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About Mount Ararat once in a life heard every inhabitant of the Earth. Its fame is linked to the event, described in the Bible of Noah’s Ark, which is docked to the vertex of this mountain.
Although today the Holy Mount Ararat is in Turkey, Armenians still consider it as a part of their history and culture. The mount has two peaks, Great Ararat, of a height of 5165 meters, the geological age of which is 3.5 million years and the Small Ararat of 3925 m and about 150,000 years old. The two peaks of extinct volcanoes visible from almost anywhere in Armenia.
And it is exactly with a backdrop of this magnificent and holy mountain, in the beautiful Ararat valley, about 8 kilometers south of Artashat, is the Convent of Khor Virap – the most famous architectural and historical monument, and sacred place of the Armenian Apostolic Church.
This fortified monastery is a out-and-outer monument of its kind and perchance the most revered by Armenians since it was erected in the place where in a deep well on the orders of Tiridates III, for 13 years, was imprisoned Gregory the Illuminator, who later baptized the king and became his spiritual mentor.
Khor Virap translated from Armenian means deep pit which was infested with venomous snakes and scorpions, where it survived St. Gregory.
The monastery is encircled by green pastures and vineyards in the Ararat valley and not far from it flows the river Araks.
Nerses Chapel was built in the 5th century around the famed yawner and was a structure made of white limestone. A cloister was built around a large fence surrounding the ruins of the old chapel. This temple was dedicated to St. Astvatsatsin.
The pit, in which was imprisoned the saint is to the south-west of the main temple, in the Chapel of St. Gevorg, a small basilica filled with half-round apse. Of the two existing wells inside the chapel, the one that was of Gregory is a little away and has the depth of six meters. The pit is available through two marked holes. There is a small room, a spiral staircase and a small fence hole.
To the right of the main hall of the cave, where a long stairway down leads to a large cellule, which was the prison of Gregory. The descent into the well is approximately of 60 meters. The very pit is well covered, but the way through the metal stairs requires a solid shoes. And with that, here are pretty high humidity , and due you need to be attentive during the descent.
Archaeological excavations have been carried out here since 1970 on the thirteen hills and the territory surrounding the Khor Virap, up to the river valley. In addition to a variety of ancient coins and antiquities, during excavations were found well-preserved fortifications of mud bricks.
The monastery attracts many pilgrims and tourists.
In the mid 90th of the last centenary young volunteers from the Canadian Youth Mission, Cyma, supported to restore the cathedral.