WELCOME TO ARMENIA

Տեսնել Ավելին...

In Armenian "Hayastan", official name - Republic of Armenia (HayastaniHanrapetutyun),
Capital City: YEREVAN 1 119 000(as of 2010)
Official Language: Armenian
Religion: The absolute majority is the follower of the Armenian Apostolic Church
Population:3 249 500 (2010)
Ethnic composition: Armenians` 96%
Minorities: Russians, Yezidis, Assyrians, Greeks, Ukrainians, Jews, Kurds and others.
Territory: 29, 74 thousand square kilometers
Highest Mountain Peak: Aragats (4095 meters)
Neighbouring Countries: in the North - Georgia, in the North-East - Azerbaijan, in the South- Iran, in the South-West - Azerbaijan, in the west - Turkey

On the craving slopes of Biblical Ararat our small Motherland, with its unique history, beautiful nature, cross-stones and ancient churches found its shelter at the foot of Biblical Ararat. You will find wonder everywhere in Armenia. Love and beauty reign over this land. Here, in this marvelous nature, in the world of mountains, forests and sparkling flowers one breathes freely, seized with joy, light warmth and the sun…Waterfalls and canyons, forests and remains of ancient temples, Monasteries and Churches will attract your attention. Enjoy yourselves associating with people of our small Armenia who first adopted Christianity as a state religion.

Experience the thrill of discovering an ancient land full of legends, a land of fascinating nature and respected traditions. Combine it with renowned Armenian hospitality, national food and drinks to make the vacation of lifetime among the beauties of Armenia. We will accommodate you in best hotels, rest- houses, and lodges. Prana Tour is one of the leading tour agencies in Armenia, which is dealing with incoming tourism and has rich experience in this sphere. The company became embodiment of all that associates with tourism in Armenia. The services offered by us are constantly reconsidered in parallel to developing demand. Our skilled and highly skilled personnel are at your order. In sphere of the international tourism our agency for a long time and successfully cooperates with foreign tour agencies and offers individual and group tour packages of Armenia, Europe and Asia. We with pride shall show all of you the sight of Armenia organized top-level. All itineraries are subject to changes by will of tourists. Owing to our close connections with many organizations and the companies, we are ready to render services and the necessary information on the international

HISTORY

Armenia – is an old country that was the first to adopt Christianity as state religion in 301 A.D. Class Society was originated here at the beginning of the first millennium B.C. and from the XI to the IV c. B.C. here was founded one of the most ancient Kingdoms – the Kingdom of Urartu.
First reports about Armenian highland come up by XIV c. B.C. There had existed the states Nairi in basin of the Lake Van and states Hayasa and Alzi in the nearest mountains. The first Armenian state appeared in result of disintegration of the states Urartu shortly after fall of Assyrian empire in 612 B.C. At first Armenia had been under domination of Midi, and in 550 B.C. had joint Persian Empire of Akhemenidians. After the conquest of Persia by Alexander Macedonian Armenia had been ruled by representatives of dynasty Orontides ( Ervanduni in Arm). Armenia became one of the leading countries in this region in the I c. B.C., when Tigran Great (95-56) expanded the territory of Armenia up to Caspian, Black, Mediterranean and Persian seas (the territory from Small Caucuses to the boundaries of Palestine). Thus Armenia was named a Kingdom “From sea to sea”. It clearly showed how greater was strategic meaning of Armenian highland during Tigran Great kingdom. Later on Armenia became an apple of struggle between greater countries and empires (Rome and Parfait, Rome and Persia, Byzantine and Persia, Byzantine and Arabs, Byzantine and Turks-Seljuk’s, Abides and Georgia, Osman Empire and Persia, Persia and Russia, Russia and Osman Empire). In 387 A.D. Rome and Persia shared the Great Armenia between each other. On the territory of Persian Armenia an internal self control was retained. Appearance of the Arabs in 640 A.D. Persian Empire was crashed by them and Armenia converted in vassal kingdom with the Arabic governor. All over the country more than forty thousands of unique architectural monuments of past centuries are spread. Among them its peculiar place has Khatchkar - cross stone, which is a pure Armenian phenomenon. The cross on the stone symbolizes those blood and sufferings, victims that the severe history of these small ancient people has required. Secrets of her defense system remain unrevealed. The walls of many churches are decorated with ornamented cross-stones which demonstrated in full strength the art of people’s skilled craftsmen, inexhaustible fantasy of the stone carvers. Among the natural sightseeing’s of Armenia is National park Sevan – a high-mountain lake of 86 meters depth and more than 1200 sq. km. area for water supply of which multi kilometers long tunnel is made in the rocks, and Khosrov’s forest reserve where you can see hogs, jackals, lynx and Syrian bears. Dilijan reserve is also interesting where roe deer, brown bears and martens live. Resorts Arzni, Jermouk, Dilijan, Tsakhkadzor and others are famous in all Trans Caucasus with their beautiful view, mineral sources and pure mountain air.

