In our tours to Armenia, we have often mentioned the legendary Mount Ararat and its mind-blowing view from the capital Yerevan and some parts of Armenia. Surely this may emerge questions of what this mountain is, why it is so important, where Ararat mountain is located, and so on and so forth. Here we go.
Mount Ararat is an extinct volcano in the far east of modern-day Turkey. It consists of two snow-covered volcanic cones – Sis (Little Ararat, with an altitude of 3897 meters) and Masis (Greater Ararat- the highest peak of Turkey and the Armenian Highlands, 5165 meters). With 11 km of distance from each other, Mount Ararat massif is located across the Eastern borders of Turkey between Armenia, Iran, and the exclave of Azerbaijan, Nakhchivan.
The greater Ararat has always highly interested climbers due to its height, beauty, and, surely, the desire to find anything related to Noah’s Ark. Worthy to mention, that many climbers accessed the peak of Mount Ararat and there are set acclimatization camps on the slopes it.
Despite lying outside of the borders of modern-day Armenia, Mount Ararat has always been and still is the symbol of the Armenian nation. From very ancient times, Ararat Mountain has always been part of the Armenian Kingdoms, and all called the Armenians “the nation of Ararat”. As the 20th-century traveler, Luigi Villari once mentioned: “Almost the whole Armenian History is centered around Mount Ararat”.
The mountain geopolitically has always been in the center of all the Armenian Kingdoms, until the Armenian Genocide. However, in 1921, following one of the most tragic events in Armenian history, the Armenian Genocide during the First World War, Mount Ararat in compliance with some other historical territories, that have never been part of Turkey, were granted to them. The situation remains the same for now. In addition to being the symbol of Armenian identity, it started also to carry the symbolism of loss and genocide for the nation and reminds of its traumatic history.
The significance of Mount Ararat rises with its consequent legends. Starting from ancient times, the mountain has been always praised for its beauty and high location. For example, the Sumerians, Akkadians, and Assyrians considered the land of Ararat to be their ancestral homeland. While the ancient Egyptian pharaohs had tight connections with the Armenian Kingdom Mittani by marrying into the noble and royal families of Mittani – one of the oldest Armenian kingdoms.
Of course, without any doubt, the list of legends would be missing without the story of Biblical Noah’s Ark and Mount Ararat. According to the Bible, after the Forty-day Great Flood Noah and his ark, full of different species of animals and birds, landed on the mountains of Ararat. Later Noah’s sons spread all over the regions to repopulate the world, while, according to the Armenian tradition, Japhet stayed in Armenia and became the forefather of the Armenian nation.
Despite the fact that legend continues for several generations by giving birth to the Armenian identity, the Great Flood has been a sacred story for other civilizations who connected it with the land of Ararat. The aforementioned civilizations – the Sumerians and Egyptians are the standing proof of it. Sumerians have described the great Flood in their ancient epic poems, while Egyptians believed of life began from a mountain surrounded by water. From those times Ararat has remained the holiest place in the entire world, while its nation – the people of Ararat or Armenians – is the cradle of civilization.
The name Ararat has several explanations. The first case is that “Ararat” is originally a Hebrew name of an Armenian Kingdom, Urartu, that existed in the 9th century BC. Its literal translation meant “holy ground” or “sacred land”.
Some Armenian scholars link the word origin with the Armenian “ar-” (Ar-ar-at) which is used in the words that have sacred significance or are related to the creation. To explain, “Arararich” (Ar-ar–ar-ich) means creator, while “Ararel” (Ar-ar-el) is “to create” and “Ararats” (Ar-ar-ats) – creature. “Ararat” in Armenian pagan mythology was the home of gods. With the change of Christianity, its significance is reflected in the saying: “Ararichn ararel e araratsin Araratum” translated as “God created the man in the land of Ararat”. So to say, despite the changing religious beliefs and sizes of the kingdoms, the Ararat mountain has always been and will stay the symbol of eternity and power, which even his name approves.
Without even knowing the story of Mount Ararat, the presence of its name and consequent images in Armenia are eye-catching and worthy to mention. The name and figures are used for branding hotels, banks, restaurants, and even cigarettes, brandies, and drinks. Here are some most eye-catching examples.
To sum up, the list of the importance of Ararat mountain for Armenians can be continued for pages because as it was mentioned the whole of Armenian history was encircled around Mount Ararat. It is the foremost witness of the Armenian forgotten and long history some of which are not even documented or burned and lost. The Mountain does not leave anyone unamazed and shocked due to its beauty, height, and greatness. Once you see it you will fall in love with it. Armenians cherish it with their whole heart and are proud to be called “the nation of mountains of Ararat’.