Description of Western Armenia according to Brian Sewell

In “South from Ephesus” Brian Sewell describes Western Armenia with these words:

“The wooded and watered Alps of the far north-east hid churches of magical beauty that keep alive the recollection of Armenia’s great Christian past (long before Constantine’s Creed and Decree), that form an architectural link between Roman and Romanesque that may have been the springboard for the great western cathedrals of Angouleme and Speyer, Hildesheim and Poitiers; they make the much-vaunted churches of Ani, mysterious though they must appear, deserted, poised over the Russian border, seem the decadent offerings of a demented confectioner, and the church on the island of Akhtamar the work of a gingerbread man.

I have seen nothing more beautiful, astonishing, or wonderful among the works of man or God than Mount Ararat from the north—the sudden shock of a white peak free-floating in the sky, its lower slopes lost in the matching blue of a heat haze, slowly solidifying into the form of a woman’s ribcage, the great nippled breast sagging downhill to the west. I have seen nothing viler than the public lavatory in Baskale, the highest town in Turkey, spitting distance from Iran.”

By Jirair Tutunjian

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