REGIONS OF ARMENIA & THEIR CENTERS

1. Yerevan - Capital Yerevan
2. Ararat - Artashat
3. Aragatsotn - Ashtarak
4. Shirak - Gyumri
5. Armavir - Armavir
6. Gegharqunik - Gavar
7. Kotayk - Razdan
8. Vayotsdzor - Eghegnadzor
9. Taoush - Ijevan
10. Lori - Vanadzor
11. Syunik- Kapan

CURRENCY

The legal currency is Armenian Drams. Armenian national currency, the Dram, was introduced in November 1993. There are banknotes of 1.000, 5.000, 10.000, 20.000, 50.000, 100.000 Dram denomination. There are also coins of 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 Dram denomination.
Foreign currency (USD, Euro, Canadian Dollar, Japanese Yen, Dutch Guilder, Russian Ruble, etc.) can be exchanged in banks and currency exchange offices throughout the country. The approximate exchange rate is: The banks work from 09:00 to 16:00 on week days, on Saturdays some banks accept the customers from 10:00 to 14:00. Exchange of money does not present any difficulties. Money can be changed in the airports, banks and exchange points. The tips - by Your wish.

Nature

Armenia is a mountainous country (approximately 90 % of its square is more than 1000 -2000 m. above sea level). It is located in the boundaries of northeastern part of Armenian Highlands. From north and east it is edged with the ranges of Small Caucasus. The highest mountaintops Aragats (4090 m.), Ajdahak (3597 m.) and Vardenis (3522 m) are related to the thyroid massifs. The rivers originating from thyroid massifs had made the deep canyons. Armenia is rich with minerals. In the northern and eastern parts of the country there are rich reserves of copper ore, in the southeast – molybdenum, central and southeastern regions are rich with iron ore. Armenia is rich with tufa stones (orange, yellow, pink, black), marble, limestone are the good building and finishing materials. Among half-precious and artificial stones are selected agate, jasper, amethyst, ruby, sapphire, obsidian, and turquoise. Around 7500 sources of fresh and 1300 of mineral waters are known, many of which are used for curing purposes (Jermuk, Arzni, Dilijan, Bjni, Hankavan, Sevan etc.). Thick forests are observed in the regions of Siunik, Tavush, Kotaik. The biggest lake in the territory of Armenia is Sevan which is 1900 m above the sea level and it covers territory of 1265 sq. km. Another lakes are Kari (the mount Aragats), Aiger (in Ararat valley), Kaputan (mountain chain Zangezur), Aknalich (mountain chain Gegama), the lake Parz in Dilijan. Main rivers are Araks, Agstev, Hrazdan, Azat, Vedi, Arpa, Vorotan, Vokhchi, Megri, Pambak, Kasakh etc.

CLIMATE

Armenia is located in a subtropical zone. The mountains determine its climatic peculiarities. Rainfall is not equable and maximum fall can be registered in spring and in autumn, max. 550 mm. In the mountainous regions climate is cold and snow is kept there long.

