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If you are travelling from Yerevan to Sevan, it is worth considering a detour to Tsaghkadzor, a ski resort and good hiking centre. In the village itself is Kecharis Monastery, consisting of three main churches (and a nearby small chapel from the 13th century). The largest church, that of St. Gregory the Illuminator, is also the oldest, dating from 1003, (with an early 13th century 'gavit' - a narthex or large room to the west of the church). The next building to it is the much smaller Church of the Holy Sign from 1051. The third is the 'Cathedral' (or Surb Katoghiké) from the early 13th century. A book on sale in the monastery shows pictures of the damage caused to the churches by various earthquakes. Now they are restored to a beautifully harmonious whole and dotted around the grounds are khachkars (mainly of 12th to 14th centuries), the quintessentially Armenian carved stone crosses. (For more of these, see VT under 'Noratus' and various other monasteries.)
Written Nov 16, 2010
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