Armenia is loaded with nooks and crannies awaiting exploration and memories eager to be created across its stunning landscapes. The secrets of Armenia are frozen in time, echoing in the majestic valleys, flowing in the clear rivers, whispering in the lush woods, galloping in the continuous wilderness, and carved in the ruins of ancient walls, reappearing in the scattered small villages and towns, gorgeous in the exquisitely crafted national costumes, deposited in the speciality cuisine and unique snacks, gathered in the mellow wine made with ancient methods, and shining in the friendly smiles.
Combining stunning scenery, landforms, people, traditions, religion, spirituality, architecture, gastronomy, and more, Armenia Tours are filled with endless possibilities that are yet to be discovered. The Armenia Cultural Tours give a chance to learn customs and traditions of this country, try Armenian cuisine, see the oldest churches and castles, and enjoy breathtaking spirit of Armenian nature. Armenia lies at the root of the Christian faith, there is still a wealth of religious heritage to see. Beautiful churches and monasteries are omnipresent, and some are up to 1700 years old. A few of the most important ones are listed on Unesco’s World Heritage list.
Yerevan is Armenia’s cultural centre, with plenty of opera and theatre to go around. The Museum of Armenian History has an excellent collection and the Armenian Genocide Memorial & Museum has a sad but worthwhile story to tell. For a more casual side, visit the lively Vernisaj Market or climb the stairs of the Yerevan Cascade. Another hotspot for domestic and international travellers alike is Lake Sevan. In summer, the beaches of this massive high-altitude fresh water lake, are a popular destination for anything from day trips to camp site vacations and resort holidays.
The Armenian Tour is a fascinating and surprising exploration of Armenia’s hidden treasures. Explore mystical culture surrounding Urartu, architectural monuments unique to Armenia, the sweet sounds of the duduk or the flavors of Armenian cognac. Unlock the secrets of a great and mystic culture of Urartu, unique architectural monuments, khachkary, fascinating sound of duduk that has been recognized as UNESCO World Heritage. Witness the influence of the Soviet era as well as memorials and monuments to the past, including the Mother Armenia Monument that also boasts one of the best spots to view the whole of the city.
The adventure start in capital city Yerevan, an ancient city with endless charm and friendly locals. Experience one of the world’s oldest, yet most modern cities, Yerevan’s architecture, culture, and customs are a harmonious fusion of the old and the new. When you walk around Yerevan, you’ll notice both newly constructed buildings with modern architectural design and 19th-century structures with beautiful ornamentation. You can even notice buildings that incorporate old and new elements within a single structure. Visit Republic Square, Cascade Complex, and Cafesjian Center for Arts, Opera, and Ballet Theater in Yerevan. Walk along Buzandi, Aram, and Abovyan streets to wonder about the oldest structures of Yerevan city.
The Yerevan Cascade, a giant staircase offering a bird’s eye view of the city, a panorama of Mount Ararat and unique, contemporary artwork. As you move through the city, you’ll discover its layers one by one: Soviet past, a Christian heritage, remnants of Islamic history and modern neighbourhoods filled with restaurants, cafes, shopping malls and colourful nightlife. Yerevan’s rich cultural life is heard in local theaters and concert halls, felt in traditional carpet weaving classes, savored in world famous Armenian cognac, sensed in the rich aromas of delicious local cuisine and seen in numerous museums dedicated to the hardships.
Yerevan and its vicinities offers a magical journey to pagan temples of times long past, the medieval Geghard Monastery and Etchmiadzin, the first Christian cathedral in the world. Not far from Yerevan stands the two-thousand-year-old temple of Garni, one of the last remaining pagan temples in the region. From this pagan past, step into Armenia’s Christian heritage by visiting Etchmiadzin, the first Christian temple, before witnessing “Dance of Eagles” at Haghartsin Monastery.
As the first country in the world that adopted Christianity as a state religion, a rich cultural heritage where ancient sights and delicious food abound. Fascinated by new cultures, lifestyles and traditions, cultural tours. Its magnificent natural landmark, Mount Ararat, is emotive and awe-inspiring mountain is beautiful in any season. UNESCO World Heritage Tour Armenia is a perfect program to learn about the culture and lifestyle of the first Christian country.
Religious monuments of Christianity can be seen everywhere throughout Armenia. Look out for their majestic medieval architecture, which, juxtaposed against the striking surrounding landscapes, create a spectacular sight. Follow in the footsteps of multiple civilizations, explore the oldest Temples of the country, Visit pagan temple Mihra (Mitra) built in honor of the God of Sun; visit a monastery of Geghard included in the UNESCO World Heritage List; enjoy a grand view of the Etchmiadzin Cathedral.
Visit to the mysterious Monastery of Geghard, half-carved in the rock and over 800 years old, fly over the deep gorge to the Monastery of Tatev, a pearl of medieval Armenian architecture, or visit the prison where Gregory The Illuminator suffered at the Monastery of Khor Virap. Acquaint yourself with the beautiful and ancient Armenian alphabet at Oshakan or visit one of the most sacred monasteries in Armenia via the longest reversible tramway in the world in Tatev. From the Holy Echmiadzin Cathedral to the Khor Virap Monastery and the Blue Shia Mosque, unearth Armenia’s most significant ecclesiastical sites as well as introducing travellers to a location that was once one of the Silk Road’s most important trading posts.
Set against the border with Turkey is Mount Ararat, one of Armenia’s most symbolic landmarks, getting up close to the biblical and often snow-capped slopes. The caves of Khndzoresk and Areni await exploration, while Armenia’s quiet mountain paths, pristine rivers, lush forests and untouched landscapes dotted with forts and monasteries will never cease to take your breath away.
Armenian cuisine is one of the oldest in Europe and the oldest in the South Caucasus. The dishes here are diverse and delicious thanks to the use of lots of spices, herbs, and wild flowers. Flavourful dishes waiting to be enjoyed and warm hospitality that will put you at ease.
At the fascinating crossroads of Europe and Asia Armenia might as well be synonymous with hospitality. This vibe across Armenia, including Yerevan and the countryside. Visit a village and food and a place to stay will flow. Feel a total sense of security, and feel a sense of belonging. Festivals are significant elements of Armenia’s cultural flavor. They not only enrich the mundane routine of the citizens and also play the role of attracting thousands of tourists to get acquainted with Armenian culture. The names “Yerevan Wine Days,” “Yerevan Music Night” and “Silk Note Festival,” evoke fond memories of past festival celebrations.
Armenia is located in the Armenian Plateau and occupies a central location at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, an is a mountainous country where lovely landscapes can be seen, even from the capital city of Yerevan. Explore historical sites, be in awe of its impressive architecture, natural and cultural heritages, enjoy delicious food and drinks, and get a good dose of adrenaline-pumping adventurous activities.
A small and mountainous, landlocked country, Armenia almost never fails to surprise visitors. The mountain passes, valleys and canyons make it feel much larger, and Lake Sevan provides a welcome sight, with endless water visible from its southern shores. This mountainous land make almost every form of outdoor exploration possible. Whether trekking through remote and scenic expanses, catching a bird’s-eye view while paragliding, camping in the lonely wilderness, rock climbing, windsurfing or riding a jet-ski, nature and adventure tourism in Armenia offers a bit of everything.
With its centralized positioning, Armenia offers four full seasons to enjoy. Snowy winters, warm springs, hot and sunny summers, rainy and colorful autumns. Sometimes rainy, sometimes sunny, spring is a lovely time to visit Armenia. You can feel nature awakening, see trees blooming, and watch flowers blossoming. With its colorful autumn vibes, Armenia is a lovely destination to visit during fall. Travelers can enjoy a pleasant middle ground between a scorching summer and a freezing winter when the temperature dips a little.
Central Armenia – The political center of Armenia contains much of the country’s museums and cultural venues in Yerevan, the religious center of Echmiadzin, the 4100-m-high volcano Aragats and the Monasteries of Geghard and Khor Virap. This region consists of the flat and dry Ararat valley.
Lake Sevan Region – This region is centered on the beautiful, 2,000-m-high Lake Sevan, which is surrounded by ancient monuments, churches, monasteries, and popular beaches. Highlights include the largest khachkar cemetery in the world, the beaches near Sevanavank Monastery, and the countless fish and crayfish restaurants along the shores. Windsurfing has been reintroduced to the list of recreational activities.
Northern Armenia – Bordering Georgia to the north, this mountainous region includes numerous, wonderfully beautiful, and isolated churches and monasteries. The Debed River Canyon contains many of beautiful Armenia.
Southern Armenia – A particularly beautiful section of Armenia stretching south to the Iranian border with interesting caves and more remote, beautiful Christian monuments. Highlights include Tatev Monastery, Noravank Monastery, Mozrov Cave, Selim Caravanserai and the thousands of petroglyphs atop Ughtasar Mountain.
