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Armenian Choir Singing in Geghard Monastery
One of the reasons we love taking a road trip and self driving on vacation is that it gives us so much flexibility. When we drove up to the UNESCO Heritage Listed Geghard Monastery in Armenia we knew we had found someplace special. The monastery buildings and church are nestled up to the edge of a craggy cliff face that climbs out of a beautiful green valley. In fact, parts of the church were carved right out of the rock. As we parked the car and climbed up the path to the front gate, we noticed a few smiling-faced hawkers displaying their wares, mostly wood carvings, fresh baked bread, and homemade jam and fruit snacks. There was only one other car in the lot as well as a small tour bus.
We took our time at the entrance, talking with the friendly staff and admiring the stone carvings and paintings. Then we walked into the courtyard and marveled at the massive rock church. There were flowering trees and shrubs in the green spaces between the cliff face and the monastery grounds and colorful bee hive boxes placed in the garden. We were immediately sidetracked and went up to visit the gardens, but we noticed the one small tour group was clustered together listening to their guide on one side of the courtyard. When we saw a small group of ornately robed women walk across the courtyard we wondered about it but went right back to inspecting the gardens and bee boxes.
Finally we made our way into the lower chamber of the church and started exploring. Just as we stumbled into the inner, candlelit sanctuary we heard the most amazing harmony. It seemed to be emanating right from the rock walls. Even if you are not religious, I think you would have felt the presence of this otherworldly singing. The tour group was hushed now, so we plainly heard the guide exclaim, “right, that ends our time here at Geghard. We need to get back on the bus and move on to our next site.”
There were plenty of backward glances as they shuffled, reluctantly out of the church. It was clear that many of them wanted to stay and find the source of that amazing music. We, on the other hand, decided that finding that choir had to be our new priority. We had seen them go up the stairs and disappear through a small cave entrance so that’s where we went. Sure enough, this small choir group had made their way into a rock-hewn chamber in the heart of the church and was performing an impromptu concert. It was absolutely beautiful. Words can’t really do it justice, so here is the video I put together for your enjoyment.
Practical Information for Visiting Geghard Monastery
- The site is located at the end of the Geghard road, about 40 kilometers from Yerevan
- It is an easy drive, with only a few rough areas, however, our small rental car had no problems with it.
- The monastery can be visited every day between 8:00 A.M. and 8:00 P.M.
- Accommodations are few and far between once you leave Yerevan, it is far better to find a hotel there and take a day trip out to Geghard.
- Find more information and check opening times before you go, at the official website.
- Looking for a hotel? Why not check prices and categories right now? Click here…
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