The Cradle of the Official Christianity

At the foot of the great Aratat
The monastery of Khor Virap, erected on the spot where St. Gregory was imprisoned. The great Mount Ararat in the background.
promises and beliefs
Believers light candles at the entrance to Geghard monastery.
Armenian-style mass
A religious stands out from the faithful who participate in a mass in the cathedral of Echmiadzin.
Yerevan silhouettes
Passersby in front of the Cathedral of St. Gregory the Illuminator, one of the largest churches in the Armenian capital Yerevan.
more faith
Armenian believers pray during a mass held in Echmiadzin Cathedral.
A monastery carved out of the rock
The monastery of Geghard, erected at the foot of a hillside, where Judas Thaddeus is said to have brought the spear of the Centurion Longinus who wounded Christ during the crucifixion.
Divine blessing
Catholicos - leader of the Armenian church - blesses believers outside Echmiadzin Cathedral.
in a stone temple
A faithful walks through the carved rock chambers that make up much of Geghard's monastery.
pure faith
Faithful during a mass in the cathedral of Echmiadzin, one of the oldest in the world.
Just 268 years after Jesus' death, a nation will have become the first to accept the Christian faith by royal decree. This nation still preserves its own Apostolic Church and some of the oldest Christian temples in the world. Traveling through the Caucasus, we visit them in the footsteps of Gregory the Illuminator, the patriarch who inspires Armenia's spiritual life.

It's just dawn, the sky remains blue and the sun shines radiantly as it has every day since we crossed the border into southern Georgia, passing through eccentric and industrial city of Alaverdi.

A large icy puddle resists the entrance, in the shadow created by the mountain above. We crossed the arched portico and advanced through the stone atrium, suspicious of any betrayal of the old reddish floor.

Out of the shadows, we discover the magnificence and elegance of the monastery, carved into the yellowish slope by the already long Caucasus Autumn.

The gentle caresses of the great star and the immediate vision of several khachkars embedded in the rock, we are urged to remain outside and enjoy those incredible memorials, as characteristic of Armenia's Christian medieval art as are its abundant secular monasteries.

Armenia Cradle Christianity, Geghard

The monastery of Geghard, erected at the foot of a hillside, where Judas Thaddeus is said to have brought the spear of the Centurion Longinus who wounded Christ during the crucifixion.

Geghard Monastery, a Dazzling Shrine of Armenian Christianity

Finally, we enter the Geghard, one of the most revered for its antiquity and historical significance.

Despite the near-dawn hour, when we pushed open the door, we shed light on the gloomy sacristy and noticed that some of the faithful were already lighting small candles among the family of columns and, with their faces flushed with the flames of promises, they whispered their prayers in intimate communion with themselves. and with DEUS.

Armenia Cradle Christianity, Candles

Believers light candles at the entrance to Geghard monastery.

We proceed into the interior of Avazan, a chamber carved out of an ancient cave with a spring already used as a pagan place of worship before the spread of Christianity.

And we go up to Jhamatum, another upper section that contains the graves of ancient Armenian princes.

A hole in a nook allows us to peek at Avazan below. We discovered it and occupied it for some time, until we noticed that another visitor was stalking us from the entrance. We would have to cross with him again and find in him a surprising familiarity.

His name was Fernando, he was Portuguese and had been traveling around the world for a long time. We met him again on our return to Tbilisi.

We continued to explore Geghard, afterwards, the elevated chapel of St. Gregory the Illuminator, the founder of the monastery and main mentor of the early Christian faith of the Armenians. Geghard means spear.

The monastery received its name after the apostle Judas Thaddaeus allegedly brought to the place where it was erected, the spear with which the Roman centurion Longinus wounded Jesus during the crucifixion.

Illuminator Gregory, the Patron Saint of the Nation Who Brought Christianity to Armenia

Originally, it was founded on the site of a sacred fountain by St. Gregory the Illuminator, today the patron saint of Armenia and mentor of the Armenian Apostolic Church.

