From the Author
I write about two countries. Armenia is not visited by many people. The UK is visited by many people. Yet, in the case of both countries, I found out so much about them both.
In Armenia, I felt really sorry for the country as no other government seems to want to help Armenia have the 1915-1923 genocide recognised as the appalling crime against humanity it undoubtedly is. There were other genocides against the Assyrians and Pontine Greeks at the same time - how long can these go unrecognised for?
In the UK, I visited cities not frequented by as many tourists as go to London. In Derby, there's the UK's oldest factory, in Manchester there's a brand new arts centre, and in Leicester I visit the final resting place of Richard III. Since he was given a proper burial, Leicester City have gone from strength to strength. Is there a connection? A curse lifted?
Two Apostles brought Christianity to Armenia, namely St Bartholomew and St Thaddeus (or Jude). This seemed like a lot of apostles for one small country, and only left 10 for the rest of the known world. However, it may explain why Armenia became the first country to adopt Christianity, traditionally in the year 301. The church is sometimes referred to as the Armenian Orthodox Church or Gregorian Church. The latter is not preferred by the church itself, as it views the Apostles Bartholomew and Thaddeus as its founders. St. Gregory the Illuminator is regarded as merely the first official governor of the church.
I was able to quickly work out where the Cathedral was and I duly headed there. The Cathedral of All Saints was largely being ignored by all the passers-by, apart from myself, who was admiring the freshly cleaned 600-year old tower built in the Perpendicular Gothic style. On the other side of the cathedral was a statue of the Young Pretender, Bonnie Prince Charlie, on horseback. I smiled when I remembered Billy Connolly's remark that Bonnie Prince Charlie was the only royal person named after three sheepdogs.
From the Inside Flap
In 2005, the Armenian alphabet celebrated its 1600th birthday. In commemoration, 39 large, carved Armenian letters were placed near the final resting place of the man who created the alphabet, Mesrop Mashtots. The place is known as the Park Of Letters and can't be missed by anyone who is travelling towards Amberd Fortress.
When Mashtots began working on the Armenian alphabet, there was a lot of pressure on him, because the newly Christian kingdom needed a Bible in its own language. Elegantly planned, Mashtots laid out the structure of the alphabet around the religion. He made the first letter A, which was the first letter in the word Astvats, or God, and the last letter K', which began the word K'ristos, Christ. He then added the intervening 34 letters and his system has been used ever since, aside from the addition of 3 more letters.
The Armenian architect, J. Torosyan, created the stone carvings of all 39 letters and set them against the backdrop of modern Armenia's highest mountain, Mt. Aragats. The letters and statue of Mashtots pay tribute to this complex and unique language, a source of pride for Armenia.