ARMENIA – CULTURE AND NATURE

Armenia is the only country remaining from 3,000 year old maps of Anatolia (also known as Asia Minor). It became the world’s first Christian country more than 1,700 years ago in 301 AD. As a former Soviet republic it lies in the Caucasus region straddling Asia and Europe and has a rich and ancient culture.

English is not widely spoken in Armenia. Many taxi drivers and salespeople in grocery stores and malls do not speak or understand English. Russian has remained the most important foreign language.

Get beneath the skin of this fascinating country on this 7 days/6 nights program with the option of extending your stay to 14 days.

ITINERARY:

1st day: Arrival in Armenia

Transfer to the hotel. Check-in and relax.

2nd day: Yerevan City Tour (Food Market and Vernissage) and Etchmiadzin

After breakfast we begin the discovery of Yerevan-the capital of Armenia. Yerevan sightseeing includes the Republic Square, Opera House, North Avenue, “Cascade” Monument, Yerevan State University, Victory Park with its Statue “Mother Armenia”, Genocide Memorial. After sightseeing we visit Matenadaran-a museum of ancient manuscripts and a scientific research centre, one of the largest world manuscript storages. Lunch in a local restaurant tasting a traditional Armenian meal. After lunch, we head for the spiritual centre of Armenia-Etchmiatsin that is the heart of Apostolic Armenian Church and is considered Armenian Vatican. Return to Yerevan and visit to Vernissage- an open-air market of arts and crafts unique with its diversity where one can admire objects of different artisans including Armenian cross-stones, silver jewellery, carpets, embroidery, books, paintings, etc. After Vernissage we continue with the visit to the Food market where one can enjoy a variety of organic fruits and vegetables and dried fruits in particular. Overnight in a hotel in Yerevan.

3rd day: Khor Virap / Areni/ Noravank / Selim / Noratuz / Dilijan

After breakfast we set out for the southern part of Armenia and discover medieval monasteries of Khor Virap and Noravank, medieval Noratuz Cemetery and Selim Caravanserai on the Silk Road. The first stop is Khor Virap Complex, one of the holy places for all Armenians-the place of the origin of Christian Armenia. The monastery took its name from a natural cave, the deep pit in which St. Gregory the Illuminator- the patron saint and first official head of the Armenian Apostolic Church, was imprisoned by King Tiridates at the end of the 3th century.  Gregory stayed in the pit for 13 years and was fed by a widow. He was released from the pit in order to cure King Tiridates that had lost his human appearance and consciousness after ordering massacres of Christian nuns.  Here is also the closest and most spectacular view of the gorgeous biblical Mountain Ararat, upon which Noah’s Ark landed after the flood. Drive to Areni village where we stop off to enjoy wine tasting made in a family-run winery. After Areni we move on with Noravank Monastery built in a stunning red-rock canyon. The complex (9-14th cc.) is situated in a completely isolated area on the slopes of a particularly wild valley. Grandiose and solemn as it is, it blends perfectly with its harsh rocky surroundings. Lunch in a picturesque open-air restaurant on the bank of the River Arpa. After lunch we cross the Selim pass and visit Selim Caravanserai, one of the Silk Road caravanserais, mentioned in the memories of the Italian traveller Marco Polo. After that car drive to the medieval cemetery of Noratuz-full of hundreds of medieval Armenian cross-stones. Overnight in Dilijan.

Digital StillCamera

4th day: Dilijan / Village of Molokan / Haghpat / Akhtala

After breakfast we set out to Haghpat and Akhtala medieval monasteries but on the way we stop off in Fioletovo village-one of the villages of Russian Molokans (Spiritual Christian sects that evolved from Eastern Christianity who fled Russia because of persecution and established themselves in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Central Asia, Siberia, etc. in order to escape pressure)  to have tea from Russian Samovar (a heated metal container traditionally used to heat and boil water in order to make tea in a special Russian style) in a Russian Molokan villager’s house. After Fioletovo we head for Haghpat monastery which is part of UNESCO heritage: it was built between the 10th and 13th century, is divided into a main church with a bell tower in its right side, a number of other chapels, a refectory, a library, an indoor fountain. After the visit to the monastery we stop for lunch in a tavern of Alaverdi town where we will taste Armenian barbecue (seasoned meat on the skewer with traditional spices) which is going to be a cooking class. Then we continue the way to the fortified monastery of Akhtala (10th-13th century) which stands out for its beautiful and ancient and breathtaking frescoes among other medieval monasteries in Armenia.

Overnight in Dilijan.

5th day: Sevan / Boat ride in Lake Sevan / Garni / Geghard

After breakfast we head for Lake Sevan and visit Sevanavank Monastery built in the 9th century. From above the monastery location there opens a magnificent view over the lake that reveals itself with frequently altering colours. One will admire the divine beauty of Sevan and the Monastery which harmonises perfectly with the amazing surroundings. We will also enjoy a wonderful boat trip in the lake. Afterwards we continue our way to Garni Pagan Temple (I c. AD) devoted to the God of Sun. We will also visit the Roman Bath House of the 3th century with its mosaic floor depicting figures of Greek mythology. After visiting the Temple of Garni, we will stop for lunch in a village house where in the shade of fruit trees we will enjoy and watch the ceremony of traditional Armenian bread (called Lavash that is paper-thin type of bread) baking by the women of the village.

