Lake Sevan, Armenia
A small village on the western peninsula of Lake Sevan turns up a surprising legacy with legendary stories, told through an ancient cemetery and likewise largest collection of khachkars in Armenia. Founded by Gegham, grandson of legendary Hayk, over 4000 years ago, the village of Noratus has a history stretching to the foundations of Armenia. The legacy of Noratus is undoubtedly the cemetery, a harrowing field of towering carved stones and untold stories.
One legend claims how the cemetery may have once saved Noratus impending destruction. When Tamerlane and his merciless army tread through the shores of Sevan, the inhabitants of Noratus were said to dress the stone khachkars adorning the tombs with helmets and swords. From afar, it appeared as though a large army was ready for battle, enough for Tamerlane to not take any chances and turn around.
Eastern On the western shore of Lake Sevan, approximately 35 km kilometers to the south of Sevan and 30 km to the north of Martuni.
Constructed The oldest tombstones and khachkars date to the 10th century, with additional clusters dated to the 16th and 17th centuries.
Fortification A burial place for the inhabitants of Noratus, with it growing larger over the years and increasing in legend.
The largest collection of khachkars currently found in Armenia, and a popular spot to explore while on the way from Sevan to Martuni.
Off in the distance, as we are approaching Noratus, we can see hundreds of standing stones, appearing as people and holding credence to the legend. Upon entering the town, it appears as though any small village in the highlands. Simple, almost abandoned stone houses and gravel roads. At the cemetery, a few eager locals approach us as they sell us their hand-knitted sweaters and scarves. In the thick of summer though, we gently decline their offer. The cemetery is huge and easy to lose orientation. In our opinion, hiring a local guide would be very helpful. No entrance fee, as with most historical attractions in Armenia.