Agarak. Armenian researchers are unearthing a site here that is full of impressive stonework and ritual artifacts and promises to shed new light on the peoples of the Caucasus from the Early Bronze Age some 5000 years ago right up to the Middle Ages. The Armenian team has also begun excavating the remains of stone houses clustered along a street, along with a bounty of terra cotta statuettes and ceramic artifacts linking the site to the Kura-Araxes, a culture widespread in the Caucasus in the 29th to 27th centuries B.C.
Aghts - Mausoleum of Arshakuni Kings. The Arshakid kings' mausoleum is located in Aragatsotn region in the village of Aghts, where the remains of both pagan and Christian kings were buried. This small, rectangular hall is truly remarkable for its decorative and thematic elements. During their pilgrimage to Armenia
many historians and just visitors have come to this place to have a look at least to the Mausoleum of Armenian famous kings. The northern wall depicts a relief of Daniel in a lion den. There are also many ornaments and symbolic carvings belonging to both pre-Christian ideas and Christian art. Just next to the Mausoleum there are the ruins of a 4th century church. Don’t miss these sights when taking a pilgrimage to Armenia
Amberd fortress stands at an elevation of 2300 meters above sea level on the high cape, in the canyon of two rivers high upon the southern slope of Mount Aragats. It is considered to be the only preserved monument of secular type on the territory of Armenia. The fortress, founded in the 7th century by Pahlavouni princes, had its own water-supply pipe which channels springs from the Aragats Mountain. The church inside the fortress was built in 1026 as shown by the date inscribed on the door. The church itself, the palace bathhouse with two domes, a floor heating system and a secret passage to the gorge are considered to be the most well-preserved monuments of Amberd. In the 13th century Amberd fortress was destroyed and set on fire by Mongolian invaders.
Aragats Mountain is shaped like an oval shield. A circle of four peaks rises in the middle of the shield. The highest of them has an elevation of 4090 meters. The others are only a few meters lower. This circle of mountains is the remains of a crater from a big volcano. The average temperature is minus 12 degrees in winter but sometimes the absolute temperature reaches minus 40 degrees. The snow disappears from the slopes in June. The Stone Lake with the Cosmic Rays’ Scientific Research Center is situated on the mountain of Aragats.
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 c. bridge. It is a nice three-arched bridge built of apricot-colored tuff 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 which makes this small city ideal for pilgrimage to Armenia
Arutch Cathedral. The village Aruj is one of the oldest settlements of Armenia. It is situated in historical Aragatsotn province, at the southern foot of Aragats Mountain near Ashtarak. It is mentioned as winter shelter for the king’s army in V c. It was the capital city of Armenia during Ishkhan Grigor Mamikonyan’s power (661-682). It became a town-settlement in X-XI cc.
Arutch and its environs are rich with historical- architectural monuments; burial-vaults from Bronze Age, temples, palaces, fortresses, khachkars, etc. The temple of Arutch is one of the most important medieval Armenian architectural constructions. According to building inscriptions and manuscripts (Ghevond, Hovanes Draskhanakertsi, Stepanos Taronatsi) in 60-70’s of VII c it was built by Grigor Mamikonyan and his wife Heghine. It belongs to the "domed hall" type of churches. Inside the big church’s praying hall, by the longitudinal walls, over the two arches connecting the pillars, the dome with its drum raised (now destroyed). Thanks to such order of the bearings the praying hall is taken as a united, non-separated territory; the big altar is well visible from all sides by which the sacristies are placed. There are two deep and wide bays in the eastern wall. Between them under the window, a building inscription is placed. The windows are decorated with beautifully ornamented arches; the cornices are carved as if they are woven like those in Zvartnots.
Bjni is placed in the region of Hrazdan. It is famous for its beautiful nature and is a big center of mineral water springs. Monuments in Bjni have a long history and are quite valuable for Armenia. In the time of Bagratouni Princes Bjni fell under the domain of the Pahlavouni Princedom, who built a fortress and a church in the 11th century. The church, dedicated to Surb Astvatsatsin (the blessed Virgin Mary), was erected in 1031 by order of Prince Grigor Magistros. Of small size, this sanctuary, planned as a cupola hall, presents a simple exterior architecture, crowned with a round drum and an umbrella-like dome. There are some admirable khachkars to the east of the church. Of the impregnable fortress of Bjni still are survived fragments of the north and the west fortified walls, the secret passage and some miscellaneous buildings.
