Armenia is a very ancient country, one of the earliest on the Earth. Even in the 9th-6th centuries BC there already was a powerful state called Urartu on its territory. And now Armenia, with its numerous historical monuments, can rightly be called one of the most interesting places in the Old World.
All the main sightseeings of Armenia are situated near Yerevan – one of the most ancient cities in the world.
1. Khor Virap Monastery – one of the most visited places of the country. It is situated at the very border with Turkey and has a wonderful view of Mount Ararat and the Ararat valley.
The monastery was built during the period from the 6th to the 17th centuries right over the dungeon where St. Gregory the Illuminator was kept for the spreading of Christianity.
It consists of two churches. The first one was built in 642 and it contains the dungeon. As for the second one, it was built in the end of the 17th century.
The monastery is surrounded by the stone wall to which cells, warehouses, guest homes and other buildings are attached.
And this is the dungeon itself. At those times it was full of poisonous snakes and scorpions. According to legend, Saint Gregory had been kept for 13 years here.
It is 4.4 m in diameter and 6 m in height. Those who suffer from claustrophobia won’t obviously like this place.
And this is simply called vandalism.
A splendid view of Ararat.
Inhabitants of the church.
A reduced copy of Ararat.
Noravank Monastery complex is situated on a ledge of the winding and amazingly beautiful gorge among the sheer red rocks.
On the way to Noravank the environment suddenly changes and it seems as if you’re in another world. The mountains are dark red here and the fields resemble a desert.
But nevertheless, local residents have adjusted to these conditions and easily grow different crops on these fields.
The road leading to the monastery.
Such color of the mountains results from a big amount of copper.
Beautiful Noravank twinkling against the background of fiery rocks.
The complex includes two churches, a chapel, ruins of some Medieval buildings and also a modern office and hall.
The first church (Surb Karapet) has a chapel attached to it.
It was built in 1213-1223 and restored in 1321 after a destructive earthquake.
Its facade. After the restoration an architect added two unusual fretworks – one above the door and the other above the upper window.
The inner walls of the church are covered with different ornaments. This one depicts a figure on a horse piercing a lion with a sword.
And of course, no church can be without burning candles.
Khachkar memorials inside (Armenian, “cross-stone”).
The second church (Surb Astvatsatsin) was built in 1339. It has two floors and is decorated with highly artistic reliefs.
In 1931 there was a severe earthquake which destroyed the greater part of the complex. Its restoration was completed in 2001.
The snake on the road whose condition doesn’t exactly make one envious.
Sadly, but pictures can’t convey all the majesty of these rocks.
Tanakhat Monastery complex is located on a hill of a very picturesque massif.
It consists of two churches, a cemetery and Gladzor University. The main church of the complex was built in 1279 and the second one is attached to it. They both are made of dark touchstone and thus are often called “Black Monastery”.
On the North part of the church one can see a sundial, ancient inscriptions and images of different animals.
A close up of the sundial which is very accurate, by the way.
The entrance is crowned with a bas-relief depicting a deer, peacock, some other birds and a rider in the middle who strikes the lion.
Unfortunately, the inside is dirty and it seems nobody has been here for a long time.
Ancient khachkars are near the monastery.
A nice view of the nearby mountains and gorges.
Zorats Church (the Church of the Holy Troops) is the main sightseeing of Yeghegis village.
Its construction is absolutely unique. There are no more churches like this one in Armenia.
Built in 1303, it has no room for worships inside, but there is a rather big ground before the entrance.
This natural ground was intended for soldiers who were going to take the field and thus came here for a blessing.
The church is situated on the hill near huge mountains.
It’s a common thing to see horses and other animals near the church because it is situated in the vicinity of an inhabited area.
The Holy city of Etchmiadzin is a sacred place of pilgrimage for millions of Armenians. After the breakdown of the USSR it got its ancient name – Vagharshapat but Etchmiadzin is still often used.
The city is located 20 km far from Yerevan. The monument of the St. Gregory the Illuminator’s spear-hand is at the entrance of the city.
Actually, there are 5 functioning churches in Etchmiadzin. The first one – Saint Hripsime church built in 618.
According to the legend, at the beginning of the 4th century 37 Christian nuns came to Armenia. A local king fell in love with one of them whose name was Hripsime. But the girl refused him saying she belonged to Christ only. Then he got angry and proclaimed her and all the other nuns to be state criminals for the spreading of Christianity, put them to torture and finally executed them.
After their death the king seriously fell ill. But some time later he repented his sins and soon got healthy again. Later this church was built here, in the place of execution of the poor nuns.
Another church – Surb Shogakat built in the 17th century.
Eternal flame is burning in commemoration of the died in the Second World War on one of the streets of Etchmiadzin.
One can often see storks on the poles here.
And some ostriches as well.
Taxi costs 400 drams (about 1 dollar).
Surb Astvatsatsin Church is not far from the market. It was built in 1796.
In the central part of the city there are lots of monuments. This one is Saint Mesrop Mashtots’ (the inventor of the Armenian alphabet).
Modern Armenian art.
