Solar Panels, Reforestation Project in Works for Armenia's First Green Pilgrimage Site

Rita Willaert/CC BY 2.0

The spiritual center of the worldwide Armenian Apostolic Church and a major historical site, with buildings dating back to 480, the Echmiadzin Cathedral complex in southwest Armenia is set to get a modern upgrade: solar panels on the roof of its seminary building.

The change was announced as part of Echmiadzin's official entry into the worldwide Green Pilgrimage Network. The 12 sites anointed at the end of last month as part of the new eco-tourism effort are spread from Norway to Nigeria, Italy to India, and represent places holy to Christians, Muslims, Jews, Sikhs, Baha'is, and Taoists.

Green Plans For Sacred Sites
At a ceremony in Assisi, Italy, for the launch of the network, World Council of Churches Armenia Roundtable representatives presented their plans for Echmiadzin, including the solar panels, the restoration of the Nersisyan forest by planting thousands of trees, and joint projects with the local municipality such as new parks and other green spaces, ArmeniaNow reported.

As part of the criteria for inclusion in the network, Green Pilgrimage sites must serve affordable, locally grown organic food. Following the Assisi ceremony, the Cross of Armenian Unity hosted an event at Echmiadzin featuring home-made preserves, Armenian wine served in red bell-peppers, tolma (ground beans and wheat wrapped in vine leaves), and other traditional specialties, which guests could help prepare as well as enjoy.

Other founding members of the Green Pilgrimage Network pledged to ban cars on pilgrimage routes, conduct educational programs on conservation, reduce waste, organize nature tours for pilgrims, and even become self-sufficient in food for monks, laborers, and pilgrims.

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Tags: Local Food | Religion | Solar Energy | Tourism