Each city in Armenia transports you to a different world. Explore Armenia’s cultural and architectural identity while you’re here, from Yerevan’s vibrant nightlife to Gyumri’s exuberant atmosphere and Stepanavan’s soothing vibes.
Yerevan is the capital and largest city of Armenia and one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities. Yerevan has transformed over time while preserving its unique characteristics. Much construction has been done throughout the city since the early 2000s, and retail outlets such as restaurants, shops, and street cafés. The capital Yerevan is a stunning blend of ancient and modern, with a wide range of tourist attractions, cozy streets to stroll through, and a plethora of restaurants and cafés. From the magnificent Cascade Complex to the multicolored streets of one of the oldest districts. Yerevan will never cease to impress you with its brilliant hues and active lifestyle.
Yerevan was named the 2012 World Book Capital by UNESCO. Of the notable landmarks of Yerevan, Erebuni Fortress is considered to be the birthplace of the city, the Katoghike Tsiranavor church is the oldest surviving church of Yerevan and Saint Gregory Cathedral is the largest Armenian cathedral in the world, Tsitsernakaberd is the official memorial to the victims of the Armenian genocide. The city is home to several opera houses, theatres, museums, libraries, and other cultural institutions. Yerevan Opera Theatre is the main spectacle hall of the Armenian capital, the National Gallery of Armenia is the largest art museum in Armenia and shares a building with the History Museum of Armenia, and the Matenadaran repository contains one of the largest depositories of ancient books and manuscripts in the world.
The brand-new restaurants, pubs, and cafés with unique concepts are the new signature offerings of Yerevan. Check the venues on Parpetsi, Aram, and Pushkin Streets to enjoy talented local bands and singers while having a distinctive meal from a local chef or a unique cocktail by a local bartender. You should also taste the top traditional dishes, such as barbeque, tolma, harissa, or ghapama, that form the usual menu of locals. Ask for those at any restaurant in Yerevan, and get ready for one of the most fascinating gastronomic experiences of your life.
Yerevan city center is small but rich with sightseeing places. The Republic Square and take in the stunning ornaments and decorations of the neoclassical buildings that surround the city center. Continue your walk to the Opera and Ballet Theater on Abovyan Street and take in the stunning architecture from the 19th century. From there, take a short stroll to Cascade Complex, where you can browse the outdoor collection of modern art before ascending the stairs to take in the breathtaking view of Yerevan with Mount Ararat in the background. Stroll over to Victory Park to see the statue of Mother Armenia and capture some lovely panoramic pictures of Yerevan.
Yerevan is Armenia’s principal cultural, artistic, and industrial center, with a large number of museums, important monuments and the national public library. The most prominent of these are the National Gallery of Armenia, the History Museum of Armenia, the Cafesjian Museum of Art, the Matenadaran library of ancient manuscripts, and the Armenian Genocide Museum at the Tsitsernakaberd Armenian Genocide Memorial Complex. It also hosts Vardavar, the most widely celebrated festival among Armenians, and is one of the historic centres of traditional Armenian carpet weaving.
Gyumri, the city of arts and crafts, known as Armenia’s cultural center, offer a fantastic journey filled with artistic and architectural wonders. Admire the black tufa stone buildings in Kumayri’s historic district. Gyumri has a plethora of museums and galleries. The Museum of Urban Life and National Architecture is worth a visit if you want to get a sense of Gyumri’s character. Enjoy a delicious meal near the riverbank, pair it with the town’s most popular dessert, Yaghli, and a cup of tea made from local herbs.
Gyumri is home to many prominent museums of Armenia, including the House-Museums of sculptor Sergey Merkurov, poets Avetik Isahakyan and Hovhannes Shiraz, and actor Mher Mkrtchyan. The Aslamazyan Sisters Gallery, built in the 1880s, is home to more than 700 drawings, paintings and other works of the Aslamazyan sisters who were the Soviet-era artists. The Dzitoghtsyan Museum of Social Life and National Architecture of Gyumri is an old mansion, housing collections related to both history and the everyday-life of Gyumri, as well as paintings and other works of art.
Dilijan is a spa town and urban municipal community in the Dilijan Municipality of the Tavush Province of Armenia. The town is one of the most important resorts in Armenia, situated within the Dilijan National Park. Because of its location in the forests, Dilijan is ideal for a short getaway and provides the most impressive views for nature lovers. The forested town is home to numerous Armenian artists, composers, and filmmakers and features some traditional Armenian architecture. The town is often referred to as the Armenian Switzerland or Little Switzerland by the locals.
Sharambeyan Street in the city centre, has been preserved and maintained as the heart of Dilijan’s old town, complete with craftsman’s workshops, a gallery and a museum. Hiking, mountain biking, and picnicking are popular recreational activities. Dilijan has a rich historical and cultural heritage. During the nearby excavations in the prehistoric cemeteries of Golovino and Papanino, bronze items of almost three thousand years old were found, including armours, daggers, pitchers, ear-rings and others were found. All those items could be found either in the Dilijan museum or in the Hermitage Museum. In 1932 the State Theatre was founded in Dilijan under the supervision of the honored USSR artist Hovhannes Sharambeyan, while the school of music was founded in 1946.
Tsaghkadzor is a spa town and urban municipal community, as well as one of the most popular health resorts in Armenia. The infrastructure of tourism is highly developed in Tsaghkadzor, with many luxurious hotels, resorts and amusement facilities. While the beautiful scenery can be enjoyed all year, Tsaghkadzor is best known as an Armenian ski resort. Ski and snowboard on the slopes of Teghenis Mountain, or get your adrenaline pumping by ziplining. Tsaghkadzor ski resort is located just above the town, at a height of 1,750 meters above sea level. It was fully modernized during the first decade of the 21st century. Tsaghkadzor is the second Armenian city after Yerevan to have the largest number of hotels. Many luxury hotels and resorts were opened recently to serve the town during the summer and winter seasons.
Etchmiadzin is not only home to the main religious center of all Armenians, but it also attracts architecture enthusiasts. Neoclassical designs on residential structures will amaze you as you stroll through the streets. The city is best known as the location of Etchmiadzin Cathedral and Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, the center of the Armenian Apostolic Church. The Machanents Touristic Centre of Vagharshapat provides a unique facility for the visitors of the town. The complex houses a cultural centre with small theatre, pub and jazz club, traditional cuisine, and a boutique hotel. The Zvartnots hotel and casino complex is located at the eastern entrance of the town.
It is unofficially known in Western sources as a “holy city” and in Armenia as the country’s “spiritual capital”. Being the spiritual centre of the Armenian nation worldwide, Vagharshapat is a major tourist destination for Armenians as well as foreign visitors. It is home to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Etchmiadzin Cathedral, Zvartnots Cathedral, Saint Hripsime Church, Saint Gayane Church and Shoghakat Church, grouped overall as the Cathedral and Churches of Echmiatsin and the Archaeological Site of Zvartnots.
Jermuk is a mountain spa town and the centre of the Jermuk Municipality of the Vayots Dzor Province, 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. The town is being redeveloped to become a modern center of tourism and health services. It is also being set up to become a major chess centre, with numerous chess international tournaments scheduled in the town.
Goris is considered one of the most important historical and cultural sites of Armenia. It is often regarded as the cultural center of Syunik. Goris receives a lot of visitors all year round thanks to the impressive riverside city planning. This vibrant city has some really unique architecture, which adds to its charm. Most of it consists of two-story homes from the 19th and 20th centuries with lovely arched gates and stone fences. The stone pyramids of Old Kores located to the east of the modern town are one of the most attractive sites in Goris. The old town is home to the 4th-century basilica of Saint Hripsime. The basilica was renovated during the 16th century.
Goris is a prominent cultural centre in Syunik. It has a cultural palace, a public library and a dramatic theatre. The archaeological museum of Goris opened in 1948 is dedicated to the rich history of the Syunik region. The house-museum of writer Axel Bakunts has been operating in the town since 1970, while the Goris art gallery has been operating since 2001. Other museums in the town include the geological museum of Goris and the Local Lore Museum of Goris.
Goris has a rich heritage in the music of Armenia and is a major centre for traditional musical instruments. It is the birthplace of the famous musician Gusan Ashot. The city of Goris is known for its carpets and has long had a rich carpet weaving culture. Goris and its surrounding villages are regarded as the centre of the Zangezur sub-group of the Armenian carpet. Goris is home to an annual mulberry festival which during the month of August.
Meghri is a town and the centre of the Meghri Municipality of the Syunik Province in southern Armenia, near the border with Iran. The region is unique for its climate and abundant honey and fruit production, landscapes with rocky mountain ranges, the Aras River, an equally unique cultural heritage that is partly influenced by the Persian culture, for example, the murals of the local church, recently renovated. Visitors to the area are mostly adventurers who visit Armenia with the aim of later reaching Iran.
