On our way from the border to Georgia we stopped at our first Armenian church, named Haghpat. We drove through a narrow valley and up to some sort of terrace on the hillside. The church is old from 976 and has not been restored after to 1300s. (except new tiles on the roof?)
For the first time did I see typical elements that we would see again several times later. Inside it was a square room with four pilars holding the dome.
A lot of crosses on the outside walls.
We saw a lot of crosses like the one bottom right with one bigger cross and more small ones , most ofte two smaller ones but I also found four and five. I never got a good explaination what they symbolized. The most probable was that they were family crosses with one cross for each family member, but I don’t know. They were most of the time rougher that the picture.
For the first time we also saw cross-stones (khachkars). They are heavily decorarted rectangular stones that do not belong to any structures. They were free-standing, and we were told that of all the thousands of cross-stones, they were all different. These stones are from the 11th to the 13th century.
All this was new to me and I found it very interesting and facinating. But I can’t help thinking about the anonymous craftsmen who with primitive tools and poor light produced such intricat and detailed stones. Again they are the masters, not bishops and noblemen.
Inside I again saw the difference between old decorations and newer. In my opinion the old frescos are by far the most interesting and facinating.