There was no escaping the imposing presence of Mt. Ararat as I traveled around Armenia. The mountain was always visible, whether driving through the lush green countryside or walking around the capital city of Yerevan. My first sight of Mt Ararat came at dawn, as my train from Tbilisi, Georgia was nearing Yeravan. Bleary-eyed from an uncomfortable night of clickety-clack wheels on rails, I made my way to the reeking toilet. The wide-open window provided scant relief from the overwhelming smell of stale urine, but the view took my breath away. Beyond the flat farmlands, Greater Mt Ararat and Little Mt Ararat stood as twin sentinels on the horizon.
Christians believe that the eternally snow-capped Mt. Ararat is the final resting place for Noah’s Ark. The dormant volcano is the primary national symbol of Armenia and is considered sacred by Armenians, who are predominantly Christian. The coat of arms of Armenia even depicts Noah’s Ark balanced upon the tip of the mountain. Sadly, Armenians are prohibited from visiting the symbol they most cherish. Mt Ararat is located in neighboring Turkey, just 20 miles south of the border with Armenia. Turkey is a sworn enemy of Armenia and it is not possible to travel between the two countries.