Another lovely example of a Soviet-era art project, The Cascade is a giant staircase built onto the side of a hill in Yerevan, Armenia. If you don’t want to walk up the stairs, there are escalators that will take you to the top. Seriously.
The Kura river, which these cliffhouses are perched precariously over, starts in north-eastern Turkey, flows through Turkey to Georgia, and then to Azerbaijan, where it enters the Caspian Sea. The total length of the river is 1,515 kilometres (941 mi). As Tbilisi’s economy continues to grow following its independence from the USSR, flights to Istanbul and other major regional cities are increasingly available. We flew to Azerbaijan from Georgia since flights to Baku were unavailable in Armenia.
The Bibi-Heybat Mosque in Baku, Azerbaijan, undergoing renovation in 2006. The original mosque was built in the 13th century and destroyed by the Bolsheviks in the 1930s during an anti-religious campaign. This new mosque was built in the same site in the 1990s, following Azerbaijan’s independence from the Soviet Union.
Waiting in no man’s land at the Georgia/Armenia border so we could complete the final leg of our Baku-Tbilisi-Yerevan trip.
Located in Haghpat, Armenia, this monastery complex was built in the 10th century. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is in a rather remote location, and when we arrived at the monastery we were the only tourists there. More on this trip (including a slight problem with our transportation) here.
In the background of this photo is Mount Ararat, the national symbol of Armenia. There are literally hundreds of products and institutions that are named after this mountain: Ararat wine, Ararat vodka, Ararat cognac, Ararat bank…it’s even on the Armenian coat of arms. In a sad twist of irony, however, Mount Ararat lies not within the borders of Armenia, but those of Turkey. While the citizens of Yerevan may gaze upon Ararat, they may not cross the closed Armenian-Turkish border and travel the mere 20 miles to actually visit it. Photo taken during our July 2006 trip to the South Caucasus.
While looking through my files, I noticed that I had a few videos that I never uploaded. While none of these are really entertaining or incredibly mind-blowing, I’m uploading them because I really have nothing else to post at this moment (37 days until North Korea!).
This clip is from July 2006, when Crystal, Laura and I traveled to the South Caucasus to visit some friends who were working in Yerevan. The three of us hired a driver and guide to take us to the Haghpat and Sanahin Monasteries in northeast Armenia, about a three hour drive from Yerevan. Unfortunately, the Ford minivan we were riding in broke down shortly before arriving at the first monastery, forcing us to take a village bus, hitch a ride with an Armenian family from Los Angeles, and then enjoy an incredibly delicious meal of khorovats at a sketchy roadside restaurant while our driver and guide figured out what to do. Our driver had somehow managed to enlist the help of one of his friends, and we soon found ourselves speeding through small towns and villages in an old Volga. Unfortunately, I did not capture any footage of our driver swerving to avoid the occasional pig and cow standing in the middle of the road. Just massive potholes in this one. Bonus: Random small fire on the side of the street.