Armenia is the ideal place to experience a wide range of cultural layers, from miniature paintings to sculptures, from engravings to carpet making. Armenian history is brimming with life-changing events and national achievements. Urartu, or the Kingdom of Van, was the cradle of Armenian culture dating back to Antiquity. From the 9th to 6th centuries BC, the arts were flourishing, paving the way for innovations in intricate ornaments, canonical style, metallurgy, and skilled crafted stonework.
The Erebuni Museum and archeological site, uncover the Urartian past of the area and learn the chronology of the people living here from Erebuni to Yerevan times. Fine bronze artifacts, such as swords, vessels, notably large cauldrons, helmets, and jewelry pieces, are particularly remarkable examples of Urartian art. To explore this unique and often overlooked ancient culture, check out the historical and cultural heritage of Urartu at the History Museum of Armenia, located in the heart of the capital.
One of the historically authentic periods in Armenian history is the classical era or Armenian Hellenism. From the third century BC to the third century AD, Armenian culture and architecture flourished along with religious development. Some unique examples, such as the Garni Temple, are proof of once-blooming Armenian Hellenism. Thanks to the ongoing archaeological excavations at the ancient sites of the country, the History Museum of Armenia is full of one-of-a-kind specimens of jewelry art, ceramics, sculptures, vessels, marble figures, coins, etc.
The classical period also enriched the Armenian pantheon of Gods and Goddesses. The pagan deities were reverently honored in the temples constructed during this time. For instance, the ancient city of Artashat had a temple devoted to the goddess of fertility and wisdom, Anahit, while the Garni temple was dedicated to the god of the sun, Mihr. To claim that Armenia’s classical era had a substantial influence on its culture and history is an understatement.
The most significant periods in Armenian history are the fourth and fifth centuries AD. Three crucial events significantly shaped the Armenian nation during these ages. The first ground-breaking event was the adoption of Christianity as a state religion in the 4th century. This may be one of the key reasons why Armenians have maintained their identity, and today you can witness their magnificent culture. Another key occasion that helped Armenians maintain their sense of national identity was the development of the Armenian alphabet.
In 405 AD. Mesrop Mashtots created the Armenian alphabet, initially consisting of 36 unique letters. Today the alphabet has 39 that were added to it in a later period. Visit the Western slope of Aragats Mountain to see the mesmerizing Armenian Alphabet Monument. Don’t forget to find the first letter of your name and take a photo with it. Locals will help you locate it. Finally, in 451, Armenians asserted their religion, language, and national identity in Avarayr’s battle with the Persians.
The art of writing, translation, and the complete educational system was developed in the centuries following the creation of the Armenian Alphabet, progressing into the 14th and 15th centuries. A tradition that combines an emphatically rational reflection with mysticism is Armenian theology, beyond rational reflection, ordinary language, and common representations of the world, careful to maintain which characterizes Orthodox theology.
The 9th to 11th centuries were ideal for a cultural and architectural boom in Bagratid Armenia. The capital city, Ani, developed significantly, establishing a separate school of philosophy, art, culture, and architecture. Ani’s influence can be seen in Armenia’s other regions. To experience the cultural vibes of this period, you should visit Marmashen and Harichavank Monasteries, Amberd Fortress, and nearby Vahramashen church.
The earliest examples of Armenian book miniatures can be described by their vivid colors, artistic variations, exquisitely carved ivory covers, mind-blowing typographic techniques, and endless ornaments. Several manuscripts that date back to the seventh century have been preserved. The miniatures are extremely important for understanding the history of Armenian music, theater, ethnography, crafts, etc., in addition to their artistic value. The Matenadaran, the largest repository of Armenian manuscripts, is home to more than 23,000 manuscripts and 300,000 archival records.
Armenian dancing has been an essential part of the national identity for centuries. Through traditional Armenian dance, we connect with our past, celebrate our culture, and unite with the global community. A birthday, a wedding, or a random event in a restaurant – Armenians love to express their emotions through dancing, and that started long ago. A number of rock paintings depicting dancing scenes in the highest parts of Armenia, the area of Ararat, demonstrate the development of the culture since the pre-Christian period, during the time of paganism. A number of traditional Armenian dances have been preserved. You can see them performed both on big stages and during ordinary family gatherings. When the dancers wear their traditional costumes with bright colors and unique embroidery, the scene becomes even more exciting.
UNESCO World Heritage
Armenia, a hidden gem of all kinds of treasures, holds a rich history as one of the oldest nations on earth, with traditions that have transcended time and survived to this day. Armenia has had three tangible heritage sites included on the UNESCO list since 1996. Armenia may be a small country geographically, but it is a cultural powerhouse that welcomes everyone to explore and discover all it offers.
The Monastery of Geghard and the Upper Azat Valley
Geghard is a medieval monastery in the Kotayk province of Armenia, used to keep the Spear of Destiny (also known as the Holy Lance) that pierced the ribs of Christ under its roof for over 500 years. The monastery being partially carved out of the adjacent mountain, surrounded by cliffs. It is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site with enhanced protection status. The monastery of Geghard contains a number of churches and tombs, most of them cut into the rock, which illustrate the very peak of Armenian medieval architecture. The monastery of Geghard and the Upper Azat Valley contains a number of churches and tombs, most of them cut into the living rock, which illustrate Armenian medieval architecture at its highest point. The complex of medieval buildings is set into a landscape of great natural beauty, at the entrance to the Azat Valley. High cliffs from the northern side surround the complex while the defensive wall encircles the rest.
The monuments included in the property are dated from the 4th to the 13th century. At the early period, the Monastery was called Ayrivank (Monastery in the Cave) because of its rock-cut construction. The monastery was founded, according to tradition by St. Gregory the Illuminator, and was built following the adoption of Christianity as a state religion in Armenia (beginning of the 4th century AD). The main architectural complex was completed in the 13th century AD and consists of the cathedral, the adjacent narthex, eastern and western rock-cut churches, the family tomb of Proshyan princes, Papak’s and Ruzukan’s tomb-chapel, as well as various cells and numerous rock-cut cross-stones (khachkars).
The Kathoghikè (main church) is in the classic Armenian form, an equal-armed cross inscribed in a square in plan and covered with a dome on a square base, linked with the base by vaulting. The east arm of the cross terminates in an apse, the remainder being square. In the corners are small barrel-vaulted two-storey chapels. On the internal walls there are many inscriptions recording donations. The masonry of the external walls is particularly finely finished and fitted. A gavit (entrance hall) links it with the first rock-cut church.
The first rock-cut church was built before 1250, entirely dug into the rock and on an equal-armed cruciform plan. To the east, a roughly square chamber cut into the rock was one of the princely tombs (zhamatoun) of the Proshyan Dynasty. This gives access to the second rock-cut church built in 1283. The second zhamatoun, reached by an external staircase, contains the tombs of the princes Merik and Grigor. A defensive wall encircled the monastery complex in the 12th to 13th centuries. Most of the monks lived in cells excavated into the rock-face outside the main defensive wall, which have been preserved, along with some simple oratories.
St. Astvatsatsin (Holy Mother of God) chapel is the most ancient preserved monument outside the ramparts and is located on the western side. It is partially hewed in the rock. There are engraved inscriptions on the walls, the earliest of which date back to 1177 and 1181 AD. Residential and economic constructions were built later, in the 17th century.
The monastery of Geghard is a renowned ecclesiastical and cultural centre of medieval Armenia, where a school, scriptorium, library and many rock-cut dwelling cells for clergymen could be found in addition to the religious constructions. Historians Mkhitar Ayrivanetsi, Simeon Ayrivanetsi, who lived and worked there in the 13th century, contributed to the development of the Armenian manuscript art. It was also renowned for the relics housed there. The most celebrated of these was the spear, which had wounded Christ on the Cross and was allegedly brought there by the Apostle Thaddeus, from which comes its present name, Geghardavank (the Monastery of the Spear). The spear was kept in the Monastery for 500 years. Relics of the Apostles Andrew and John were donated in the 12th century and pious visitors made numerous grants of land, money, and manuscripts over the succeeding centuries.
The spectacular towering cliffs surrounding the monastery are part of the Azat River gorge, and are included together with the monastery in the World Heritage Site listing. Some of the churches within the monastery complex are entirely dug out of the cliff rocks, others are little more than caves, while others are elaborate structures, with both architecturally complex walled sections and rooms deep inside the cliff. The combination, together with numerous engraved and free-standing khachkars is a unique sight.
The Monasteries of Haghpat and Sanahin
Haghpat Monastery is a medieval monastery complex in Haghpat, nestled in the picturesque natural area of Lori, the Haghpat and Sanahin monastic complexes are a brilliant example of the revival of Armenian architecture in the 10th and 11th centuries. These complexes acted as spiritual, cultural, and educational centers, focused on philosophy, medicine, rhetoric, and music. The location of Haghpat Monastery was chosen so that it overlooks the Debed River in northern Armenia’s Lori region. It was built, not on a peak, but halfway up a hillside on a site chosen to afford protection and concealment from prying eyes and also in response to a kind of monastic humility.
