Armenia lies in the highlands surrounding the Biblical mountains of Ararat, upon which Noah's Ark is said to have come to rest after the flood. Culturally, historically and politically, Armenia is considered to be a part of Europe. However, due to its location (Armenian Highlands), we can say that it’s an intercontinental country.
The Kingdom of Armenia became the first state in the world to adopt Christianity as its official religion.
The native Armenian name for the country is Hayastan. It has traditionally been derived from Hayk, the legendary patriarch of the Armenians, who, according to the 5th-century AD author Moses of Chorene, defeated the Babylonian king Bel in 2492 BC and established his nation in the Ararat region.The exonym Armenia is attested in the Old Persian Behistun Inscription (515 BC) as Armina. The ancient Greek terms Armenía are first mentioned by Hecataeus of Miletus in 476 BC. Xenophon describes many aspects of Armenian village life and hospitality in around 401 BC.
Several bronze-era states flourished in the area of Greater Armenia, including Mitanni (South-Western historical Armenia), Hayasa (1500–1200 BC) and the Kingdom of Urartu / Ararat (1000–600 BC) successively established their sovereignty over the Armenian Highland. A large cuneiform lapidary inscription found in Yerevan established that the modern capital of Armenia was founded in the summer of 782 BC by king Argishti I. Yerevan is the world's oldest city to have documented the exact date of its foundation.
Around 600 BC, the Kingdom of Armenia was established under the Orontid Dynasty. The kingdom reached its height between 95 and 66 BC under Tigranes the Great, becoming one of the most powerful kingdoms of its time within the region.
Christianity spread into the country as early as AD 40. King Tiridates III (AD 238–314) made Christianity the state religion in AD 301.
Now Armenia is a modern country with nice and talented people, thousands of historical monuments, rich culture, traditional hospitality, delicious and healthy food, beautiful nature and safe environment.
Yerevan is the capital and largest city of Armenia and one of the world's oldest continuously inhabited cities. It has been the capital since 1918, the thirteenth in the history of Armenia.
The history of Yerevan dates back to the 8th century BC, with the founding of the fortress of Erebuni in 782 BC by king Argishti I at the western extreme of the Ararat plain. Erebuni was "designed as a great administrative and religious centre, a fully royal capital."
Fresco, from the 8th century BC Erebuni fortress, Yerevan Armenia. An eternity wheel in the middle guarded by two lions, one of the insignia’s of the kings of Armenia, possibly Argishti I, the founder of the Erebuni fortress.
The "birth certificate" of Yerevan in Erebuni Fortress - a cuneiform inscription left by King Argishti I on a basalt stone slab about the foundation of the city in 782 B.C.
The Armenian alphabet is a graphically unique alphabetical writing system that has been used to write the Armenian language. It was introduced by Mesrop Mashtots around 405 AD, an Armenian linguist and ecclesiastical leader, and originally contained 36 letters.
Mount Ararat is a snow-capped, dormant volcanic cone in Armenian plateau. It has two peaks: Greater Ararat ( 5,137 m) and Lesser Ararat. Mount Ararat in Christian tradition is associated with the "Mountains of Ararat" where, according to the book of Genesis, Noah's ark came to rest.
Surb Astvatsatsin of Areni (Meaning the "Holy Mother of God Church"; also Areni Church) is a single-nave church completed in the year 1321. It is located atop a plateau overlooking the Arpa River and the village of Areni in the Vayots Dzor Province of Armenia.
Berdavan Castle (10th century)
Azat river canyon (UNESCO World Heritage Site). The Azat River is known in Armenia for its beauty. One section of the Azat, where it meets River Goght, is particularly fascinating. It is a canyon known as Canyon of Garni. The canyon's formation is so unique that it almost looks artificial. The canyon is composed of regular hexagonal prisms. Near its end, the gorge's beautiful formation has prompted the name "Symphony of Stones".
The Khor Virap is an Armenian Apostolic Church monastery located in the Ararat valley in Armenia. Khor Virap's notability as a monastery and pilgrimage site is attributed to the fact that Grigor Lusavorich, who later became Saint Gregory the Illuminator, was initially imprisoned here for 13 years by King Tiridates III of Armenia. Saint Gregory subsequently became the king's religious mentor, and they led the proselytizing activity in the country. King Artashes I, founder of the Artashesid dynasty, established his Armenian capital at Artashat (also known as Artaxtisata) around 180 BC. Hannibal, the Carthaginian General who was persecuted by Rome, was also instrumental in establishing Artashat. Artashat remained the capital of the dynasty till the reign of King Khosrov III (330–339) when it was moved to Dvin. Subsequently, Artashat was destroyed by the Persian King Shapur II. Artashat is close to the hillock of Khor Virap. Until its chapel was built, Khor Virap was used as royal prison.
Built with the goal to stand firm for thousand years, until the Second Advent or the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Zvartnots Cathedral (Meaning "celestial angels") is a 7th-century centrally planned aisled tetraconch type Armenian cathedral built by the order of Catholicos Nerses the Builder from 643-652. Now in ruins. Zvartnots was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Zvartnots Cathedral - Reconstruction
The Yererouk Basilica is a 4th century Armenian church in the town of Anipemza in the Shirak Province of Armenia. Because the basilica of Yererouk is one of the earliest Christian monuments in Armenia, it was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List.
