Armenia: Silk Road 8 days

What is Armenia? Armenia is a country with the ancient and legendary history: Armenia is the carved of stones khachkars; Armenia is the noise of water of the lake Sevan; Armenia is mount Ararat, the legendary mount described in the Bible where Noah landed his Ark; Armenia is generousness and hospitality of it’s inhabitants; Armenia is the flavor of shashlik (grilled meat) attracting guests to the table like a magnet; Armenia is the sounds of the musical instrument duduk which the Armenian people shrine in their hearts.
In XII B.C. the formation of the Armenian people had already started on the territory of the Armenian highland. And in 80-70 years B.C. the major government had been already created under the rule of Tigrane II the Great – this was the Kingdom of the Great Armenia covering the area from the Caspian Sea till Palestine and Egypt. The significant moment in the history of this country is the adoption of Christianity as the government religion because Armenia was the first country which have done it. Next event which has the significant historical role is the creation of the Armenian alphabet by Mesrop Mashtots. From the ancient years through Armenia the Great silk roads were laying and connecting Rome with Iran, India and China.
Present-day Armenia is a fast developing government, the population of the country is 3 000 000 people. From the ancient till the modern times the Armenian people often lost the independence but they never lost faith. They were overburdened with oppression of events and times, but they never lost the strength of mind. At present Armenia is the top of the mountains and the medieval monasteries, the land keeping in memory the Great Flood and the demise of the ancient civilizations, the place where the best cognac is producing, so we can continue describing this country to no end.
In Armenia you can enjoy of the great mountain landscapes, the majority of the real ancient sites which are included in the UNESCO World Heritage list for a long time. The local people have a sincere kindness. However along with the chains of mountains on the small territory of the country 9480 rivers and about 100 picturesque lakes find the space to be.
The northeast part of the country is famous for the beech trees and oak forests. And if to reach the south part of the country, you can see the unique view, the largest plan-tree grove. In Armenia there are also the mineral springs and the mud fields. To recuperate the health and experience all the charms of the spa services we offer to visit Dilijan which is famous for its spa hotels or Jermuk which is famous for the hot and cold springs.
The followers of the active lifestyle and extreme kinds of sports will more appreciate Tsakhkadzor, this is a main mountain ski resort of the country. It is better to value the tastes of the famous cognac Ararat in that place where it is produced, namely in the famous Yerevan cognac factory distillery! And these are only the few things which can be told about Armenia’s gastronomy! We offer You to visit this corner of the Earth to be sure that the abovementioned facts are true!

Day 1
Arrival at the international airport Zvartnots, meeting with the representatives of the travel agency, transfer to the hotel.
Walking sightseeing tour, visit of the main sights of Yerevan. Our walk begins from the heart of Yerevan, the Square of Republic, which is known by the vocal fountains; the building of the National Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre, the established monument for the great composer Aram Khachaturyan; the Swan Lake with the picturesque Arno Babajanian monument; the France Square and the art work by Auguste Rodin at this square and, of course, the well known Yerevan Cascade that became the centre of the modern art named in honor of Gerard Cafesjian. After that we’ll have a tasteful dinner at a traditional Armenian restaurant.

Day 2 Saghmosavank – Letters Alley – Armenia Wine Company
Breakfast at a hotel.
Today we take route to the north of Armenia, to the monastery Saghmosavank (the monastery of Psalms), which according to the legend was established by Saint Gregory the Illuminator above the picturesque canyon of the river Kasagh 17 centuries ago. The view from the very edge of the canyon is great and frightening at the same time.
The next journey is to the Letters Alley; the monuments were created in 2005 to coincide with the date of 1600 years of the Armenian alphabet. On the hillside Aragats we are faced with 39 letters made of tufa together with their creator Mesrop Mashtots. After we get acquainted with the Armenian alphabet we have the gastronomic joy, this is an excursion to the wine factory Armenia Wine, which is followed with the degustation of the best Armenian wine. The Armenia Wine company is the largest wine company in Armenia which produces not only wine but also cognac and vodka. The factory produces the high quality wine out of the unique, local sorts of grapes which are differ due to the tasteful and qualitative characters.
Return to a hotel.

