Veronika Zonabend’s choice. Part 1.
In 2017, Veronika Zonabend spoke to Tatler magazine about her favourite places in Armenia. And since spring is the best time to travel around the country, we decided to share with you the personal selections of the co-founder of UWC Dilijan and JUST DILIJAN IT!
“It is worth going east from the Armenian capital to see the pagan Sun temple in Garni, which dates back to the first century, and the Geghard monastery complex carved in a mountain. Religious buildings make up the lion’s share of local beauty spots, but actually the most noteworthy thing about them is not even the ancient architecture, but how harmoniously they blend into the natural environment.
“It’s worth taking an overnight trip to the South of the country, stopping off at Khor Virap on the way. In the afternoon, the view is spellbinding: a small monastery against the huge Ararat mountain in the background. According to legend, St. Gregory the Illuminator, the first Armenian church head, Catholicos, who converted Armenia to Christianity, languished in the dungeon here for fifteen years.
“After that, you can visit the Noravank monastery. To get there, you need to turn off the main road and drive along an incredibly beautiful narrow ravine. Here you can also dine at the small Vardges Cave café, where they make a delicious lavash and matsun (Armenian yoghurt) in the traditional way.
“The next point of interest along the way is Tatev monastery. Before you go there, spend the night in Goris, a city built in the 1870s by a group of German architects. In recent years, a dozen new hotels have appeared, but I still recommend the old proven Mirhav, which is really authentic. There is an excellent bakery nearby. In the morning, be sure to get a durum, a traditional lavash with cheese and herbs.
“After an early morning walk through Goris, you may finally go to Tatev. Before you set off, have lunch at the Tatevatun restaurant, which has an excellent view of the gorge. After you have seen the monastery, sit on the top of the cliff and admire the eagles. There are not many places on Earth as beautiful as this one, and it’s no wonder Tatev was put forward for inclusion in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
“From Goris it is also worth going to Karahunj – the Armenian Stonehenge – and Artsakh. It will take you at least an hour and a half to get to Artsakh along the winding roads, but your patience will be well-rewarded. The Jdrduz canyon and its river are on the outskirts of Shushi. When you sit on the rocks there, listening to the rippling of the water, you ask yourself: “Why do I need the hustle and bustle of Moscow?”.