You can walk along Byurakan on foot, and get around it all very quickly. He’s small! However, it is small for us modern people. But in the Middle Ages, life was in full swing here, merchants came, pilgrims visited the Artavazik temple – it was already ancient then, the 7th century after all. Now the church is badly destroyed, but the walls are still standing. Not far from Artavazik is a huge khachkar of the 13th century. And in Byurakan, it is worth seeing the basilica of St. Hovhannes of the 10th century. Take a closer look at her – how elegant her modest reliefs are!
In ancient times, even crusaders returning to Europe after a campaign could be found here. And in our time, only astrophysicists are among the official foreign delegations. They often come here for scientific conferences. Something remains of the crusaders: Maltese crosses near the Basilica of St. Hovhannes.
Little Byurakan is famous all over the world – all scientists – astrophysicists know this town. Because here is an observatory, thanks to which all Soviet astrophysics successfully developed, it was here that stellar associations were discovered – a special type of stellar systems. This is one of the most famous discoveries of Viktor Ambartsumyan, the founder of the Byurakan Observatory. The academician has lived here all his life, now there is a museum in his house. Hambardzumyan’s grave is also located on the territory of the observatory, his wife and other family members are also buried here.
And it all started after the war. Ambartsumyan convinced the leadership of the republic that Byurakan is an ideal place to study the stars. Construction began, the captured Schmitt telescope was sent here, which Hitler presented to Mussolini. Later, a real miracle appeared here – the Mirror Telescope, which bears the name of Ambartsumyan, which is one of the largest telescopes in Europe. These are the most famous Byurakan telescopes, but, of course, there are not two, but many more. And in general, the town is located on the slope of Mount Aragats – this is an extinct four-thousander volcano. Closer to the stars! And on the slopes of Aragats, in addition to Byurakan, there are other astrophysical objects. So, not far from the observatory, in the village of Orgov, there is the world’s first radio-optical telescope. It was designed by a prominent scientist Paris Geruni. And even higher, above the clouds, at an altitude of 3200 meters above sea level is the Institute of Physics, which studies cosmic rays. But back to Byurakan.
The stars hang so low over Byurakan that it seems that no telescope is needed. On a clear night, they sparkle with pale lights, and the Milky Way is poured across the sky like a cirrus cloud. Cicadas chirp loudly… For a night walk around Byurakan, do not forget to take a warm jacket with you, because even in the summer with the sunset it is quite cool and windy here. So admire the Byurakan sky better with a cup of black tea with thyme.
There is such an unusual town in Armenia and lovers of the starry sky invite you to our tour to Mount Aragats, and you will be a little closer to the beautiful starry sky.
photo: Andranik Keshishyan, Vigen Hakhverdyan, Inga Avanesova