Byurakan is a leisure and resort village famous for the Astrophysical Observatory. The observatory was founded in 1946, but the official opening was in 1956. It is on the chest of Aragats Mountain. The observatory Byurakan is one of the greatest World centers of Astronomy. The main tools used during explorations are telescopes. During last years galactic astronomy has been largely studied here. In 1967 the center has received a prize for its great successes and qualified specialists. The main explorations concern the problem of development of star systems. Byurakan is also a place of historical monuments. You can see here the church of St. Hovhannes (10th c.) with rich interior and two big praying rooms. There are many "vishaps", stone sculptures of mythical fishes - guards of Water, spread over the slopes of Aragats mount.
Dilijan is a spa-resort rich in curative mineral springs, some of which are comparable to those at Vichy in France and Davos in Switzerland. The surrounding mountains are covered by forests and Alpine meadows. The climate is rather mild with cool summers and warm sunny winters. Armenians believe that if there are woods, mountains and mineral springs in paradise, then paradise has to look like Dilijan. Its picturesque locality, healthy climate, mineral springs and rich flora attract many tourists. During your pilgrimage to Armenia
you may visit Haghartsin and Goshavank Monasteries next to Dilijan.
Echmiadzin, situated 20 kilometers far from Yerevan, is the religious capital of Armenia (Holy See). The Cathedral, the oldest Christian temple, was founded in 301 and is one of the first churches in the Christian World. Holy Mass takes place on Sundays in the Cathedral. It is an architectural monument of early Christianity. It houses a unique museum of religious artifacts. There is a small altar in the center of the Cathedral where, according to legend, Christ descended from Heaven and with a golden hammer pointed to the site upon which the Cathedral was to be built. The remnants of a pagan temple have been discovered during excavations made inside the Cathedral.
For seventeen centuries the Cathedral has been the center of Armenian apostolic church where all church gatherings and religious holidays are being conducted. Every seven years there is a solemn ceremony of Chrism preparation attended by thousands of Christians from all over the world. On Sundays and during church festivals, Holy Mass takes place with the participation of the All-Armenian Catholicos (head of the Armenian church), whose residence stands near the Cathedral. No pilgrimage to Armenia
is complete without visiting the Holy See of Echmiadzin. Not far from the Cathedral, there is St. Gayane church (built in 630) with her silhouette forming a cupola basilica against the background of Ararat's snowy summits. The wonderful churches of Shoghakat, Marine and Virgin Hripsime are situated in Echmiadzin, as well as the Theological Academy of St. Echmiadzin, Synod of the Armenian Church and Library. Halfway from Yerevan to Echmiadzin, near Musaler village, one can see a red-stone monument dedicated to the heroic self-defense of Armenians on Musa-Ler (Musa Dag) in Cilicia. The descendants of Musa-Ler defenders live in the village of Musaler.
Garni pagan temple was built in 1st. c. 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. When taking a tour package in Armenia don’t forget to visit Garni and Gehgard: it’s a most!
Geghard was initially known simply as Ayrivank (Cave Monastery) and is another important place for pilgrimage to Armenia
. 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 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.
Gladzor. The ruins of Gladzor monastery lie on the high slopes of Yeghegnadzor mountain. In 12-14th centuries it was the most important scientific center of Armenia. Many foreign students came to study at the book depository located in Gladzor. The picturesque road leading to the complex of monasteries goes through a narrow canyon. Columns of basalt and rocks piled chaotically testify to the volcanic nature of the terrain. The rich vegetation, unusual for mountains, gives particular splendor to the canyon. The trees and bushes grow out of cracks between rocks and stones and ice cold springs spout everywhere.
Goris town is situated in the southern region of Zangezur or Syunik, in the volcanic highlands (3552 m), on the left bank of the Vorotan river (600 m deep). Goris is a small but esthetically a very beautiful town with two-storied houses covered with red tiled roofs. In the outskirts of the town, the landscape is covered with pyramids. Goris is an ideal hub for pilgrimage to Armenia
: connecting South with North via Lake Sevan and also Mother Armenia to Karabakh.
