DISCOVER ARMENIA WITH PRANA TOUR
About Route, direction
Yerevan, the XII capital of Armenia is one of the oldest cities in the world: It is Older than Rome for 29 years and of the same age as Babylon, Rome and Damascus. Yerevan is situated in the north – eastern part of Ararat valley. The city is divided into two parts by Hrazdan River that flows in the picturesque canyon. Its height above the sea – level is 865 - 1390 meters. Archeologists confirm that the area Yerevan was inhabited since ancient times. “Certificate of birth” of Yerevan confirms that Yerevan was founded in 782 B.C. The city developed, according to design of prominent Armenian architect – Alexander Tamanyan’s (1920). The territory of modern Ervin is about 210 m2. Armenia is often referred to as a museum under the open air. So Yerevan is a hall of that museum. There are sport and concert centers, the stadium by Vasgen Sargsyan, Wine and Cognac factories, the Opera and Ballet theatre, many museums, restaurants, Universities, night clubs, churches, a zoo, a nice botanical garden in Yerevan. Tsitsernagaberd Monument and Museum commemorates the 1915 Genocide. It was built around 1965 and the monument and its eternal flame became pilgrimage sites for Armenians all around the world.
The "Armenian Shuga" - Take a walk through the huge central market in Yerevan, where vendors offer rows of fresh and dried fruits and vegetables alongside with the tastiest tonir-baked lavash bread and Armenian cheeses. Visiting Yerevan, you’ll leave it with unforgettable impressions about the ancient and at the same time modern city.
M U S E U M S The Museum of the History of Armenia was founded in 1921 and possesses 160,000 items. On display are unique articles relating to past civilizations. Visitors can see implements used in the Stone Age, items of bronze and iron, implements from the Urartu civilization, statuettes, pitchers, coins, jewelry, and household utensils. All of them were discovered on the territory of Armenia. In the ethnic section of the museum, visitors will find traditional dresses and carpets, amulets and farming implements of great interest. The Art Gallery of Armenia has a collection of over 16,000 paintings by Armenian, Russian, West European and Oriental artists. It’s a large gallery, where you can find masterpieces of Rembrandt, Goya, Holland masters, Russian Peredvizhniks, impressionists, Armenian masters.
In the center of Yerevan you can find Matenadaran after Mesrop Mashtots. The word “Matenadaran” means a library of manuscripts and it also operates as a research institute of ancient manuscripts. It is the Alexandrian library of Armenia. More than sixteen thousand, mainly Armenian, manuscripts of different volumes and ages are assembled in its storage. These are the ancient souls gathered from the Armenian world. The Gospels of VII and IX centuries are the most ancient manuscripts. From over 16000 ancient handwritten manuscripts and fragments 11 thousand are Armenian and 2 thousand different fragments from Armenian texts. There are also manuscripts in Greek, Jewish, Arabian, Persian and other languages. There is also the collection of medieval archival documents in Matenadaran. Besides, the one that is really valuable, are ancient Armenian translations from the lost ancient Greek texts. The most important are the translation of the treatise «About a Nature» by Zenine, and "Chronicle" by Easy Cesareans. This is the famous Institute of Ancient Manuscripts built by architect Mark Gregorian in 1957. A flight of steps leads to the monument to Mashtots (361-440), the author of the Armenian alphabet. Standing in front of the entrance are sculptures of the great thinkers, scientists and cultural figures of ancient times – Toros Roslyn ( XIII c.), Grigor Tatevtsi (XVc.), Anani Shirakatsi (VII c.), Movses Khorenatsi (Vc.), Mkhitar Gosh (XII c.) and Frik (XIV c.). Matenadaran, which in old Armenian means “depository of manuscripts” and “library”, is a large research center for the study and safekeeping of manuscripts. Special armored basements where the manuscripts are protected are the “holy of holies” of Matenadaran.
The Modern Art Museum is situated on Mashtots avenue. Its exhibition changes constantly and is supplemented with new works all the time. Frequent open-days, in which both well-known and budding artists participate, attract a large number of visitors.
The Erebuni Fortress situated on Arin-Berd Hill, was built by Argisti I, the king of Urartu, in 782 B.C. The excavations, which have been going on for two centuries, have helped to unearth the walls of a powerful citadel, the ruins of a palace with a hall that has an area of 440 square meters, living quarters, a granary, and some giant pitchers for wine and oil. The walls of the palace were decorated with frescoes and paintings depicting animals and plants, scenes of religious worship and hunting. There is a museum at the foot of Arin-Berd, which regularly receives new artifacts found by archaeologists in the Erebuni Fortress.
