Tours in Yerevan and Gyumri. Visits to St. Echmiadzin to participate in the Exaltation of Holly Cross and Divine Liturgy as well as the natural sights, historical places of Armenia including Ancient Silk Roads with their Medieval Caravanserais, escavated royal tombs and palaces, famous Areni or Birds Cave, rock carvings of more than 5000 years showing the ancient civilization of historical Syunik. Participation in the celebration of Independence Day of Armenia and in the other events devoted to this holiday.
Arrival To Yerevan. Transfer from the Zvartnots International Airport. Check in Ani Hotel. Free time in the city. Overnight in Yerevan.
After breakfast at the hotel we will go to the Victory Park, where we can visit the Victory museum located under the statue of Mother Armenia. In the museum we will be introduced to victories of Armenian people during Karabakh War (1991 - 1994) and World war II. After excursion in the museum we will walk in the park from where we will enjoy the amazing morning view of Yerevan. Then we will visit the Institute of Ancient Manuscripts known as Matenadaran, containing over 16,000 manuscripts documenting the centuries-old history of the Armenian nation, art, literature, and natural sciences. Manuscript art is one of the most unique examples of Armenia’s medieval culture. After excursion in Matenadaran we will visit Mergeryan Carpet Factory, which brings together time-honored traditions and a range of exquisite aesthetics to create objects of art for modern living. We will have lunch in the Carpet Factory tasting unique Armenian kitchen. After lunch we will visit Memorial and Museum of Armenian Genocide. Then we will have free time to walk in the center of the city visiting Cafesjian Center for the Arts located in the Cascade. Inspired by the vision of its founder, the Center offers a wide variety of exhibitions, derived from the Gerard L. Cafesjian Collection of contemporary art. This collection of more than 5,000 works includes one of the most comprehensive glass collections in the world. In the evening we will have Welcome Dinner in one of the nice restaurants in the center of Yerevan, tasting Armenian kitchen and enjoying Armenian music. After dinner we will embark on an evening tour of Yerevan city that includes walking through nice Northern prospect towards the Republic Square, where we can enjoy the Large Dancing Water Fountains.
After breakfast at the hotel we will board 4x4 vehicles and will take direction to the South on the way enjoying the panoramic view of Ararat. We will visit the monastery Khor Virap located at the foot of Ararat mountain, where there is Ancient Deep Prison and where at the end of the 3rd century the future first patriarch of Armenian Apostolic Church, Grigor Lusavorich (Grigor Enlightener), was imprisoned and suffered for 13 years. Leaving Khor Virap we will drive to Kotayk region taking off road way through the Canyon of Garni stretching along the river Azat and Goght. We will stop in the gorge for having picnic in the garden on the bank of Azat river. After picnic we will continue our trip through the Canyon, enjoying magnificent, seemingly artificial slopes from the foot to the top of the gorge named "Symphony of Stones". Climbing up from the gorge we will continue our way get to Garni Temple built in the second half of the 1st century A.D. and dedicated to the God Mitra, the God of the Sun. After Christianity the temple was used as a summer residence of Armenian Kings described as ‘‘A House of Coolness‘‘. After excursion in the temple we will drive up to the magnificent monument of medieval Armenian architecture Geghard Monastery founded in IV century A.D. (at that time called Ayrivank or a “Cave Monastery”) and rebuilt in 1215, when as a legend says the name Geghard was given as the legendary spear - Geghard - (that pierced Christ) was brought there. We will get to the monastery at the time of evening Liturgy just before the Day of Holly Cross. After excursion in the monastery we will be back to Yerevan. Dinner and overnight in Yerevan.
Feast of the Exaltation of Holly Cross: Trip to the Center of Ancient Treasures of Christianity
After breakfast we will visit the Religious Center of Armenian People Holly Echmiadzin (Ancient Vagharshapat city), which was a capital city during Armenian Arshakuni Kings in II – IV centuries A.C. and after Christianity was proclaimed the state religion in 301, became the country’s religious centre as well.
DIVINE LITURGY DEVOTED TO THE FEAST OF EXALTATION OF THE HOLY CROSS
After Liturgy we will have excursion in Saint Cathedral built in 303 and rebuilt in 480 A.C. and located in a walled compound with gardens and various architectural structures. We will visit the museum of Cathedral, where religious relics, rich gifts in a variety of church utensils and valuable works of applied art are stored.
Then we will have lunch in Echmiadzin Ethnographic Center, where we will be introduced to the cultural, educational, religious activities run by the Center with involvement of kids. After lunch we will continue our excursion in Echmiadzin visiting St. Gayane and St. Hripsime Churches built in the VII century and dedicated to these faithful virgins, who were the followers of Christ martyred at the end of III century. Our next stop will be in Zvartnots Temple built as Armenia’s main cathedral in 641-661. The original architectural composition of the building is an example of a central-dome temple different in its appearance from the antique and Byzantine structures of this kind. After visiting the temple we will be back to Yerevan. Free time before dinner. Overnight in Yerevan.