Goshavank - The monastery can be reached by a road by way of Parz (Limpid) Lake which originates in Dilijan. Goshavank was built in the 12th c. by Mkhitar Gosh, the famous scientist of medieval Armenia, famous author of fables. The oldest construction of the complex is the Virgin church (1196). There are monumental khachkars next to the main church.
Gyumri is one of the oldest cities in the world. With its population, territory, economical and cultural significance it is the second city of Armenia. Gyumri is situated in the north-west of Armenia at the distance of 126 km from Yerevan. The length of Shirak valley where Gyumri is situated is about 35 km and the breadth is about 25 km. This valley borders upon Turkey and Iran. People lived here from time immemorial. Gyumri emerged during the Argishti dynasty in VIII century BC. A cuneiform inscription found in the village of Vahramaberd (Akhurian region) tells about the settlement called Kumayri. The Greek historian and military leader Xenophon also mentioned about this settlement in his Anaebasis. Leninakan has been the official name of the city since 1924. Gyumri is known as the center of traditional Armenian architecture, science, public health service, tourism. The inhabitants of Gyumri have gained the reputation of hospitable hosts with rich sense of humor. But the terrible earthquake in 1988 overthrew by its infernal waves the city into ruins. Vanadzor, Spitak, Aragats, Stepanavan, Amasia were destroyed. The total death toll from the earthquake which devastated northern Armenia on December 7, 1988, is thousands of men, women and children. Gyumri exists for more than 2,500 years and this fertile land gave birth to worldly known scientists and writers, poets and musicians. Among them Anania Shirakatsi - brilliant mathematician and astronomer (7 c. AD), famous architect Trdat (10 c. AD), prominent poets Avetik Issahakian and Hovhannes Shiraz, talented composers Tigran Chukhadjian and Armen Tigranian, minstrels - Djivani, Sheram, and others.
Haghartsin monastery, not far from Dilijan spa, is hidden from the tumult of the world. The monastery is built by Minas architect 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.
Haghpat is a Monastery complex the most prominent structure of which is the Savor's Church (956-967), built by architect Trdat for princes Gourgen 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 estates, lands, vineyards, oil-mills and factories.
Harich. The architectural monuments of Harich are situated in the village of he same name in the Artik District, on a cape formed by shallow ravines and the rivers flowing in them. In the village known since the second century BC there survived ruins of ancient fortifications. On the cemetery there are ruins of a small single-nave basilica of the fifth century with annexes in the sides of the altar apse and interesting tombstones with ornamented slabs of the 5th-6th centuries, now at Armenia's State History Museum, Yerevan. The founding date of the monastery is unknown. Probably it was built not later than the 7th century when its first church was erected. Over 800 years the monastery was repeatedly reconstructed. The largest of these date back to the second half of the 9th century after Harich was made the summer audience of the Catholicos of Echmiadzin in 1850.
A distinctive feature of Harich, which places it in a class by itself among similar structures of Armenia, is the absence of a graveyard on its territory. The first church of St. Gregory was of the cross-winged dome type and dated back to he 7th century. Later, in the 10th century, a one-storey annex was added to the south-eastern corner of the church, and in the 13th century was added a two-storey annex to its south-western corner.
The second main church, main, church of Astvatsatsin was built in 1201. It belongs to the type, widespread at the end of the 12th - the beginning of the 13th century, of outwardly rectangular and inwardly cross-winged domed buildings with two-storey annexes in all the four corners. The interior is marked by its severe architecture. Its only decoration is a carved ornament on the front wall of the altar dais, consisting or the traditional early 13th century motives of interwoven stalks and stylized leaves with curls.
Hripsime temple 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 Hripsime's tomb lies here in the crypt of the church.
Jermouk - is a health resort situated at 2100 meters above sea level. It is connected to Yerevan with a highway. Jermouk's famous mineral waters are used both for drinking and bathing and are highly recommended for curing many diseases. There are about 40 springs with a temperature ranging from 57 to 64 degrees. The beautiful landscape and the climate of this spa and its environment have very high curative qualities. There is a special pavilion in downtown where the guests can taste the mineral waters.
