Armenia, Areni Wine Village, Noravank Monastery
Noravank is a 13th-century Armenian monastery, located 122 km from Yerevan in a narrow gorge made by the Amaghu River, near the town of Yeghegnadzor, Armenia. The monastery is best known for its two-storey Surb Astvatsatsin (Holy Mother of God) church, which grants access to the second floor by way of a narrow stone-made staircase jutting out from the face of building.
The monastery was designed and built by Momik the Architect, and guarantees to be recalled in one’s memory, along with joy and serenity, long after leaving it.
Master Momik had fallen in love with the beautiful daughter of Prince Orbelian, the lord of Syunik province. The beauty returned his love and was completely smitten by the talented architect. When her father heard of their love, he requested Momik’s company and said to him “I’ll give you my daughter’s hand in marriage, but only if you can build a temple of incredible and unmatched beauty, in less than three years.” Immediately, Momik went to work, cutting huge chunks of rock, carving them into building blocks.
He met the deadline in time, and as he was putting the finishing touches to the dome, while crouching on the very top of the temple, he rejoiced in anticipation of seeing his beloved. Suddenly a man rode up to the temple, climbed up to where Momik was and pushed him off, as he had been instructed to by his master, the Prince of Syunik. Momik plummeted to the ground, clutching the last block of the dome in his hands. That stone became his tombstone.