Day 3 Khor Virap – Areni –Noravank- Tatev
Breakfast at a hotel.
From Yerevan we move to one of the religious worship and significant monastery of Armenia Tatev. On our way we visit the monastery Khor Virap located nearby to the mountain Ararat. It is located on one of the hills of the ancient city Artashat which was one of the capitals of Armenia. Earlier on this hill there was the royal prison where the first catholicos (patriarch) of Armenia Gregory the Illuminator was imprisoned for a long time. Khor is translated from Armenian as deep, Virap is a hollow. Further on our way we have the pleasant stop in the winemaking village Areni. Here we have an opportunity to visit the winery Areni with the degustation of the different fruit wine and taste several kinds of fruit vodka, and also see how these drinks are produced and learn the production line. In the village Areni the Bird Cave was discovered where the most ancient winery (4100 years B.C.) was found and the most ancient leather shoes in the world (5500 years). Overcome the deep picturesque cave Amagu we will come to be on the territory of one of the most difficult of approach monasteries of the medieval Armenia, it is called Noravank. Nor is translated from Armenian as new, and Vank as monastery. Next to the ruined church of John the Baptist in XII century the church of Saint Stephen was built, for this reason the monastery was called the new one. In 1339 the church of Saint Mary, mother of Jesus, which is the bright sample of the Armenian Gothic architecture was build. The church is located among the red rocks what makes the special atmosphere around it.
Lunch at a traditional Armenian restaurant.
Next upon our route we have a flight journey by the cableway Wings of Tatev, wich holds the record for the Longest non-stop double track cable car. You will have a unique opportunity to enjoy of the landscapes of the picturesque canon of the river Vorotan. Tatev monastery was established in X c. and in XIV c. it became famous all over the world for one of the best universities of the Middle Ages.
Return to a hotel.

Day 4 Etchmiadzin – Zvartnots
Breakfast at a hotel.
On this day we will visit the religious centre of Armenia, Saint Etchmiadzin. In 301 Armenia adopted Christianity as the government religion. That year they started constructing the first Christian church Saint Etchmiadzin; Etchmiadzin is translated into English as the place of the Descent of the Only-begotten. Based on the sayings the God pointed with the help of the big fire hammer Gregory the Illuminator the place of the first Christian church. From the dates of the perishioners it became biger and biger in the size and the church was being rebuilt until XX c. Etchmiadzin is represented as the religious city, on its territory you can see the religious seminary, frater (monastery dinner room), the monk’s cells, the library (book storeroom), a lot of the Khachkars, the baptistery and the residence of the Armenian Catholicos. Etchmiadzin is best known for the rich religious museum in which you can see the Holy Spear of Longinus, the piece of the Noah’s ark, Life-giving Cross (the chip from the Cross on which Jesus the Christ was crucified), the parts of the hallows of the Saint John the Baptist and the other religious values. And we also visit the complex Zvartnots and the church of the Saint Hripsime. The ruins of the temple of XII c strikes of its majesty and fine carving. The church of the Saint Hripsime 618 y. is the pearl of th Armenian architecture. All above mentioned monuments are included in the UNESCO World Heritage list.
Return to a hotel.

Day 5 Free day
Breakfast at a hotel
Optional trip to Tsaghkadzor. Sevan Lake and the spa town Dilijan Tsaghkadzor is situated on the height 1800 m above sea level. During the Soviet period Tsaghkadzor was recognized as one of the best resort places of the country. A lot of spa hotels and sports grounds were built here. Tsaghkadzor became rather more popular when the USSR authority made decision that the Soviet teams of different kind of sports trained in Tsaghkadzor before the international competitions as here the jump of hemoglobin level conduced to the better physical well-being of the sportsmen. Further we take a route to the spa town Dilijan. The spa town is one of the most popular mountain climate resorts in Armenia; it is called as a small Switzerland on the territory of Armenia for its unique nature. Dilijan is located among high mountains which are covered the dick woods. The town is incredibly beautiful: picturesque streets, nice nature around with mountains, forests and lakes and a great number of historical sightseeing. Visiting the complex Old Dilijan we get ourselves in 19 c. and due to the typical architecture of that time we feel the breath of old Dilijan.
Return to a hotel.

