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.
lake sevan, Armenia

The Bittersweet Caucasus Lake

Enclosed between mountains at 1900 meters high, considered a natural and historical treasure of Armenia, Lake Sevan has never been treated as such. The level and quality of its water has deteriorated for decades and a recent invasion of algae drains the life that subsists in it.
hippopotami, chobe national park, botswana
Chobe NP, Botswana

Chobe: A River on the Border of Life with Death

Chobe marks the divide between Botswana and three of its neighboring countries, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Namibia. But its capricious bed has a far more crucial function than this political delimitation.
Faithful light candles, Milarepa Grotto temple, Annapurna Circuit, Nepal
Annapurna (circuit)
Annapurna Circuit: 9th Manang to Milarepa Cave, Nepal

A Walk between Acclimatization and Pilgrimage

In full Annapurna Circuit, we finally arrived in Manang (3519m). we still need acclimatize to the higher stretches that followed, we inaugurated an equally spiritual journey to a Nepalese cave of Milarepa (4000m), the refuge of a siddha (sage) and Buddhist saint.
Bay Watch cabin, Miami beach, beach, Florida, United States,
Architecture & Design
Miami beach, USA

The Beach of All Vanities

Few coasts concentrate, at the same time, so much heat and displays of fame, wealth and glory. Located in the extreme southeast of the USA, Miami Beach is accessible via six bridges that connect it to the rest of Florida. It is meager for the number of souls who desire it.
lagoons and fumaroles, volcanoes, PN tongariro, new zealand
Tongariro, New Zealand

The Volcanoes of All Discords

In the late XNUMXth century, an indigenous chief ceded the PN Tongariro volcanoes to the British crown. Today, a significant part of the Maori people claim their mountains of fire from European settlers.
Camel Racing, Desert Festival, Sam Sam Dunes, Rajasthan, India
Ceremonies and Festivities
Jaisalmer, India

There's a Feast in the Thar Desert

As soon as the short winter breaks, Jaisalmer indulges in parades, camel races, and turban and mustache competitions. Its walls, alleys and surrounding dunes take on more color than ever. During the three days of the event, natives and outsiders watch, dazzled, as the vast and inhospitable Thar finally shines through.
Selfie, Hida from Ancient and Medieval Japan
Takayama, Japan

From the Ancient Japan to the Medieval Hida

In three of its streets, Takayama retains traditional wooden architecture and concentrates old shops and sake producers. Around it, it approaches 100.000 inhabitants and surrenders to modernity.
young saleswoman, nation, bread, uzbekistan
Fergana Valley, Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan, The Nation That Does Not Lack Bread

Few countries employ cereals like Uzbekistan. In this republic of Central Asia, bread plays a vital and social role. The Uzbeks produce it and consume it with devotion and in abundance.
Parra Sea
Mendoza, Argentina

Journey through Mendoza, the Great Argentine Winemaking Province

In the XNUMXth century, Spanish missionaries realized that the area was designed for the production of the “Blood of Christ”. Today, the province of Mendoza is at the center of the largest winemaking region in Latin America.
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.
Boat Trips

For Those Becoming Internet Sick

Hop on and let yourself go on unmissable boat trips like the Philippine archipelago of Bacuit and the frozen sea of ​​the Finnish Gulf of Bothnia.
Horseshoe Bend
Navajo nation, USA

The Navajo Nation Lands

From Kayenta to Page, passing through Marble Canyon, we explore the southern Colorado Plateau. Dramatic and desert, the scenery of this indigenous domain, cut out in Arizona, reveals itself to be splendid.
Got2Globe Photo Portfolio
Got2Globe Portfolio

life outside

Hiroshima, city surrendered to peace, Japan
Hiroshima, Japan

Hiroshima: a City Yielded to Peace

On August 6, 1945, Hiroshima succumbed to the explosion of the first atomic bomb used in war. 70 years later, the city fights for the memory of the tragedy and for nuclear weapons to be eradicated by 2020.
Ruins, Port Arthur, Tasmania, Australia
Discovering Tassie, Part 2 - Hobart to Port Arthur, Australia

