Northern Armenia, Kazbegi (Georgia)

I finally left Yerevan for the last time a few days ago. I went north with a fellow PCV towards Vanadzor with the intention of camping for two nights. We hitch-hiked, which is very easy and safe in Armenia, and along the way passed two Yezidi villages (a Kurdish minority group in Armenia with a population of about 11,000).

We eventually made it to Arjut, a village near Vanadzor formally inhabited by Azeris, in search of a ruined mosque. The inhabitants of this village had the misfortune to suffer both the massive earthquake of 1988 and the ethnic cleansing of Azeris from Armenia in war-torn years that followed (Azeris had lived alongside Armenians for some 400 years prior to this).

While searching for the mosque, we were invited for tea and fruit by a family, Armenians who had come from Syria in 1946 and 1967 (the entire village is now populated with Armenians mostly from what was then Azerbaijan).

While we failed to find the mosque, we did find the Azeri cemetery. This was the fourth my fellow PCV had seen in Armenia, and like those, it was destroyed.

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We camped near Arjut and the next day continued toward Alaverdi. After stopping off at a Russian church (the first I had seen in Armenia), we met up with some Poles and decided to join them in seeing the UNESCO World Heritage sites of Haghpat and Sanahin.

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They were planning on going to Kazbegi the next day, and as that was my plan as well, we continued our travels together. It’s a village in the northern mountains of Georgia just a few kilometres from the Russian border.
The last picture is a Soviet monument to Russo-Georgian friendship (recall they fought a war in 2008).

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