You know the scenes with the knight at the end of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade? Indy goes inside a rock-hewn church and the inside is all dark and lit by candles. That’s exactly what Geghard—a monastery in the hills southeast of Yerevan, Armenia—reminded me of.
At Geghard there is one church that is built right up against a cliff, and then there are connected churches that were carved right out of the rock itself. The monastery was founded in the 4th century by Gregory the Illuminator—the guy who brought Christianity to Armenia. The churches and caves seen today were created in the 13th century. Geghard is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The monastery is up the road from Garni. Once I’d seen the temple and gorge in Garni, I needed to find a taxi to take me to Geghard, which I found soon enough. We agreed on a price (2000 drams or $4.90 USD) and I hopped in the car—as did two women who were standing nearby, who we ended up giving a lift to and dropping off at a village down the road. The driver’s name was Ludwig, and we had a pleasant chat as we drove the 15-20 minutes further into the hills to Geghard. The arrangement was that Ludwig would wait for me and then take me back to Garni, where I could get a marshrutka back to Yerevan.
I spent about half an hour exploring Geghard before going back to the parking area to find that Ludwig had disappeared. Some older men sitting under a tree came up to me and said that the enterprising Ludwig had taken someone else back down to Garni and that he’d be back for me soon. I sat and talked with the men for a few minutes, and then they busted out some flutes and a drum and started playing. I went and bought a fruit leather and nut roll-up to eat while listening to the men play, and by the time they were done, Ludwig had returned. We went back down the hill to Garni, where I hopped in a marshrutka to Yerevan, where I got a taxi back to my apartment.