Visit the Echmiadzin Cathedral, the ancient capital of Armenia, was the residence of the supreme Catholics of the Armenian Church. The existing cathedral (its main part) was built in 480-s. Towards the end of the V c barely four bases survived and those were taken to support four pylons of the new. According to mythology St. Gregory the Illuminator saw a vision of the "Only Begotten" descending from heaven, and showing the spot where the church should be erected. In 303 AD, two years after Christianity was declared as a state Religion, the Mother hutch of the Holy See was completed. It was rebuilt in the 480s. Echmiadzin cathedral, being a cruciform early Christian temple, is the most ancient of its kind. It had a wooden dome until the VII c. and received its present dome in the XVII c. as well as the belfry on the western side (1653—1658). Through centuries there have been construction and additions, and the main dome was rebuilt in 1627. Nagash Ovnatan accomplished wall painting in 1720. The church is surrounded by gardens, were you will see examples of “khachkars” 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.
Church St. Hripsime: Church St Hripsime, was built in Echmiad¬zin by order of the Catholics Comitas in 618. The dating of the church is confirmed by his two depicted signatures (one inside the building, over the eastern apse, the other outside, over the western entrance to the cathedral), and also by Sebaeos, a contemporary seventh-century historian. The architectural forms, decorative motifs of window ledges and numerous marks of master masons show St Hripsime's identity with its XVI-XVII c. coun¬terparts. It is of great interest the harmony of the church's stone struc¬tures, particularly, the sub-dome transition with the enormous, well elaborated stepped quinces.
Church St. Gayane: Church St Gayane was built in Ech¬miadzin by order of the Catholics Yezr in the VII c. Contemporary seventh-century historian Sebaeos confirmed the dating. Slender and delicate proportions are a distinguishing feature of the cathedral. Its up reaching sweep in design, which remained unchanged, in spite of the partial XVII c. re-building of the dome and of some ceilings. At that period was added the airy arch por¬tico, which goes all along the western facade. Khatchkars: They constitute an es¬sential role in Armenian Medieval memorial style. Having first appeared in the V century, khatchkars ousted older IV-VI c. steles covered with various religious columns with crosses. Khatchkars consisted of a flat¬tened rectangular stone with carved relieves, usually a cross symbolizing the sacred Tree of Life, fixed in a square stone foundation. Such a memorial design can be traced to the days of Urartu. Straight and undecorated, earlier khatchkar designs grow in complexity day by day and soon the whole of the plate surface becomes consumed by a stylized vege¬table or geometrical design. Although khatchkars vary in their size from a few dozen inches to several yards they oftentimes develop, through adding special architectural decor, into monu¬mental structures of impressive dimensions. Not infrequently khatchkars bear the builder's signature or an inscription.
Sardarabad - Pay tribute to the heroes of the Battle of Sardarabad! The Sardarabad Memorial and Museum ensemble was built in 1968 to mark the victory over Turkey in the Battle of Sardarabad in 1918, which led to the first independent Republic of Armenia in 1918. Here you will visit the largest ethnographic museum in Armenia, rich with artifacts and memorabilia.
Take a trip through time, to a place that boasts 6,700 years of continuous inhabitation. The Medzamor culture thrived through the Bronze and early Iron Age it was integrated into the Urartu Empire in 7 BC and later continued under the Persians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantine and Ottomans until the 18th century, when it was abandoned. This tour will take you to the Medzamor settlement, with a trip to the Medzamor Museum. This Museum holds hundreds of artifacts excavated from this settlement.
Architectural complex Zvartnots is a temple and a palace, built by Catholics Nerses the III in the VII c. Was destroyed by an earthquake in the IX c.Zvartnots Cathedral (Church of Guardian Angels) was built in the VII century by bishop Nerses the III and destroyed by an earthquake in the X century, but still does not cease to attract and delight visitors. This is an extraordinary triple-tiered structure, whose sculptured capitals with their motifs of eagles, grapes, leaves and pomegranates lie in ruins in the middle of an arid wasteland. Here a mighty three-tiered circular structure with a glorious central dome once stood. The Cathedral was magnificently decorated with sculptured floral and geometric patterns and decorative pillars and arches, the ruins and remnants of which you can see on the ground. Zvartnots is considered the masterpiece of Armenian Church architecture.
The construction of Zvartnotz began, presumably, in 643, after the country's recovery from the devastation that followed the first Arab invasion in 640. To stave off the rape of the country Armenians attempted to con¬clude a peace treaty with the Arabs, only to provoke a military outrage from the co-religionist Byzantium in 652. After the capture of Dvin, the Armenian capital, the emperor Constant demanded a religious union and the adoption of Chalcedonies by Armenians— the extreme Orthodox belief within the Greek church. Once more Armenians were faced with the eternal problem of choosing between East and West. Soon the Catholics Nerses, a passionate supporter of the religious union with Byzantium, had to leave the capital together with the Byzantines and settle in his native village of Ishkhan, the region of Tayq, in the north-east of Armenia, near the frontier of the Eastern Empire. He stayed there for the next six years and had to build up in Ishkhan a church of the Zvartnotz type but somewhat smaller in size. After the Arabs had been ousted from Armenia he reappeared in Echmiad¬zin and led the work on a huge construction project. The works went on for 300 years. Toward the end of the IX c. the temple faced a total destruction between 925 and 1000, and no attempt was made in later years to restore it. Gradually, a large hill rose there, from which only four pylons stuck up. It was excavated in the mid-twelfth century by one Khachik Dadyan- a monk. But the subsequent study is associated with the name of Thoros Thoramanyan, who developed the first ever restoration process of Zvartnotz as far back as 1905.
