Architecture, History, Travel Tips

Geghard Monastery, Armenia


Geghard Monastery was founded in the 4th century by Gregory the Illuminator. In the 9th century, Arab invaders destroyed the original complex. The main chapel standing today is 800-years-old and is a protected UNESCO world heritage site.

It is believed that the spear used to kill Jesus was stored here. In fact, the name Geghard means “spear” in Armenian.

Getting to the monastery: Small buses leave from the Gai bus station next to the Mercedes Benz showroom in northern Yerevan roughly every half hour starting at 10am for 300 dram (less than $1). I cannot stress this enough: before leaving, make sure to verify which buses/trams reach Gai because bus routes in Yerevan change constantly and even travel blogs from 2017 and 2018 suggest bus numbers that no longer exist or no longer reach Gai. I used an app called A2B Transport to pick a bus, which has an updated public transport itinerary. I used bus #5 from the city center for 100 dram.

The mini bus will take you to a town called Ghoght, from which you can take a taxi to the monastery. I decided to go to the Monastery before visiting the pagan temple in Garni, but most people visit Garni first.


Architecture, Art, History

Destroyed Monument: Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Rostov-on-Don

ruined2Image 1: Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, 1920s Author Unknown, Ростов-на-Дону Александро-Невский Собор –, Public Domain.Александро-Невский_собор_(Ростов-на-Дону)Image 2: In 1919 By открытка изд. Р.Рубанчик, Ростов-на-Дону –, Public Domain.

Construction of Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Rostov-on-Don began in 1881 and ended in 1908. Unfortunately, it only stood two more decades. The communist Red Army, victors of the Russian Civil War (1917-1918), destroyed churches and other symbols of Orthodox Christianity, a religion that symbolized the defeated Tsarist regime. In the late 20s, a Red star replaced the central cross. In the early 30s, the communists razed the church.

In the old square stands this monument:


The caption reads: «На этом месте в 1909 году завершилось возведение храма во имя святого благоверного князя Александра Невского по проекту академика архитектуры А.А. Ященко. Храм разрушен в 1930 году.»

In English: “Here, in 1909, the construction of the temple in the name of the Holy Prince Alexander Nevsky was completed, according to the design of the Academician A.A. Yashchenko. The temple was destroyed in 1930. ”

“Alexander Nevsky Church: The Lost Pearl of Rostov.” RsLovar.александро-невский-храм-утраченная-жемчужина-ростова (accessed: February 20, 2019).
Alexander Ilyin, History of the city of Rostov-on-Don, Rostov-on-Don, 2006, p. 86.
Architecture, History

Uzbekistan 1871-1872


Bogaevskii, N. V., Photographer. “Antiquities of Samarkand. Mosque of Khodzha Akhrar. Prayer niche (mikhrob) in the mosque.” Photograph. Washington, D.C.: 1871-1872 From Library of Congress: Antiquities of Samarkand

Full collection on Samarkand: click here

Quoted from Library of Congress.

Th[ese] photograph[s] of the Khodzha Akhrar shrine in Samarkand (Uzbekistan) [are] from the archeological part of Turkestan Album. The six-volume photographic survey was produced in 1871-72 under the patronage of General Konstantin P. von Kaufman, the first governor-general (1867-82) of Turkestan, as the Russian Empire’s Central Asian territories were called. The album devotes special attention to Samarkand’s Islamic architectural heritage. Dedicated to the memory of the renowned 15th-century mystic Khodzha Akhrar (1403-89), the shrine contained several structures, including a winter and a summer mosque, as well as a minaret and cemetery. Seen here is the mihrab niche (showing the direction to Mecca) in the summer mosque, so called because its pavilion has one side open to the courtyard. The mihrab is set within a lavish display of polychrome ceramic work including faience mosaics. The primary color is dark blue, with details in yellow, orange, and white. This sacred space is defined by a network of ceramic inscription bands in an elongated cursive Perso-Arabic script (Thuluth). The pointed arch is framed by an outer inscription that extends to the top of the wall. The pointed arch leads to a faience panel with floral motifs, above which is an inscription square that, in turn, contains a smaller square with a sacred text in Arabic. The panels are bordered with patterned strips.