The Armenian Culture Tour is a fascinating and surprising exploration of Armenia’s hidden treasures. 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. As the earliest Christian country, Armenia’s culture, including traditional folk customs and living habits, has long been recorded in books, manuscripts and poems and passed down from generation to generation.
Combining stunning scenery, landforms, people, traditions, religion, spirituality, architecture, gastronomy, and more, Armenia’s Culture Tours are filled with endless possibilities that are yet to be discovered. Time seems to pass more slowly in this land, after thousands of years of baptism, many allusions recorded in manuscripts can still be found in the vast land of Armenia. Fascinated by new cultures, lifestyles and traditions, The tour is also suit for fans of religious roots, bread making or architectural masterpieces, this is an excellent opportunity to find out more about the cultural heritage of one of the world’s lesser-known countries.
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.
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.
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.
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.
If you want to take the most striking photos of Mount Ararat and learn how Armenians converted to Christianity, the Khor Virap Monastery is the place to go. 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.
Sanahin & Haghpat
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 will take you about 3 hours to get to Akhtala. 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.
Armenian literature dates back to 400 AD, when Mesrop Mashtots first invented the Armenian alphabet. This period of time is often viewed as the Golden Age of Armenian literature. Early Armenian literature was written by the “father of Armenian history”, Moses of Chorene, who authored The History of Armenia. The book covers the time-frame from the formation of the Armenian people to the fifth century AD.
The nineteenth century beheld a great literary movement that was to give rise to modern Armenian literature. This period of time, during which Armenian culture flourished, is known as the Revival period (Zartonki sherchan). The Revivalist authors of Constantinople and Tiflis, almost identical to the Romanticists of Europe, were interested in encouraging Armenian nationalism. Most of them adopted the newly created Eastern or Western variants of the Armenian language depending on the targeted audience, and preferred them over classical Armenian (grabar). This period ended after the Hamidian massacres, when Armenians experienced turbulent times. As Armenian history of the 1920s and of the Genocide came to be more openly discussed, writers like Paruyr Sevak, Gevork Emin, Silva Kaputikyan and Hovhannes Shiraz began a new era of literature.
Music and Dance
The music of Armenia has its origins in the Armenian highlands, dating back to the 3rd millennium BCE, and is a long-standing musical tradition that encompasses diverse secular and religious, or sacred, music. Traditional Armenian folk music as well as Armenian church music is not based on the European tonal system but on a system of tetrachords. The last note of one tetrachord also serves as the first note of the next tetrachord.
Armenia has had a long tradition of folk music since antiquity. Traditional instruments include the qamancha, kanon (box zither), dhol (double-headed hand drum, see davul), oud (lute), duduk, zurna, blul, sring, shvi, pku, parkapzuk, tar, dmblak, bambir, and to a lesser degree the saz. Other instruments often used include the violin and clarinet. The duduk is considered to be Armenia’s national instrument, and among its well-known performers are Margar Margaryan, Levon Madoyan, Vache Hovsepyan, Gevorg Dabaghyan, and Yeghish Manukyan, as well as Armenia’s most famous contemporary duduk player, Djivan Gasparyan.
Folk music was notably collected and transcribed by Komitas Vardapet, a prominent composer and musicologist, in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, who is also considered the founder of the modern Armenian national school of music.Armenian music has been presented internationally by numerous artists, such as composers Aram Khachaturian, Alexander Arutiunian, Arno Babajanian, Haig Gudenian, and Karen Kavaleryan as well as by traditional performers such as duduk player Djivan Gasparyan.
Armenian music has brought new forms of music in recent years, while maintaining traditional styles too. Jazz is popular in Armenia, especially in the summer when live performances are a regular occurrence at one of the city’s many outdoor cafés and parks. Armenian rock has made its input to the rock culture. Modern day Armenian artists have incorporated folk music into more modern jazz and rock genres so that the traditional music still influences their creations.
The Armenian dance heritage has been considered the oldest and most varied in its respective region. From the fifth to the third millennia B.C., in the higher regions of Armenia, the land of Ararat, there are rock paintings of scenes of country dancing. These dances were most likely accompanied by certain kinds of songs or musical instruments. In the fifth century, Moses of Khoren (Movsés Khorenats’i) himself had heard of how the old descendants of Aram (that is Armenians) make mention of these things (epic tales) in the ballads for the lyre and their songs and dances.
The energetic Armenian Yarkhushta is a martial dance mentioned in the medieval works of Movses Khorenatsi, Faustus of Byzantium, and Grigor Magistros. It has traditionally been danced by Armenian soldiers before combat engagements, partly for ritualistic purposes, and partly in order to cast off fear and boost battle spirit. The dance is performed by men, who face each other in pairs. The key element of the dance is a forward movement when participants rapidly approach one another and vigorously clap onto the palms of hands of dancers in the opposite row.
Traditional dancing is still popular among expatriate Armenians, and has also been very successfully exported to international folk dance groups and circle dance groups all over the world. All dancers wear the traditional costume to embody the history of their culture and to tell their ancestors stories. The design of these costumes are influenced by many factors, such as religious traditions, family methods, and practicality. The traditional coloring and exquisite beading of the costumes tie the dance and the tradition together. The beautiful movements of the Armenian cultural dance are adored by audiences around the world.
Traditionally, since ancient times the carpets were used in Armenia to cover floors, decorate interior walls, sofas, chairs, beds and tables. Up to present the carpets often serve as entrance veils, decoration for church altars and vestry. Starting to develop in Armenia as a part of everyday life, carpet weaving was a must in every Armenian family, with the carpet making and rug making being almost women’s occupation. Armenian carpets are unique “texts” composed of the ornaments where sacred symbols reflect the beliefs and religious notions of the ancient ancestors of the Armenians that reached us from the depth of centuries.
The Armenian carpet and rug weavers preserved strictly the traditions. The imitation and presentation of one and the same ornament-ideogram in the unlimited number of the variations of styles and colors contain the basis for the creation of any new Armenian carpet. In this relation, the characteristic trait of Armenian carpets is the triumph of the variability of ornaments that is increased by the wide gamut of natural colors and tints. Common themes and patterns found on Armenian carpets were the depiction of dragons and eagles. They were diverse in style, rich in color and ornamental motifs, and were even separated in categories depending on what sort of animals were depicted on them, such as artsvagorgs (eagle-carpets), vishapagorgs (dragon-carpets) and otsagorgs (serpent-carpets). The rug mentioned in the Kaptavan inscriptions is composed of three arches, “covered with vegatative ornaments”, and bears an artistic resemblance to the illuminated manuscripts produced in Artsakh.
In Lacemaking, Armenian needlelace seems to be an obvious descendant of netmaking. Where lacis adds decorative stitches to a net ground, Armenian needlelace involves making the net itself decorative. There is some archaeological evidence suggesting the use of lace in prehistoric Armenia and the prevalence of pre-Christian symbology in traditional designs would certainly suggest a pre-Christian root for this art form. In contrast to Europe where lace was the preserve of the nobility, in Armenia it decorated everything from traditional headscarves to lingerie. Thus lacemaking was part of many women’s lives.
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.