Garni is an outstanding center of Hellenistic art in Armenia, a summer fortress of Armenian Kings and a Hellenist Temple. The fortress was built in the I c. BC and existed more than thousand years. From the II c. AD the fortress used to be the royal summer residence. In the VII c. the fortress was destroyed when the Arabs conquered Armenia. It was in ruins for two centuries. But Garni was rebuild by the will of Armenian king Ashot Bagratouni. In 1679 a violent earthquake destroyed the fortress. Inside a fortress were secular and cult structures - pagan temple, bath palace. The pagan temple is an outstanding monument of the Hellenistic culture in Armenia. It was unearthed in 1909—1911 by Academi¬cian N. Y. Marr and Y. I. Smirnov. Ever since 1949 the archae¬ological group under Prof. B. N. Arakelyan (Institute of Archae¬ology and Ethnography of the Armenian Academy of Sciences) has been constantly at work In Garni. As a result, there came to light remains of a Neolithic camp, Urartian cuneiform, going back to the 8th century B. C. and carved on a vishap, inscrip¬tions in Greek, Aramaic and Armenian which provide con¬vincing evidence of the many centuries of uninterrupted human existence here. A Greek inscription carved on a huge basalt brick mentions the reconstruction of a fortress by the king Tiridates (Trdat). In 1975 the temple was restored. The bath, that was constructed in the 3rd century and had at least 5 rooms with cold and hot water, has survived in 50 meters from the temple. There is a V c church outside the fortress bounds and a mid-seventh century domed church directly adjacent to the heathen tem¬ple. A number of buildings, inside the present-day village of Garni, date back to the XI-XIII c. At present Garni is a village in the Abovyan district of the Armen¬ian republic, at a distance of 24 miles from Yerevan. The village Garni represents a museum under the open air, where close to each other amazing monuments of the past centuries are situated. Among the green gardens of the village various churches and cross – stones can be seen, and in the Southern part of the village on the plateau surrounded by deep gorges one can admire the temple Garni. This is the only building in Armenia built in a Hellenistic style. One of the great fortresses in Armenia Garni belonged to the III – II mil BC, but in the I c BC it was destroyed by Romans and newly constructed in the 70’s of the I c BC. During the rule of the Artashesian and the Arshkunian Kings (II c BC – V c AD), the fortress served as the summer residence for the Kings. In the following centuries it was a famous fortress and a settlement. The stone gates which are still preserved date to the III –II c BC, and in the surroundings there can be still seen the ruins of the castle and the bathroom, the floor of which is covered with mosaic. Near the temple are still preserved the ruins of the church built in the VII c. The walls of the fortress and the temple were wholly ruined during the earthquake in 1679. Now the walls of the fortress, the temple and the mosaic floor of the bathroom are being reconstructed.
The church Gegard was constructed in Armenia after the adoption of Christianity and was named Ajrivank. Today in the territory of the monastery not all medieval buildings are preserved. According to historical sources in the XIII c the wholly lance was brought here and the church was named Gekhardavank.
The main church of the complex St. Katokhike and the church porch were built in the XIII c and its name was connected with the name of the Zakarian dynasty. The complex flourished especially when it passed from Zakarian’s to Proshyan’s, and with their name are connected the two mountain caved churches. So the whole construction is realized in the Northern part in a huge mountain. The name of the architecture of this miracle is Galtsag. In the territory of present Gegard there are several beautiful cross-stones and mountain carved cells. In this church worked great scholar of mid ages Mkhitar Airivanetsi. The whole complex is surrounded with high gates and various living buildings.
Architectural ensemble Geghard or Аугivank is one of Armenia's most significant me¬dieval architectural ensembles, 6 miles southeast of the village of Garni. The exact date of foundation of Gegard is unknown. It is very possible that in the place of present monastery there was a rocky church who got the name Ajrivank. As the legend says its historical name comes from Lake Gegama that was founded in the IV cen¬tury. But Geghard also means "lance" in Armenian. The name comes from the legendary lance, supposedly the one used to pierce the body of Christ, which was long kept here. The time of foundation of the monastery is not established. One is amazed at the amount of construction work put into this architecturally perfect monastery complex that received the title “Stone Symphony of Armenia”. The most ancient survival, a semi-caved church of St Gre¬gory, dating back to the seventh century occupied a place outside the monastery confines. The principal structure was a church of St. Virgin (1225), representing a cross-domed building originated in the second quarter of the thirteenth century, with a four-column dome, and was situated in the church's western section. Two caved church¬es were constructed in 1263, along with the family sepulcher of the Proshyan princes whose family coat of arms is carved in the rock. It has two lions chained together, and an eagle, its wings half-spread, whose claws clasp a calf. Architect Gadzagh built both. Carved in the rock somewhat above the sepulcher are the four-column burial of the prince Papaq and his wife Hruzukan (1288) that recalls clearly twelfth—thir¬teenth century four-column gavels. The cleft-sides incorporate a number of artificial caves and many khatchkars. The present architectural complex was constructed in the middle of 13th century. The main church – “Katoghice” - is the oldest building in the complex. It was constructed in 1215. Northern wall of the Church is natural rock in which two passages lead the most original part of the complex – the two churches cut in the depth of the rock. Along the southern and eastern walls of Geghard Monastery, high above the valley, are medieval dwellings. The monastery withstood all manner of assaults during a period of seven hundred years. Its walls stood firm and in times of danger sheltered many scholars so that it was revered throughout Armenia as one of the country’s greatest spiritual and cultural centers.