An Island Doomed to Crime

The prison complex at Port Arthur has always frightened the British outcasts. 90 years after its closure, a heinous crime committed there forced Tasmania to return to its darkest times.
coast, fjord, Seydisfjordur, Iceland
Winter White
Seydisfjordur, Iceland

From the Art of Fishing to the Fishing of Art

When shipowners from Reykjavik bought the Seydisfjordur fishing fleet, the village had to adapt. Today, it captures Dieter Roth's art disciples and other bohemian and creative souls.
Visitors to Ernest Hemingway's Home, Key West, Florida, United States
Key West, United States

Hemingway's Caribbean Playground

Effusive as ever, Ernest Hemingway called Key West "the best place I've ever been...". In the tropical depths of the contiguous US, he found evasion and crazy, drunken fun. And the inspiration to write with intensity to match.
Lenticular cloud, Mount Cook, New Zealand.
Mount cook, New Zealand

The Cloud Piercer Mountain

Aoraki/Mount Cook may fall far short of the world's roof but it is New Zealand's highest and most imposing mountain.
Everglades National Park, Florida, United States, flight over the Everglades canals
Natural Parks
Everglades National Park, Florida, USA

Florida's Great Weedy River

Anyone who flies over the south of the 27th state is amazed by the green, smooth and soggy vastness that contrasts with the surrounding oceanic tones. This unique U.S. marsh-prairie ecosystem is home to a prolific fauna dominated by 200 of Florida's 1.25 million alligators.
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.
now from above ladder, sorcerer of new zealand, Christchurch, new zealand
Christchurch, New Zealand

New Zealand's Cursed Wizard

Despite his notoriety in the antipodes, Ian Channell, the New Zealand sorcerer, failed to predict or prevent several earthquakes that struck Christchurch. At the age of 88, after 23 years of contract with the city, he made very controversial statements and ended up fired.
Surf Lesson, Waikiki, Oahu, Hawaii
Waikiki, OahuHawaii

The Japanese Invasion of Hawaii

Decades after the attack on Pearl Harbor and from the capitulation in World War II, the Japanese returned to Hawaii armed with millions of dollars. Waikiki, his favorite target, insists on surrendering.
Mtshketa, Holy City of Georgia, Caucasus, Svetitskhoveli Cathedral
Mtskheta, Georgia

The Holy City of Georgia

If Tbilisi is the contemporary capital, Mtskheta was the city that made Christianity official in the kingdom of Iberia, predecessor of Georgia, and one that spread the religion throughout the Caucasus. Those who visit see how, after almost two millennia, it is Christianity that governs life there.
white pass yukon train, Skagway, Gold Route, Alaska, USA
On Rails
Skagway, Alaska

A Klondike's Gold Fever Variant

The last great American gold rush is long over. These days, hundreds of cruise ships each summer pour thousands of well-heeled visitors into the shop-lined streets of Skagway.
Tombola, street bingo-Campeche, Mexico
Campeche, Mexico

A Bingo so playful that you play with puppets

On Friday nights, a group of ladies occupy tables at Independencia Park and bet on trifles. The tiniest prizes come out to them in combinations of cats, hearts, comets, maracas and other icons.
Busy intersection of Tokyo, Japan
Daily life
Tokyo, Japan

The Endless Night of the Rising Sun Capital

Say that Tokyo do not sleep is an understatement. In one of the largest and most sophisticated cities on the face of the Earth, twilight marks only the renewal of the frenetic daily life. And there are millions of souls that either find no place in the sun, or make more sense in the “dark” and obscure turns that follow.
Sheep and hikers in Mykines, Faroe Islands
Mykines, Faroe Islands

In the Faeroes FarWest

Mykines establishes the western threshold of the Faroe archipelago. It housed 179 people but the harshness of the retreat got the better of it. Today, only nine souls survive there. When we visit it, we find the island given over to its thousand sheep and the restless colonies of puffins.
Napali Coast and Waimea Canyon, Kauai, Hawaii Wrinkles
Scenic Flights
napali coast, Hawaii

Hawaii's Dazzling Wrinkles

Kauai is the greenest and rainiest island in the Hawaiian archipelago. It is also the oldest. As we explore its Napalo Coast by land, sea and air, we are amazed to see how the passage of millennia has only favored it.