Ashtarak / Church Karmravor
Ashtarak town ("Tower" in Armenian) is famous as a scientific center. There are many scientific research institutes here. There are ancient burial sites and fortifications in Parbi, Mughni, Orgov. Going from Yerevan to Ashtarak, Kasakh river is spanned by a 5th century bridge. It is a nice three-arched bridge built of apricot-color duff stone.
The beautiful Karmravor church made of red stone stands on the rock rising above the bridge. Surprising churches of Karmravor, (7th c.), Marine (13th c.), Mughni (10th c.), Saghmosavank (12-13th c.), Ohanavank (5-13th c.) are also located in Ashtarak.
Cathedral of Echmiadzin
Visit the Echmiadzin Cathedral, the most ancient Christian temple in Armenia, and the Holy See and official residence of the Catholics of all Armenians. According to tradition, St. Gregory the Illuminator saw a vision of the "Only Begotten" descend from heaven, and show the spot where the church should be erected. In 303 AD, two years after Christianity was declared the state Religion, the Mother church of the Holy See was completed. It was rebuilt in the 480s. Through the centuries there have been construction and additions, and the main dome was rebuilt in 1627. Nagash Ovnatan painted the interior murals in 1720. The church is surrounded by gardens, were you will see examples of "khachkar"s, or stone crosses. You will visit the underground site of the pagan temple upon which the present cathedral stands. You will also visit the Museum, "Gandzaran", which houses exquisite church attire embroidered with gold and pearls, as well as crosses and all kinds of ritual vessels of silver, gold, ivory, adorned with filigree work and jewels, with most items dating back to the 17th through 19th centuries (the tour of the museum is available every day except Sunday).
St. Gayane and St. Hripsime Churches: The St. Gayane church is built in the City of Echmiadzin, a short walk from the Cathedral. Built in 630 (according to a chronicle), they are the two oldest churches in Armenia. St. Hripsime is a beautiful example of Armenian architecture of the classical period.
Garni pagan temple
Garni pagan temple was built in the 1st. century AC and was devoted to one of the Armenian Pagan Gods - Mitra. After Armenia converted to Christianity in the 4th c., the rulers of the country used the temple as their summer residence. King Khosrov stayed there often, as the area was his favorite hunting ground. Garni was destroyed when the Arabs conquered Armenia but was rebuilt in the beginning of the 10th c. Its final destruction came in 1638 during the Turkish invasion. A violent earthquake buried what remained from it in 1679. The complete restoration of the temple began in 1970 and was over in 1978. The temple consists of dwellings and bath quarters built in the 3rd century in the Roman style. The fantastic landscape of Garni canyon shakes the human imagination
Geghard was initially known simply as Ayrivank (Cave Monastery). The present buildings comprising it date back to 10-13th cc., at which time it was renamed as Geghard meaning "lance" (spear) in Armenian. The name refers to the biblical lance used by a Roman soldier to pierce Christ's body to find out if he was alive or not. The lance was kept in Geghard for a long time before being moved to the museum of Echmiadzin Cathedral. The main church, constructed in 1215, is the oldest building in the monastery complex. Avazan church, 1283, is carved right into the solid rock and is an incomparable work of art. It leads to a rectangular portico and then to another church deeper in the rock. Along the southern and eastern walls of the monastery, high above the valley, medieval dwellings appear. The monastery has withstood many assaults during a period of seven hundred years. Its walls have sheltered many scholars and it was revered throughout Armenia as one of the greatest spiritual and cultural centers in the country. Hundreds of khachkars (cross-stones) and caves are built in the rocks surrounding the Monastery.
Haghartsin monastery, not far from Dilijan is hidden from the world. The monastery is built by the architect Minas in 1248 with lavish decorations of carved stone. The main church is typical of the churches built between the 10th and 13th centuries. The oldest church in the complex is with the cross-winged dome named after St. Gregory. The refectory of Haghartsin is also very unique in character. There is a number of very interesting khachkars in the complex. The monastery itself is situated within an oak forest, in the gorge of a small river. You can easily forget your worries when you are up there in nature surrounded by trees.
This is a masterpiece of architecture and a marvelous example of cross-cupola architecture of the 7th century. Weddings and baptisms are performed here on Saturdays and Sundays. Remnants of very old constructions were discovered under the temple in 1959 while the temple was being restored. Virgin's tomb lies here in the crypt of the church. Beautiful Gardens surround the grounds.