If you have come to Armenia than you must, by all means visit the pearl of Armenia, the miracle of the nature Lake Sevan. "The Pearl of Armenia", Lake Sevan, is one of the world's highest and largest freshwater lakes. The lake is almost two kilometers above sea level and is encircled by volcanic mountains. Its blue waters are fringed with a chain of snow-capped mountains. The average temperature of Sevan's crystal clear water, the color of which is impossible to define or describe, is 18 C. People say the waters of Sevan are blessed with a mysterious power and they almost worship them. Lake Sevan has always been famous for its fish, especially trout. Lake Sevan and its shoreline are marvelous for water sports. Tourists can enjoy sailing, motor boating, water-skiing, windsurfing and fishing. The altitude and mountains make traveling pleasant. On the lake's rocky peninsula is a glorious complex of the ninth century. Two churches, the Holy Apostles and Holy Virgins, both dating from 874, have survived from what was once an immense ensemble of buildings. Its historical name is Lake Geghama. Noraduz – one of the largest fields of cross – stones in Armenia.
The Church Khor Virap and a Holy look on the Mount Ararat. There are ruins of the ancient capital of Armenia in this district and the church of the XVI c. AD.
Few kilometers to South – north of the city Artashat, on the left bank of the river Araks can be seen hills of Khor Virap. On the hills and around them king Artashes I on the II c BC built the new capital of the country the city Artashat. Excavations of the city helped to unearth the walls of the country standing on nine hills. Greece and Armenian historians write about a king palace situated in the Citadel. Possibly that palace was situated on the hill, on the place where after in the 17 c. the monastery was built. Near the palace underground prisons were built for dangerous criminals, and there the first Armenian Saint and the establisher of Christianity in Armenia Grigor Lousavorich has been in confinement for 13 years for preaching faith Christianity in Armenia by the order of the King Trdat. Soon the later got ill and in his dream he was told that only Grigor would be able to help him. Indeed, Grigor 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.
You will also visit the Paruyr Sevak Memorial Museum, home of the most beloved Armenian contemporary poet, who died tragically in a car accident in the communist era. (Though visiting the Paruyr Sevak Memorial Museum is not included in our tours, we may organize it by your wish.)
Travel 360 km from Yerevan through one of the most picturesque corners of Armenia and visit the Jermuk resort Jermuk one of the picturesque corners of Armenia. It’s a resort town, which is situated in Vayots Dzor. Woods surround Jermouk. It’s height above the sea – level is 2080m. It is famous for its hot mineral springs. People with illness flock to these spring waters for their curative and healing qualities. Others enjoy the spa town for rest, relaxation, and spectacular scenery it offers. Alpine vegetation, forests, and the Tsolk waterfall surround the hill upon which the spa town is located. Arpa river runs through the town and its deep gorge divides the town and the mountain chain of Vayots Dzor into two parts. The air in Jermouk is clear and fresh, where you can recover your health with its chemical and physical compositions of the mineral water. The health – resort is surrounded with many unique masterpieces of ancient Armenian architecture, such as Gndevank (X), which includes a four-apse domed church dating back to 936, with the remains of wonderful tenth-century wall painting represent¬ing the Virgin. A gavit, one of the most ancient of its kind, occupies a site on the church's west (996). Seventeenth-century homes and utility buildings engulf the ensemble in the south where khatchkars of the tenth—thirteenth centuries, and re¬markably interesting everyday-life reliefs on seventeenth-cen¬tury gravestones arrest the eye. St Astvatsatsin monastery (XIII), Noravank (XIII) etc. Vayots Dzor: The province’s height is 1000-2300m above sea – level. Yeghegia and Arpa rivers flalong Vayots Dzor. Yeghegnadzor is the center that is situated on the bank of Arpa river. The University of Gladzor, which was established in XIII-XIV c, is situated on the eastern upland of Vayots Dzor. Here you can also meet the various monuments by different times, such as Yeghgis (V-XIII), Mogh (II-Millennium BC-XVc.AD.), the famous Proshaberd (XIII c.), the fortress Berdakar (V c).