Gregory (Gregor Lousavorich) was born in 257 CE, believed to be the son of Anak the Parthum, an Armenian prince who was sentenced to death for the murder of King Khosrov II. Gregory himself narrowly escaped execution thanks to the help of his tutors.

He was taken by them to Cappadocia (present-day heart of Turkey) so that he could be educated as a devout Christian, safe from persecutors. Gregory took the teachings seriously. He also married Miriam, a devout Christian and the daughter of a Christian Armenian prince of Cappadocia.

They had several children, but at a certain point Gregory chose to follow a monastic life. He returned to Armenia with the hope of redeeming his father's crime through the Christian evangelization of Armenia.

At that time, reigned Tiridates III (Trdat or Drtat in Armenian) the son of King Khosrov II. Afraid that Gregory was the son of his father's murderer, Tiridates III ordered his imprisonment for twelve years in a moat situated on a plain near the foot of Mount Ararat.

Armenia Cradle Christianity, Geghard

A faithful walks through the carved rock chambers that make up much of Geghard's monastery.

After some time, Tiridates fell in love with Rhipsime, a Christian nun who had taken refuge from the persecution of Christians unleashed by the Roman Emperor Diocletian in Armenia. When Rhipsime refused, he executed her and all the other refugee women.

After this event – ​​and it is said that also due to the treachery of the Roman Emperor Diocletian who invaded part of the western provinces of Greater Armenia – he went mad and adapted the behavior of a wild boar. Tiridates' sister had a recurring view that only the prisoner Gregory could cure the king.

Almost dying, Gregory found himself rescued from the ditch, free and with the arduous mission of restoring the sanity of Tiridates. I would come to fulfill it. Tiridates soon regretted the atrocities he had committed. Both he and his court and army converted to Christianity.

Khor Virap, Another Inescapable Armenian Christian Monastery

The moat in which Gregory was imprisoned later welcomed the monastery of Khor Virap in his honor.

Armenia Cradle Christianity, Cathedral St. Gregory Illuminator

Passersby in front of the Cathedral of St. Gregory the Illuminator, one of the largest churches in the Armenian capital Yerevan.

Enthusiastic about continuing on the path of the Illuminator's life, we visited it one of the following days, with a new incursion from Yerevan.

We traveled south towards the river Arax which made the frigid atmosphere humid.

The Border with Hated Turkey and Mount Ararat which was once Armenian

Arax establishes the border with Turkey, full of barbed wire and mines and one of the most troubled on the face of the Earth due to the events of 1915-23 that the Armenians call Armenian genocide with about 1.5 million victims at the hands of the Ottomans , while the Turks argue that the number is much lower and was due to the mere hardships of the First World War and times that followed.

In the last kilometers of the route, we came closer to Mount Ararat before our eyes. At a certain point, the hill rises in the extension of vines parched by the cold.

Armenia Cradle Christianity, Mount Aratat

The monastery of Khor Virap, erected on the spot where St. Gregory was imprisoned. The great Mount Ararat in the background.

Khor Virap, we find it on a rocky rise only in appearance, at the base of the great Ararat where, despite the controversy surrounding the matter, most Armenians believe that Noah's Ark was immobilized after the Flood and that it should do, even today, part of his nation's territory.

Cristina Kyureghian, the guide who accompanies us, also describes one of the curious diplomatic tantrums between Armenians and Turks: “they know that the Turks had the nerve to demand that we remove Mount Ararat from our flag. They say it doesn't belong to us.

Our representatives replied that, in that case, they should never have included the moon in theirs.”

Discovering Khor Virap in the Company of a Russian Entourage

We won the last ramp to the monastery. We ended up entering at the same time as an Armenian Orthodox priest received by the workers and other religious with due pomp.

A group of Russians and some other visitors from different places explore the interior of the complex.

It is with the Russians that we share the chapel at Gevorg, before descending into the bleak pit 6m deep and 4.4m in diameter where Gregory survived for thirteen years only because a merciful woman in that area threw him some food every day.

