Day 01: Arrival in Yerevan
Arrival in Yerevan. Transfer to hotel. Accommodation. Use your free time for visiting the Vernissage Market in the City Centre – an arts and crafts open-air bazaar which opens only at weekends. You will find here different souvenirs, pictures, sculptures, traditional carpets and rugs and so on. Overnight in Yerevan.
Day 02: Yerevan City Tour
Breakfast at hotel.
Yerevan is one of the most ancient cities in the world founded in 782B.C. It’s 29years older than Rome. The founder of Yerevan was the Urartian King Argishti I who founded the fortress of Erebuni on the southern part of nowadays Yerevan. Yerevan is considered to be the oldest operating capital in the world, older than Rome and Nineveh and will celebrate its 2800th anniversary in 2018.
Now Yerevan is a vibrant and modern European city with much to offer.
In the morning you visit the Matenadaran – Depository and Museum of Ancient Manuscripts with a collection of about 17000 manuscripts. The heaviest book in Matenadaran is around 34kgs and consists of 2 pieces. Afterwards you can see the most beautiful panorama of Yerevan City and the biblical Mount Ararat from the top of huge Cascade Monument. Cascade is just a masterpiece in terms of architecture and is decorated in a very stunning way. Inside this monument you find the Cafesdjian Art Center. There are a lot of original statues of modern art. Not far from Cascade you see the Mother Armenia Statue, which symbolizes “peace through strength”. Having its location on a hill overlooking Yerevan City, makes her “The Guardian “of the Armenian Capital.
During a short walking tour in the City Centre you pass through the Northern Avenue which connects the two Yerevan Famous Squares – The Republic Square and the France Square (where Opera House with the original statue of Rodin is located). The Republic Square in Armenia with the governmental buildings is considered to be one of the most beautiful squares of the world. In the night, the square is especially beautiful because of the “Dancing Fountains” accompanied with classic music of world known Armenian components.
Street tour including: Yerevan State University and the Island of universities, Victory Bridge, Tsitsernakaberd Hill with Genocide Museum, Sports & Concerts complex, Kiev Bridge, Parliament, Residence of President, Academy of Sciences. Evening free. Overnight in Yerevan.
Day 03: Yerevan - Khor Virap - Noravank - Tatev - Goris
Breakfast at hotel.
A fantastic tour dedicated to exploration of Southern Armenia combining the magic of Armenia’s finest medieval architecture with stunning landscapes by driving through the agricultural heart of Armenia. Our first stop will be at the Khor Virap Monastery – the most important place of pilgrimage of Armenia. St. Gregory the Illuminator – the first Catholic of all Armenians, had been imprisoned in “Khor Virap” (deep dungeon) for 13 years. From here you get a unique view of the holy Armenian mountain Ararat (5165m.), on which (according to the Bible) Noah’s ark landed after the World flood.
As soon as we pass the Ararat Plain we can experience the untamed beauty of Southern Armenia – surreal red rocks providing an eerie echo, honey-colored villages sandwiched between them. Continue to the previous residence of Syunik’s bishops – Noravank monastery, nestled at the edge of the narrow gorge in the impressive mountainous landscape with peculiar red hanging rocks. The structure distinguishes by a unique harmony of architectural forms and decorations.
The most interesting part of the tour is still waiting for you – the majestic Tatev monastery, which we reach with the longest cable tram in the world (already registered in the Guinness World Records Book). This used to be wealthiest medieval monastery in Armenia. Besides being a religious center, Tatev was also the important strategical center of Syunik kingdom, surrounded with deep gorge. In non-stable political conditions the several secret ways in the territory of the fortress led the way to the canyon and served as a link between the monastery and external world. Overnight in the small city Goris, surrounded by mountains which are famous for their medieval cave-dwellings carved out of the soft rock. Overnight in Goris.
Day 04: Goris - Selm Pass - Noradus - Sevan Lake - Dilijan
Breakfast at hotel.
The most part of today’s tour will go on the Great Silk Road. Passing through the Selim Pass (the highest point- 2410m), you stop at the the caravanserai of Selim (14.c.), which offered hospitality to travelers along the silk road crossing the Selim (Sulema) mountains. The best preserved of all medieval caravanserais in Armenia, it comprises a vaulted antechamber and a large hall partitioned into three sections lighted through openings in the ceiling.
After a few kilometers you admire the beautiful view on the Lake Sevan – the 2nd largest fresh-water high-altitude lake in the world after Titicaca (Los Andes, Bolivia) and the largest lake in Armenia and the Caucasus Region. Lake Sevan, this wonder of nature, is the pearl of incomparable beauty with stunning turquoise waters.
On the Lake bank you visit the largest cross-stones field of Armenia. Noradusa unique open-air museum, a unique collection of the stone art. The Cross-Stone is a typical manifestation of the Armenian culture, as other nations do not have this type of culture, and is already a UNESCO World Heritage. On the picturesque peninsula you visit the Sevanavank monastery (9c), which once used to serve as a place of exile of the Armenian nobility. Proceeding to Dilijan spa town in the Dilijan National Park, a protected area renowned for its serene lakes, picturesque hill trails and peaceful villages. Many poets used to say, “If there are woods, mountains, streams and mineral waters in paradise, it must be like Dilijan”. Due to its forested mountains and mild climate, Dilijan is named “Armenia’s Little Switzerland”. Overnight in Dilijan.