is the centre of one of the 15 regions of the Historical Armenia, which with the monastery complex Tatev played an important role as the sit of the Syunik metropolis. In XI – XII c there were two churches here, which are not preserved. The present day monuments were built in XII – XIV c by famous architects of mid ages Momik and Siranes. The history of Noravank is connected with the dynasty of Orbelyan, and it was their familiar tomb. The main church of the monastery St. Karapet was built by Duke Liparit Orbelian in the XIII c. Smbat Orbelian built the church – porch of St. Karapet, where the grave stones of many of the Orbelian Dukes and spiritual leaders of Noravank can be seen. Here is also buried the great historian of the XIII c Stepanos Orbelian. The treasure of the monastery is the church ST. Astvatsatsin built by Burdel Orbelian. The cross pictures of this church have their special place in Armenian Church Heritage. In Noravank one can admire the cross-stones carved by Momik.
(Yerevan – Ashtarak – Oshakan – Voskevaz – Agarak – Biurakan – Amberd – Orgov –
Agsq – Agarak – Ashtarak – Yerevan)
The Oshakan canyon. A new bridge was built over the canyon, which goes over the ruins of the bridge built on the XIII c, and still working one built on the XVII c.
Ashtarak is one of the most ancient settlement in the territory of Armenia, and it is rich with historical city of Ashtarak is situated 17 km from Yerevan. It lies on the right bank of the and cultural monuments of different centuries – like the churches Tsiranavor (X - XVIII), Karmravor (VII - XIV), Marine (XIII), St. Sargis (XIII) and Spitakavor (XIII). The church Karmravor is the only one in this region the red tiled roof of which is preserved till our days. The outskirts of all the churches are abundant in handmade cross – stones and grave – stones. Six km. of the city Ashtarak the village Oshakan is situated. According to the book ‘Vark Mashtots’, the founder of the Armenian alphabet Mesrop Mashtots died in 440 AD in Vakharshapat and was buried there, and right there in 443 was built his tomb and the domed church. The village is also famous for the church Didi Kond (II mil. BC – V AD), the church Mankanots (VII), five – flight bridge (VIII), and the monument built in 1833 memorizing Russian soldiers who died for the freedom of Armenia.
To South- East of the village Oshakan the village Agarak is situated famous for its apricot gardens and the most ancient and unique monument in that region the church St. Astvatsatsin (V- VII). The region Aragatsotn is surrounded by the mount Aragats from the three sides. The highest top of this mount is 4090 m, and it is considered to be the highest trop in the territory of Armenia and the whole Trancaucauses. Around the crater the four tops are touching the sky, and in the centre a sweet watered lake formed from the falls. Many legends are connected with this mount even since the times of Gregory the Illuminator, who used to climb the top of the mountain at night and pray. At that time a lamp could be seen in the sky that lighted the whole territory. On the southern side of the mount Aragats the castle Amberd can be seen, which is situated 2300 m high above the sea level. In historical literature Amberd is being mentioned beginning from the IV c. There are preserved traits of the VII c. This castle is interesting for the fact that the walls, which date back to X-XIII c are wholly preserved. The owners of the fortress were Dukes Pahlavuni. This fortress is famous for its bathroom. It consisted of two not very big rooms, one of which was supplying hot water and the second one cold. Both the walls and the floor were being heated. Such fortresses in the territory of Armenia were being built for defense from attacks. In the territory of the fortress a nice church St. Astvatsatsin of the XIII c is constructed. Medieval castle was wholly built in the X c, and the church was built in the XI c. Seven km to the South from Amberd the village Biurakan is situated, where in 1946 a big astrological centre was built. In the village and in its surroundings may historical monuments can be seen – the church Artavazdik (XIII), the church St. Hovhannes (X), and many handmade cross- stones scattered in the whole territory. To the south of the village Biurakan the village Aktsk is situated famous for its rich gardens of apricot and grapes. In the centre of the village there is a tomb where the bodies of the Arshakunian kings’ are buried. After on that tomb a church was built.
The road from aktsk leads to Ashtarak and then to Yerevan.
(Yerevan – Armavir – Anipemza – Kharkov (Ani) - Talin – Yerevan)
48 km away from Yerevan the city Armavir is situated, through which a road leads to the region of Aragatsotn. The road to the village Arteni lies next to the state bound, parallel to train road.
The state bound is considered to be the river Akhurian, which is the left tributary of the river Araks. The middle and the lower flows of the river run through deep gorges on the both sides of which are built historical Marmashen, Ervandakert, Erazgavors, Ani, Mren, Bagaran and other settlements. On the borderline between the regions Aragatsotn and Shirak the settlement Ani Pemza is situated. Here one can admire the phenomenon of Armenian classical architecture and the Christian architecture as well the basilica of Yereruk (IV-V c). From the Western part of the monument a chain of caves can be seen. Cultural layers in Yereruk are numerous. In the territory of the village Kharkov various tombs belonging to 3-1 mil. BC, settlements (IX-XX) and a church were excavated. Under the golden rays of Armenian sun burning in the Zenith the ruins of the City Ani Pemza are shining. The city is situated on a triangle plateau surrounded from the three sides by deep gorges, and from the Southern part the river Akhurian borders it. Naturally unconquerable plateau had been a settlement since ancient times, and the caves in the gorges had served as living places for people.
