Levon Arakelyan's “Miracle” Cave in Arinj
Hidden beneath an ordinary looking home in Arinj, at the end of a meandering alley, is a series of underground chambers, all carved out by one man - Levon Arаkelyan.
It all started when his wife Tosya asked for a winter potato storage cellar. Levon started digging in 1985, and didn’t stop till his death in 2008. Today, the caves, stairways, grottoes and secret rooms he created are one of the Armenia’s tourist attractions.
Over 23 years - using only rudimentary tools like a chisel and hammer - Levon (who was a builder by training), created a 3,000 sq ft space, 21 meters deep. Working alone, sometimes for 20 hours a day, he managed to dig through the tough basalt layer and reach the softer, easy to carve tuffa stone, recognized by its delicate pink hue.
It was from the tuffa stone that Levon’s creations started to take shape. These included the main stepped pathway leading down to six small chambers and ribbed-roofed vestibules, all elaborately decorated with Doric columns, traditional Armenian carved crosses called khachkars and stunning bas reliefs.
The original plan was for an underground maze of 74 rooms. Levon said he saw the plan in his dreams, and believed he was being guided by the Divine. Since his sudden death at age 67, his wife Tosya has run the facility as a ‘pay-as-you-please’ private museum, where she and her daughters take turns to act as guides.
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