Khor Virap Monastery
There are ruins of the ancient capital of Armenia here and the church of XVI AD. This monastery complex is widely known for its fortress and underground prison where the first Armenian Saint and the establisher of Christianity in Armenia Grigor Lousavorich (Gregory the Illuminator) have been in confinement. For preaching faith Christianity in Armenia he was imprisoned in this remote place by Trdat King for 13 years. Trdat got ill and in his dream he was told that only Gregory would be able to help him. Indeed, Gregory cured him and was rewarded and given his freedom and began baptizing the nation in 301 and Armenia claimed Christianity as a state religion. You can climb down into the dark pit yourself, and then treat yourself to the most spectacular view of the glorious Mt. Ararat.
Lake Sevan, Peninsula and Churches of Sevan.This wonder of nature is 60 Km from Yerevan on a highway which cuts northward through mountains and rocks. Sevan is so austere and majestic that the gentle turquoise waters are astonishing. They fill the gigantic depression situated at the height of almost 2000 meters above sea level. Sevan, with its pure air and sandy beaches, is a popular holiday resort. Sevan has always been famous for its fish "ishkhan" which means "prince-fish" in Armenian. One of the most interesting sites in Sevan is the monastery on the rocky peninsula founded in 874 AD by King Ashot I and his daughter Mariam. Other monuments include Sevan Monastery (874) and Astvatsatsin Church.
Monastery of Haghpat ( A Unesco Heritage).
Haghpat is a monastery complex the most prominent structure of which is the Savor's Church (956-967), built by architect Trdat for princes Gougen and Smbat from the Kyurikian Kingdom. The eastern part of the church holds a bas-relief depicting the two princes holding the miniature copy of the actual church. The former village of Sanahin is located on the right side of the gorge. It has become a part of Alaverdi town nowadays. An interesting point is the Academy dating back to 1063, where famous scientist, philosopher and writer Grigor Magistros-Savor lectured. The Sanahin Monastery had many feudal properties, a great number of states, lands, vineyards, oil-mills and factories.
Noravank monastery is considered to be the pulpit of Syunik bishops. The main church of St. Karapet was built in 1227. The relieves on the entrance tympanum and the windows on the western facade are very interesting from an architectural point of view. To the south of the complex one can see a two-storied sepulcher church built in 1339. This tomb monument can be traced to the 4th or 5th centuries. To the right of the entrance of the tympanum, one can find recently discovered stalactite caves. The monastery had been completely reconstructed and reopened in 1999. The magnificent landscape of mountains, surrounding the monastery, display a beautiful array of colors from the sun's reflection
Yerevan is the capital of Armenia and one of the oldest cities in the world. In 782 B.C.the Urartian king Argishti the First founded Erebuni, the military and administrative center of Urartu, on the place of the present day Yerevan.It stretches under the gaze of biblical mountain Ararat and resembles a beautiful gilt bowl to those flying over it.
Modern Yerevan is mostly a rebuilt colorful city with buildings of unique architecture, constructed from basalt, marble, onyx and volcanic tufa stone and it is a contemporary to such ancient metropolises as Babylon and Nineveh. Today’s Yerevan is a beautiful city and has a population of more than a million and a quarter. The center part of the city involves three main squares: the Republic Square, The Shahumian Square and the Theatrical Square. The Republic square is the Gemstone of the city. The square is framed with the buildings of the Government of some Ministries and hotel Armenia, designed by Alexander Tamanian in the best tradition of Armenian architecture. The History Museum and the Art Gallery are also in the Republic square as well as a beautiful water fountain with colorful illumination and music. The Theatrical Square is adjacent to the State Opera and Ballet House making up another picturesque ensemble. The Hrazdan Stadium, Victory Bride, Ararat Wine and Cognac Factories overlook the beautiful Hrazdan canyon.
On the Tzizernakaberd Hill with the panoramic view of the capital the Memorial to the Victims of the Genocide of 1915 and the Museum. Close by the Sports and Concerts Center with two halls of 5000 and 1300 seats with common rotating stage between them. The arena in the Sports Hall can be converted into a skating-rink.
Visitors to Yerevan can enjoy walking the city streets and see many historical and cultural sights as well as number of parks and public gardens. Relax in one of the cafes and small restaurants and enjoy rich Armenian cuisine, the famous Armenian cognac and wines. Over hundred historical and cultural museums, art galleries, Jazz clubs are all within walking distance.
Visiting Yerevan will leave you with unforgettable impressions about an ancient and at the same time a modern city.