The fortress Ani has been historically mentioned since 321 AD, and on 450 it was freed from the Persian rule by Vardan Mamikonian. After the establishment of the Bagratuni Kingdom Ani was one of the most important fortresses in the territory of Armenia, and on 961 King Ashot made it the capital of his Empire. In the X c it was already the commercial centre of the country and was very well being defended. There were several fortresses on the borders of the city. After the establishment of the capital Ashotian and Smbatian Gates were built. Only over the river Akhurian 5 stony bridges were built, connected with the banks by moving boards. Ani is the masterpiece of Christian art where many cultural monuments are still preserved. Trdat is famous architecture of Ani (II half of the X c). His masterpiece is the Mother Church in Ani (988-1001). The Church Gagkashen was built on the (XI), and there during the excavations the stone monument of King Gagik I with the model of the church in his hands was found. The luxury style of the Church Arakelots (X-XI) can’t be observed anywhere else among the ruins of Ani.
High educational system in Ani developed in the XI XII c. Institutions for researches; libraries were soon being built here. The art of theatre also developed and soon a Theatre was built there.Ani was also the city where glass industry was highly developed – various glasses, cups, vessels crystal objects were excavated. The city was deserted in the XIV c because of an earthquake and the Tatarian attacks, especially the ones organized by Lenk Temur. Ani inspired many artists and poets. Beginning from the X c praises about Ani spread all over the world. It had 1000 and 1 Churches, and its style served as a prototype for many architects of the following centuries.
Strong glasses help us to admire the city from a closer distance, and among multicolored cross-stones you can see Bagratunian Emblem – the running panther.
In the centre of the plain Talin the village Talin is situated, on the Northern part of which one can admire the small church tower of the VII c, the wall – paintings of which can be compared with the masterpieces of the Renaissance period. The surroundings are covered with the grave –stones of the Mamikonian and Kamsarakan dynasties. In the North there are the ruins of an ancient castle ( VI- VII), the Church Mastara, in the East there stands the mount Areni (2047m) and in the North- West the four-toped Aragats.
Basilica of Yereruk dating back to the V century is situated within the town of Ani-Pemza. It is three-nave structure lying on a six-stepped stalemate; the composition of the temple represents a step-forward from more ancient and simpler buildings. Its exterior walls stay intact along the whole perimeter, almost as high as the cornice. The temple's southern facade, with two large, thoroughly elaborat¬ed porticoes are of some interest. Colonnades, which used to stretch all along the southern, northern and western facades of the temple, are now non-existent. The temple itself under¬went no major alterations except for the rebuilding, in ancient times, of the western gallery. It might be that the ceiling of the central nave was an original woodwork and the roofing is stonework. In ancient times the temple was surrounded by a fortification wall, being, from what remains of some buildings reveal, the focus of an architectural ensemble lying on the bank of a large artificial lake.
Church of Lmbat dating back to early 7th c is near the town Artik. According to the plan this church is a uniform cross with a semi-cir¬cular eastern apse and rectangular arms in the north, south and west. The only entrance to the church is on the west. Some fragments of tetra morph lineages are about the only leftovers of seventh-century frescoes. The church has rich stone-carved ornamentation. The ancient tiled roof was replaced in due course by one of flat stone plates. In Arthik .there is also a large seventh-century temple and a small cruciform church dating from the 6th century A. D.
Temple of St John in Mastara Temple of St John in Mastara , late 6th century, the Thalin district. A sub-dome square, with apses sticking out on its four sides, culminates in an imposing dome which governs the whole of the temple's Interior. Four large squinches in combination with overhanging arches provide a solid foundation for the huge octahedral drum of the dome. By its architectural design this temple signifies another stage in the development of simple cruciform compositions, a transition to complex temple designs like those in St. Hovanes and St Hripsime In Echmiadzin. The works of Medieval architectures in Mastara include also numerous cross -stones.