The monastery was founded by Queen Khosrovanuysh, wife of the Bagratid king Ashot III, probably in 976. The nearby monastery at Sanahin was built around the same time. These two Byzantine monasteries in the Tumanian region from the period of prosperity during the Kiurikian dynasty were important centres of learning. Sanahin was renown 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.
The two monastic complexes of Haghpat and Sanahin are a serial property situated in the Lori Marz (region) of Armenia. Dating to the 10th to 13th centuries, the functional role, location and stylistic characteristics were taken into consideration during the construction of each new building. As a result, an asymmetrical but volumetrically balanced, harmonious and integrated complex was built, one which is in harmony with the picturesque landscape. The two monasteries represent the highest flowering of Armenian religious architecture between the 10th and 13th centuries. This unique style developed from a blending of elements of Byzantine ecclesiastical architecture and the traditional vernacular architecture of the Caucasus.
The largest church in the complex, the Cathedral of Surb Nshan, probably begun in 976, was completed in 991 by king Smbat. It is a typical example of tenth-century Armenian architecture, its central dome rests on the four imposing pillars[dubious – discuss] of the lateral walls. The outside walls are dotted with triangular recesses. A fresco in the apse depicts Christ Pantocrator. Its donor, the Armenian Prince Khutulukhaga, is depicted in the south transept (a transversal nave intersecting the main nave). The sons of the church’s founder, Princes Smbat and Kurike, are shown with Queen Khosravanuysh in a bas-relief on the east gable. Apart from one or two minor restorations carried out in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, the church has retained its original character.
There are several other structures at the site as well. There is the small domed Church of Sourb Grigor (St. Gregory) from 1005. Two side chapels were added to the original church; the larger one built in the beginning of the 13th century and the smaller, known as “Hamazasp House”, built in 1257. In 1245, a three-story tall free-standing belltower was constructed. Other 13th-century additions include the chapel of Sourb Astvatsatsin, the scriptorium, and a large refectory which is outside the monastery limits. There are also a number of splendid khachkars (cross-stones) of the 11th-13th centuries standing on the territory of the monastery, the best known among them is the “Amenaprkich” (All-Savior) khachkar which has been standing since 1273.
The Cathedral and Churches of Etchmiadzin and The Archeological Site of Zvartnots
The churches of Etchmiadzin and the Zvartnots archeological site witnessed the birth of Christianity in Armenia and are extraordinary examples of unique Armenian architecture. The cathedral and churches of Echmiatsin and the archaeological remains at Zvartnots graphically illustrate the evolution and development of the Armenian central-domed cross-hall type of church, which exerted a profound influence on architectural and artistic development in the region. They showcase some of the typical Armenian architecture features, yet also show how they introduced new approaches that were one step ahead and different from other monuments of that time. The Cathedral of Etchmiadzin is, in fact, the oldest cathedral on earth. The site has been in use since ancient times, as archeological findings from the Stone, Bronze, and Iron Ages indicate that this was a holy site even before the arrival of Christianity.
The religious buildings of Echmiatsin and the archaeological remains at Zvartnots bear witness to the implantation of Christianity in Armenia and to the evolution of a unique Armenian ecclesiastical architecture, which exerted a profound influence on architectural and artistic development in the region. They graphically illustrate the evolution and flowering of the Armenian central-domed cross-hall type of church.
The inscribed property is divided into three separate areas: the first area includes the Mother Cathedral of Echmiatsin and St Gayane Church. The area is about 30.2 ha. 18.8 ha belongs to the Mother See of Echmiatsin (the Mother Cathedral and surrounding constructions covering 16.4 ha, the St Gayane Church and surrounding buildings covering 2.0 ha, and the cemetery of the congregation covering 0.4 ha) and 11.4 ha belongs to the community of Echmiatsin City. The second area includes St Hripsime Church and St Shoghakat Church. This area is about 25.3 ha, with 6.2 ha being the territory of St Hripsimeh Church, belonging to the Mother See. The remaining 19.2 ha belongs to the community of Echmiatsin City.
The earliest domed church is the Cathedral of Echmiatsin, which was built in AD 301-303 by King Trdat III (Tiridates) and St Gregory the Illuminator. Its cruciform plan with four apses and a central dome carried on four pillars is the outstanding contribution of Armenian ecclesiastical architecture to Christian architecture as a whole. This inventive discovery of Armenian architects spread beyond the country to Byzantium, and then to Central and Western Europe. Apart from its architectural qualities, the cathedral is distinguished from other Armenian churches by its original paintings of interior frescoes.
St Gayane Church (AD 630) is the earliest example in Early Christian and Armenian architecture to combine a three-aisle basilica with a central dome, a form which became widespread in both Armenia and Western Asia. It is a four-column domed basilica with harmonious proportions, a central nave and two sacristies built of well-processed tuff (a stone of volcanic origin). It is considered to be the best example of this type of church. The vaulted sepulcher of St Gayane the Virgin is located under the main apse, which is entered from the southeastern sacristy. The roof and walls of the church were renovated in 1652. A narthex-hall with three bays was built along the western façade of the church in 1683 with chapels at its north and south ends, dedicated to the Apostles Peter and Paul. The narthex-hall also served as a burial place for the Catholicoses.
Armenian architecture comprises architectural works with an aesthetic or historical connection to the Armenian people. Take a stroll through Yerevan, travel to Gyumri, or visit any other place in Armenia, the country is brimming with exceptional architectural design and a unique cultural atmosphere. Armenian architecture has evolved throughout the centuries. From modern designs to Soviet-style constructions, 19th-century residential buildings to medieval-era churches, and even as far back as pre-Christian and Urartian structures.
Classical Armenian architecture is divided into four separate periods. The first Armenian churches were built between the 4th and 7th centuries, beginning when the Armenian monarchy converted to Christianity and ending with the Arab invasion of Armenia. The early churches were mostly simple basilicas, some with side apses. By the 5th century the typical cupola cone in the center had become widely used. By the 7th century, centrally-planned churches were built with a more complicated niched buttress and radiating Hripsime style. By the time of the Arab invasion most of classical Armenian architecture had formed.
Armenian architecture, as it originates in an earthquake-prone region, tends to be built with this hazard in mind. Armenian buildings tend to be rather low-slung and thick-walled in design. Armenia has abundant resources of stone, and relatively few forests, so stone was nearly always used throughout for large buildings. Small buildings and most residential buildings were normally constructed of lighter materials, and hardly any early examples survive, as at the abandoned medieval capital of Ani.
To get to the roots of local architecture, visit Erebuni Fortress. You will notice the use of huge stones used to build fortress walls and residential, spiritual, and auxiliary buildings typical of the Urartian architectural style. As part of the development cycle, Armenian architecture advanced more during the Hellenistic era. The Garni fortification, which also houses the Pagan Garni Temple, is a striking example. History Museum in the center of Yerevan is another place where you can find unique pre-Christian exhibits.
Armenian architecture continued to advance in the following centuries. When traveling to Armenia, visit the many churches, fortresses, and monasteries that vividly illustrate how the region’s architectural style developed during the Middle Ages. These structures include the fortresses of Amberd in Aragatsotn, Bjni in Kotayk, and Smbataberd in Vayots Dzor.Architectural styles progressed from hall-type structures to cruciform domed churches, becoming more ornate and lavish. You’ll notice the clear-cut line designs for arches with magnificent ornamentation and decorations when visiting Harichavank Monastery, Marmashen Monastery, and Amberd Fortress. The monasteries of Tatev and Noravank, on the other hand, will stick in your memory for a long time because of their unusual architectural solutions, distinctive decorations, and designs. The monasteries of Haghpat, Sanahin, and Akhtala are the best examples of the transition of medieval church design.
Soviet-style architecture stands out with simplicity and practicality. Armenian architects used single elements from medieval and classical architecture to build industrial and residential buildings. Tuff stone is widely used in Yerevan. It is obvious why Yerevan is also known as the “pink city.” Visit Yerevan’s Cascade Complex and Opera and Ballet Theater, two outstanding examples of Soviet design. At the beginning of the path leading to the Cascade Complex, the monument of a prominent architect named Alexander Tamanyan greets each visitor to the city while holding the plan of Yerevan in his hand. The Soviet period architecture is also visible in other parts of the country. The Iron Fountain in Gyumri is worth visiting for its unique and distinctive style. Another example is the Writer’s Union building on the Sevan Peninsula which you can see when visiting Lake Sevan.
