The best kept secret of all Armenia is located in a hidden canyon: the Noravank Monastery. "Noravank" in Armenian means "new monastery" (Նորավանք), and it's found near the town of Yeghegnadzor, in the region of Vayots Dzor about 120 km from Yerevan. It was built in the 12th century on the ruins of a 9th century church. The complex is formed by the main church of the monastery dedicated to St. John the Baptist (Surp Karapet), another dedicated to St. Gregory (Surp Grigor), one dedicated to the Holy Mother of God (Surp Astvatsatsin). Around the monastery in the sixteenth and seventeenth century were built the walls that still exist.
There are also the famous "khachkars" (huge carved stone crosses) that are omnipresent around Armenian monasteries and churches. Noravank is known for being a very important "scriptorium", where the monks copyists transcribed, decorated and restored historic books. Thanks to them, within the monastery there is a space dedicated to the Armenian alphabet, which is engraved on the stone that is on the floor.
Noravank has been restored twice in the last century. I've traveled a lot and seen a lot but discovering this monastery made me realize that there is still a lot to be seen. Armenia is a country of monasteries, all beautiful and all different. After having seen many, a friend offered me a trip to Noravank and I thought, "Another monastery?" In the end, though, it's simply amazing. I could even say that maybe it's my favorite place in Armenia.