Aragatsotn is located to the west of the Republic of Armenia. The province is 1000-4090m above the sea level. Ashtarak town is its center. The most interesting and attractive monuments and churches are Tsiranavor (X –XIII), Karmravor (VII –XIX), Marine (XIII), St. Sargis (XIII), Spitakavor (XIII). Oshakan village was founded on 440 AD. It is the home of St. Mesrop Mashtots, the 4th century monk who invented the Armenian alphabet. You will visit his tomb as well as a church built in the 5th century and reconstructed in the 19th century and the seminary located nearby. Byurakan village is located on the slope of mount Aragats. There is an observatory there, the silver dome of which is shining out from the greenery of Byurakan. It’s one of the largest astronomical centers in the world. The churches Artavazdik (XII), St. John (IV –X) are located on the territory of Byurakan village. There is a town – fortress Amberd 7km to the north from Byurakan village, which was constructed during the reign of Kamsarid rulers in VII. The village Aghtsk is located on the way from Amberd to Ashtarak. This village is known as a burial place of Arshakid dynasty. Aparan is one of the towns of Aragatsotn and summer residence of Armenian kings. Visiting Aragatsotn you can climb up the top of the mount Aragats. Have a tour around the church and the ruins of the walls and gates of the Amberd fortress, built on a rocky hill (X-XIII c.) near Mt. Aragats and the observatory. The domed church was built in 1206, and is one of the most beautiful churches of its type in Armenia. Beyond the fortress there was a fortified three-story castle made of basalt, built as a military measure, in order to block the invaders’ access from Aragats. Fragments of the water supply system of the castle, as well as baths and a secret pass ways leading to the canyon are still preserved.
Oshagan- Have a tour in Oshakan and get advantage of seeing the V & VI century Tsiranavor (Orange) Church and the small 7th century Karmravor (Red) Church in Ashtarak.The church has much in common with Lmbat temple, the transition from a square sub-dome space to the basis of the octahedral drum of the church's dome is effected by four principal squelches. On its walls, now whitewashed fragments of murals have been preserved. An ancient tiled spherical roof remained intact. In Ashtarak there can be seen also, XVIII-XIX century dwelling houses of folk origin with light wooden galleries.
Other monasteries on this tour are Saghmosavank and Ohanavank, built in 1215 and 1216, respectively. Your visit also includes a trip to the village of Oshagan.
Aruch: Temple of domed-hall type in Arucli, built in the late 660s by Grigor Mamikonyan, the ruler of Armenia, in his residence (the present-day village of Thalish, the Ashtarak district). The characteristic feature of the temple is the heavy spacious interior, with a pendent-like transition of the dome and generous stone carving. Remains of VII c wall painting depicting Jesus Christ Enthroned, and the Apos¬tles will attract your attention. To the south of the temple a palace of Grigor Mamikonyan was unearthed, with a large rectangular central hall, side-chambers and galleries all along its perimeter.
Mugni: Is in Ashtarak district. Architects Sahak Kliizanetzi and Murat built the church. The main church of St George represents a domed hall (1661— 1669), with a three-arch gallery-belfry in the western section. The dome of the drum is faced with alternating rows of orange and black tufa and on its exterior surface there are relieves repre¬senting the Evangelists and the portals boasting generous carving.
IJEVAN, DILIJAN, LORI
(Yerevan – Sevan – Dilijan – Hagartsin – Gosh)
Dilijan is 101km away from Yerevan (2 hours of drive by bus), and 35 km away from Sevan. It is in the Western part of the river Akhstev. In the plain of the river there are more than 10 lakes. The lake Parz is in the Eastern part of the city Dilijan. It is surrounded by thick woods and finds its water supplies from the bowels of the earth.
This land is rich in various species of animals and also in mysteries and miracles one of which is the health spa centre Dilijan, which occupies its special place among the resorts of Armenia. The fresh forest air, warm sun, the water rich in hydro carbonates, natrium and iron and astonishing sights are good basis for the future development of the resort centre. The city is also historically rich, with its museums, galleries.
12 km from the city Dilijan the Church Hakhartsin is situated. The most ancient building of the complex is the church Grigor Lusavorich (X c). The Western part of the church was built in the XII c, and in the XIII c St. Stepanos Church was built here. The main building of the complex is the Church St. Astvatsatsin (XII), which was reconstructed in the future and got its present style. In 1248 the dining table was constructed by architecture Minas. But the outer style of the Complex developed in the XIII c, when here began to work famous master and scientist Khachatur Taronetsi.
To North – East of Hagartsin the Church Goshavank is situated, built by Mkhitar Gosh. The Church is famous for its secondary educational system and art’s centre. Drive through one of the most picturesque mountains of Armenia, the region of Lori towards the north, rich with forests and rivers. You will visit one of the largest medieval monasteries of Armenia, the Haghbad monastery complex. The monastery was founded in 976. The oldest structure of the monastery is the church of Holy Sign. Next you will visit the monastery of Sanahin. It’s very difficult to give the description of Sanahin. One must see it. This monastery was a major religious and cultural center of medieval Armenia. The last stop on this trip would be the picturesque area of the monastery of Odzune. Memorials in Odzun (late 5th - early 6th century). The prevallent type of memorial in the fifth—seventh centu¬ries were steles, free-standing columns with crosses, under¬ground sepulchres and monuments, the latter reaching consid¬erable dimensions both, in Odzun. The Odzun memorials occupy a position north of a large cathedral, a two-storeyed building in which three pylons with lavishly decorat¬ed, high steles in between are raised on to the podium of the first floor. The steles' lateral planes are worked with vegetable and geometrical designs whereas the front sections divided ver¬tically into rectangular brands carry reliefs dealing with reli¬gious subjects, and images of the Apostles. This monastery has been rebuilt and has reached our days in a relatively good condition.
