MIR Moment: An Alphabet Monument and Armenian Mushrooms
When crossing into Armenia, I enjoy a stop to admire the Armenian alphabet monument on the way to Yerevan. This is an outdoor monument, or rather a series of monuments, as each one of the 39 letters in the Armenian alphabet has its own free-standing statue in a large field near the village of Artashavan.
The alphabet monument was unveiled in 2005 to celebrate the 1,600th anniversary of the creation of the Armenian alphabet by Mesrop Mashtots in 405 AD. Each of the 39 letters is made of beautifully carved volcanic tufa stone in several different colors. There is also a monument to Mashtots himself, as well as some other Armenian luminaries.
But one day while I was a Tour Manager, my group and I saw a legion of local women diligently searching among the grasses near the roadside. Several of us were curious about what they were picking, so we approached them and asked about their harvest. They told us that they were after wild onions and white mushrooms that grow among the grasses. They started extolling the virtues of such produce, listing all the ailments that can be cured by a soup cooked with these ingredients.
“Look!” she cried in Russian, “have you ever seen a mushroom so large?”
Indeed I hadn’t, at least not an edible one; my traveling companions were also surprised at the size of it. The cap of this white mushroom was about the same circumference as the woman’s head! We all laughed together about this huge mushroom and once again, the woman tried to ply us with wild onions in a lovely, hospitable gesture. By this time, however, we had to start making our way towards the bus so we wouldn’t be too late arriving into Yerevan.
Want to visit Armenia’s alphabet monument? We recommend…
- Treasures of the South Caucasus – a small group tour of the three South Caucasus countries.
- Essential Caucasus – an independent, private trip available on the dates you choose. Great for solo travelers, couples, or private parties who prefer to travel independently but appreciate a savvy pre-designed program.
- A stop at the alphabet monument can be included on a custom, private journey to the South Caucasus countries of Armenia, Georgia or Azerbaijan, hand-crafted to match your interests and dates.
(Top photo: A closer look at the alphabet monument. Photo credit: Martin Klimenta)
PUBLISHED: March 3, 2015