Khachkars or Cross Stones are the unique manifestation of Christian Armenian national art which in its Christian form and type has no other equivalent in the world. Khachkars constitute an integral dimension of Armenian sculptural art; with their high artistic standards and strong national character, they also occupy their worthy position in the treasury of international art. Khachkars are also an expression of the Christian faith and high esthetics taste of the Armenian nation, nation that was first to officially adopt the Christian faith in the year 301 AD. While spreading Christianity in Armenia, St. Gregory the Illuminator used to put wooden crosses in the places of pagan shrines as well as where Christian Churches were to be built. As the wooden crosses could be destroyed easily, the stone crosses replaced them later. Initially khachkars were carved on vertical stone stabs. Later cross stones attained such a perfection that they ceased to be mere religious symbols becoming unique pieces of art. Khachkars cannot be counted in total but we know more than 100,000 were carved, each one a unique work of art. Their history and roots are deeper than the 4th and 5th century AD forms which first started dotting the Christian landscape, combining both pagan and Christian symbols into a stunning form that endures to this day. Recently in the deep respect and commemoration of the Khachkar by the International community, a Khachkar was placed in the front entrance of the Main Hall of the United Nations in New York.
Khndzoresk. 8 Km East from Goris, on an altitude of1580 Meters above sea level, amongst the rocks, caves and gently inviting nature is found one of the most interesting sights in Armenia: Old Khndzoresk. This is a unique habitat, where every visitor feels as if the time has stopped. People have lived in this area, cut from the civilized world throughout centuries. They have lived amongst rocks; have protected themselves from enemies, from cold and from heat, from rains and animals in the nature itself. Strangely enough people have lived in this caves up to 1958, when Armenia was far an industrial developed country. The instinct of continuation of their family line was established so deeply in people of this city during millenniums, that they ignored all achievements of science and continued living in these caves. Old Khndzoresk was the largest village in Eastern Armenia. in 1913 there were 1800 houses, 7 functional schools out of which 2 were parochial and 5 were private.
Khor Virap is a place of pilgrimage for Armenians all over the world. According to history annals, Armenian pagan king Trdat imprisoned Saint Gregory the Illuminator in a cave which became known as Khor Virap. He was the first Patriarch of all Armenians. From here one can enjoy the majestic view of mount Ararat (where Noah's ark has landed according to Bible), not too far runs the Arax river. Khor Virap is the closest point to Mount Ararat from the territory of Armenia, the most convenient place for observing and taking pictures of the biblical mountain during your pilgrimage to Armenia
Marmashen Monastery complex. Located to the northwest of Gyumri, this monastery has four churches (one of which, circular, has only recently been discovered with a jhamatun and a chapel); the jhamatun and the chapel are nearly in ruins. An inscription on the south wall of the main church informs us that it was built between 986 and 1029 by Prince Vahram Pahlavuni. Of cupola hall type with an umbrella shaped cupola, the church is constructed of huge stones, some of which are two meters high. Three of the exterior walls have double niches. The only entrance is on the west. Like the exterior walls, the drum of the cupola is adorned with half columns, which produce a beautiful decorative effect.
Mastara. In one of five epigraphic inscriptions at Mastara temple, Gregory Vanakan is mentioned as a builder, another one records the repair of the church in 891. Many points of view exist about the dating of the temple (V-VI, VI- VII cc). Some consider if to be built in VII c with the preserved remainders of still existing more ancient church. For various reasons the last version is considered more probable.
The composition of the scheme of the church in Mastara is close with the scheme of Echmiadzin cathedral. It is cruciform inside and outside. The sides of the cross make half-rounded apses, which except the eastern one (with two side-chapels), advance as five-bordered volumes of facades. The main difference of the schemes of Echmiadzin's cathedral and the temple is the absence of four pylons in the praying hall. Thank to this, as in churches like dome halls, the praying hall isn't divided and is taken as a single inward volume.
Metsamor is an ancient fortress in Ararat Valley, next to Taronik village. From all the sides it is surrounded by water. Ancient excavations prove, that from fourth century BC to late Middle Ages is was a developed place of habitation. Excavated materials concern the Ages of Bronze and Iron. It was one of the greatest centers of art of that period. The fortress was protected by huge walls and inside it there were smelting houses and workshops which shows that different crafts and trading were highly developed. The excavation results showed that around Metsamor fortress there were stone mausoleums in the center of which was buried their leader with a lot of objects made of gold, silver, bronze etc. In the 8th century BC it was burnt but for a short time the fortress was reconstructed.
