gurgen loves the painting and the painter got a decent deal, all is good!

Back at the van, I had to check out the trunk. Though Gurgen's rock hunting expedition was a short one, he managed to grab quite a few rocks :-)  Hopefully, the lichen will continue to grow under the climate conditions in Yerevan.  Otherwise, orange will turn to brown in no time :-(

Okay, I am now officially done with seeing monasteries and churches in Armenia. I have indeed had enough for now.  Whatever I did not get to on this trip will have to be covered on another trip.  Yes, I would love to come back to Armenia one day and see more of this wonderful country.

After Sevan, we headed back to Yerevan where there was a very special treat waiting for us.

Update 7:00p.  Here are the Sevan rocks in Gurgen's garden.  I think this is just where he put them when he unloaded them from the car.  He'll move them elsewhere once he's decided where they will go!