Returning to the surface, we survey the rest of the complex and climb a small rise near the monastery. From here, we admire Mount Ararat and the vast Orthodox cemetery that stretches down an opposite slope to the long straight road that leads to the monastery.

Tiridates III, the Monarch who Officialized State Christianity in Armenia

From time to time, we notice and follow with old eyes Ladas that travel slowly towards us. Before long, we take the same road and leave Khor Virap behind.

Tiridates III, this one, embarked on a path of faith with no return to Armenia. He accepted that Gregory would baptize him, the members of the court and many members of the upper class. Recognized, in 301 AD, the king also granted Gregory the right to convert all subjects.

At the same time, it has long been accepted by historians that it made Armenia the first nation to have Christianity as an official state religion.

Although this fact has been covered with controversy, namely due to the possibility that the monarch of the kingdom of Odessa did so in 218 AD

The Monumental Armenian Apostolic Ceremony in Echmiadzin Cathedral

It is already in Echmiadzin that we understand better the unquestionable respect that Armenians have for this decision of this former king and for the devotion of their long-standing patron saint, the first leader of the Armenian Apostolic Church.

It's Sunday. The day dawns once more radiantly. Yerevan is resting from his usual work turmoil. Thus, we traveled much faster than we expected to the great cathedral, in time for the mass that was about to take place.

More and more faithful flock to the cathedral's main door, erected by Gregory's order between 301 and 303 on the site of a pagan temple. Today, considered the oldest in the world.

Armenia Cradle Christianity, Mass in the Armenian fashion

A religious stands out from the faithful who participate in a mass in the cathedral of Echmiadzin.

They are men and women of all ages and, ironic as it may seem, even teenage soldiers in the camouflage and war uniforms that, even in more recent times, Armenia has been forced to wear.

In the grand and oppressive interior of the sanctuary, they light red candles and give themselves to successive prayers.

The small flames of faith warm their faces and the diagonal streaks of light filtered through the stained glass windows at the top of the church. They add some mysticism to the already arcane atmosphere.

Armenia Cradle Christianity, Prayers

Armenian believers pray during a mass held in Echmiadzin Cathedral.

Armenian Apostolic Mass has little to do with those we were used to.

It takes place in different sections of the cathedral.

The choir produces powerful melodies from a wing. The chief priests, clad in resplendent red or gold robes, vocalize or echo the mass with slow and repeated rites and rituals involving scepters, crucifixes, religious books, other sacred artifacts.

The expected bank sequences do not take place. Most believers stand and move from one side of the cruciform space to the other in a conviviality that proves as religious as it is social and informal.

This harmony is gently broken when the Catholicos The present day of Armenia is present in the cathedral in its usual black hooded costume covered with a purple robe and circulates among the believers who seek the blessing of its blessing.

Armenia Cradle Christianity, Catholicus Blessing

Catholicos – leader of the Armenian church – blesses believers outside Echmiadzin Cathedral.

We recognize his supreme office and focus our attention on him. We follow the commotion generated until the door of the cathedral where dozens of other faithful are already anxiously awaiting the leader of their church.

O Catholicos, salutes and blesses them. Without expecting it, that voluminous character with a rosy face and a very white beard finds the photographic apparatus that, instead of a simple crucifix, we have hung around our necks strange.

Even so, he ends up blessing us even before disappearing, at the head of a retinue of priests, in Echmiadzin's secluded rooms.

Yerevan, Armenia

A Capital between East and West

Heiress of the Soviet civilization, aligned with the great Russia, Armenia allows itself to be seduced by the most democratic and sophisticated ways of Western Europe. In recent times, the two worlds have collided in the streets of your capital. From popular and political dispute, Yerevan will dictate the new course of the nation.
Guwahati, India

The City that Worships Kamakhya and the Fertility

Guwahati is the largest city in the state of Assam and in North East India. It is also one of the fastest growing in the world. For Hindus and devout believers in Tantra, it will be no coincidence that Kamakhya, the mother goddess of creation, is worshiped there.
Kazbegi, Georgia