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.
Odzun cathedral (12 Km south-west from Alaverdi town), built in the 6th century, is a magnificent specimen of Armenian architecture of the early Christian period. This Cathedral has retained its original look to the day. The monastery, made of red and white felsite stone, presents a cross-domed basilica. Its exterior colonnade, arches and other details add a special gracefulness to the monastery. The burial site of the famous Armenian prince and hero Smbat Bagratouni is situated here.
Ohanavank Monastery complex was built by Gregory the Illuminator in the 4th c. It was rebuilt twice: in 573 and 1752 when the modern roofing was replaced by stone vaults. The building of the main cross-domed church of St. Karapet dates from 1216-1221. The most interesting portal is on the western side which is decorated with columns. The front door is framed with eight-point stars. the spaces between them are covered with fine floral ornament. In the tympanum there is a bas-relief with a representation of the "wise and unwise maidens". The figure of Christ is in the center. The walls surrounding the ensemble's periphery date back to the 12th century.
Oshakan is an ancient village northwest of Yerevan, on your way of pilgrimage to Armenia
. It was the home-village of St. Mesrop Mashtots, the 4th c. monk scientist and philosopher from Echmiadzin, who invented the Armenian alphabet which is still in use today with almost no changes. The tomb of Mashtots is situated here in the crypt of a church built in the 5th c. and rebuilt in the 19th c. A recently opened seminary is nearby the church. Just outside Oshakan there is a memorial in the shape of an open book upon which the Armenian alphabet is carved. It was erected in 1962 on the occasion of the 1600th anniversary of the Armenian alphabet.
Saghmosavank is one of the remarkable cultural centers of medieval Armenia. It is situated in the north of the town of Ashtarak on the precipice of the Kasakh river gorge. The main church of St. Lion was erected in 1215. A four-column gate (1235) is placed to the west of the monastery. To the south of the church there is a book depository (1235) with a very original roof on top of criss-cross arches.
Sanahin is a monastery complex (10th c.) situated 17 Km from the Alaverdi town (280 Km from Yerevan). The construction of this monastery is associated to the glory of the Bagratouni Royal Family. The oldest structure of the monastery was built in 977-991 and was called the Holy Cross church. Holy water fills the small pool in the church. Believers say this water has curative qualities for people with poor health. Many cross-stones are built on the ground of the churches. A three-storied bell tower built in 1245 is part of the complex.
Sanahin displays a complex architectural style. The monastery includes also a book depository dating back to the 13th century, a number of well preserved remarkable khachkars (cross-stones) dating back to the 11-13th centuries. Moreover, the dwellings in Haghpat are regarded as splendid specimens of 19th c. Armenian folk style. For a long time, Haghpat was one of the spiritual centers of Medieval Armenia. The scientist monks collected various specimens of written documents in Armenia. Famous Armenian poet and musician Sayat Nova spent 20 years here far from the civilization.
Sardarapat is a memorial complex, 38 Km west from Yerevan, erected in 1968 to commemorate the Armenian people's victory over Turkish invaders in 1918. The complex was designed by architect Raphael Israelyan and sculptor Ara Haroutyunyan. The complex consists of a bell-tower, "Path of heroes", bas-relief Victory Wall, the Ethnographic museum and two giant statues of bulls at the entrance of the Memorial Park. These bulls symbolize the titanic strength. Stairways lead up to the square dominated by a 35-meter high stone bell tower. On the background of Ararat mountain, one can hear the bells tolling. To the left of the bell tower, closer to the Victory Wall, runs a flower alley with stone eagles symbolizing the indomitable spirit of the Sardarapat heroes. In the center of the Victory Wall one can find an arch beyond which a panoramic view of Ararat Mountain, the silent witness of the heroic past and future of Armenian people, is being opened. The Memorial Complex is terminated by an originally designed Ethnographic Museum building and a domed structure - the Vardavar (Transfiguration) Refectory with several halls incorporating motifs of medieval Armenian architecture.
Annually, after the "Navasard" harvesting festival is over, a replica of modern Olympic games is performed at the complex. The Ethnographic museum has got about 2.000 distinctive works of folk art on display including pottery, carpets, musical instruments, tapestry, lace and ceramics.
