Crystals of Refrain – Aghdzk, Armenia - Atlas Obscura

Crystals of Refrain

Aghdzk, Armenia

Atop a small Armenian hilltop adorned with many stones, forms, and carvings are stones telling a whimsical tale of the fictional Kcymaerxthaere. 


Created by Geographer-at-Large Eames Demetrios, Kcymaerxthaere is a “parallel universe that intersects with much of our linear Earth, but with different stories, creatures, peoples, even laws of physics and qualities of existence.”  It has been likened to a novel with every page in a different place. What makes the Kcymaerxthaere project particularly interesting is that Demetrios installs informative markers and historical sites at the locations in our world that connect to his world, creating real world intersections with his imagined universe. For the months of August and September, 2014, Demetrios acted as our first ever Geographer-in-Residence and his Kcymaerxthaere locations continue to be featured all over the Atlas. To learn more see our introductory article here

About 45 minutes northwest of Armenia’s capital of Yerevan, you will find the village of Aghtsk (also written Aghdzk) and as you drive through town and up the hill toward Tegheri Vank, a beautiful black stone, 13th Century monastery, you will see a Kcymaerxthaere site known as Crystals of Refrain, one of the most elaborate to date. 

It was here in Kcymaerxthaereal times that a woman named Eliala Me-Ning saved a kid known through out the parallel world as the Boy from the Sea. Six pairs of stones will tell you the story of Eliala, a singer whose voice was too beautiful to be concealed, and how she had been the sole witness to a murder. The guilty parties chased her relentlessly, and she would try to hide, but eventually she would need to sing. And since her voice was the most beautiful one in the world, people would instantly know it could only be her, and inevitably the bad guys would hear of her whereabouts. But singing was too critical to her life to not sing. So she travelled the world one step ahead of the Puhnee, the thugs that were chasing her.

Eventually she ended up staying with a community by the gorge here, and she enjoyed it very much. But one day she heard a flash flood racing through the gorge and a 10-year old boy screaming. And she realized she could save him. And she sang so beautifully she crystalized the water into stone, but not just any stone, a soft pillowy stone that cushioned his fall. The result was that she saved the life of Gnel Wrangor (the Boy from the Sea).

The site here overlooks the village and has a clear view of Mt. Ararat (though the peak is often a bit concealed). There are four main elements to the site: an entry stone, the 12 stones with the stories, a spiral of stones, each of which represents one of Eliala Mei-Ning’s places of hiding, and the three red corners, as well as 281 cratered stones (though most people say not all are visible in our day and age). Enjoy the mathematics of it as well. The link here takes you to pages with more of the story.

Know Before You Go

Pull over by side of road just up the hill from Aghtsk

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