NATIONAL CUISINE

Main feature of Armenian kitchen is dominance of vegetables in ration: potato, tomato, cabbage, egg-plants, pepper, carrots, cucumbers, beet, sorrel, spinach, asparagus, vegetable marrow, pumpkin, string bean, mushrooms etc. Cold dishes and snacks are first of all served as the cultivated raw wild grown greens: spinage, sorrel, goose-foot, asparagus. Some species of green are served up also marinated and pickled. The green onion, onion-leek, cress-salad, basilica, estragon, parsley, dill are served up together with tomatoes, cucumbers and spicy greens. Savories and appetizers are treated with the garlic, black and red pepper, vinegar, yogurt (macun), nuts and sour cream making the dishes spicy and aromatic. Another feature is using of salt and spices in considerable quantities for preparation of dishes. The most popular dishes are considered to be dolma made of ground meet in grape leaves and cabbage leaves, barbeque, khash, kufta, kebab, khavurma, khapama, basturma, meat suchukh. In these dishes combine savor of the garlic, caraway seeds green, red and black pepper. The initial dishes – spas, soup with rise, greens, vegetable and fruit soups, prepared with meet, chicken or fish broth. We have both milk and sweet soaps. Second dish – basturma, suchukh, dolma, mutton, chicken, fish with nut spice, trout. Dessert –Ecologically pure fruits of the Heavenly Ararat valley nourished by sun and watered by mountain springs of the Armenian Highlands–apricot, cornelian cherry, watermelon, grapes, peach, peer... alani (dried peach full with nut and sugar)...

VISA

Who needs a visa to travel to Armenia. List of countries whose nationals are unilaterally exempted from the requirement of obtaining a visa. http://www.mfa.am/en/visa/ For additional information please email us at evisa@mfa.am or call us at (+37460) 620516.

WELCOME TO ARTSAKH

Nagorno-Karabakh officially the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR; Armenian: ԼեռնայինՂարաբաղիՀանրապետություն LernayinGharabaghiHanrapetut’yun),