Digital StillCamera

Then we move on driving to Geghard Monastery (13th c.), an incredible ancient Armenian monastery, one of Armenia’s most significant medieval architectural ensembles partly carved out of a mountain. The marvellous monastic complex of Geghard is a breath taking pilgrimage site, the name of which means “holy spear” in the honour of the same spear that pierced the body of crucified Christ.

Farewell dinner in a restaurant with live Armenian folk music in Yerevan.

Overnight in Yerevan.

6th day: Transfer to the airport. Departure.

Transfer to the airport with the assistance of the tourist guide and or his/her assistant always speaking English.  Check-in and departure.

 

HOTELS IN YEREVAN 

Diamond House 4* (www.diamondhousehotel.am ) or similar

Historical Yerevan 4*+ (hotel boutique) or similar (www.tufenkianheritage.com )

HOTELS OUTSIDE OF YEREVAN IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE PROGRAM

IN DILIJAN

  1. Hotel Paradise Best Western 4* www.paradise.am
  2. Hotel Dilijan Resort 4* www.hoteldilijan.am
  3. Hotel Old Dilijan Hotel boutique www.tufenkianheritage.com

The program includes:

  • 4 nights in a hotel in Yerevan
  • 2 nights in a hotel in Dilijan
  • Transfer to and from the airport with the presence of the English-speaking guide or his assistant always speaking English
  • Transportation throughout the trip depending on the program
  • Services of the English-speaking guide
  • Half Board (HB) / 4 lunches and 3 dinners
  • Bus Water (1 bottle ½ litres per person per day)
  • Soft drinks (carbonated and still water, tea, coffee) during meals
  • Wine on the last day dinner
  • Entrance fees to the local sites and museum guide
  • Organising spiritual chants in the monastery Geghard or another monastery (if the number of group exceeds 15)
  • Boat trip in Lake Sevan
  • Visit to Molokan’s village and their houses
  • Tipping the waiters of the restaurants and the porters of the hotels

The program does not include:

  • Flight ticket
  • Travel assurance
  • Full board
  • Additional Charges
  • Tipping the guide and driver
  • What is not mentioned in “The prices include”

Extension of the program until 14 days will be:

6th day: The Museums of Yerevan (Matenadaran, the Museum of Genocide and the Museum of History)

The morning is dedicated to the visits of the museums. First, we head for the depository of manuscripts-Matenadaran, which is one of the shrines of the Armenian identity. We can admire the different types of manuscripts and splendid miniatures. Transfer to the Genocide Museum and stop at the shrine. Through photographic journey you can retrace the events and causes that led to the first great genocide of the twentieth century and led to the current structure of the Armenian Diaspora. Then we pay a visit to the museum of History which is a research centre of Armenia’s history and culture. The museum houses about 400 000 objects that represent unique archaeological, numismatic and ethnographical specimens from the period of Paleolith to our days.

In the afternoon, guests enjoy their free time.

7th day: Yerevan – Cathedral of Talin – Mastara – Gyumri

We start the tour by discovering the Cathedral of Talin which is a seventh-century Armenian cathedral located in the cemetery of Talin, in the Aragatsotn Province of Armenia. Katoghike Church sits central to the town cemetery and dominates the surrounding landscape. The building is currently in ruin, where the dome and a significant portion of the western wing have since collapsed. Afterwards we move on to Mastara village in the Aragatsotn Province of Armenia. The 5th-century Armenian Church of S. Hovhannes is situated in the northeastern half of the village. There is also the small medieval Tukh Manuk Church to the southeast. The name Mastara is thought to be derived from the words mas, meaning “a piece”, and tara, “I buried/took”. This comes from the popular legend that Gregory the Illuminator brought back relics of John the Baptist from Caesaria, a fragment of which he enshrined beneath the Church of S. Hovhannes. We continue driving to Gyumri-the second largest city after Yerevan where we have overnight.

8th day: Tour of the city of Gyumri (Bazar of Gyumri)

After breakfast we start a tour about Gyumri that is also known as Kumayri. Hard hit by the earthquake of 1988, it still counts about 12,000 barracks-huts, inhabited by tens of thousands of people. We will go to Vardanants square where we can visit the two churches-“Yot Verk” Church (translated as the Church of 7 Wounds) and “Amenaprkich” Church (translated as All Saviour Church). Of all the squares in Gyumri, Vardanants square is the most significant one being also the heart of Gyumri. Then we continue with Freedom Square that represents neoclassical architectural style designed by Alexandr Tamanyan-a popular figure who gave the main architectural plan for Yerevan and had his investment in some architectural designs of regional cities like Gyumri, Kapan, etc. We may also visit Gyumri Bazaar that serves a good example of an old Oriental Bazaar for tourists to observe.

Overnight in Gyumri.