God in the Caucasus Heights

In the 4000th century, Orthodox religious took their inspiration from a hermitage that a monk had erected at an altitude of 5047 m and perched a church between the summit of Mount Kazbek (XNUMXm) and the village at the foot. More and more visitors flock to these mystical stops on the edge of Russia. Like them, to get there, we submit to the whims of the reckless Georgia Military Road.
Tbilisi, Georgia

Georgia still Perfumed by the Rose Revolution

In 2003, a popular political uprising made the sphere of power in Georgia tilt from East to West. Since then, the capital Tbilisi has not renounced its centuries of Soviet history, nor the revolutionary assumption of integrating into Europe. When we visit, we are dazzled by the fascinating mix of their past lives.
Alaverdi, Armenia

A Cable Car Called Ensejo

The top of the Debed River Gorge hides the Armenian monasteries of Sanahin and Haghpat and terraced Soviet apartment blocks. Its bottom houses the copper mine and smelter that sustains the city. Connecting these two worlds is a providential suspended cabin in which the people of Alaverdi count on traveling in the company of God.
Sheki, Azerbaijan

autumn in the caucasus

Lost among the snowy mountains that separate Europe from Asia, Sheki is one of Azerbaijan's most iconic towns. Its largely silky history includes periods of great harshness. When we visited it, autumn pastels added color to a peculiar post-Soviet and Muslim life.
Suzdal, Russia

Centuries of Devotion to a Devoted Monk

Euthymius was a fourteenth-century Russian ascetic who gave himself body and soul to God. His faith inspired Suzdal's religiosity. The city's believers worship him as the saint he has become.
Helsinki, Finland

A Frigid-Scholarly Via Crucis

When Holy Week arrives, Helsinki shows its belief. Despite the freezing cold, little dressed actors star in a sophisticated re-enactment of Via Crucis through streets full of spectators.
Jerusalem, Israel

Closer to God

Three thousand years of history as mystical as it is troubled come to life in Jerusalem. Worshiped by Christians, Jews and Muslims, this city radiates controversy but attracts believers from all over the world.
Suzdal, Russia

Thousand Years of Old Fashioned Russia

It was a lavish capital when Moscow was just a rural hamlet. Along the way, it lost political relevance but accumulated the largest concentration of churches, monasteries and convents in the country of the tsars. Today, beneath its countless domes, Suzdal is as orthodox as it is monumental.
Marinduque, Philippines

When the Romans Invade the Philippines

Even the Eastern Empire didn't get that far. In Holy Week, thousands of centurions seize Marinduque. There, the last days of Longinus, a legionary converted to Christianity, are re-enacted.
Mount Sinai, Egypt

Strength in the Legs, Faith in God

Moses received the Ten Commandments on the summit of Mount Sinai and revealed them to the people of Israel. Today, hundreds of pilgrims climb, every night, the 4000 steps of that painful but mystical ascent.
Rhinoceros, PN Kaziranga, Assam, India
PN Kaziranga, India

The Indian Monoceros Stronghold

Situated in the state of Assam, south of the great Brahmaputra river, PN Kaziranga occupies a vast area of ​​alluvial swamp. Two-thirds of the rhinocerus unicornis around the world, there are around 100 tigers, 1200 elephants and many other animals. Pressured by human proximity and the inevitable poaching, this precious park has not been able to protect itself from the hyperbolic floods of the monsoons and from some controversies.
Herd in Manang, Annapurna Circuit, Nepal
Annapurna (circuit)
Annapurna Circuit: 8th Manang, Nepal

Manang: the Last Acclimatization in Civilization

Six days after leaving Besisahar we finally arrived in Manang (3519m). Located at the foot of the Annapurna III and Gangapurna Mountains, Manang is the civilization that pampers and prepares hikers for the ever-dreaded crossing of Thorong La Gorge (5416 m).
Traditional houses, Bergen, Norway.
Architecture & Design
Bergen, Norway