H I S T O R Y

The Republic of Mountainous Karabakh (RMK) is a state formed in the process of collapse of the USSR on the basis of NagornoKarabakh Autonomous Region (NKAR), national-state formation in the polity of the USSR, and Shahoumyan Region populated by Armenians. The independence of the Republic of Mountainous Karabakh was declared on September 2, 1991, in accordance with the fundamental norms of international rights. From that day on the authorities of the republic successively pursue a policy of maintaining peace and stability in the Caucasus region. From the earliest times Mountainous Karabakh (Armenian name – Artsakh ), situated in the north-east of the Armenian Plateau, has been one of the provinces of historical Armenia, the north-eastern border of which, according to all ancient sources, was the river of Kura. The nature and climate of the mountainous region are conditioned by its favourable geographical location.In the ancient Armenian state of Urartu (VIII-V BC) Artsakh is mentoined as Urtekhe-Urtekhini. In the works of Strabon, Pliny the Elder, Claudius of Ptolemey, Plutarch, Dion Cassius and other authors it was mentioned that the border of Armenia with the neighboring Albania (Aluank), the ancient state which is conglomerated of multilingual Caucasian mountain tribes, passes along the river of Kura. After the partition of Armenia between Byzantium and Persia (387) the territory of Eastern Transcaucasia (including Artsakh) passed to Persia. That, however, didn’t influence the ethnic borders of the region: the right bank of the Kura together with Artsakh ( Karabakh) continued to remain Armenian-populated. Only in the middle of XVIII century did Turkic nomadic tribes begin penetrating the northern regions of Karabakh. That put the beginning of the long-term wars with Armenian princedoms. Melicdoms (princedoms) of Mountainous Karabakh ruled by crown appanage princes, melics, managed to reserve the actual sovereignty as well as their own armed forces, prince’s armed forces, etc. Bound through hundreds of years to repulse the invasions of the Ottoman Empire forces, the raids of nomadic tribes and detachments of numerous and often hostilely disposed khans, or perhaps the troops of khans themselves, melicdoms of Artsakh strived for freedom from the authorities of different creed. With that end in view in XVII-XVIII cc. Karabakhianmelics were carrying on the correspondence with the Russian tsars and emperors of Peter I, Catherine II, Pavel I among them. In 1805 the territory of historical Artsakh formally named Karabakhian khanate along with the vast regions of the Eastern Transcaucasia were annexed to "everlasting rule" of the Russian Empire, that was consolidated by Gyulistan (1813) and Turkmenchie (1828) treaties between Russia and Persia. The period of peace began that lasted till 1917. After the collapse of Russian Empire and formation of independent Republic of Armenia and Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan in 1918-1920 Karabakh was self-governed by Armenian National Council and was recognized by the League of Nations as a disputable territory. However Azerbaijan supported by the command of British forces undertook several feeble attempts to put Karabakh, which considered itself a part of Republic of Armenia, under its supervision.The establishment of Soviet power in Transcaucasia was attended by the establishment of new political orders. After the declaration of Soviet Azerbaijan in 1920 the Russian troops according to the treaty between Soviet Russia and Republic of Armenia temporarily occupied Mountainous Karabakh until the peaceful solution of the problem. However, immediately after the establishment of Soviet power in Armenia Revcom of Azerbaijan (the revolutionary committee – the main authority of Bolsheviks at that time) declares the recognition of “disputable territories ”MoutainousKarabakh, Zangezur and Nakhichevan as integral parts of Armenia. Age at declaring of waiver of claims to Karabakh, Zangezur and Nakhichevan these territories weren’t parts of Republic of Azerbaijan. On the basis of Soviet Azerbaijan waiver of claims to “disputable territories” and on the basis of agreement between Armenia and Azerbaijan in june 1921 Armenia declared Mountainous Karabakh as its integral part. Soon, however, the bolshevist leaders of Russia in the scope of support policy to “world communist revolution”, in which Turkey was assigned a part of “revolution flame in the East”, changes its position to ethnically kindred Azerbaijan and to the problem of “disputable territories”, and to Mountainous Karabakh as well. Plenary session of Caucasian Bureau of CPR ignoring the resolution of League of Nations and rejecting the plebiscite as democratic mechanism of establishing borders between Armenia and Azerbaijan in 1921 under immediate pressure of Stalin and despite of completed act of cession with procedural violations makes a decision on seizure of Mountainous Karabakh from Armenia providing the formation of national autonomy with broad rights on these territories amounting to Azerbaijan SSR. Moreover, MoutainousKarabakh was disintegrated. On one part of it the autonomy was formed, the rest was dissolved into administrative regions of Soviet Azerbaijan so that to liquidate physical and geographical connection between Armenian autonomy and Armenia. Thus, the vast majority of the territory recognized by the League of Nations as disputable was openly annexed, and the most part of Mountainous Karabakh (Gyulistan, Kalbajar, Karakhat (Dashkesan), Lachin, Shamkhor and others) remained beyond the autonomy. Dissatisfied by such a state of affairs the population of Karabakh repeatedly tried to draw the attention of soviet government to the necessity of correcting this mistake and including Karabakh into the composition of Armenian SSR. In the middle of 1980s there was raised another wave of demands on restoration of the historical justice that resulted in the Declaration of State Independence of Mountainous Republic of Karabakh in 1991 by the Parliament of RMK. The declaration of RMK Independence was formed by the results of national referendum on republic independence held on December 10, 1991. In reply Azerbaijan unleashed a large-scale war. Karabakh army repulsed an aggression and expanded its territory having created a security belt, also called “liberated territories”of the historical Armenian lands that surround Karabakh. In May 1994 RMK and Azerbaijan have signed the armistice treaty that locked in actual borders of Republic of Mountainous Karabakh. The armistice treaty continues acting till nowadays. Regions, Stepanakert, Shoushi, Askeran, Hadrout, Martouni, Martakert, Kashatagh (Lachin), Karvatchar (New Shahumian), Shahoumyan

