Have you ever thought about including a cemetery in your must-visit list of destinations? Well, if you’re going to Armenia one cemetery must be on you bucket-list for sure. Noratus of Noraduz cemetery is a mediaeval graveyard located in the village of the same name near famous Lake Sevan, 90 km away from Yerevan. What makes this cemetery so special? Noraduz cemetery is one of the most valuable Armenian monuments because it consists of a large number of khachkars; in fact, it’s the largest graveyard with khachkars in the world.
Khachkars are some of the most unique creations of Arminian culture. The art of khachkars is based on ancient traditions of creation of memorial stones. The name is comprised of two words: “khach” – cross and “kar”- stone. The art of khachkars dates back to early period of Christianity in Armenia, it florusihes in medieval times. Armenian khachkars are included into UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List. Noraduz is a unique Armenian monument because it has khachkars of different eras. The legend says that the locals used khachkars to outsmart Tamerlan’s army; they put helmets on tombstones and made them look like sodiers. As a result, Tamerlan’s army backed off.
What’s interesting is that not long ago Noraduz was the second largest khachkar cemetery, the first one was a cemetery in Julfa. Although being Armenian, the cemetery located in the Nakhchivan exclave that belongs to Azerbaijan. It consisted of 10,000 unique khachkars. In 1990s, the government of Azerbaijan started a systematic cultural genocide by destroying the monuments. Despite protests of international community, the government of Azerbaijan completely destroyed the cemetery and turned it into military shooting range.
Nordazu cemetery is one of the most fascinating Armenian monuments; khackars are one of a kind examples odf medieval Christian Armenian art.