Monday 17 February 2014

Travel to ancient Armenia

Millennium upon millennium, the vol­canoes erupted lava. As it cooled it solid­ified and covered the earth with a shell of stone. Mountains, gorges, turbulent rivers, waterfalls, and lakes surrounded by grim, forbidding rocks, were the cradle of the Armenian people.

Stones, stones... A kingdom of stones! Life would seem impossible here. Yet people have been living here since time immemorial.

Travel to ancient Armenia!
Travel to ancient Armenia!
They built dwellings, fortresses and temples of stone. They planted and grew vines, trees and grain in stone. Stone accompanies the Armenian through life, it is linked with the whole history of Ar­menia. It is both the fortune and misfor­tune of the people.

On the outskirts of Goris. high up in the Zangezur mountains, the rocks have been shaped into fantastic statues by the sun, the rains and the winds. Legend has it that when Tamerlane approached these parts with his horsemen, he stopped in astonishment, taking these statues for a strange, invincible army. And the hitherto intrepid conqueror retreated from Goris.

Nature suggested the forms to the Armenian architects, and sketched the rough draft  which  they elaborated  in detail, developing an inimitable archi­tectural style. Look at the tapering rocks of Gegard and Goris, look at the perfectly flat tops of Lori, and look at the flowing contours of the Gegami mountains. Sure­ly it is from here that the modern Ar­menian architects acquired their perfec­tion of line and design, and their amazing sense of proportion and rhythm. Present-day architects are as skilled as their celebrated predecessors in blending their buildings with the landscape. They also have a way of combining the traditions of ancient architecture with the features of the modern age.

Armenia is one of the world’s most fascinating museums. There are more than four thousand unique stone monuments on its relatively small territory – crom­lechs and dolmens from the Bronze Age. Urartu fortresses and heathen temples, early – Christian churches, medieval mon­astery schools and castles crowning the mountain tops.

Rejas Films production presents a documentary film "My Armenia" in english

Solid walls built from smoothly hewn enormous basalt slabs rise on both sides of the Garni fortress gates. The walls run down to the edge of the precipice where the steep unscaleable cliffs take over the protection of the fortress from enemy invasion – Nature's own wise solution to the problem of defence.

This is how Muratsan, the Armenian classic, described the fortress centuries later:

"The scenery around ihe plateau, crowned with the fortress, was majestic and forbidding. Towering rocks, strangely shaped cliffs, frightening chasms, deep gorges, arrogantly crenellated, beautiful mountains stretched away to the horizon, in front of the fortress, a frothing stream hurtled down from a great height to Row into the Azat River. On the northern side, in addition to the semicircular walls and towers, the fortress was protected by the overhanging cliffs which merged with Mt. Geg in the distance From the east and the west it was well-defended by its walls and towers made from smooth­ly hewn basalt slabs, secured with lead and iron. On the southeastern hill, practi­cally on the boundary line of the fortress, loomed the sombre crenellated edifices of the royal palace, and also Trdat's magnificent summer palace whose porti­coes were supported by twenty-four tall Ionic columns. The statues and the high, carved vaults of the palace – creations of Roman art – were still intact..."

What will the traveller see today?

A spreading walnut tree casts its shad­ow on the ground, vines on the stones, late cucumbers are ripening on their neat beds, apricot trees have donned their vivid autumn finery, and through their crowns one can glimpse Ihe arm of a crane and hear the purring of a motor. What a peaceful scene to find in this fortress which had once been besieged by hordes of invaders!
But let us follow the sound of the purring motor, and see what is there.

Basalt capitals, friezes, broken cornices, pieces of pediments are lying on the ground. They are fragments of the Sun temple, built in the first century A. D. and destroyed  in   the  earthquake  of 1679. Each stone has been cleaned of the dust of centuries, and numbered. Now they will be laid in place, for restoration work on the ancient temple has begun.

The ruins of the Sun temple are so spellbinding that you cannot tear your fascinated gaze away. You stand there, enchanted and speechless, gazing at the remains of ravished beamy… The purring of the motor makes a discordant sound, crashing into the tranquillising silence of eternity.

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