On the Slope of Ararat – Armenian Basilica of the 5th-6th Centuries

On the Slope of Ararat

In August 2004, during the ascent to Ararat by the route of Friedrich Parrot and Khachatur Abovyan (1829), V. Gurzadyan photographed the ruins of a church lying on the northwestern slope of Ararat at an altitude of 2,100 meters. It is among Armenian church sites that are located the highest.

This church is situated in a militarized and strictly guarded zone that is virtually inaccessible to foreigners. However, Gurzadyan along with his companion S. Aarseth from Cambridge received special permission to access the territory.

Not far from the church on a hilltop are the ruins of a fortress. Nearby on the slopes of the hill are the remains of houses. The church was built from large blocks of orange-ish tuff. The fragments of the church’s eastern apse are preserved.

The fact that large fragments of the church’s walls are lying 5-8 meters away from the church is quite surprising. Some of them are upside down. They’ve been as if thrown away by a powerful earthquake.

The existence of this church isn’t mentioned neither in Kuneo’s encyclopedic monography nor in Alishan’s “Ayrarat” nor in Parrot’s description of his Ararat ascent with Abovyan. However, according to V. Harutyunyan, these are the ruins of an early-Christian single-nave church dating back to the 5th-6th centuries.

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