After breakfast at the hotel we will take our way to the North to the highest mountain of Armenia Aragats (4090 m) to visit Amberd Fortress a midcentury fort-city built during the X century. We will enjoy the landscape surrounding the fortress and alpine flowers on the wings of Aragats. Then we will visit Saghmosavank Monastery located in village Saghmosavan at the top the precipitous gorge carved by the Kasagh river and built at the beginning of the XIII by Prince Vache Vachutian. After visiting the monastery we will be hosted in the local house the owner of which is a famous painter. His name is Armen. The house has very beautiful garden from where there is a fantastic view of Ararat valley. We will also have chance to be introduced to Armen’s art. He also will suggest us food prepared with unique recipe. Enjoying the lunch and hospitality we will leave this fascinating place to continue our way around Aragats mountain towards Artik town rich with historical monuments and culture. Artik's materialistic culture is important not only because it gives us a chance to explore the ways of life of the Aragats ancient population, but it also shows us the connection between the Armenian culture and that of the ancient East’s civilizations. Here we will visit Harichavank Monastery built in the XIII century and situated in the village of the same name, on a cape formed by shallow ravines and the rivers flowing in them. Leaving the monastery we continue our way to Gyumri, which is the second city in Armenia. After accommodation in Nane hotel we will have dinner in Cherkezi Dzor restaurant, tasting fresh trout and other meal specific to Gyumri’ famous kitchen. Overnight in Gyumri.
After breakfast at the hotel, we will have short city tour visiting the most interesting places and sights in one of the oldest cities in Armenia, which is also famous place for its historical-cultural traditions, strong art and crafts, education and also by film making industry (a lot of films were produced in Gyumri). We will visit Yot Verk Church in the Central Square of Gyumri built in 1859, also we will walk in the famous Gyumri’s craftsmen street and other streets of old Gyumri, where a lot of Armenian films have been shot. After city tour we will take our way to the East towards Lori Region and passing through Vanadzor city we will continue our trip along Debed River surrounded by the mountainous beautiful natural and historical sites. We will stop in nice tavern in Alaverdi town for lunch. Then we will visit one of the most beautiful places in northern Armenia called Sanahin Monastery Complex and included in UNESCO Heritage Site. The complex was built in 966 A.C. After excursion in the complex we will take our way to Haghpat village, where we will visit Haghpat Monastery built in X century and standing against the background of steep forest-grown slopes of Bazum ridge. After excursion in this monastery with amazing architecture, we will check in the nice hotel in Haghpat village surrounded by the rich flora and having fantastic view of nature. Here we will have dinner specific to the northern Armenian kitchen. Overnight in Haghpat.
After breakfast at the hotel we will visit the famous Akhtala’s fortress, built in the X century, by Kyurik Bagratounis and located on the left bank of Debed river, on the slopes of Lalvar mountain. The impressive Akhtala monastery was reconstructed during the XIII century by prince Ivaneh Zakarian with a unique architectural style. This medieval Christian complex which is located inside the fortress was one of the important educational centers in the historical province of Gugark. Leaving the fortress we will take our way towards Dilijan National Park located on the upstream pool of Aghstev river, and surrounded by the Lesser Caucasus mountains. Here we will stop in the village Gosh, where we will visit Monastery Complex Goshavank, built in XII century. During many centuries the Monastery was one of the most important religious and educational centers of Armenia. After visiting the monastery we will have lunch on the bank of river Aghstev. After lunch we will visit Haghartsin Monastery built in 1281 and situated in dense oak wood, in the gorge of small but turbulent mountain river. Leaving the monastery we will continue our way to Dilijan, where after accommodation in the nice hotel we will have rest. Accommodation, dinner and overnight in Dilijan.
After breakfast we will take our way towards to Lake Sevan, which is the largest lake in Caucasus as well as one of the largest, and highest freshwater lakes of the world located on 1897m above sea level. We will go to Sevan Peninsula to visit Sevanavank monastery built in 305 A.C. by the daughter of King Ashot Bagratuni - Mariam and during the 9th century became the royal citadel of the Armenian Kings. After excursion in Peninsula, we will continue our way around the lake towards Vardenyants Pass. Climbing up over 2,410m and following the historical Silk Road we will stop at the place to see the medieval Caravanserai built in the XIV century by Prince Orbelyan. Continuing our way through Vardenyants Pass we will stop in the nice tavern for lunch. After lunch we will take our way to Jermuk, which is the most beautiful health resorts in Armenia and famous with its mineral water. After accommodation in Nairi hotel, we will have city tour in Jermuk including drinking mineral water in Gallery, visiting the Gorge of Jermuk and enjoying the beautiful waterfall. Dinner and overnight in Jermuk.