Ijevan town is situated in the northern part of Tavoush region. The rivers Voskepar, Aghstev flow along the province. The valley is rich with the mountainous springs, small rivers such as Tavoush, Khndzorout and lakes and mineral waters. Ijevan is famous for its Rug factory. One of the most flourishing towns of Armenia is Dilijan, famous with half resorts, where one can treat pulmonary, gastrointestinal liver and other diseases and enjoy the picturesque and unique nature. Many people call Dilijan the wonderland of Armenia. The other historical monuments are – Goshavank (XII-XIII c), Hagartsin (XI-XIII c), Makaravank (XI-XIII c.) and Voskepar ( VI-VIIc). Architectural ensemble Nor-Ghetik (Goshavank) 12th—13th century is in the village of Gosh- the Dilljan district. Mkhitar Gosh, a Medieval Armenian ruler, politician, author of fables and parables, founded it. The earliest development is the church of the Virgin (1191— 1196). On the church's western side arises a large four-column gavit (1197—1203). The other church Is St Gregory (1208— 1241) near a small chapel of the St Gregory the illuminator (1237) whose portal and decorative arches testify to the architect's remarkable taste for decor. A thirteenth-century book depository, its roofing rested on cross arches, later received a belfry (1291). Also, the ensemble includes a number of small chapels and fine airy khatchkars, works of the master Pavstos (13th cen¬tury), one of which is displayed now in the State Museum of Armenian History. Haghardzin. Architectural ensemble Нaghardzin of X-XII c is of some 12 miles away from the town of Dilljan. A church of St Gregory (X c), is the ensemble's earliest structure, is a cross-domed church with four aisles at the cor¬ners, built of rustic white limestone. A column of late XX century gavit catches the eye in the ensemble's western sec¬tion. The ensemble's central building is a thirteenth-century church of the Virgin. There are also a church dating from 1244, remains of a gavit west of the Virgin and — the gem of the ensemble—a refectory built in 1248 by the architect Minas and consisting of a pair of connected halls and with a ceiling rest¬ed on cross arches. Within the ensemble bounds one can find also other small buildings and khatchkars.
The province’s height is 1000-2300m above sea – level. Yeghegia and Arpa rivers flow along Vayots Dzor. Yeghegnadzor is the center of the region, which is situated on the bank of Arpa river. The University of Gladzor, established in XIII-XIV c, is situated on the eastern upland of Vayots Dzor. The monastery complex of Noravank (XII-XVI) is located in the Noravank canyon. The canyon is rich with rare flora, medical herbs, wild fruits, springs and different animals. Here you can also meet various monuments of different times, such as Yeghgis (V-XIII), Mogh (II-Millennium BC-XVc.AD.), the famous Proshaberd (XIIIc.), the fortress Berdakar (V c.). Have a tour to Areni Winery and taste the bounty of Armenia's sun kissed grapes. P.S. Instead of the Areni Winery we may choose a separate tour.
Caravanserai of Selim.It is one of the most exquisite pieces of Medieval Armenian architecture. By composition it is a large three-nave vaulted hall with a spacious side-room for caravan teamsters. The build¬ing is half-sunk in the hillside and, therefore, well protected against the effects of weather.
SISIAN Karahunje (Stone Hendge)
Excursion to “ZORATS QARER” which is located in Sisian, Syunik region (Southern Armenia). Wander upon Armenia's ancient enigma, and visit the complex of stones, which has been dated at 7,500B.C. The location is on the hill just 100 meters from the famous Sisian Church. It has fantastic view over the town and Vorotan River. There are private caves in the backyard with B&B where you can hide from the daytime sunrays. The B&B is located Just in 2000 m from one of the most famous archeological sites in Armenia- Qarahunje (the more common name is Zorats Qarer). This is the Armenian prototype of the Stonehenge in UK (not in size of course). Scientists have proven that there are a lot of similarities between these two sites and maybe they have the same origin. Just try, you’ll love it. Enjoy the Shaki waterfall near the city of Sissian.
The church Sisavan named St. Grigor Lusavorich is in the city Sisian. It was built in the VII c during the rule of the Catholics Hovsep. This centre domed church which is a prototype of the church Hripsime in Echmiadzin, is built on a hill which can be seen from all sides. The monument has been fully reconstructed in 1950’s.
The monastery complex Tatev was constructed in the IV c, and in the VIII c it was the spiritual centre of the Syunik region and the sit of the Bishop, it has also been a famous school centre, which further became a University. The university in Tatev especially developed in the XII c, under the heading of Grigor Tatevatsi. And it was then that the Turks conquered the complex and fired many manuscripts.
The construction of the church Pogos – Petros which is within the walls of the complex, was finished in the X c., and in the XI c the portico, and the church St. Astvatsatsin.
Wholly the complex was ruined during an earthquake in 1931 and beginning from 1983 till now it is under reconstruction.