Selim (Sulema) pass and Caravanserai. From the days of Marco Polo and the Silk Road (from China to Europe) Medieval Armenia was a major thoroughfare for merchants, traders, and explorers alike. Weary travelers would look forward for a rest at one of many inns or caravansaries along the way. The Selim Caravanserai constructed in 1332 and situated in the Selim (Sulema) mountain pass on the border of Gegharkunik is one of the best preserved. The Caravanserai lies below the road just before the summit on the south side of Selim Pass (2410 m), a splendid relic of the days when an international trade route connected Vayots Dzor to the Sevan Lake and northern points. According to the Armenian inscription inside the entrance, Prince Chesar Orbelian and his brothers built this rest-house in 1332.
Sevan Lake, the wonder of nature, is situated 60 Km from Yerevan up 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 m above sea level. Sevan, with its pure air and sandy beaches, is a popular holiday resort. Besides, Sevan has always been famous for its fish "ishkhan" which means "prince-fish" in Armenian. The fish has graced many Lords' tables in old times. 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. On the shores of the Lake archaeological expedition has discovered traces of a highly developed civilization dating back to 2000 BC. Other monuments include Sevan Monastery (874) and Astvatsatsin Church. The level of the water has considerably decreased in recent years due to a number of power stations and irrigation canals built on Hrazdan river. A tunnel drilled in basalt rocks directs the waters of Arpa river into Lake Sevan to save it from further shrinking.
Sisian town is famous for the Sisavan temple (7th c.), Cyclops erections (6th Millennium BC) believed to be an ancient observatory quite similar to Stonehenge in England. The columns sit like soldiers on a hill, huddled in formation. The 204 stones near Sisian have been ascribed with mystical, fertility and cosmic powers, but rarely have ancient monuments caused such a sensation in astronomical circles. These simple stones stretched out along the crest of a hill overlooking the Sisian River challenge the very dating of early astronomy and the answer to the question, "Who were the first astronomers?" If proven true, a current controversial dating of the stones at Sisian predate England's Stonehenge, they predate the Babylonian's claim to being the first astronomers, and they confirm what some people already suspect: that Armenia is the birthplace of the zodiac, and perhaps the beginning of navigation and the concept of time.
Talin Church. The big temple of Talin is a unique monument of Armenian Church architecture and belongs to three-nave vaulted type of basilicas. Its prototype in the beginning of VII c is the reconstructed Dvin's St. Gregory temple, which from three-nave basilica turned into three-bayed temple. That was achieved by adding bays into the longitudinal walls, which were half-rounded from inside and polyhedral from outside. This new idea of foundation, improved in Talin's temple, became a complete, independent and the unique example of early medieval church type. In contrast to the prototype, in the scheme of the temple the mutual connection of some separate parts and symmetry of the whole picture is corrected.
Tatev monastery complex is located on a plateau surrounded by a precipice from three sides. Tatev monastery includes a number of structures. The main cathedral of St. Poghos and Petros (Paul and Peter) dates back to 885. The 8 meter high giant made of small stones topped by an airy cross rests on a hinge foundation. The cathedral is an example of 7th century monuments with free slanting pylons. To the south of the main cathedral, the church of St. Gregory (1295) is erected on the site of a former sanctuary from the 9th c. The periphery is surrounded by homes and other buildings. Among them a vaulted fount and fortification walls dating back to the 17th century. In one of the precipices around the monastery, you will see the Vorotan river, one of the miracles of nature, which runs under the Devil's Bridge. The walls of the canyon (where the river flows) are 250 to 300 meters high. A large number of stalactites hang from the bridge, as well as numerous springs flow from the walls. Spanning 5.7 kilometers across the spectacular Vorotan River Gorge, the Tatev Aerial Tramway, “Tatev Wings” - the longest passenger aerial tramway in the world - is poised to be one of southern Armenia's most popular attractions and an important destination for pilgrimage to Armenia
Tsakhkadzor is one of the favorite holiday resorts or Armenia both for summer and winter times. This district is considered to be Armenian Switzerland. Tsakhkadzor is a place where one can have a real rest during all seasons of year. This is a perfect place to admire the beauty of Armenian high mountains, fields with the largest variety of flowers. The climate here is calm and helpful due to the fresh air just coming from the graceful mountains. Tsakhkadzor accept many tourists every year and provides them an opportunity to stay at comfortable resting houses (House of Writers), camps for children, at the great Sport Complex, where there are a lot of amusements for everyone: swimming pools, games, campaigns, cafes etc. There is also great funicular railway consisting of three parts. Cable-car (funicular) connects the resort to the hills of surrounding mounts all covered by forests. On the way, you can have your cup of coffee or tea and continue your trip. In winter this is the best place for skiing. Tsakhkadzor is also known for its old churches. Recently renovated Kecharis monastery (11-13th c.) is situated here.