After breakfast at the hotel we will take our way to Syunik region and on the way boarding 4x4 vehicles we will drive up to Ukhtasar Mountain. This trip is optional depending on the season. Driving closely to the top of the mountain (3300 meters above sea level) we will hike up to the lake called “Ukhtasar”, enjoy sightseeing and visit one of the unique wonders of the world, rock carvings of Ukhtasar Mountain from pre-historic era. After interesting mountainous excursion and picnic in the nature, we will go to Sisian town, where after accommodation in a hotel, we will have dinner and stay for overnight.
After breakfast at the hotel we will take our way to Tatev Monastery Complex built in 895-906, which is one of the most important Education and Religion Centers situated in medieval Syunik region and is under UNESCO World Heritage Site. On the way we will take Tatev Wings ropeway, which is the longest two-way ropeway of the world and flies above deep Vorotan gorge opening breath-taking views of the Vorotan Canyon. Visiting Tatev Monastery we will enjoy Tatev ensemble fitting in perfectly with the mountainous landscape around it. This gives the ensemble an original and majestic appearance. During the XIV and XV centuries it was famous for its university. Leaving Tatev Monastery we will have lunch in the restaurant of Tatev Wings. After lunch we will continue our way to Old Khndzoresk village, where we can visit the canyon of ancient cave residences. Old Khndzoresk village with its cave residencies was one of the centers in Syunik region for national liberation struggle of our people against Persian and Turkish invaders during XVII-XVIII centuries. Then we will be back to our hotel in Sisian, where we will have dinner accompanied with performance of young dancers’ ensemble of Sisian. Overnight in Sisian.
After breakfast at the hotel we will visit to one of the most ancient megalithic constructions of the world near Sisian called Zorats Karer (Stonehenge). The two-meter pointed blocks last precisely from the south to the north, fencing large territory, in the center they form a correct circle. There is a hypothesis, that Zorats Karer is an observatory built in VI mil. B.C. Scientists have found similar constructions in many areas of Europe. The most known of them is the Stonehenge in England (II mil. B.C.). Leaving the Stonehenge we will take our way to the North to Vayots Dzor Region and passing through grand canyon surrounded by the famous caves we will reach the Noravank Monastery built during the XIII – XIV centuries and situated on a ledge of a deep winding gorge of a tributary of the Arpa River. Enjoying the amazing architecture of the Monastery and Khachkars (Cross Stones), we will be introduced to the interesting stories about famous architect Momik and Orbleyan Dynasty. Our next stop will be famous Areni Cave (Birds Cave), where the oldest shoes and winery (4500 B.C.) in the world have been founded by local and foreign archeologists. Then we will go to Areni village, which is famous for its winery. Areni is a sort of grape, which is used for making wine from ancient times. We will have lunch in the local family, exploring Armenian village life typical to Vayots Dzor region culture and traditions. Introduction of old Armenian lifestyle, experiencing the hospitality and participating in Armenian Lavash (bread) baking and homemade wine tasting. After lunch we will continue our way to the North and passing Urtsadzor village (near Khosrov State Reserve), we will get to Ararat Valley. Again enjoying the view of Ararat we will continue our way to Yerevan, where after accommodation in Ani hotel we will have dinner and stay for overnight.
Republic of Armenia celebrates 24th Anniversary of Independence Founded on September 21, 1991, Signing Declaration of Independence. Today we have free time to participate in different events such as parades, concerts devoted to the Day of Independence.
After breakfast at the hotel we will take our way to Oshakan, where we will visit a Saint Mesrop Mashtots Cathedral. The hall in the church was built by the Nobleman Vahan Amatuni in the 443 and rebuilt by the Catholicos Gevorg IV during the 1875-1879. There is a grave of Mesrop Mashtots under the altar of this church. Leaving Oshakan we will take the route connected with the ancient Silk Road towards Aruch village, which is famous for its historical-cultural monuments such as Aruch Medieval Caravanserai, Monastery and Palace built in VII century. Aruch was also a winter station for the royal army in 661-682 and the Armenian Governor Grigor Mamikonyan established here his throne-chair. After visiting Aruch, we will have lunch and continue our trip towards the village Tegher, on the way visiting the Tomb of the Arshakids Kings built in the IV century by Sparapet Vasak Mamikonyan. Our next stop will be in Tegher village, where we can visit very beautiful monastery complex, located on the wing of Aragats mountain and built in XIII century. After visiting the monastery we will be back to Yerevan. Dinner and overnight in Yerevan.
After breakfast at the hotel we will visit History Museum of Armenia. Here we will be introduced to all of the historical eras of our country and people. Then we will have free time for shopping and enjoying Yerevan. In the evening we will have Farewell Dinner in one of nice restaurants in Yerevan. Overnight in Yerevan.
Price is calculated per person for a double accommodation and for a group of 20 tourists. The price includes transportation, airport transfer, Yerevan and Gyumri city tours, overnight, full board, entrance fees, as well as the local guide and driver.
Airfare, personal expenses, visa fees, driver’s and guide’s tips, insurance and other expenses not mentioned above.