An ancient cemetery and a white top of Ararat on the right.
Surb Gayane church.
A fresco painting of the 17th century.
The city is located near an airport.
But the main sightseeing of Etchmiadzin is, no doubt, its Cathedral of the same name. It’s not only one of the most significant architectural monuments in Armenia, but also the center of apostolic church.
The road to the cathedral passes through the park where this kind of rather interesting figures cut from the trees are situated.
On the way one can see a water fountain which is called “pulpulak”. There are a lot of pulpulaks in Armenia and they are especially appreciated when it’s hot outdoors.
The main part of this complex is, no doubt, the cathedral – the most ancient Christian Cathedral in Armenia and one of the first in the Christian world. According to the legend, the first stone of its foundation was laid in 303 by Saint Gregory the Illuminator – the first Catholicos of the Armenian Church.
Besides the cathedral, there are also the Catholicos’ residence, school, summer and winter fraters, hotel and other buildings on its territory.
Initially the Cathedral was built of wood but in the 7th century it was rebuilt in stone.
And only in the 20th century it was thoroughly restored.
The belfry abounds in ornamental carving.
Inside the Cathedral.
In its yard one can see some artists.
And this is the gallery of khachkars, unique by their beauty and gathered from all over Armenia.
Several years ago a delubrum was built here.
The modern khachkar installed in honor of the sacrifices of 1925 in the Ottoman Empire.
Another memorial to Saint Mesrop Mashtots.
A hotel on the territory of the complex.
Ecclesiastical Academy of Holy Etchmiadzin is also here.
In 2001 a new monument, the so-called Open Air Altar, was presented there.
Not far away from Etchmiadzin there is Zvartnots Cathedral (meaning “celestial angels”). Its ruins were discovered in the 20th century and are considered to be one of the greatest monuments of the Middle Ages.
It was built in 643 and destroyed in the 10th century.
Nobody knows what was the reason of its destruction: if it was an earthquake or people themselves destroyed it for some reason.
During the excavations metal tools, ceramics and other decorations were discovered. Now it’s all kept in a museum.
The cathedral was covered with very beautiful carving.
This wall is dated to the 7th century.
A sundial showed very precise time.
In the South-East part of the complex there was a wine presser.
And an air strip just several kilometers far from the cathedral.
Now let’s visit Lake Kari (Armenian, “stone lake”), an extremely beautiful place, which is situated on one of the slopes of Mount Aragats.
The road isn’t perfect at all and the higher you ascend the worse it gets.
Huge stones are virtually everywhere.
The temperature here is only +6 C.
On the right from the lake there is a restaurant built of tuff. It’s the only place in Armenia where one can eat khash during the whole year.
In spite of its remoteness from the populated area, the restaurant is quite popular.
One more Armenian attraction is Amberd fortress (literally translated from Armenian as a fortress in the clouds) which is also located on a slope of a mountain.
There are many pastures there.
A wonderful panorama of the Ararat valley.
One can see Amberd from here.
It is an out-of-the-way place limited by precipices of two deep gorges. For seven hundred years it had been serving hand and foot for its hosts.
And it had survived many attacks until it was finally captured in the 11th century. In 1936 its restoration began and still continues.
Another fine Medieval memorial is situated on its territory. It’s Vahramashen Church.
White spots near the cross are not the defect of a camera, it’s a bunch of insects flying around it.
The gorge of the Dzoraget river.
To get there you should walk down 360 steps.
Lori Berd fortress is located here.
The bridge of the 17th century seems to be tiny from such a distance but…
It’s not tiny at all.
The main entrance to the fortress.
The fortress was well protected by thick and tall walls. Their width sometimes reached 20 m.
A half ruined bath house.
And two stone tubs near it.
Some time ago this building served as a church.
Another bath house.
A fisherman from the neighbouring village.
And this is a wonderful view from Mount Archasar.
About two hours of driving away from Yerevan and you can find yourself at the arboretum called “Sosnyaki” (“Pine forests”) which contains a unique collection of trees, bushes and flowers from all over the world.
Here you can have a walk along its alleys, look at the rare plants and simply forget about city life for a while.
It was founded in 1933 as a private collection and in 1958 it got a status of a nature reserve.
Now it’s one of the most beautiful and picturesque places of Armenia.
The arboretum has its own nursery-garden.
The founder of the arboretum is buried right here on its territory.
“Sosnyaki” is located on the North-West slope of Mount Argassar, 1550 m above the sea level.
Now let’s learn how Armenian bee-keepers get one of the most tasty and healthy products on Earth – honey.
Usually beehives are examined in sunny weather when the most part of the bees at “work”.
First, they open the hive and lull the bees with smoke. It makes them calmer and less aggressive.
Then they take out the frame, shake off the remaining bees and take it to a warm room.
All the doors and windows of the room should be closed sо that no bee could fly into.
Then using a special knife, they cut off the lids of the cells.
After that put the frame into a honey extractor and quickly turn it.
Under the impact of the centrifugal force, honey comes out of the cells and flows down the walls of the extractor.
115 kg of honey are obtained from about 60 frames.