Day 6 City Tour in Yerevan – Visit of Matenadaran and Yerevan Cognac Factory ArArAt
Breakfast at a hotel.
Yerevan is one of the most ancient cities of the world, est. in 782 years C.E. by the King of Urartu Argishti I. Because of the pink tone of tufa which was used for construction of the majority of the city buildings, Yerevan is poetically called «the pink city».
In Yerevan there are about 5000 cultural monuments. The park of Victory is one of the greenest city squares, where the monument Mother Armenia is placed and there is a pleasant view on the city. During our excursion we visit The Mesrop Mashtots Institute of Ancient Manuscripts; it is in possession of a collection of nearly 17 000 manuscripts. This day we also visit the famous Yerevan cognac house ArArAt where we have opportunity to taste and buy the legend Armenian cognac.
Return to a hotel.

Day 7 Garni – Geghard – lake Sevan
Breakfast is at a hotel.
On the way to Garni our first stop is at Charents arch from which opens up the all-around view to the mountain Ararat. The pagan temple in the fortress Garni is one of the popular touristic routes of Armenia. Due to the location over the picturesque canyon of the river Azat the temple is in beautiful harmony with the surrounding landscape. 24 columns add to it the graceful architectural shape. This peripter was built in I C.E. and is the bright sample of the Greco-Roman culture (the Hellenistic period) in Armenia. On the territory of the complex the royal baths, the ruins of the royal palace and the winery are well-preserved. Upon your wish we can add to the main tour route the trip to the canyon of the river Azat where you can see the unique nature phenomenon under name Symphony of Stones.
Next stop is the rock miracle of Armenia – the monastery Geghard est. IV-XIII C.E. This was the place where the Holy Spear had been kept before it was removed to the cathedral church Saint Entchmiadzin. During 40 years in XIII the rock rooms were being carved. Fantastical acoustics and monastery interior will make you feel the strong energy that is wrapped with centuries. Next we hold a course for one of the largest high mountain fresh lakes – Sevan. This pearl of Armenia is located at height of 2000 m. above sea level. The chains of mountains conserve and take care of this valuable fresh water reservoir with an area of 1240 sq.m. Sevan peninsula is famous for its monastic complex Sevanavank est. in VIII-IX C.E. After you ascend a flank of peninsula, the all-round view to Sevan will be opened up in front of you. The year around Sevan brings joy to the guests with the tastes of fish and in summer time with the warm water. Here you can feast on shashliks made of whitefish, trout, crayfish and enjoy the famous delicacy luleh kebab made of crayfish tails.
Return to a hotel.

Day 8 Markets of Yerevan
Breakfast at a hotel.
Visiting of art market Vernissage and GUM. Vernissage is situated in the centre of Yerevan, not far from the Republic Square between the Aram and Buzanda streets and occupy the whole quarter. It works every day, but on the week-end it is rather more interesting here. There are the hand-made wooden chess and nardy (backgammon game set), ceramics, hand-made jewels, decorations, traditional musical instruments, carpets, paintings and souvenir plates. Everything except some exclusive items is at a low price. You can see there the exclusive items, so the collectors highly appreciate this market. GUM is a big market located close to the center. Could it be Yerevan without the bright and vibrant market, where you can buy not only the fresh vegetables, fruits, herbs, oriental sweets? Definitely no!
Check-out. Transfer to the airport and departure.

The tour price includes:
• Transfers during the whole tour (comfortable bus)
• 7/8 excursion days accompanied by the English speaking guide
• Meals according the programm (breakfast + 1 lunch)
• Extra entrance tickets to museums and archeological areas.

The tour price does not include:
• International flights;
• Extra personal costs.

*The company has the right to change the sequence of excursions.


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