Armenian contemporary architecture seeks to advance current architectural trends while preserving national characteristics. Visit the UWC Dilijan international school campus in Dilijan and the COAF SMART center in Dsegh village to get the vibes of contemporary architectural solutions perfectly blending into the surrounding nature. Take a walk around Yerevan, and you will see that modern architectural style is also reflected in residential and commercial buildings. While these are just some examples, you can see how well the modern, old and natural coexist in Armenia.
In 301 AD, Armenia became the very first country in the world to adopt Christianity as its state religion. Being the world’s first officially Christian country, there are countless monasteries and churches, which are set in some places of incredible natural beauty. Churches and monasteries in Armenia with outstanding architecture are one-of-a-kind cultural heritage pieces located in the most picturesque locations will take your breath.
Faith has shaped its culture, lifestyle and traditions down through the centuries, and religious pilgrims the world over travel to the mysterious Land of Noah in a quest for enlightenment, understanding and peace. In Armenia, a certain sense of beautiful mystery seems to gather and grow, be immersed in the deep spirituality, loyalty and beauty of this dedicated nation. The history of Armenia is a blend of hardships, invasions and devastating natural disasters and yet through it all, Armenians managed to preserve their resilience, bravery and faith.
Start your pilgrimage in Armenia by visiting the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Etchmiadzin, the first Christian Cathedral in the world that was completed in 303 AD. Learn about a past filled with hardships and courage at the ruins of Zvartnots, or pray for the peace and unity of Armenia at Khor Virap Cathedral, where, according to legend, St. Gregory the Illuminator was held in the basement as a prisoner for 13 years for preaching Christianity.
Travel to Armenia’s pre-Christian past at the pagan temple of Garni, hear the sacred chants at Geghard Monastery or trace the religious steps of Armenians imprinted in the numerous khachkar cross-stones. Re-establish the original harmony which once existed between man and universe at beautiful Lake Sevan and feel the wonder of limitless faith at Tatev Monastery, blanketed in mesmerizing nature and tranquility. Learn about iconic Armenian medieval architecture at the Haghartsin and Goshavank Monasteries, which served as spiritual and cultural centers of the country for centuries.
“Geghard” means spear in Armenian. For centuries, the Geghard Monastery was the repository of the actual spear from which the monastery derived its name. Geghard monastery is an architectural gem among the Armenian churches and monasteries.Founded in the 4th century, it acquired its present appearance in the 13th century. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is one of the most majestic. The main cathedral in Armenia, Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, is a must-see religious site representing the Armenian path towards the Christian faith. Located just 30 minutes away from Yerevan, Etchmiadzin is the main church of all Armenians. Discover the history of the first Christian nation and church while exploring Etchmiadzin’s architectural marvels, religious frescoes, decorations, and holy relics kept in the Treasury Museum. The complex consists of religious buildings and auxiliary structures, all of which are magnificent in terms of architectural solutions and patterns.
Khor Virap Monastery, located in the Ararat region, is only 40 minutes from Yerevan. It is a significant pilgrimage site for Armenians, with a strong connection to the adoption of Christianity. Khor Virap means “deep dungeon,” and it was here that Grigor Lusavorich (Gregory the Illuminator) was imprisoned for 13 years for his Christian beliefs. Later, he became catholicos of all Armenians, converting the royal family and the entire nation to Christianity. Noravank Monastery to see how man-made and natural elements coexist in harmony. The location, choice of stone and color, and variety of ornaments and sculptures distinguish Noravank.
The Sanahin and Haghpat Monasteries is architectural masterpieces in the Lori region. These two UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Armenian culture feature a variety of sacred and secular structures, one-of-a-kind cross-stone carving specimens, and breathtaking views of the Lori region’s landscapes. The architecture of these monasteries built between the 10th and 13th centuries are stunningly beautiful. Another architectural masterpiece in the Lori region, Akhtala, contains the finest frescoes of religious themes, ready to amaze visitors. It stretches across a flat area high on a rock cliff, surrounded by a deep canyon of the Debed river, providing excellent views for landscape photography.
Haghartsin Monastery, hidden in the dense forests of Dilijan National Park, resembles a white jewel on a green background. Haghartsin is a monastic complex built of local limestone dating from the 10th to 13th centuries. It is made up of several structures, the most interesting of which is the refectory building, which has a unique architectural design.
Visit the Marmashen Monastery, one of the Shirak region’s jewels, to explore a typical structure that follows the architectural patterns of the ancient capital – Ani. Marmashen is located in the Shirak region and consists of several churches as well as the ruins of non-religious buildings, all of which are unique and distinct from other religious sites in Armenia. The umbrella-like dome roofs, lavish decorations around windows, and a large number of arches on the church walls are typical distinctions.
Harichavank, founded in the 7th century, is another excellent example of architectural evolution in Armenia’s churches and monasteries. Harichavank Monastery grew significantly during the 13th century. Explore the magnificent decorations on the central cathedral walls. The small chapel on a piece of rock hanging over the gorge, which is part of the monastic complex.
Sevanavank, or the Monastery of Sevan, is located on the Sevan peninsula and naturally blends in with the surroundings. It is beautiful in all seasons, but nothing compares to its beauty during winter while surrounding mountains covered in snow and the monastery perfectly nestled in the background.
Saghmosavank & Hovhannavank
Saghmosavank and Hovhannavank, which dominate the Kasakh River Gorge. Built in the 13th century, both monasteries played a significant role in the prosperity of writing books, copying gospels, and painting.
The monastery, which is located high on a cliff near Tatev village, blends in with the surrounding nature and is barely visible from a distance. It was built between the 9th and 14th centuries and consists of several churches, chapels, an oil press, monks’ cells, a refectory, and Gavazan, a vertically standing pillar dedicated to the Holy Trinity. Be amazed by the imaginative architectural choices, decorative selections, and breathtaking scenery.
Museums & Galleries
Armenia has approximately 120 museums and galleries, each representing a different era of Armenia’s marvelous culture and the local artist’s unique perception of the world. Thanks to the range of collections, it is a chance to grasp the country’s unique character. Local museums and galleries reveal the essence of Armenia and its people, and feature a variety of exhibitions, ranging from traditional clothing, jewelry, tools, pottery, and miniature paintings to archaeological finds, stamps, coins, vessels, and statues.
Learn more about the folk art of the Armenian nation at the museum in Yerevan preserving the traditions of the locals for you to see. Visit the Megerian Carpet Factory and get lost in a space full of unique carpets and rugs with national ornaments dating back centuries. Outside of Yerevan, the Local Lore Museum and Art Gallery in Dilijan will give you more insights into understanding the Armenian nation and the cultural manifestations of the local people.
The language of arts and crafts will help you understand the nation. Go to the National Gallery of Armenia to explore Ivan Ayvazovsky’s and Martiros Saryan’s striking paintings and artworks. Or stroll through the Cascade Complex and discover the open-air museum of Cafesjian Center for the Arts. Experience the best in contemporary art in Armenia, immerse yourself in the local world of modern paintings, sculptures, street art, and be enlightened by Armenia’s thriving contemporary art scene.
Visiting art galleries in Armenia like the Cafesjian Center for the Arts is one such gallery that houses an extensive collection of contemporary art pieces from local and international artists. The galleries here showcase a variety of styles and mediums, including painting, sculpture, and photography. The center’s outdoor sculpture garden is an absolute must-see and there are many other art galleries in and around Yerevan. Another way to explore contemporary art in Armenia is to take a guided tour and uncover Kond open-air art museum.
An excellent way to learn about Armenian contemporary art is to explore the city streets. Kond is located in Yerevan and is considered one of the oldest districts of the city. It feels like a completely different reality as you step into the historic district of Kond. From colorful murals to stunning graffiti, the street art in Armenia is a testament to the country’s creativity and artistic spirit. Local artists have taken to the streets to showcase their creativity and use public spaces as their canvas. Walking around the streets of Yerevan, you will find street art pieces that are both beautiful and thought-provoking.
Visit some of the best art studios in Armenia to get a firsthand look at contemporary art. There are no better places for art enthusiasts to see the creative process of local artists and various contemporary art pieces such as paintings, sculptures, and installations. There are plenty of such studios not only in Yerevan but also in the countryside. So, include one or two in your itinerary or search for some art studios on the way. One of the recently opened studios worth visiting is Tsitoghdzyan Art Studio in Dzoraghbyur.
History Museum of Armenia
The History Museum of Armenia is a museum in Armenia with departments of Archaeology, Numismatics, Ethnography, Modern History and Restoration. The History Museum of Armenia is considered a research center of Armenia’s history and culture, housing a national collection of about 400,000 archaeological, ethnographic, and numismatic objects. The museum collection reflects a complete picture of the culture and history of Armenia, from prehistoric times, the period of Paleolith to the present day. The museum has several departments such as Archaeology, Numismatics, Ethnography, Modern History and Restoration. The museum carries out important conservation and restoration work as well as educational and scientific programs on Armenian history and culture. It regularly publishes scholarly works on Armenian architecture, archaeology, ethnography, and history.