Day 05: Dilijan - Stepanavan - Lori Berd - Dzoraget
Dilijan is a famous spa rich in curative mineral springs, some of which are comparable to those at Vichy in France and Davos in Switzerland Short walking tour along one of the most beautiful and oldest streets of the Old Dilijan – Sharambeyan where we will find small art schools and souvenir shops. Continue to Haghartsin Monatsrey, a fairy-tale monastery set amidst flower-filled glade in a dense rainforest. It’s where people see a perfect harmony of untouched nature and splendid architecture where the human creativity and efforts only added to the overall beauty of the entire territory. Haghartsin Monastery was built between the 10th and 14th century. Tour to the medieval city-fortress Lori (Lori berd). Its Ruins are located 5 km. to north-east of Stepanavan regional centre, on the left bank of River Dzoraget. Overnight at the Avan Dzoraget Hotel at the Debed River, nestled among the forest-covered hills and rocky slope of Caucasus Mountains. Here you can enjoy the views and serenity of the Debed River, as well as the hospitality and comfort Armenia is known for.
Day 06: Dzoraget - Haghpat - Aparan - Saghmosavan
Today you explore North Armenia, visit one of the masterpieces of medieval Armenian architecture – Haghpat Monasteries at the Debed gorge (UNESCO World Heritage Sites). This fortified monastery served as the main cultural and literary center during the middle ages. The floor of one of the buildings is notable for the clay pots recessed into the dirt. In the past, this building was used as a library. On the way back to Yerevan we drive through Yezidi Villages and stop at an old Yesdi graveyard with about 20 small stone horse statues. No more than 2 feet high, the horses resemble stone horses found from the Hsia Dynasty in China, or Mongolian monument stones from the medieval period.
Visit of Gntunik Bakery. This place is a paradise for all bakery lovers! Bread, cakes, sweets, everything so tasty that one can hardly leave the bakery. Especially interesting is the bread baking process of the crazy bakers. Following by the highest mountain of Armenia – Aragats (4090m) drive to the Saghmosavank Monastery (“Psalm Monastery”) at the foothills of Mount Ara, perched at the edge of Kasagh River Canyon, a dramatic setting with the views of 3 amazing mountains in the horizon – Ararat, Aragats and Ara. Saghmosavank was once a religious, academic and cultural center of medieval Armenia. Continue to Yerevan. Overnight in Yerevan.
DAY 07: YEREVAN – ECHMIADZIN – ZVARTNOTS – YEREVAN
Breakfast at the hotel.
This tour includes UNESCO World Heritage Sites which are “must see” places. Today you visit the religious center of Armenia – Echmiadzin which is the “Vatican” city of Armenia with the Holy See of the Armenian Apostolic Church where the Supreme Patriarch (Catholicos) of All Armenians resides.
Armenia is the first Christian country in the world since 301A.D. and the world’s oldest official Christian church is to be found in Echmiadzin – the Mother Cathedral of Echmiadzin. In the cathedrale you can attend live the liturgy. Continue to St. Hripsime church (7th century), a true masterpiece of early medieval Armenian architecture. On the way back to Yerevan visit the Ruins of Zvartnots Cathedral – the place of “celestial angels”. The remnants of Zvartnots, even in ruins, are a majestic sight. Lunch in Yerevan. Evening free. Overnight in Yerevan.
DAY 08: YEREVAN – GEGHARD – GARNI – YEREVAN
Breakfast at the hotel.
Just outside of Armenia’s capital, a quiet mountain road leads high above the city, offering a glimpse into Earth’s ancient history. Firstly we stop first at Charent’s Arch – the breathtaking lookout point of the biblical Mount Ararat (known from the Bible as the landing place of Noah’s Ark). Drive to the Geghard Monastery carved out of a huge monolithic rock. Geghard is an incredible ancient Armenian monastery, partly carved out of a mountain. It is said that the Holy Lance that pierced the body of Christ was kept here. The architectural forms and the decoration of Geghard’s rock premises show that Armenian builders could not only create superb works of architecture out of stone, but also hew them in solid rock. It is included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Continue to the Garni Pagan Temple, the only Hellenistic temple in the Caucasus. Gracing the hillside the temple was dedicated to the God of Sun, Mithra and comprises also royal palace ruins, Roman Baths with a well preserved mosaic.
Master class of traditional Armenian bread “lavash” being baked in tonir (ground oven). The preparation, meaning and appearance of traditional bread as an expression of culture in Armenia has been inscribed on UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Drive back to Yerevan. Evening free. Overnight in Yerevan.
(*Tip: Evening and night life of Yerevan are full of music, plays, performances, shows. In case you like live jazz this is a unique chance to enjoy it as Yerevan has rather rich Jazz traditions (called also the „New Orleans of the East“). Lots of rock and pop bands, the Opera House with almost daily shows and numerous concert halls. (You’d better book cultural events with your local guide directly).
Hundreds of local cafes, wine-houses and restaurants spread all over the sidewalks and parks will give you a chance to taste the local and international cuisine, beer, wine and famous Armenian cognac.)
DAY 09: DEPARTURE
Check-out. Transfer from hotel to the airport. Departure.
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