At least 4000 historical-architectural monuments have persisted till our days. Among them are fortresses, monastic complexes, churches and temples, bridges, court constructions, considerable quantity of khachkars (funeral or memorable steles, the name of which in literal translation from Armenian means cross-stone, as at the heart of their composition is the Christian cross made in traditional Armenian way of church art, none of the ornaments repeating on any of cross-stones), more than 1000 units of wall and funeral inscriptions in ancient Armenian /Grapar/. Karabakh was one of the centers of civilization not only in Caucasus, but also beyond its borders. In 19c., Shoushi, the ex-capital of Karabakh, takes on special significance in the common Caucasian life. It turns into one of the centers of the Armenian cultural-educatioanal life. The visit of Shoushi becomes compulsory for tourists coming to Artsakh. Since 1828 Armenian books and periodicals (magazines and newspapers) had been published here, Armenian Diocese School (1838) was opened here, as well as the Armenian theatre (1891), the Zhamkaryan hospital (1900), male and female Armenian gymnasiums, Real school, Kusanats monastery (1818), the building of Public Assembly with winter and summer clubs, five domical churches and two mosques were built. One of the majestic church constructions of Transcaucasia is the church of Kazanchetsots (1868-1887).

Architecture

Over thousand years an architecture with its artistic and historical values had beendeveloping in Karabakh. The traditional architecture of Artsakh is a temple architecture with churches, monasteries, cloisters and so on. Here, on a small territory, a big amount of religious and cultural monuments of the past ages is concentrated. The total number of Armenian cultural monuments in Artsakh goes beyond four thousand. The majority of historical-architectural monuments of the country is in rural districts. Today one can enjoy exquisite masterpieces of the Armenian architecture, which by its monumentality and astonishing decorative solutions concentrate in themselves the whole centuries-old art of folk-creator. Among them is the pearl of the Armenian architecture – the monastery of Gandzasar, the wonderful monastic complex of Dadivank with 10 constructions of 5-6 cc., Amaras, Vachagan the Pious temple and many other monuments of Christian history and culture in Karabakh.
Not only monuents of Christian but also monuments of Islamic architecture have persisted in Karabakh. 6 mosques of the late 19c.have persisted till our days: 3 of them – in Shoushi and one at a time – in Aghdam, Khoradeze and Fizouli. Besides, muslim necropolises and mausoleums have persisted, too. In 405-406 the son of genius of the Armenian people, MesropMashtots, defining with delicate subtlety the system of sounds of the Armenian language, created the Armenian alphabet, which fitted the language of that epoch and didn’t require any serious corrections during 16 centuries after its creation. Due to the creation of the alphabet schools in mother tongue were opened where MesropMashtots became the first teacher. He founded the first Armenian school in Amaras and it was here that he began teaching the Armenian written language. Not all cities in the world with centuries-old history can brag about the beautiness and cleanness of the streets. But Stepanakert can! It’s a small, clean and green town, the beauty of which charms every visitor. Because it’s clean not where it’s cleared away, but where it’s not littered. And it is this strain of the residents of Stepanakert that says much about its culture, hospitality, way of life, respect towards tourists and towards themselves. Wandering about the streets of Stepanakert one can note numerous sculptural monuments made by modern masters of the country. The sculpture by Robert Petrosyan “Karabakhtsiaya” (“Karabakhian grandma”) symbolizes Karabakhian grandmother – imperious woman, the guardian of family hearth and ancient traditions. The sculpture is in the very center of the city, in the place called “Pyatachok”, and is lavished with bushes.
In “green park” (people call this way “The upper park”) majestically on a high pedestal a proud eagle sits, symbolizing freedom, power, immortality, foresight and might. Very interesting is the spring-sculpture “Three sources” near VahramPapazyan dramatic theatre. In its work the artist renders three states of soul: merriment, dreaminess and sadness.The spring water is exclusively clear and has astonishing taste. In Armenian culture arts and crafts has reached great development in Artsakh. The samples of natural local silk, carpets, gobelins, gold and silver ware were repeatedly exhibited and highly evaluated at the international exhibitions and markets in Moscow, Philadelphia, Paris. There are souvenir shops in Stepanakert such as ''Nreni'', ''Vernisage'' and ''Dghyak''. A wide range of choice of exclusive souvenirs and presents can be found here. One can buy here works of masters of carving, souvenir carpets with Karabakhian symbolism, embellishments in national style, pottery and so on.
Music. Every nation has its own songs folk and composers’. Karabakhian songs can’t be mixed up with any other. They arouse listeners’ striking emotional response and are an integral part of the life of theKarabakhian people. These songs help people in difficult moment, rejoice on high days and holidays and unite with one and indivisible will. Having been acquaited with the music culture of this region tourists will see how rich and various it is. «NakhshunBaji», «14», «Deruntstsor», «TmblachiKhachen», «Horovel». These songs are sung on from one generation to another and pass on the disitinctive character of Artsakh people. In the whole, this distinctiveness is reached with the help of sounding of original Armenian instruments persisted since the ancient times: zurna, kyamancha, tar, duduk, etc.

