The two provinces in the south of Armenia, Vayots Dzor and Syunik, are a spectacular strip of land at the very bottom of the Caucasus. The highway that runs through them, between the towns of Yeraskh and Meghri, passes over the mountains that separate the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh in the east from the Azeri enclave of Nakhchivan to the west.
The journey is breathtaking, and takes in some of Armenia’s cultural treasures: the monasteries of Noravank and Tatev and the wine-making town of Areni are all on the road to Meghri.
The most unusual place in Syunik province is the Zorats Karer stone formation, near the settlement of Sisian – 223 giant boulders that are described, inevitably, as the ‘Armenian Stonehenge’. But unlike the stones in Wiltshire, Zorats Karer still stands in the middle of wild nature: you can wander between the rocks, touch and photograph them. … More Armenia’s Ancient Zorats Karer Stones – for OCA Magazine
Artsakh is the Armenian name for Nagorno-Karabakh, the disputed territory between it and Azerbaijan. The two nations have been at war over Karabakh for over 30 years. Both feel that the territory belongs to them: the land became part of Soviet Azerbaijan during Stalin’s era, but most of the people living there are still Armenian. The conflict has killed tens of thousands on both sides, with no resolution in sight. … More A day in Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh)
I arrive at Yerevan’s train station just after dawn, and buy coffee and bread from the underpass between platforms – fuel for the four-hour journey to Gyumri, Armenia’s second city.
The train is dusty and dilapidated; it has hard seats and filthy windows. It goes slowly, bumpily, its wheels making soothing clunks on the rusted tracks.
The journey is haunting. The landscape of western Armenia looks abandoned, left for dead. But this isn’t so. This rocky corner of the Caucasus is far from an unwanted wasteland: it is one of the most emotionally charged places on earth. … More Photo essay: Armenia’s sorrow (Yerevan to Gyumri by train)
For my first few days in Armenia my mind was elsewhere. I was searching for signs of the two worlds that overlap in the South Caucasus, where wild Eurasian land is punctuated by the Cyrillic – and the shambles – of the post-Soviet space… … More ‘Postcard from Noravank monastery, Armenia’ – for Elsewhere Journal
Taking the train between Yerevan and Gyumri was going to be the highlight of my time in Armenia – especially the journey through Ararat province. But on the day I went, Mount Ararat was hidden by clouds. Instead, the best part of my trip was the beautiful sight of white storks gliding above the farms and fields next to the train, and making their nests on top of the station buildings at Masis and Etchmiatsin. In Armavir province, hoopoes fly next to the train tracks. … More ‘Five things that will surprise you in Armenia’ – for Wandelion
Khor Virap monastery, 30km west of Yerevan on the border with Turkey, for the vivid and important story behind it – and the beautiful sight of Mount Ararat looming over the church. In Yerevan, the Sargis Muradyan gallery (on Isahakyan street, near to ‘Cascade’) is a great place to spend a free hour. … More ‘Just back from… Armenia’ – in Wanderlust magazine