We meet at 10 am at the Republic Square, then we head to the Garni village, where the Sun temple complex is situated. This is the only extant pagan temple in Armenia. UNESCO awarded the Museum-Reservation of Garni the International Prize.
Garni served as a summer house for Armenian Kings after adopting Christianity. Even Nero, Roman Emperor, was admiring beauty and grandeur of the temple in idolatry times.
Lunch nearby the Garni village
Geghard monastery complex.
Geghard is partially situated in the caves, and partially built in IV – XIII centuries. It is located in Azat river gorge, beautiful and picturesque. Legends say that the head of spear which had wounded Jesus at the Crucifixion was stored in Geghard monastery for a long time.
Geghard monastery complex is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Heading to the Ararat Valley – fruitful Armenian soil – where the monastery fortress Khor Virap is situated. It was built in IV-XVII centuries on the spot of the dungeon where Gregory the Illuminator, the first official head of the Armenian Apostolic Church was imprisoned for 13 years.
The Areni village, the place of pilgrimage for Armenians from all over the world, is the center of ancient and modern wine production – and we will enjoy wine testing hosted by one of the wineries.
Having lunch near Noravank
Noravank monastery was built in XII-XV centuries and is known as a masterpiece of Armenian Medieval architecture. The road to the monastery passes through the extremely scenic canyon.
After the Noravan monastery we shall visit spa town Jermuk, with its famous hot mineral water gallery. We shall have a walk around the town and visit a beautiful gorge waterfall.
Trip to the ancient capital of Armenia Vagharshapat (Echmiadzin). This is the place of the Cathedral foundation – according to the legend, Jesus Christ himself pointed the exact place to Gregory the Illuminator while he was asleep. It was founded in IV century and rebuilt in V century and now serves as a residence for the head of Armenian Church.
After this we are going to visit churches of martyred Saint Virgins (roman by birth) who helped the Illuminator to enlighten the Armenian pagans. Both churches were built in VII century and are samples of monumental Armenian architecture.
Visiting the Zvartnos (meaning “celestial angels”) cathedral built in VII century by the order of Catholicos Nerses the Builder. Zvartnots cathedral was a new trend for medieval Armenian architecture. Now it is in ruins, partly rebuilt.
You will have the opportunity to visit Ohanavank and Saghmosavank built in the early 13th century and the smallest Karmravor church built in 7th century. Then we will visit Pahlavuni ancestral fortress – Amberd – one of the few extant Armenian fortresses, situated on the height of 4096 meters. It looks as severe as the Aragats mountainsides around.
Unique church built in 1026 is situated in the fortress – and also the monument dedicated to Armenian alphabet that was invented by Mesrop Mashtots (first 36 letters) in 405 AC will not escape your attention.
We go to the south of Armenia – Syunik. Here one of the jewels of the region – Tatev monastery (IX – XVIII) will open to us. From a small chapel Tatev turned into a regional center, one of the world largest educational centers, along with the Bologna and Sorbonne University. Tatev monastery combines impressive architecture and an unforgettable natural beauty.
Lunch near Tatev village.
Armenians have always been known as an excellent builders. But they could also live in convenient caves – we can see the proof of this in the huge ancient settlement Khndzoresk, which combines natural and architectural beauty. Magnificent views of the ravine and the swinging bridge over it will definitely bring you unforgettable experience.
Heading to Dilijan. Mild climate and gorgeous nature made this town well known as a beautiful resort – but you won’t be indifferent either to the ancient part of the city, full of monasteries, situated deep in mountain forests – like Agartsin and Goshavank, built in 13th century.
Through the Sevan tunnel we shall go to the gem of Armenian nature – Sevan lake. Sevanavank monastery, situated in the peninsula, is the symbol of Armenian Unity triumph over Arabs.
Lunch near the lake
Tsaghkadzor spa town (was called Darachichag before) was well known as Armenian ski resort since the Soviet period, and was the training camp for the national soviet team. Now Tsaghkadzor is still popular among skiers. And, obviously, no ski resort can do without the cable railway – you can enjoy the picturesque views and colors of nature both in winter and in summer – white, green, red colored mountainsides far below your feet.