The RMK culture system includes the dramatic theatre, state ensembles, libraries, houses of culture, youth palace, clubs, museums, picture galleries, music schools, music colleges, the school of art and historical-architectural monuments. In RMK there is Writers' Union, Journalists' Union, Artists' Union, the works of which are exhibited in the country and abroad. Among the members of the Union are the writers, journalists, artists, well known not only in Karabakh, but far beyond its borders, too.The state variety ensemble «Karabakh» was founded in March, 1997.The repertoire of the ensemble includes songs of the Armenian and foreign composers. The chamber choir «Vararakn», founded in 1990, is the first professional choir in Artsakh. In 1998 the choir gained the status of state choir. The ensemble «Artsakhibalikner» («Children of Artsakh»), founded in 1992, toured with concert programms in the Republic of Armenia and a number of foreign countries – Holland, France, the USA, Greece. In 1995 during the festival hold in Stepanakert at the initiative of the Belgian organization «Amadeus», which became traditional and is organized every year, the ensemble was awarded 7 gold medals and Grand Prix. In 1997 the ensemble was given the status of state. The state folk ensemble of RMK «We and Our Mountains» has been working six years. It has an interesting program. The repertoire mainly consists of the Karabakhian folklore, as well as of patriotic, fidain, folk songs from different Armenian provinces. Artsakh Chamber Orchestra was founded in 2004. The members of the orchestra are the graduates of Yerevan conservatory, teachers, the graduates and students of Stepanakert musical college of Sayat Nova. In 2004 with the assistance of the fund “In support to the talented young people in Artsakh” the project “Voices of Artsakh”was founded. It has become the laureate of the prize “Krunk-2005”, “National Music Prize – 2006”. The project hasn’t the status of the state group. Their arsenal includes CD, single – the national anthem of Artsakh, DVD (TV-version of the musical), music videos.
Well known today Stepanakert drama theatre of VahramPapazyan was founded in 1932, and the founder was the coryphaeus of the Armenian stage KaroAlvaryan. Artsakh State Historical Museum of Local Lore, founded in 1938, is also situated in Stepanakert. Later on its branches were opened in Shoushi, Martouni, Hadrout, Martakert and Askeran, Kashatagh. In 1938 on the territory of the Mountainous Karabakh the archaeological excavations were conducted by the German archaeologist Hummel. And these detected exhibits served as the basis for the museum.
6 regional (city) houses of culture, 127 village clubs, 136 village libraries, 7 historical museums of local lore, 6 musical schools and 1 school of arts, as well as 10 children’s junior sport schools function in Stepanakert. Besides ninteen federations function here – chess, ping-pong (table tennis), football, sport games, judo, karate, weightlifting, box and wushu, Thai box, light athletics and so on. The festive events on the occassion of celebrating the Independence Day (September, 2) are held through the whole republic. Annually on this day a big concert with the participation of local, Armenian and foreign artists is organized on the Renaissance Square. The red-letter day usually ends with fireworks. Especially interesting the Independence Day is celebrated in the village of Vank, Martakert region. Here among concerts and fireworks donkey races are organized, the winners of which are awarded with money. The threefold holiday of the 9th of May has especially broad celebration in Karabakh.This is the Victory Day during World War II (Artsakh people took immediate part in World War II), the day of Shoushi liberation and the day of foundation of the RMK Defence Army. On this day on the Renaissance Square the military parade marches past, and a number of cultural and sport events is organized, too. Annually in spring the Armenian contest-festival is held with the participation of young performers from Artsakh, Armenia and other countries. Since 2010 at the initiative of the Ministry of Culture of RMK the annual international festival of classical music “Tnjre” is held which attracts thousands of music lovers from the different ends of our planet.