Yeghrdut monastery visited

October 30 2015 at 12:27 AM

Response to Yeghrdut monastery

I went to Yeghrdut monastery this summer. The Google Earth coo-ordinates are correct.

Public transport along the road from Mush to Kizilagac is easy to find thanks to the new university campus along its route. Get a Mush city dolmush that goes past the stadium and get off at the road junction to Kizilagac. Minibuses going to Kizilagac pick up passengers there. Get off at the turnoff to Suluca. Suluca also has a Kurdish name which I did not note down. The walk up from Suluca is along a steep and winding but fairly easy dirt road (undrivable for a normal car) that runs through scrub forest. It takes about two hours walking.

There is very little left of the monastery – almost nothing of its churches, and only the ruins of the base of a belltower of which just two of its brick arches survive.

Most of the western side of the monastery's enclosure wall survives – this is a large and very impressive structure that dates from at least two building periods. Its northern section is a thick and very tall wall, built of red brick for 2/3rds of its height, the remaining 1/3rd being of rubble masonry. It has curved corners at its northern and southern end. Only short fragments of the wall extend out from those corners to the east, suggesting that the wall was never finished. The line of those unfinished north and south walls also does not fit the position of the churches and the belltower. There are the foundations of a series of chambers built against its inside face but they seem to be from a later period and are built of rubble.

The brick wall may be an unfinished fortified enclosure wall constructed before the Turkish invasions, and probably from the period of Byzantine rule in the Mush valley. The rest of the monastery probably postdates this period.

From the south corner of the brick wall the enclosure continues further south along the same line but now as a slightly lower wall built of rubble masonry with bands of brickwork. The south, east, and north sides of the enclosure wall were probably similarly constructed but they have almost entirely vanished. Their lines can be made out along with the foundations of several protruding semicircular towers.

There is a spring close to the southeast corner of the monastery enclosure – but the original location of it was probably further to the southeast where a half-buried arched structure survives.

There was a small tented encampment of Kurds next to the ruins, tending herds of sheep, cattle, and goats. They were all part of a single extended family and they spend the summer months there. The people seemed friendly, their dogs are not.

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