Explore Armenia: Visiting Temple of Garni and Gerhard Monastery

Last weekend, as a part of the Explore Armenia programme, students explored the pre-Christian and Medieval history of Armenia. The Temple of Garni is the only standing pagan shrine on the territory of Armenia and in the former Soviet Union. Since 1990 the temple has been the central shrine for the small number of followers of Armenian Neopaganism who frequently hold ceremonies, including the 21 March New Year and summer water festival of Vardavar, at the temple.

Another sight the students visited was the Geghard monastery founded in 4th century by Grigory the Illuminator, the first head of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Some of the churches within the monastery complex have been entirely dug out of the cliff, others are little more than caves, while others are elaborate structures with architecturally complex walled sections and rooms deep inside the cliff.

The students enjoyed discovering these gems of Armenia and interacting with local people. They also enjoyed the breathtaking views of the boundless mountainous landscape. “Armenia has secret treasures to offer”, said Francesco, UWCD'18, who was one of the students allowed to explore the impressive, ancient history of Armenia. The students were impressed by the opportunity to enter the temple and feel the spirit of the past.

The eventful day, viewing impressive architecture, majestic panoramas and a vivid culture ended with an extraordinary traditional meal.

During their studies at UWC Dilijan our students concentrate not only on their academic knowledge, but also expand their outlook by exploring new lands, cultures and traditions. The Explore Armenia programme serves the sole mission of familiarising students with the country they will be spending two years of their lives in: it focusses on Armenia’s historical and cultural heritage its neighbours, and will connect our students with local people.