Public Radio of Armenia
The Armenian Cilicia sailboat, the replica of a 13th-century merchant sailing ship of the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia, was put out to sea 17 years ago today. The Armenian vessel was built by enthusiasts of Ayas club after years of studying works by miniature painters.
The ship was reconstructed in strict accordance with the information found in medieval manuscripts and miniatures, using the techniques and technologies available in the 13th century.
Why did Armenia, with no access to the sea for centuries, decide to build a vessel and take to the sea?
“We feel well on the sea, it’s in our genes,” says Karen Balayan, Cilicia’s captain.
“There are peoples that live next to the see, but the sea is alien to them. We, Armenians, live in the mountains, but see how many admirals we have given, not even say, captains and sailors,” Balayan says.
The Ayas Nautical research club was established in Armenia in 1985. Young people with different professions came together for one purpose – to rebulid ancient Armenian vessels.
“The construction was blessed on May 26, 1991, and the sailboat was put out to the sea eleven years later,” the captain recalls.
After a two-year testing on Lake Sevan, Cilica was taken to the open sea. It sailed the medieval sea trade routes around Europe, via the Black and Mediterranean Seas, the Atlantic Ocean, the North and Baltic Seas, the rivers of Russia and finishing on the Black Sea, passing more than 15,000 nautical miles, visiting 63 ports in 25 countries of Europe and Asia. The medieval vessel has now harbored on the shore of Lake Sevan.