Khor Virap is one of the symbols of Armenia. Monastery – fortress, the monastery – Outpost, located about 40 kilometers from Yerevan, and less than a kilometer from the borders of the Republic. It offers a magnificent view of the valley and in clear weather the Ararat at a glance, and if you look closely, without any binoculars there, down in the valley, you can see the road and a number of bars along it: the border with Turkey. Here began the Christianization of Armenia was the first state, before Rome became Christian. This is one of the most visited places in all of Armenia. It is always crowded and, nevertheless, quietly.A period of time – that still can be felt here. The monastery and emerged later on the site of the city jail. Indeed, during antiquity and the early middle Ages on a hill at the place of convergence of the caravan trails, and the confluence of two deep rivers were located the thriving Artashat is one of the capitals of Ancient Armenia.
Ascetic and solemn beauty of the monastery of Khor Virap (“deep dungeon”)- the main thing that attracts tourists in the surroundings of the ancient capital of Armenia, Artashat. Located on a rock in the middle of a wide plain, Khor Virap, like a vigilant sentinel, guarding the serene peace of the snow cap of mount Ararat that stands a little distance. For the whole of Armenia Khor Virap monastery — a historic site, because here in 301, the ruler of the country converted to Christianity, making it the state religion. Today in Khor Virap Church of the blessed virgin, descend into an underground prison where they kept St. Gregory the Illuminator, admire the blue haze melting in the top of the mountain and participate in the graduation ceremony, white doves.
A bit of history
The history of Khor Virap (which was earlier a monastery and state prison) dates back to 180 BC, when the Armenian king Artashes I founded the capital of the state, the city of Artashat. Later the capital was moved to Dvin, Khor Virap remained a place of confinement of evil in exile. One of them was a close associate of the king Tiridates III Gregory, ispovedovalis Christianity and refused by order of the king to go to paganism. Gregory spent about 15 years bound in a deep pit of Khor Virap, but miraculously saved a life.About the incredible existence of Gregory became known Tiridates, and just then, an unknown disease began to threaten the life of the king. The Saint was brought back to the Palace and announced that all the troubles — from the worship of pagan gods. Turning to Christianity, the king was healed, freed Gregory, now bearing the title of Educator, and made him a state councillor. And so, in 301 Armenia became a Christian, the first country to adopt the religion at the state level.
What to see
Located at the foot of mount Ararat, the monastery is great in itself — his austere appearance of classical Armenian architecture is beautifully set off by spectacular mountain ranges and wide plains stretching around the monastery cliff.
On the territory of Khor Virap, a great place to explore the historic prison located inside the chapel of St. Gregory the Illuminator. You can descend down the metal ladder, the depth of the prison — about 6 meters, width is about 4.5 meters.
Holy virgin Church was built in 1662 on the foundations of the buildings of the 5th century. Unlike most Armenian churches it is oriented North — South. The appearance of the Church in Armenian austere, with only a round dome. Inside is to see the ornate altar.
The walls surrounding the monastery was built in the 17th century; since that time counts the story of monastic fraternity.
Anniversary of the liberation of St. Gregory the Illuminator is celebrated in the Cathedral of Yerevan, and on New year there is a fire lit in Khor Virap. And in the monastery you can participate in the ceremony, releasing white doves believe that they will fly to the top of mount Ararat.