Don’t be afraid to learn people’s biggest sorrows. Without them you’ll never learn their biggest happiness.
Picking an accommodation in Yerevan was not a difficult task. It was enough we saw Mt. Ararat on the pictures from the hostel’s balcony. When you google for Ararat, what you get in Wikipedia is: “Mount Ararat is a snow-capped and dormant compound volcano in the eastern extremity of Turkey.” Well, that’s not what should stand as first. So what is Ararat? Ararat is the Holy Mountain of Armenians. It appears in Armenian literature, art, legends and fairy tales and is as well depicted on Armenian coat of arms. The first mention of Mount Ararat you find in the Book of Genesis in the Bible. It is the resting place of Noah’s Arch. For thousands of years till 1932 Mount Ararat belonged to the Armenian people, now it is a part of Turkey. But what is Ararat doing in Turkey at all? That’s a good question. The World War I, the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, the Turkish-Armenian War and finally the Tehran Convention of 1932, eventually led to the boarders being changed and many territories of historic Armenia became parts of the neighboring countries. Therefore, to appreciate the present-day Armenia, it is so crucial to know more about its history. Otherwise, you will only see some post-soviet architecture, some old remnants of the past, some UNESCO churches and after trip like this you will know less about Armenia than before. Seeing real Armenia means appreciating its soil and getting to know its people with their happiness and their sorrows.
We arrive to Yerevan at night, take a taxi to the hostel and go immediately to sleep. In the morning there is a beautiful sunny weather outside. We go to the kitchen, where we meet Catherine, one of the girls working in the hostel, who will later become our friend. She explains us where we can find tee and where is what in the kitchen. At one moment I excuse her and say that I can’t focus coz in front of me I finally see Ararat.
… We are sitting on the balcony and looking at Mount Ararat… and I’m sure that here rested Noah’s Arch. A woman cleaning the hostel approaches me and said:
– “Our pride, but not ours.”
– I answered: “You know, I think that there will come the time, when everything will return to the place it belongs to…”
– “I hope God will make a way” she said.
In front of me Ararat, on the right the Genocide memorial. It’s hard to believe we are finally here.
That was a beautiful morning. Just sitting and admiring Mount Ararat. There was so much love put in this mountain, so much longing. It has a power and some kind of energy I’ve never felt before when I was looking at other mountains. We can’t take our eyes of it. Later we find out we had huge luck that we saw Ararat so clearly. In summer it is usually covered by clouds of dust and there are many other days when you can’t see the mountain because of the rain clouds. But during this morning at the end of September Mt. Ararat was kind to us…
If you are consciously coming to Armenia, I mean, not simply because it is a place to visit, but because it is THE place to visit, your sightseeing you should definitely start with Tsitsernakaberd, the Armenian Genocide memorial. The Armenian Genocide was the Ottoman government’s systematic extermination of Armenians. Within 5 years, up to 1,5 million Armenians were killed, many others abused, kids kidnapped, women constantly raped. There was no mercy, there was no hesitation, there was no excuse. The starting date is 24 April 1915, when 250 Armenian intellectuals were arrested and executed in Constantinople. The history of the Armenian Genocide is a very bitter one. Especially that till today, 100 years after, the Armenian Genocide is not recognized as such buy many countries, including Turkey itself. Many countries rather keep good relations with the Turkish government than pay respect to millions of Armenians that suffered. When we were at the memorial in 2013, I saw a tree planted by the former Polish president to commemorate the victims. It made me proud to be Polish, knowing that my government, not like the german one at that time, was not afraid to be on the Armenian side.
Yesterday we were in the Museum of Genocide of Armenians and at the Armenian Genocide Memorial. In the background there is proud Ararat and there is sorrow, that cannot be put in words, you simply have to feel it. Many people in the West forgot about the Armenian Genocide. It is easier to think that it did not happen, if every year one travels to Turkish places and admires the Turkish culture. But do people travelling there admire pictures from Armenian Genocide too? Those images are parts of the Turkish history, no matter how much they try to cover it. Turks were kidnapping Armenian girls, abducting them, raping them, forcibly converting them to Islam and finally marking them by making tattoos on their faces…
Why do we write so much about the Genocide? Some things should not be forgotten, especially those, which the oppressors never recognized and apologized for. We write about the Armenian Genocide, because it happened and because so many wish it was forgotten. Don’t be indifferent, find out more about the Armenian Genocide:
– Museum of Genocide of Armenians 1915.
Armenian Genocide – Grandma’s Tattoos (documentary)