Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Vardzia, Armenia

After a hurricane like windy night (note to self - always put on your fly and peg down your tent in the DAYLIGHT!!), we were off to see the Khertvisi Fortress.  The surviving structure dates from the 10th century-

The people here live very simply - a stone house with a tin roof, a garden in the back and a few animals-

Next it was a visit to Vardzia, a cave city.  Here is the view of the gorge along the way-

In the 12th century, Giorgi III built this fortress but soon after, his daughter, Queen Tamar, changed it to a monastery.  It covers an area of 13 floors with the Church of the Assumption in the center.  Tamar herself had 366 rooms to confuse the enemy and 50,000 people lived here. The black spots are the caves!

Cave dwellings-

In the center of this picture are 3 bells hanging from the left arch.  The Church of the Assumption is behind these arches-

This entrance is at the top left of the above picture-

More intricate carving around the entrance-

We crossed into Armenia this afternoon. There are lots of differences:  the landscape-

The homes in the villages-  some have equipment parked by the front door and cattle grazing wild-

Most have cultivated gardens of some kind and always clothes drying on the line-

A village of wooden homes (usually they're made of stone) with rock everywhere-

This is peat.  It's made of compressed manure and compost (grasses).  It's cut and left to dry to be used to heat homes-

The cattle graze under the supervision of a cattle herder.  We have to be careful while driving-

The cattle herder is in the distance, on the left hand side-

The water is piped above ground, everywhere-

Another treat today has been the storks.  This particular village had many nests-

And my favorite picture of the day!  We walked into a 'we have it all kind of store' from liquor, (the speciality here is cognac), to baked goods, junk food and beer.  This was a beer 'go cup' station.  One could buy a litre or just a go cup.  A litre cost $1.50.

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