The Great Hanseatic Port of Norway

Already populated in the early 1830th century, Bergen became the capital, monopolized northern Norwegian commerce and, until XNUMX, remained one of the largest cities in Scandinavia. Today, Oslo leads the nation. Bergen continues to stand out for its architectural, urban and historical exuberance.
Salto Angel, Rio that falls from the sky, Angel Falls, PN Canaima, Venezuela
PN Canaima, Venezuela

Kerepakupai, Salto Angel: The River that Falls from Heaven

In 1937, Jimmy Angel landed a light aircraft on a plateau lost in the Venezuelan jungle. The American adventurer did not find gold but he conquered the baptism of the longest waterfall on the face of the Earth
Burning prayers, Ohitaki Festival, fushimi temple, kyoto, japan
Ceremonies and Festivities
Kyoto, Japan

A Combustible Faith

During the Shinto celebration of Ohitaki, prayers inscribed on tablets by the Japanese faithful are gathered at the Fushimi temple. There, while being consumed by huge bonfires, her belief is renewed.
Colored Nationalism
Cartagena de Indias, Colombia

The Desired City

Many treasures passed through Cartagena before being handed over to the Spanish Crown - more so than the pirates who tried to plunder them. Today, the walls protect a majestic city always ready to "rumbear".
Margilan, Uzbekistan

An Uzbekistan's Breadwinner

In one of the many bakeries in Margilan, worn out by the intense heat of the tandyr oven, the baker Maruf'Jon works half-baked like the distinctive traditional breads sold throughout Uzbekistan
Parade and Pomp
Saint Petersburg, Russia

When the Russian Navy Stations in Saint Petersburg

Russia dedicates the last Sunday of July to its naval forces. On that day, a crowd visits large boats moored on the Neva River as alcohol-drenched sailors seize the city.
combat arbiter, cockfighting, philippines

When Only Cock Fights Wake Up the Philippines

Banned in much of the First World, cockfighting thrives in the Philippines where they move millions of people and pesos. Despite its eternal problems, it is the sabong that most stimulates the nation.
Las Cuevas, Mendoza, across the Andes, Argentina
Mendoza, Argentina

From One Side to the Other of the Andes

Departing from Mendoza city, the N7 route gets lost in vineyards, rises to the foot of Mount Aconcagua and crosses the Andes to Chile. Few cross-border stretches reveal the magnificence of this forced ascent
Women with long hair from Huang Luo, Guangxi, China
Longsheng, China

Huang Luo: the Chinese Village of the Longest Hairs

In a multi-ethnic region covered with terraced rice paddies, the women of Huang Luo have surrendered to the same hairy obsession. They let the longest hair in the world grow, years on end, to an average length of 170 to 200 cm. Oddly enough, to keep them beautiful and shiny, they only use water and rice.
sunlight photography, sun, lights
Got2Globe Photo Portfolio
Natural Light (Part 2)

One Sun, So Many Lights

Most travel photos are taken in sunlight. Sunlight and weather form a capricious interaction. Learn how to predict, detect and use at its best.
Kirkjubour, Streymoy, Faroe Islands
Kirkjubour, Streymoy, Faroe Islands

Where the Faroese Christianity Washed Ashore

A mere year into the first millennium, a Viking missionary named Sigmundur Brestisson brought the Christian faith to the Faroe Islands. Kirkjubour became the shelter and episcopal seat of the new religion.
The inevitable fishing

Florianopolis, Brazil

The South Atlantic Azorean Legacy

During the XNUMXth century, thousands of Portuguese islanders pursued better lives in the southern confines of Brazil. In the villages they founded, traces of affinity with the origins abound.

ala juumajarvi lake, oulanka national park, finland
Winter White
Kuusamo ao PN Oulanka, Finland

Under the Arctic's Icy Spell

We are at 66º North and at the gates of Lapland. In these parts, the white landscape belongs to everyone and to no one like the snow-covered trees, the atrocious cold and the endless night.
Couple visiting Mikhaylovskoe, village where writer Alexander Pushkin had a home
Saint Petersburg e Mikhaylovkoe, Russia