The History Museum of Armenia is a cultural organization of national significance, which over a century has been acquiring, collecting, preserving, and exhibiting tangible and intangible cultural values related to Armenia and the Armenian people. It has a national collection of 400,000 objects and was founded in 1920. Of the main collection, 35% is made up of archaeology-related items, 8% is made up of ethnography-related items, 45% is made of numismatics-related items, and 12% is made up of documents. It is regarded as Armenia’s national museum and is located on Republic Square in Yerevan. The state financially supports the museum and owns both the collection and the building. The museum carries out conservation and restoration work and publishes works on Armenian architecture, archaeology, ethnography, and history.
National Gallery of Armenia
The National Gallery of Armenia is the largest art museum in Armenia. Located on Yerevan’s Republic Square, the museum has one of the most prominent locations in the Armenian capital. The NGA houses significant collections of Russian and Western European art, and the world’s largest collection of Armenian art. The museum currently houses around 26,000 works of art, many of which are permanently displayed in the museum’s 56 galleries and halls. Armenian art makes up the largest part of the collection. Presentation of classic Armenian art begins with ancient and Medieval art: Urartu frescoes and copies of Garni Temple’s mosaics and Medieval wall-paintings and miniatures. The museum also has an extensive collection of Armenian Apostolic Church-related paintings and artefacts ranging from the 17th-19th centuries, ancient manuscripts, and crosses.
The largest part of the Armenian collection is dedicated to the work of classical Armenian painters such as Vardges Sureniants, Stepan Aghajanian, Yeghishe Tadevosyan, Panos Terlemezian, Gevorg Bashinjaghian, Martiros Saryan, Hakob Kojoyan, Arshak Fetvadjian and others. The museum also proudly owns 62 canvases of Ivan Aivazovsky, a prominent painter of Armenian background, who was known for his marine art and Armenian motifs.
Exposition of classic Armenian art begins with ancient and Medieval art: Urartu frescoes and copies of Garni Temple’s mosaics and Medieval wall-paintings and miniatures, including a 7th-century fresco of “Christ Enthroned” from St. Stephanos Church (Lmbatavank), a 10th-century fresco fragment of “The Last Judgment” from St. Poghos-Petros (Tatev), and a 13th-century fresco depicting the Nativity from St. Astvatsatskin (Akhtala).
The museum has an extensive collection of Armenian Apostolic Church-related paintings ranging from the 17th-19th centuries, as well as, silver book-covers of manuscripts, crosses, and 18th-century altar curtains from across Asia. Collection of Armenian paintings of the 17th century consists mostly of the artistic heritage of the Hovnatanian’s dynasty. Beside works of Hovnatan Hovnatanian, strong collection of pieces by Hakob Hovnatanyan, founder of portrait genre in Armenian painting, is displayed in the Gallery.
The Sergei Parajanov Museum is a tribute to Soviet Armenian director and artist Sergei Parajanov and is one of the most popular museums in Yerevan. It represents Parajanov’s diverse artistic and literary heritage. The Museum of the renowned film director, screenwriter, and artist Sergey Parajanov is located in Yerevan, in one of the picturesque corners of the capital called Dzoragyugh. The idea to create the Director’s house-museum emerged in 1988 when one of Sergey Parajanov’s friends, Zaven Sargsyan, organized an exhibition of Parajanov’s works at the Museum of Folk Art in Yerevan. The exhibition was a success and was attended by the Maestro himself.
The museum is situated in a traditional Caucasian-style building and consists of two floors. Comprising some 1,400 exhibits, the museum’s collection includes installations, collages, assemblages, drawings, dolls and hats. The museum also showcases unpublished screenplays, librettos and various artworks which Parajanov created while in prison. Among the other exponates of museum are two re-created memorial rooms, original posters, festival prizes, signed letters by Federico Fellini, Lilya Brik, Andrey Tarkovsky, Mikhail Vartanov, and Yuri Nikulin, gifts by famous visitors Tonino Guerra, Vladimir Putin and Roman Balayan, who is the author of “A Night at Paradganov’s Museum” film. The museum uses art and exposition principles of Parajanov himself. The museum has organized about 50 exhibitions, including those at Cannes, Athens, Tokyo, Moscow, Rome, Tehran, and Hollywood.
The Mesrop Mashtots Institute of Ancient Manuscripts also known as Matenadaran is a depository of ancient manuscripts and has one of the biggest collections in Armenia. It was founded in 1959 and located in Yerevan. The Museum’s complex is located in the institute’s old, original building which started with a single exhibition hall, but now has fifteen halls with lots of exhibits. The museum also presents old Armenian works of medieval science, art, and Armenian miniature painting. The exhibits include the survived manuscripts from the Genocide, miniature painting from the Schools of Bardzr Haik (Upper Armenia), Cilician Armenia, the Crimea, Constantinople, and others. There is also the Artsakh exhibition hall which presents the miniature works of the Artsakh School. Matendaran is not only a depository of ancient manuscripts but is also a well-known Research and Cultural Center.
The Armenian manuscripts are rich with beautiful and colorful miniatures; the colors have maintained their brilliance over centuries. At Matenadaran, visitors have the chance to see manuscripts, individual miniatures, documents, and old books. The exhibition of the Central Hall is dedicated to the development of Armenian medieval sciences, literature, and arts throughout the centuries. It presents the Armenian culture started from the creation of the alphabet by Mesrop Mashtots in 405 AD to the 18th century. The repository contains more than 17,000 manuscripts, 450,000 documents, and 3,000 ancient books. The oldest manuscript is the “Vehamor Avetaran” dated from the 8th century. Here you will see the biggest Armenian book “Msho Charyntir” (weighs 28 kg) and the smallest book (190g).
In the collection hall of Mush and Karin are presented the survived manuscripts from different parts of Armenia. The most famous manuscripts are “Msho Charentir” (Homilies of Mush) and “Zeytun Gospel”, miniature manuscripts of Cilician School. The exhibition also includes digital copies of numerous manuscripts shown by the electronic monitors on the wall. There is also the Medieval Medicine exhibition hall which presents the manuscripts of medical books that have historical as well as modern and practical significance. The exhibition of Archival valuable documents is devoted to the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide in which many documents are exhibited for the first time.
Martiros Saryan House Museum
Located in the heart of Yerevan, this museum is dedicated to the life and art of Martiros Saryan, one of Armenia’s greatest painters, whose works are admired worldwide. You can see many of his most famous drawings at the museum, including landscapes, portraits, and more. Saryan was born in 1880 in Nakhichevan. He spent much of his life traveling and painting – you will notice how the vibrant colors and landscapes of the Caucasus mountains have deeply influenced his works. Saryan is best known for using bright, bold colors in his paintings and his ability to capture the beauty of nature in his art. Visit Martiros Saryan House Museum to learn about Armenian culture and history through Saryan’s eyes.
Saryan designed costumes and sets for the Armenian theater and created decorative works for public buildings and private homes. This diversity of his artistic creations is reflected in the museum’s exhibits, which showcase not only his paintings but also his designs and decorative works. Some unique art pieces to see at the House Museum include Saryan’s famous painting “Armenia,” which depicts the country’s natural beauty and cultural heritage. Also check out his stunning landscapes, “Armenian Village” and “The Ararat Valley.” The museum hosts temporary exhibitions and events throughout the year in addition to its permanent exhibits. So, check the announcements and visit the museum to make your time in Yerevan even more artistic. Such cultural events also feature modern artists’ work and explore various issues relating to Saryan’s life and art.
Erebuni Museum stands at the foot of the Arin Berd hill, the birthplace of capital Yerevan and the centerpiece of Armenia’s rich history and culture. The museum was established in 1968, and the city-fortress was excavated, some parts of the structure were reinforced and restored, and the fortress was turned into an outdoor museum. The Urartian Gallery features a number of fascinating objects, such as cups, jars, bronze bracelets, agate beads, and glass. Overall, the museum houses 12,235 exhibits that provide valuable information about the Urartian and post-Urartian civilizations living in the territory. One of the most famous artifacts in the museum-reserve is the Erebuni inscription, discovered on the fortress’s walls. The inscription is written in the Urartian language and records the founding of the city by King Argishti I in 782 BC.
After exploring the museum section, climb the hill and uncover the Urartian Fortress. Walking through the Erebuni Fortress, you will feel the weight of history bearing down on you. The walls, towers, and buildings are a testament to power and glory. The tour of the fortress area will mesmerize you. But the Erebuni Historical Archaeological Museum-Reserve isn’t just about looking at old stones and inscriptions. It’s a living, breathing cultural institution that celebrates the traditions and customs of the Armenian people. From music and dance performances to pottery-making workshops and guided tours of the museum-reserve and surrounding areas, there’s always something happening at the Erebuni Historical Archaeological Museum-Reserve.
