Armenian churches such as the one this column is found survived Mongol raids in the thirteenth century. Our guide, at one of these places, pointed to a hill high above us and said, "There, 800 years ago, a Mongol soldier on a horse, could be seen". Some of these churches were abandoned and fell into ruins centuries ago, others are still used. The floors of these churches are covered with worn stone panels where people, in many cases, whose names and identities will never be known, were buried. Yet the haunting beauty of such places cannot be denied, despite signs of decay brought on by the relentless cycle of harsh Armenian winter, spring rains, and scorching summer heat. Oftentimes, such places bring on a bittersweet melancholy, as the passage of time seems most palpable, our lives short and fragile in the light of ages come and gone.
Howard Giskin is the author of
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