Walking the Streets of Vagharshapat

In November 2017 I took a day trip to the 4th largest city in Armenia known as Vagharshapat. It is located west of Yerevan and just 10 km north of the Turkish-Armenian border. The city is known for the oldest cathedral in the world, Etchmiadzin Cathedral. It was constructed between 301 and 303 by Gregory the Illuminator (Armenia’s patron saint) and has survived centuries of neglect caused by earthquakes and foreign invaders. There is something special about walking down the streets of the holy city of Armenia and picturing what life must have been like during the fourth and fifth centuries.

Vagharshapat has been inhabited since the 3rd millennium BC by many different peoples. At one time it was inhabited by Jewish captives under the reign of the famous King Tigranes the Great. Beginning in the 7th century foreign neighboring powers took control of the city starting with the Arabs in 658 AD, the Byzantines in 1045, Seljuk Turks in 1064, the Mongol Empire during the mid 13th century, the Aq Qoyunlu Oghuz Turkic tribe during the late 14th century followed by the Timurid Empire, the Kara Koyunlu Oghuz Turkic tribe in 1410, the three Persian dynasties of Safaavid, Afsharid, and Qajar between 1502 and 1828, the Ottoman Turks, and the Russian Empire between 1828 and 1918. As you can see Armenia is a very unique and interesting mix over the centuries yet leads to somewhat of an identity crisis because of so many different foreign occupations. I personally find the mix interesting and beautiful and what makes this part of the world more unique than western Europe, Asia, or even the Americas. 

I decided to take a few aerial photographs with my DJI Mavic Pro to try and capture a unique perspective of the other two churches in Vagharshapat, Saint Hripsime Church built in 616, and Saint Gayane Church built in 630. The rest of the afternoon was spent capturing photos of the local people who have been living here for several generations. I did not want to draw too much attention to myself with a large lens and DSLR so I used one of my favorite cameras I currently own, the Fujifilm x100F.

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