KHOR VIRAP (Խոր Վիրապ)

We arrived at the monastery located on a hillock close to the Araks River at the border with Turkey. It overlooks river pastures, stork nests, vineyards, and Mt Ararat majestically towers above it. Khor Virap monastery has been repeatedly rebuilt since the 5th century. Legend says the pagan King Trdat III imprisoned St Gregory the Illuminator (Surp Grigor Lusavorich) here for 12 years. We climbed down a metal ladder into the well where the saint was incarcerated. After his cruel treatment of the saint, the king was cursed by madness and was miraculously cured by St Gregory. Historians contend that Trdat may have switched allegiances to tap into the strength of Armenia’s growing Christian community in the face of Roman aggression. The king converted to Christianity, and St Gregory became the first Catholicos of the Armenian Apostolic Church. He set about building churches on top of pagan temples and teaching the faith. The main Surp Astvatsatsin Church dates from the 17th century.

Parking location – Khor Virap: 39.879971N 44.578103E (🚻-100 AMD)