We approach the church that Gagik built. Except Gagik didn’t really build it. He commissioned an architect-monk named Manuel to do the hard work. Of the 10th century complex erected on the island of Aghtamar, the only structure that survives is the Church of the Holy Cross. We are fortunate. Manuel’s labor is a triumph of medieval Armenian architecture.
We jump from the launch to the landing. Motion arrested, I stand on the concrete slab and try to imagine how Aghtamar, the island stronghold of King Gagik, would have appeared to a tenth century visitor.