9th day: Gyumri –  Amberd – Park of Armenian Letters – Yerevan

After breakfast we head for Aragatsotn region to visit Amberd Fortress built between the 7th-13th centuries. It is situated on the slopes of Mt. Aragats at a height of 2300m above sea level. Amberd is a key example of impregnable fortresses of medieval Armenia. The fortress was built with the standards applied for military structures for that time for the construction of which considerable importance was given to the choice of the site having a good natural defense system. Afterwards, a visit to the Armenian Alphabet Park.  Set against the backdrop of Armenia’s Mt. Aragats, stone carvings of the Armenian letters and a statue of Mesrop Mashtots-founder of the Armenian alphabet, pay tribute to the complex. The park was constructed in 2005 to celebrate 1600th anniversary of the creation of the Armenian alphabet (405 A.D). Return and overnight in Yerevan.

10th day: Yerevan – Cave of Birds – Stonehenge – Tatev – Goris

After breakfast we head for the Cave of Birds where the oldest shoe in the world was discovered that dates back to 5500 years ago. Excavations started in 2007-2008 that uncovered layers of material culture dating to different periods of Copper (Chalcolithic) and Stone Ages. We continue driving until we get to the Armenian Stonehenge that is a couple of hundred years older than Stonehenge in Britain. One can see megaliths (menhirs) similar to Stonehenge- all stones are basalt some of which are carved with slits. The megalithic site was an ancient observatory that was used to observe the movement of celestial bodies and to measure time. Afterwards we continue driving to Tatev Monastery Complex. We visit the monastery by the cable car named Wings of Tatev. It is the longest cable car to come and go in the world (5750 m) that is registered in the Book of Guinness World Records. The monastery was not only a religious but also political center of Syunik region.

Overnight in Goris.

11th day: Goris – Khndzoresk – Ughtasar – Jermuk

In the morning after breakfast we start discovering Old Khndzoresk-a one-time troglodyte site dug in the volcanic tuffs and reminiscent of Cappadocia, inhabited until the early twentieth century of which there are significant traces. There is a 160m long swinging bridge in Old Khndzoresk that connects to New Khndoresk village. Afterwards we continue to Ughtasar Mount where we are expected to see petroglyphs- rock-carvings found on Mount Ughtasar near the town of Sisian. Over 2,000 decorated rock fragments extend to the foot of the mountain. These petroglyphs are believed to date back to the Paleolithic period of time (12,000 BCE).  Afterwards we continue to Jermuk-a resort town in Vayots Dzor region.

Overnight in Jermuk.

12th day: Jermuk – The hot waters of Jermuk – Gndevank – Yerevan

We start our morning by touring around Jermuk- a mountain spa town. It was considered one of the popular destinations for medical tourism in the Soviet Union. Jermuk is known for its hot springs and mineral water brands bottled in the town. It is attractive for its fresh air, waterfall, artificial lakes, walking trails, the surrounding forests and mineral water pools. Then, we continue our tour to Gndevank monastery (10th c). The ancient monastery complex is a thousand years old and in good condition. It is surrounded by fort-like walls. There is a very nice church, with some great carved stones all around it, a large courtyard partly shaded by a large walnut tree, and the fort like walls, which have many chambers to explore. Return to and overnight in Yerevan.

13th day: Free time in Yerevan

Our tourists may enjoy free time in Yerevan without the accompaniment of a driver and an English-speaking guide.

14th day: Departure

Transfer to the airport from the hotel with the accompaniment of an English-speaking guide or his/her assistant always speaking English. Check-in and departure.

HOTEL IN YEREVAN  

Diamond House 4* (www.diamondhousehotel.am ) or similar

Historical Yerevan 4*+ (hotel boutique) or similar (www.tufenkianheritage.com )

HOTELS OUTSIDE OF YEREVAN IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE PROGRAM

IN GYUMRI

  1. Hotel Nane 4* www.nanehotel.am
  2. Hotel Kars Boutique http://www.familycarearmenia.org/en/hotels/villa-kars.html
  3. Hotel Tomu’s https://tomus-hotel.business.site

IN GORIS

  1. Hotel Mirhav Boutique www.hotelmirhav.am
  2. Hotel Mina 3* www.hotel-mina.am
  3. Hotel Diana 3* www.hoteldiana.am

IN JERMUK

  1. Hotel Verona www.jermukverona.am

The program includes:

  • 3 nights in a hotel in Yerevan
  • 2 nights in a hotel in Gyumri
  • 1 night in a hotel in Goris
  • 1 night in a hotel in Jermuk
  • Transportation throughout the trip depending on the program
  • Services of the English-speaking guide
  • Half Board (HB) / 6 lunches)
  • Bus Water (1 bottle ½ liters per person per day)
  • Soft drinks (carbonated and still water, tea, coffee) during meals
  • Entrance fees to the local sites
  • Visit in a 4wd in the Mountain of Ughtasar
  • Walking on the Bridge of Khndzoresk
  • The cable car of Tatev
  • Tipping the waiters of the restaurants and the porters of the hotels.

 

The program does not include:

  • Flight ticket
  • Travel assurance
  • Full board
  • Additional Charges
  • Tipping the guide and driver
  • What is not mentioned in “Prices include”
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