Khor Virap in Armenian means deep pit. Only 30 mins by car away from Yerevan, Khor Virap is one of the oldest Monasteries in Armenia. The legend says that here Saint Gregory was imprisoned for over 12 years in a deep pit. After being released the Saint converted the King who imprisoned him and made of Armenia the first nation to adopt Christianity as state religion.
Unfortunately, though, the monastery is not only famous for its beauty, but for the fact that this is for Armenians the closest spot from which they can observe Mount Ararat. Khor Virap is in fact literally a bunch of hundred metres away from the closed Armenia-Turkey border.
From the monastery, on the top of a little hill you can observe quiet Eastern Turkey villages. Farmers doing their job. Minarets of the mosques. Cows wandering around. In the back of this bucolic landscape, the enourmous Mount Ararat, in all its splendour.
Ararat has a special connotation in Armenian history. Together with its religious connotation (it is legendary considered the place where Noah’s Ark came to rest), it came to be a national symbol, despite being unreachable from Armenia itself.
Earlier this year, some sparkles of hope had been given on the reopening of Armenia/Turkey border, after the Presidents of the two countries signed (with the blessing of Hillary Clinton and the USA) protocols towards the normalisation of their relations. The issue lays in the recognition of the Armenian Genocide in East Turkey at the beginning of 20th century.
Many historians have been studying the massacres of Armenian population in these regions, but at the present moment there is no agreement between Turkey and Armenia on the recognition of these facts. Much more detailed information can be found on the issue, but with caution when it comes to nationalistic propaganda practiced from both sides.
Regardless of this complicated past, the border between the two countries is nowadays surprisingly peaceful. I didn’t miss the opportunity to get close to the border. It’s not the first time I find myself in front of a closed border: last year I was on the Golan Heights, where Syrian/Israel border is also closed (in that case for a territorial dispute).
Borders are all the same. I don’t like them. It’s strange to think that borders still exist. It’s unconfortable to think that this fence prevents me to go on the other side. The more close I get to them, the more I feel uncomfortable. What’s the meaning of wired fences?