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Noravank, or ‘New Monastery’, is set against a dramatic mountainous background, particularly striking in the winter © Hovhannes Boranyan, Shutterstock
This is one of Armenia’s best known and most worthwhile tourist sights. Noravank’s construction in red stone set against the similarly coloured rock of the mountainside is particularly evocative in the early morning or late evening light. If at all possible avoid coming here in the middle of the day as that is when the place is thronged with tourist buses from Yerevan and it is also stiflingly hot in the valley in summer. Approaching the monastery today the striking two-storey building that one reaches first is actually a mausoleum with another church on top of it and is the newest part of the establishment. The larger complex of buildings beyond is older; the oldest part of all is the ruined 9th- or 10th-century church of John the Baptist at the southeast corner.