The traveler was aiming for Dilijan (Դիլիջան), a small town in the Tavush province of Armenia. He was motionless, with a big smile on his face and, under the hot sun, he was waiting to catch the right car, always with the thumb up. After a while one man stopped and offered to the young man a ride till the center of the town. It was an interesting conversation but what was coming out later really caught the attention of the young man: a complex of abandoned monasteries hidden in the mountains.
Location and how to get in
The man later became my tourist guide… We are just 20 km out of Dilijan, up on the mountains. By car from the center of the town itcould take about 30 minutes, 10 minutes on the normal road, 20 minutes to go up on the dirty one.
We arrived at one point where it was not anymore possible to continue with the car and then we just needed to follow the road which was going up. On the same place, 50 meters one from the other one we have found two monasteries. There was nobody who was standing to guard and the entrance was opened. Zero problems:D.
Just remember that the man told me about a new church in a town to which all people of the villages around moved. Due to this fact these 2 monasteries were left to themselves and, as we will see, just few people are still loyal to attend them.
Open air space, trees all around and nature with a spring of water coming down from the mountains.
Just moved a little bit the iron door and we are inside. The place is not that big, maybe 12×8 meters. All around – dark and massive walls, in front of me – the armenian cross (called Khachkar), and pictures of Maria.
The first monastery had nothing inside but in the second one we could find more. My friend closed the door and then, looking carefully on the right part of entrance, he saw a small altar where they were sacrificing animals. Still there was rest of half chicken left and blood all around….not even a good smell I can guarantee.
Walked for 2 minutes, on the opposite side of the previous monastery, there was the second one. Opened another door and we were inside. On the pedestal of stone some books were left and papers written in Armenian, some dram (armenian money), probably donated on offer, and a monastery in miniature made of wood. On the walls always pictures of Maria, writings in armenian and another miniature of a monastery. Bright and fresh air made this monastery more livable than the previous one.
After our “tour” was finished and several photos were done, we decided to return back to the car. The man offered me to share lunch which his mother prepared for him. I accepted with joy.
Probably, after all, these monasteries are not left abandoned as still some people from the villages around the mountains were going there to pray and make rituals. Abandoned from this “new form society” around but not from whom still is attached to their beliefs and practices of the past.