Zvartnots Cathedral ruins, Yerevan, Armenia

As I write this, I’ve just left Armenia, a country that has been on my wish list for a while. I’ve lots to share from this fascinating part of the world, but for now a quick glance at Zvartnots Cathedral.

On my visit, these 7th century ruins happen to be the setting for a wedding photo session. What could be more perfect? There are 1 300 years of history in these beautiful columns. Add to that the stunning backdrop of the dormant volcano Mount Ararat – and the legends associated with it.

Zvartnots Cathedral hails all the way back to the foundation of the Armenian Church in 301 AD, in what was to become the very first Christian country in the world. Armenia was 10 times larger then.

Mount Ararat is surely one of the most famous mountains of all; one I remember learning about as far back as primary school. An ancient legend of angry gods sending a flood to punish humankind is passed down through generations, then retold by the authors of the Old Testament and the even older Sumerian Gilgamesh poems. After the flood has subsided, the only family left on earth climbs out of the ark at Ararat, wanders down the mountain – and begins humanity all over.

Ranoosh, a Yerevan girl, tells of an expedition that has uncovered fossilised wood high up on Ararat, beneath its eternal snowcap. No matter what you believe, it’s an interesting tale – and an imposing mountain, one I don’t seem to get tired of looking at.

Mount Ararat is only about 50 kilometres from Yerevan. Still, it’s a world away, across the closed border with Turkey. It’s visible from numerous spots in town, but the view of the fabled mountain here at Zvartnots is my favourite.

World at a Glance is a series of short articles here on Sophie’s World, with a single photo – portraying curious, evocative, happy, sad or wondrous, unexpected little encounters.

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Zvartnots Cathedral is part of the UNESCO World Heritage site Cathedral and Churches of Echmiatsin and the Archaeological Site of Zvartnots.
Here are more UNESCO World Heritage sites around the world.