#853 Ararat, Turkey (Armenia)

The cultural heart for the Armenian people lies just across the border in the home of their enemy: Turkey. Mount Ararat, known as Agri in Turkish, is a beautiful conical volcano, and can be seen from much of Armenia including the capital Yerevan, but not visited by Armenians, although it remains the spiritual, religious and nationalistic centerpiece.

Permanently snowcapped at 5137m, with two peaks, Greater Ararat and Lesser Ararat, it is Turkey's tallest, and has a 40 sq. km girth. No one knows when it last erupted, but remains suggest the Bronze Age 3 millenium BCE, although a severe earthquake shook the mountain and opened a large chasm in 1840.

According to Genesis, this is where Noah's Ark was supposed to have landed and many scientists say they have found remains of such a thing! Supposedly named after King Ara the Handsome, who didn't actually exist, but who has been associated with the real king Arame, the legends go back a long time. For Armenians it is the home of the gods, similar to Mt. Olympus in Greece.

One of the best (Armenian) places to see Ararat is from Khor Virap just outside of Yerevan, where a picturesque monastery is on a small knoll very close to the border with Mount Ararat towering behind. Beautiful! The mountain lies just 32km south of the border and is in the middle of sensitive territory where the four nations of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iran and Turkey meet, with Armenia having poor relations with both Azerbaijan (due to the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh) and Turkey (due to their position on the Armenian Genocide).


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