The Writer Who Succumbed to His Own Plot

Alexander Pushkin is hailed by many as the greatest Russian poet and the founder of modern Russian literature. But Pushkin also dictated an almost tragicomic epilogue to his prolific life.
Kayaking on Lake Sinclair, Cradle Mountain - Lake Sinclair National Park, Tasmania, Australia
Discovering tassie, Part 4 - Devonport to Strahan, Australia

Through the Tasmanian Wild West

If the almost antipode tazzie is already a australian world apart, what about its inhospitable western region. Between Devonport and Strahan, dense forests, elusive rivers and a rugged coastline beaten by an almost Antarctic Indian ocean generate enigma and respect.
Cachena cow in Valdreu, Terras de Bouro, Portugal
Natural Parks
Campos do GerêsTerras de Bouro, Portugal

Through the Campos do Gerês and the Terras de Bouro

We continue on a long, zigzag tour through the domains of Peneda-Gerês and Bouro, inside and outside our only National Park. In this one of the most worshiped areas in the north of Portugal.
Khiva, Uzbekistan, Fortress, Silk Road,
UNESCO World Heritage
Khiva, Uzbequistan

The Silk Road Fortress the Soviets Velved

In the 80s, Soviet leaders renewed Khiva in a softened version that, in 1990, UNESCO declared a World Heritage Site. The USSR disintegrated the following year. Khiva has preserved its new luster.
Ooty, Tamil Nadu, Bollywood Scenery, Heartthrob's Eye
Ooty, India

In Bollywood's Nearly Ideal Setting

The conflict with Pakistan and the threat of terrorism made filming in Kashmir and Uttar Pradesh a drama. In Ooty, we see how this former British colonial station took the lead.
Swimming, Western Australia, Aussie Style, Sun rising in the eyes
Busselton, Australia

2000 meters in Aussie Style

In 1853, Busselton was equipped with one of the longest pontoons in the world. World. When the structure collapsed, the residents decided to turn the problem around. Since 1996 they have been doing it every year. Swimming.
shadow vs light
Kyoto, Japan

The Kyoto Temple Reborn from the Ashes

The Golden Pavilion has been spared destruction several times throughout history, including that of US-dropped bombs, but it did not withstand the mental disturbance of Hayashi Yoken. When we admired him, he looked like never before.
Back in the sun. San Francisco Cable Cars, Life Ups and Downs
On Rails
San Francisco, USA

San Francisco Cable Cars: A Life of Highs and Lows

A macabre wagon accident inspired the San Francisco cable car saga. Today, these relics work as a charm operation in the city of fog, but they also have their risks.
Street Bar, Fremont Street, Las Vegas, United States
Las Vegas, USA

The Sin City Cradle

The famous Strip has not always focused the attention of Las Vegas. Many of its hotels and casinos replicated the neon glamor of the street that once stood out, Fremont Street.
Casario, uptown, Fianarantsoa, ​​Madagascar
Daily life
Fianarantsoa, Madagascar

The Malagasy City of Good Education

Fianarantsoa was founded in 1831 by Ranavalona Iª, a queen of the then predominant Merina ethnic group. Ranavalona Iª was seen by European contemporaries as isolationist, tyrant and cruel. The monarch's reputation aside, when we enter it, its old southern capital remains as the academic, intellectual and religious center of Madagascar.
Cape cross seal colony, cape cross seals, Namibia
Cape Cross, Namíbia

The Most Turbulent of the African Colonies

Diogo Cão landed in this cape of Africa in 1486, installed a pattern and turned around. The immediate coastline to the north and south was German, South African, and finally Namibian. Indifferent to successive transfers of nationality, one of the largest seal colonies in the world has maintained its hold there and animates it with deafening marine barks and endless tantrums.
Passengers, scenic flights-Southern Alps, New Zealand
Scenic Flights
Aoraki / Mount Cook, New Zealand

The Aeronautical Conquest of the Southern Alps

In 1955, pilot Harry Wigley created a system for taking off and landing on asphalt or snow. Since then, his company has unveiled, from the air, some of the greatest scenery in Oceania.