Vanadzor city, formerly (until 1935) Karakilisa, or Kirovakan (1935-93), lies at the confluence of the Pambak, Tandzut, and Vanadzoriget rivers in northern Armenia. In 1826 the villages of Bolshoy and Maly Karaklis were merged into the town of Karaklis. The construction of the Tiflis-Karaklis-Alexandropol railway at the end of the 19th century speeded the town's development. In 1935 the name of Karaklis was officially changed to Kirovakan to honor the Soviet official Sergey Kirov. The name Vanadzor was adopted in 1993, after Armenia had gained its independence from the former Soviet Union. Electricity from a nearby hydroelectric station on the Pambak River serves Vanadzor's chemical industries, which produce carbide, ammonia, acetate silk, synthetic corundum, and plastic resin and rubber. Other industries include the production of precision tools, chemical machinery, textiles, and foodstuffs. The city was one of several in Armenia that were devastated by an earthquake in 1988.
Zorats Kar or Karahunge (Power Stone) believed to be an ancient observatory quite similar to Stonehenge in England. The columns sit like soldiers on a hill, huddled in formation. The 204 stones near Sisian have been ascribed with mystical, fertility and cosmic powers, but rarely have ancient monuments caused such a sensation in astronomical circles. These simple stones stretched out along the crest of a hill overlooking the Sisian River challenge the very dating of early astronomy and the answer to the question, "Who were the first astronomers?" If proven true, a current controversial dating of the stones at Sisian predate England’s Stonehenge, they predate the Babylonian’s claim to being the first astronomers, and they confirm what some people already suspect: that Armenia is the birthplace of the zodiac, and perhaps the beginning of navigation and the concept of time. Scholars can’t agree on their age, or purpose, or function. Some say they are at least 7000 years old and have served as an observatory. Others believe it was a pagan temple. Still others dismiss it as nothing more than a natural formation of stones. In 1998, archeological digs unearthed mass tombs as well as clay jars; household items and unique burial and ceremonial items are on display at the Sisian History Museum. The rest are being studied at the Archeology Institute in Yerevan. Researchers are leaning towards an approximate age of 3800-4000 years for this complex, which may have been a temple to the sun. The position of the rocks and the holes on each stone lead the scholars to believe that Zorakar served as an observatory where solar and lunar eclipses were predicted, and a calendar was created. Western scientists are quick to say that this is a copy of similar stone formations, which have been found in France, Ireland, Scotland and elsewhere in Europe. Regardless the purpose of your visit to the South (classical tour, pilgrimage to Armenia
, or a business trip) just take a short turn to Zorats Kar to feel the spirit of millenniums.
Zvartnots, a complex of structures erected in the middle of the 7th century near Echmiadzin, is of extreme architectural value. The complex consisted of St. Gregory temple or Zvartnots ("vigil forces" or "celestial angels") and the palace of Catholicos Nerses III, known as "Builder". Zvartnots, built as Armenia's main cathedral in 641-661, was to suppress Echmiadzin Cathedral by its grandeur and extraordinary artistic splendor.
When about tourism in Armenia
we mean also Zvartnots which became a symbol for many events worldwide. This determined by the size of the temple, its layout and spatial arrangement, its structural features and its decoration which emphasizes the central axis of the building and its upward sweep. The building consisted of three polyhedrons with rich ornamentation of outer walls and capitals. Zvartnots collapsed as the result of an earthquake in 930 and was never restored. A few years ago the columns of the first floor were restored. The international airport Zvartnots is only a few kilometers from the area where the "angels have fallen down".