The following social and cultural events will be part of the conference program.
The conference banquet will be held on Thursday evening, October 25th.
Guided tour at Matenadaran and welcome reception
On Sunday evening, a guided tour to Matenadaran will be organized. Matenadaran houses one of the oldest and biggest collections of ancient manuscripts in the world. The depository contains over 17,300 manuscripts, 450 thousand archive documents, and 3,000 ancient books. Over 14,200 manuscripts are in Armenian, the others in many other languages, among which Greek, Latin, Aramaic, Hebrew, Arabic, Persian, Old Slavonic, Ethiopic and Japanese.
Following the guided tour, the welcome reception will take place at the Cafesjian Center for the Arts. This art center, located in the remarkable "Cascade" complex, is dedicated to bringing the best of contemporary art to Armenia and presenting the best of Armenian culture to the world. Its terraces offer a splendid view over Yerevan and on Ararat mountain.
Wednesday afternoon (October 24th) will be dedicated to cultural excursions. Under guidance of professional tour guides some of the major historical sites in Armenia can be visited. Participants can choose between two half-day programs, outlined in more detail below:
- the ancient hellenistic Temple of Garni and the monastry of Geghard
- Echmiadzin Cathedral, the oldest cathedral in the world, and the ruins of the ancient Zvartnots cathedral.
Option 1: Garni and Geghard
The hellenistic peristyle temple of Garni, originally built in the 1st century AD and restored by archeologist Sahinyan.
Temple of Garni -- Near the village of Garni, on a promontory jutting out into a deep river gorge, an ancient architectural complex has been unearthed. Once a fortress of the Urartian and Armenian kings, evidence of human occupation have been found, with the oldest dating back to the 8th century BC. A dominating place in the complex was taken up by a hellenistic temple, built in the 1st century AD. Destroyed by an earthquake in 1679, archeologists restored the temple in the last century. Apart from the temple, the remnants of the old fortress walls, a 7th century church and a 3rd century Roman bath house can be seen.
The Geghard monastery and the cliff face into which part of it has been hewn.
Geghard Monastery -- A UNESCO World Heritage site, the Geghard monastery dates back to the 4th century, when it was founded by Gregory the Illuminator at a sacred spring inside a cave. In later centuries it was expanded, with parts of the structure cut into the adjacent mountain. The main chapel of the monastry as it is today was built in the 1215 AD. The full name of the monastery, Geghardavank, means "Monastery of the Spear", after the spear used to wound Jesus during the crucifixion, allegedly brought to Armenia by the Apostle Jude and currently on display in the Treasury in Echmiadzin. Surrounded by impressive cliffs, the monastery is a unique site and one of the most popular touristic destinations in Armenia.
The Echmiadzin Mother Cathedral, built and consecrated in 303 AD, is the spiritual center of the world-wide Armenian Apostolic Church.
Option 2: Echmiadzin and Zvartnots
Echmiadzin Cathedral -- Located 20km from the Armenian capital Yerevan, Echmiadzin Cathedral has been the spiritual center of the Armenian Orthodox church since it was built in the 4th century. The Cathedral has been rebuilt many times over the last 1500 years, but today retains its 5th century form, while reflecting every style over the centuries that rebuilding and restoration occurred. With the oldest parts said to date back to the year 301, the cathedral is considered to be the oldest cathedral (not church) in the world. It includes a monastery of the same name, the Catholicos' Palace, Seminary, Library and Printing House. A scenic place to visit, the main church structure is quite large, and follows a traditional Armenian design with a belfry and a number of rotundas. While most of the exterior is plain, the entrance and interior are intricately carved and decorated. The treasury in the main cathedral displays jewelry, ancient manuscripts and religious artefacts, including the lance said to have been used to pierce Christ on the cross.
The ruins of Zvartnots temple, an important architectural monument dating back to the 7th century and a World Heritage site.
Zvartnots -- Located 5 km from Echmiadzin is the brightest monument of medieval Armenian architecture -- the magnificent Zvartnots Temple, constructed in the 7th century. Despite being destroyed by an earthquake in 930 AD, the ruins of Zvartnots have an exceptional architectural value and have been designated by UNESCO as World Heritage Site. Originally, the complex consisted of the temple and a palace of the Catholicos, the head of the Armenian church. The temple was a 49m high, three-storied round temple, consisting of three differently sized cylinders put on top of each other, crowned with a spherical pyramid-shaped cone. The entire structure was supported by four 20-m mighty columns, was richly decorated, and had five entrances. The architecture of Zvartnots is quite different from that of typical Armenian churches and is a monument to the centuries old traditions of Armenian architects. In its artistic image and daring spatial arrangement, formed by an intricate combination of arches and buttresses, it is an outstanding monument of world architecture. Its architectural ideas later became widely spread and developed in new shapes and new artistic compositions.