If you read this, you probably know that Armenia is the first Christian country in the world. It offers unparalleled religious sites and experiences. From the oldest cathedral in the world to Holy Lance, from live concert of medieval spiritual music in the caves of Geghard Monastery to impressive millenia-old monasteries enlisted as UNESCO World Heritage sights, Christianity in Armenia is integral part of our identity and culture. You will experience it first-hand during this tour, presented by our special religious guide and local clergymen.
duration: 7 days / 6 nights
best season: spring / fall
start / end point: yerevan
family friendly: yes
fitness level: easy
after your arrival we will meet you at the airport and transfer to your hotel in yerevan. your trip starts with a city tour around yerevan. from the observation area in the victory park, you will be able to enjoy an amazing view to yerevan and mount ararat. the excursion will continue to the cascade – the favorite place of yerevan residents. the cascade is a huge staircase that connects the city center with the residential area. downstairs, you will see the unique sculptures, belonging to the world famous foreign sculptors. next, you will pass through the main street of the city, and see the building of the opera and ballet theatre, several central streets of yerevan, and the republic square – the “heart” of the capital, as well as the katoghike church.
the day starts with a visit to the ‘armenian vatican’ – the oldest state built cathedral in the world and the religious center of all armenians – st. etchmidzin (4th c.). you also attend the etchmiadzin museum where many holy relics are kept and surrounding early medieval churches gayane and hripsime. next is a drive to the ruins of zvartnots, another impressive unesco world heritage site. later that day you attend one of largest repositories of ancient manuscripts in the world matenadaran, where you can see some of the oldest preserved christian hand-written texts.
after the breakfast the road takes you to the north-eastern armenian to the lake sevan, pearl of this mountainous country and one of the largest freshwater high-altitude lakes in eurasia. swimming in the lake in recommended only during the summer as it contains fresh cold water and is located 1900 meters above sea level. you will also visit sevanavank, a 10th century monastery complex on sevan peninsula. you will then see dilijan, otherwise referred to as 'armenian switzerland' for its fantastic natural forests. the town is a part of dilijan national park, as well as a developing financial and educational center. the next stop is haghartsin, a 10th century monastery which has been recently renovated by donation of sheikh dr. sultan bin mohammad al qassimi, the ruler of sharjah, who was impressed by the monastery when visited it, and the monastery of goshavank that offers some of the greatest khachkars in armenia.
the day will begin with a trip through the ararat valley to the monastery of khor virap, the history of which is related to the founder of armenian apostolic church st. gregory the illuminator and adoption of christianity in armenia. it offers the most spectacular view of mount ararat. from here the ride goes on, reaching the guinness record-breaker ropeway wings of tatev (longest in the world and 350m above the gorge) that takes you to tatev monastery complex located high in the mountains. on the way back you can see the spectacular noravank monastery, surrounded by great red cliffs. lastly, you visit areni wine region, where you participate in tasting local wines and have an excursion at a wine factory.
the day starts a visit to garni pagan temple located not far from yerevan. it was dedicated to the sun god mitra (mihr) and was the summer residence of early medieval armenian kings. next is a visit to the unesco heritage sight monastery of geghard, which is known for its peerless sculptures and cave church. founded in the 3rd century its name translates as spear, dedicated to the holy lance, which used to be kept here. after returning to yerevan you visit tsitsernakaberd where the armenian genocide memorial and the museum are located, to pay homage to the victims of one of the biggest atrocities of human history and learn more about it.
this trip to northern armenia allows you to visit two of the unesco world heritage sights in armenia. these two byzantine monasteries in the tumanian region, haghpat and sanahin, are from the period of prosperity during the kiurikian dynasty (10th to 13th century) were important centers of learning. sanahin was renowned for its school of illuminators and calligraphers. the two monastic complexes represent the highest flowering of armenian religious architecture, whose unique style developed from a blending of elements of byzantine ecclesiastical architecture and the traditional vernacular architecture of the caucasian region. on the way back you stop near saghmosavank, a 13th-century monastic complex located in the village of saghmosavan just above the deep gorge of qasagh river, which provides additional beauty and charm to the monastery.
farewell, pick up at the hotel, transfer to the airport and departure