Day 1: YEREVAN – KHOR VIRAP – NORAVANK – TATEV – STEPANAKERT
A fantastic tour dedicated to exploration of Southern Armenia combining the magic of Armenia's finest medieval architecture with stunning landscapes by driving through the agricultural heart of Armenia. Our first stop will be at the Khor Virap Monastery - the most important place of pilgrimage of Armenia. St. Gregory the Illuminator – the first Catholic of all Armenians, had been imprisoned in “Khor Virap” (deep dungeon) for 13 years. From here you get a unique view of the holy Armenian mountain Ararat (5165m.), on which (according to the Bible) Noah’s ark landed after the World flood.
As soon as we pass the Ararat Plain we can experience the untamed beauty of Southern Armenia - surreal red rocks providing an eerie echo, honey-colored villages sandwiched between them. Continue to the previous residence of Syunik's bishops – Noravank monastery, nestled at the edge of the narrow gorge in the impressive mountainous landscape with peculiar red hanging rocks. The structure distinguishes by a unique harmony of architectural forms and decorations.
The most interesting part of the tour is still waiting for you - the majestic Tatev monastery, which we reach with the longest cable tram in the world (already registered in the Guinness World Records Book). This used to be wealthiest medieval monastery in Armenia. Besides being a religious center, Tatev was also the important strategical center of Syunik kingdom, surrounded with deep gorge. In non-stable political conditions the several secret ways in the territory of the fortress led the way to the canyon and served as a link between the monastery and external world.
Drive to Stepanakert (Karabakh). Hotel accommodation. Overnight in Yerevan.
Day 2: STEPANAKERT CITY TOUR – GANDZASAR – TIGRANAKERT – ASKERAN – STEPANAKERT
is the capital of Nagorno Karabakh. Stepanakert has a population of 50.000 people. It is the administrative, cultural and economic centre of Nagorno Karabakh. The name Stepanakert is dedicated to Stepan Shahumyan, who was an important figure of communist party in former Soviet Union.
As a settlement it developed at the beginning of the 19th century, near Varakn village, which is now situated in the city centre. Stepanakert is located in the eastern slope of Karabakh Mountains, and is 850 meters high above the sea level. The first plan of the city of Stepanakert was developed by the famous Armenian architect Alexander Tamanyan.
Tour to History Museum, local market.
Tour to Gandzasar
. Among the monuments of Artsakh Gandzasar monastery has its significant and special place. It is considered one of the pearls of Armenian medieval architecture. It consists of a church, monk cells and other buildings of economic significance. The dome of the cupola of the main church is of great artistic value due to its delicate bas-reliefs. The monastery is built on the peak of Gandzasar Mountain (mountain of treasures).
Continue to Tigranakert
. Besides Tigranakert which is the fifth capital city of historical Armenia and which was founded by king Tigran the Great, in Western Armenia, in historical Armenia and beyond its borders several other settlements bearing the name Tigranakert were established by Tigran the Great. Such settlement was also Tigranakert city in the north of Artsakh which is located on the right bank of Khachenaget and was founded in the 1st century B.C.
Since 2005 excavations have been carried out here during which the parts of the acropolis enclosure, the trade district, the parts of the central district, the mausoleum field belonging to the early era of Christianity, the parts of the basilica church of the central district were discovered.
Proceed to Askeran fortress
. The fortress of Askeran is in the village of the same name, 4 km far from Stepanakert. It has been an important strategical fort since the 18th century. The formidable ramparts and watchtowers once made the fortress almost inaccessible.
Drive to Stepanakert. Overnight in Stepanakert.
Day 3: STEPANAKERT – SHOUSHI – ARENI – YERVAN
We start a fantastic tour to Shoushi. Shoushi, the former capital city of Artsakh, is ten km far from Stepanakert. Shoushi is considered one of the oldest cultural and religious centers of Caucasus. The city is famous for its impregnable fortress and different historical sites. There is also a mosque of 18th century and St. Ghazanchetsots church restored in 1991-1994.
On the way back to Yerevan visit to the winery in the village Areni, wine tasting made from the endemic grapes. Areni village is situated in the southwest of nowadays Armenia. It has an ancient history. Starting from the 5-th century it has been mentioned in the historical sources by the name of Arpanial and in every record a reference is made to the noble wine of Areni. Wine-making in Armenia has an acient history. This is evidenced by the numerous wine barrels and clay vats excavated out of the thick layer of soil in various places.
Return to Yerevan. Evening free. Overnight in Yerevan.