Wine History Museum
Wine History Museum present a comprehensively researched history of Armenian winemaking, rich in centuries-old traditions of growing grapes and making wine, has matured over the years. Archaeological monuments, bibliographic and ethnographic data became the basis to create the Museum of Winemaking History in Armenia. The main exhibition hall, located at the level of underground basalt rocks with a depth of 8 meters, presents the chronological stages of the development of wine in Armenia in detail, as well as the relationship of wine with various areas of Armenian history and culture. The development of viticulture and winemaking in the Armenian Highlands is represented not only by artifacts and interpretation but also by innovative, interactive solutions. Such a structure of the museum allows the visitors to get an exact idea of millennium-old Armenian culture as a whole.
Museum of Urban Life and National Architecture is an old mansion, housing collections related to both history and the everyday-life of Gyumri as well as the local cultural and architectural characteristics of the city. The famous house was built by a first class and rich trader, Petros Dzitoghtsyan in 1872. The 4 brothers originally from Western Armenian village of Dzitogh, migrated to the city of Alexandropol. It is built with the famous indigenous red tuff stone of Shirak. The architect of the building came up with a very smart solution to build the house on a splay. The eastern part is one floor, while the western has two floors. In 1984 the Museum of National Architecture and Urban Life was established and located in this building.
The vaulted interior ceilings, the traditional rugs and other decorations are well worth seeing. The museum is divided into two sections: the first room displays an exhibition of photographs of famous people. Among them are photographs of Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan and Jacques Cousteau. You can also see furniture in the rooms of the Dzitoghtsyans: the piano brought from Italy and other pieces of furniture brought from Russia and Europe. The exposition is remarkably rich, highlighting the exceptional mastery of the local craftsmen. The collections include contemporary artwork, carpets and handicraft from Gyumri, all items typical to a rich Gyumri family. In the second room, photographs of old Gyumri and 19th century maps of old Alexandropol are displayed. The room has an odd display of keys on the wall, as well as a very well-done diorama of the old city.
This memorial sculptural complex is built in the sunny Ararat valley. By allegories, it represents the Armenian-Turkish battle in 1918 and glorifies the brilliant victory of Armenian people. Near the entrance of the complex there are two huge winged bulls, symbolizing the persistence of Armenian nation and the alley, fringed by five eagles, leads to the Ethnography museum with a rich exhibition of Armenian culture, trades and crafts.
Treasury House Museum
The Alex and Marie Manoogian Treasury House Museum, opened on 11 October 1982, is a fine example of modern Armenian Architecture which encompasses the original and distinctive features of classical Armenian architecture. The two-story structure houses not only the museum pieces of the Armenian Church, but also serves as the temporary building for the Karekin I Library. The architect is Mr. Baghdasar Arzoumanian. The Treasury House was named after the great American/Armenian benefactors Mr. and Mrs. Alex and Marie Manoogian. This beautiful and valuable building was erected due to their donations.
The exhibits of the Treasury House have been brought to the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin from different Armenian communities throughout time, comprising a vast geographical area. These exhibits come to testify about the skill and high artistic taste of the Armenian craftsmen of different centuries, their unique perception of beauty. Numerous valuable artistic items are exhibited in the halls of the Treasury House, including samples of church art as well as applied art, cross banners, Altar curtains, Right Hands, pyxes, vestments, lanterns, different crosses, staffs, ancient Armenian carpets, pottery and wood-engravings. Among the precious exhibits of the Treasury House of great value are the handwritten records, the manuscripts with unique miniature illustrations and silver, delicately ornamented covers. The collection of pictures depicting the Holy Mother of God created in different regions of historic Armenia at different time periods is also kept here.
The Metsamor Historical Archaeological Museum-Reserve
The Metsamor Historical Archaeological Museum-Reserve is an important archaeological site located in the Armavir Province, near the town of Metsamor. It is home to the ruins of an ancient settlement that dates back to as early as the Bronze Age. The site was discovered in the 1960s, and extensive archaeological excavations have revealed a wealth of artifacts and structures from different periods of history. All the findings, including pottery, metalwork, jewelry, and tools, are exhibited in the museum next to the archaeological site. These artifacts provide insight into the daily life, customs, and traditions of the people who lived in the region during this period. The museum also features exhibits related to the ancient metallurgical technology used at the site. You can see examples of bronze and iron tools and weapons produced using techniques developed at Metsamor. These exhibits demonstrate Metsamor’s important role in the region’s metallurgy development.
Yeghegnadzor Regional Museum
Yeghegnadzor Regional Museum, established in 1968, dedicated to the history, culture, and traditions of the Vayots Dzor Province. The museum has a collection of over 9,000 artifacts, including archaeological finds, ancient manuscripts, traditional costumes, household items, and works of art. The museum’s artworks, which include pots, jars, plates, beads, pendants, necklaces, and so on, date back to the 3rd millennium B.C. The museum also houses several exhibits from medieval times, including gems of applied art and decorative manifestations of local traditions, such as talismans, churn, pipes, and so on. Some highlights of the museum’s collection include a 14th-century Khachkar (cross-stone) carved by Momik and brought here from Noravank Monastery, and a collection of late 19th and early 20th-century Armenian carpets and rugs.
Armenia is rich in incredible natural, historical, and cultural landscapes, offering countless captivating attractions to the curious and adventurous traveler. Visit hundreds of breathtaking and unique natural sites in Armenia to add vibrant colors to your trip. Check out the best natural attractions below to fully appreciate Armenia’s untouched beauty.
Symphony of Stones
Symphony of Stones, the majestic natural monument at the Azat River Gorge, the stones resemble a musical instrument – the organ. This location is a striking illustration of how nature is the best architect and sculptor. Include the Symphony of Stones in your trip to Garni Temple and Geghard Monastery.
Lake Sevan, a special natural location in the Gegharkunik region, is the second-largest freshwater source in the world by height. Mountains surrounding the lake ensure moderate summers and chilly winters. Visit the lake’s Sevanavank and Hayravank Monasteries, as well as the Noratus cemetery of antique cross stones, when you are there.
Vsit Lake Parz in the Tavush region. It is located within the territory of Dilijan National Park, the road leading to the lake is mesmerizing – all you need to do is breathe in the fresh air and enjoy the views of the dense forest.
Lake Gosh, surrounded by the dense forests of Dilijan National Park, is a must-see natural site in Armenia. It is a small mountain lake formed by melting snow and springs. Only true nature lovers choose to visit and enjoy its steep hiking trail.
Capture some rainbows in the water over Shaki Waterfall, Syunik’s pearl of nature. Located in Syunik province, the waterfall in the spring to take advantage of its full potential due to snow melting and rainwater capacity.
Well-known for its mineral water supplies, the Arpa River creates the waterfall,, otherwise known as “Mermaid’s Hair.”
The main water supply in the Syunik region, the Vorotan River, is a unique natural site in Armenia. The river is around 180 km in length and flows through Syunik, creating stunning nature scenes along the way. There are also several sightseeing places on the banks of the Vorotan River, such as Tatev’s Grand Hermitage or Tatev’s Mets Anapat. The river also formed another impressive natural site, the Devil’s Bridge.
located in the Syunik region, the vast spikes and pillars below the bridge make this site even more impressive and are not to be missed. When you look down from both sides of the bridge, you can see that less water enters and more water gets out from the bridge. Locals suspected the devil was involved, but the truth is that the water volume increases due to natural springs beneath the bridge.
Located in the Lori region, Debed Canyon is a top spot to enjoy nature to the fullest and take some great shots from different locations. Getting the astonishing views of Debed Canyon during sunset or early sunrise is even more charming.
Mount Azhdahak was a volcano that erupted thousands of years ago. The colors of the highest peak of the Geghama Mountains, Azhdahak, claim its volcanic origin. The hike to Mount Azhdahak is delightful, with a small mountain lake formed over the crater due to snow melting.
The highest peak in Armenia, Mount Aragats, is a must-see natural site in Armenia. The way up to the mountain is breathtaking, offering scenic views of surrounding mountains, including Mount Ara and Arteni, and the beauty of the Armenian highlands – Mount Ararat. There are also some cultural sites on the slopes of Mount Aragats you might find interesting to visit.
Located in the Shirak region, Lake Arpi is one of the most picturesque natural sites in Armenia. Visit Lake Arpi during the bird migration period (early Spring and Autumn), and you might also see common flamingos, cormorants, egrets, and herons. Lake Arpi National Park, extending over the surrounding green areas of the lake, aims to protect the vegetation and wildlife of the territory.
Adventurous travel in beautiful Armenia is your doorway to a new and fascinating world. Nurture your adventurous soul and experience the gifts of local nature. Wakeboard, waterski, or jet ski on the largest lake in the Caucasus, or simply go on a boat ride and enjoy the view. Bike ride along stunning mountain roads, climbing the 7th century Amberd Fortress, follow an irresistible hiking path from Tatev Monastery past Khndzoresk Caves, explore Dilijan National Park or ski at Tsaghkadzor in winter.
Armenia has more than 60 hiking trails can take. Go ziplining, rafting, or visit several of hundreds of tourist attractions. In Armenia, you can find lush forests, high-altitude lakes, waterfalls, streams, jaw-dropping gorges and cliffs, and a variety of breathtaking landscapes. For all hiking aficionados, Armenia embodies everything you’re looking for. The hiking season in Armenia begins in April and lasts until November. Each season and each region offers hikers a chance to experience something different. With a wide diversity of landscapes to choose from, there is always something new to explore.
The Armenian national stage of the Transcaucasian Trail takes hikers through 827km of the most spectacular terrain the country has to offer. The whole hike will take you from Lake Arpi through the Debed Canyon to Dilijan National Park (80km), The Gegham Mountains (114km), Vayots Dzor (181km), and Syunik (150km). The entirety of the hike can take anywhere between 25 days to over a month. This trail represents the very best of the unique cultural and natural landscapes the country has to offer and constitutes an authentic world-class hiking experience. Hikers who come prepared for self-sufficiency, diverse terrain, and off-trail travel will be rewarded with an incredible experience navigating one of the world’s most culturally, linguistically, and geographically diverse parts.
A variety of companies offer paragliding to visitors, Zoom over the lovely valley of Tsaghkaszor, the Hrazdan Gorge near Yerevan, or the lush forests of Yenokavan. Armenia has a range of exciting locations for ziplining enthusiasts of all levels of expertise. Take a hot air balloon ride 1,000 meters off the ground and take in Armenia’s stunning landscapes, including one of the best views of Mount Ararat.
At 4090 meters, the north summit of Mount Aragats is the highest point in the country and a popular destination for people who want to challenge their strength and relish the taste of freedom. For those looking for something a little less extreme, the southern peak of Mount Aragats (3879 meters) will prove the ideal getaway. The gorge of Noravank Monastery, located 80 kilometers southeast of Yerevan, offers limestone cliffs and picturesque nature engulfed in the gentle roar of the Amaghu River. Alternatively, the Gorge of Garni, just 30 kilometers from Yerevan, is framed by rocky walls and landscapes so unusual you may begin to wonder if you’ve crawled into another world.
Wakeboard, waterski, or jet ski on Lake Sevan, the largest lake in the Caucasus, or simply go on a boat ride and enjoy the view. Or try whitewater rafting on Debed River. The river starts off calm but intensifies with strong streams. Paddleboarding on Azat Reservoir, after a short training, you can easily master this sport and spend the day paddling.
For those looking for a calmer experience, consider a nature hike through one of Armenia’s national parks or a calming afternoon at the shores of Parz Lake. Many private companies can also organize horseback riding adventures for those who wish to combine their love of animals with quiet time in nature.
Armenia sits at a crosspoint between the Middle East, the Eastern Mediterranean, and the Caucasus. So, Armenian cuisine naturally reflects a broad palette of flavors you can experience in every bite. Against the backdrop of the regional culinary scene, Armenian cuisine includes distinct features, unique flavors, and unmistakably Armenian tastes. Combine the finest aspects of Eastern European and Middle Eastern cuisine and you’ll discover Armenian food, a tasty blend of influences from across the region. Armenian food is rich in vegetables, meat, fish and dairy products. Lavash (famous local flatbread), lamb, eggplant and fresh herbs are the primary components of many local dishes.
For millennia, Armenian food traditions were shaped by geographical and climatic conditions, local lifestyle, and different types of mountain vegetation. The original recipes were created as food for farmers and herders and were designed to be nutritious and quick to prepare, utilizing fresh ingredients and wild-growing herbs. These recipes are still in use today and are essential to local food practices. However, fine dining and higher cuisine have recently seen a resurgence and growing popularity in the country. For an authentic bazaar experience, Yerevan’s famous GUM Market is bursting with nuts, dried fruits, vegetables, various local cheeses and overwhelming hospitality.
The tonir, a hearth dug into the ground similar to the Indian ‘tandoor,’ has always been the most common feature of local cuisine. The tonir can be used for cooking, baking, and keeping warm during the winter. The most common Armenian dish is lavash, a large, thin bread made in the tonir. Wrapped in that lavash, you can taste Khorovats (barbecue), one of the most popular courses at Armenian festivities and family gatherings.Khorovats are Armenian barbecued meats that are typically served with grilled vegetables, peppers, tomatoes, and a generous amount of fresh herbs.
One of the most traditional dishes in Armenia is ghapama, a stuffed pumpkin filled with rice, raisins and dried fruit which is often served on special occasions. If you love sweets, the gata sweet bread will leave you speechless, as will sujuk, a traditional local candy of walnuts wrapped with a fruity paste. Khurjin, a traditional mountainous dish. According to local saying, the wives of shepherds used to make khurjin for their husbands before they journeyed into the mountains for weeks and months at a time. This convenient dish is a simple meat and vegetable combination that is then wrapped in a big parcel of lavash.
Tzvzhik, made from veal liver and onions, and Kufta, which is essentially meat “soufflé” are two other ancient Armenian dishes that are still popular today. The cooking method for Kufta varies according to its geographical origin (Etchmiadzin or Gavar styles). Still, it’s typically made with beef whipped into a soft substance and then boiled in a large lump in water before being served with melted butter on top. Another popular Middle Eastern dish is Ichli Kufta, which is made with bulgur, minced meat, walnuts and seasonings. Dolma, grape leaves stuffed with rice and meat and served with a creamy garlic garnish; khorovats, a delicious grilled lamb; and basturma, dried and seasoned beef prepared with spices.
Zhengyalov hats, a flat bread stuffed with butter and several types of greens and herbs, as well as eetch, cooked bulgur with various vegetables and spices. Tolma is another traditional Armenian dish in which minced meat and rice are gently wrapped in vine or cabbage leaves or stuffed into vegetables such as eggplants, peppers, and tomatoes. Tolma also comes in vegetarian and vegan varieties, which combine seasonings with cooked beans, chickpeas, lentils (the Pasuts Tolma or Lenten Tolma), or rice.
People practiced winemaking in Armenia for more than 6,100 years. Ararat, Armavir, Aragatsotn, Tavush, and Vayots Dzor regions offer favorable conditions for growing grapes and making wines. Each area ensures a distinctive taste of wines based on the location of vineyards and various indigenous and local grape varieties.The discovery of Areni-1 Cave’s winery makes this region the cradle of winemaking in the entire world. There is no mystery why Armenia is home to hundreds of world-class vineyards. There is several wine routes to have hands-on experience making wine and tasting the outstanding wines made by local producers.
Armenian wines are world-class because of its history and terroir, particularly a very diverse range of natural conditions, volcanic soil, high-altitude vineyards, and indigenous grape varieties, as well as abundance of sunny days. Armenia offers red, rosé, white, and orange wines to impress wine lovers of any kind. Local producers develop different wine varieties depending on the grape variety and other impactful natural factors. Many bars and restaurants in Yerevan, cafes on Saryan Street, wineries, and their degustation halls in Areni offer a wide variety of excellent wines.
Ararat Region – in the Ararat region, you can notice the vineyards stretching on both sides of the highway. Ararat is the sunniest region in Armenia and ensures favorable conditions for growing Mskhali, Kakhet, Karmrahyut, and Garan Dmak grape varieties. Visit several wineries to experience the local wine’s unique flavors and a bouquet of aromas.
Vayots Dzor Region – the birthplace of the Armenian red grape variety called Sev Areni (Areni Noir) is the gem of local wine-making art. The sign “Vayots Dzor Wine Route” on the road cannot be unseen since this region is home to a number of prominent wineries. Taste local wine and learn about the wine production in the Vayots Dzor region.
Armavir Region – the majority of white grape production in Armenia. So, if you are a white wine lover, Armavir is your go-to! Here, locals grow Garan Dmak, Mskhali and Kangun grape varieties which turn into alluring wines for dozens of winemakers and wineries. Haghtanak on the other hand is a red grape variety and wines from Haghtanak have long ageing potential, expressed aromas of dark berries and peppery notes.
Tavush Region – the greenest area of Armenia, plays a significant role in wine-making. Ijevan wine and brandy factory is the leading producer of local aromatic white wines. Banants and Lalvari grape varieties from the Tavush region are a unique addition to the local wine-making. wine.
Aragatsotn Region – home to dozens of modern wineries also hosting guests to tour and taste local wine. You should visit some of the wine producers and factories to impress yourself with the wine production’s professionalism and the local wine’s enticing taste.