The Tatev Monastery is a 9th-century monastery located on a large basalt plateau near the Tatev village in Syunik Province in southeastern Armenia. The monastic ensemble stands on the edge of a deep gorge of the Vorotan River. Tatev is known as the bishopric seat of Syunik and played a significant role in the history of the region as a center of economic, political, spiritual and cultural activity. In the 14th and 15th centuries Tatev Monastery hosted one of the most important Armenian medieval universities, the University of Tatev, which contributed to the advancement of science, religion and philosophy, reproduction of books and development of miniature painting.
Scholars of the Tatev University contributed to the preservation of Armenian culture and creed during one of its most turbulent periods in its history. Wings of Tatev, a cableway from Tatev to Halidzor village was opened in October 2010. It was included in the Guinness World Records as world's "longest cable car."
Perhaps one of the utmost impressive monasteries in Armenia, the Monastery of Sanahin (10th century) is located in Lori province. Carrying outstanding universal value to humanity the Monastery of Sanahin was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List
Monastery of Sanahin (10th century)
The Golden Alphabet and the Golden Cross are very famous all over Armenia and symbolise its past and present. These works are kept in the Pontifical Residence of the Catholicos of All Armenians.
Silver Cover for Armenian manuscript
Medieval bridge on the Urut river (one of the main tributaries of the Dzoraget river) near the medieval city of of Lore
Amberd is the name given to the 7th-century Armenian fortress located 2,300 meters above sea level, on the slopes of Mount Aragats. The name translates to "fortress in the clouds" in Armenian. It is also the name incorrectly attributed to Vahramashen Church, the 11th-century Armenian church near the castle. The site started as a Stone Age settlement. During the Bronze Age and Urartian periods, a fortress had been built that is now obsolete. Some sources say that Amberd used to be a summer residence for kings. The castle of Amberd and some sections of walls were constructed in the 7th century as a possession of the noble House of Kamsarakan.
Armenian Delegation, Apadana Staircase (5th century BC) Persepolis
Khachkar (Armenian cross-stones) ornament - Handaberd
Khachkar (Armenian cross-stones). The most common khachkar feature is a cross surmounting a rosette or a solar disc. The remainder of the stone face is typically filled with elaborate patterns of leaves, grapes, pomegranates, and bands of interlace. Occasionally a khachkar is surmounted by a cornice sometimes containing biblical or saintly figures. Khachkars, their symbolism and craftsmanship are inscribed in the UNESCO list of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
Noravank (Meaning "New Monastery" in Armenian) is a 13th-century Armenian monastery, located in a narrow gorge made by the Amaghu river. The gorge is known for its tall, sheer, brick-red cliffs, directly across from the monastery.
The monastery is best known for its two-storey Surp Astvatsatsin (Holy Mother of God) church, which grants access to the second floor by way of a narrow stone-made staircase jutting out from the face of building.
In the 13th–14th centuries the monastery became a residence of Syunik's bishops and, consequently. a major religious and, later, cultural center of Armenia closely connected with many of the local seats of learning, especially with Gladzor's famed university and library.
The term Armenian carpet designates, but is not limited to, tufted rugs or knotted carpets woven in Armenia or by Armenians from pre-Christian times to the present. It also includes a number of flat woven textiles. The term covers a large variety of types and sub-varieties. Traditionally, since ancient times the carpets were used in Armenia to cover floors, decorate interior walls, sofas, chairs, beds and tables. Up to present the carpets often serve as entrance veils, decoration for church altars and vestry. Starting to develop in Armenia as a part of everyday life, carpet weaving was a must in every Armenian family, with the Carpet making and rug making being almost women's occupation. Armenian carpets are unique "texts" composed of the ornaments where sacred symbols reflect the beliefs and religious notions of the ancient ancestors of the Armenians that reached us from the depth of centuries. Various rug fragments have been excavated in Armenia dating back to the 7th century BC or earlier. Complete rugs, or nearly complete rugs of this period have not yet been found.
Relief on the ruined 12th century Teghenyats Monastery, Armenia
Amenaprkich Khachkar (1273) stands out from the numerous khachkars of Haghpat. It carries a great number of realistically depicted human figures on it fitted into the unique composition of the decor. The name itself (Amenaprkich meaning “All Saviour”) talks for itself.
The monastery of Geghard (Meaning spear) is a unique architectural construction in the Kotayk province of Armenia, being partially carved out of the adjacent mountain, surrounded by cliffs. It is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. While the main chapel was built in 1215, the monastery complex was founded in the 4th century by Gregory the Illuminator at the site of a sacred spring inside a cave. The monastery had thus been originally named Ayrivank, meaning "the Monastery of the Cave".
The name commonly used for the monastery today, Geghard, or more fully Geghardavank, meaning "the Monastery of the Spear", originates from the spear which had wounded Jesus at the Crucifixion, allegedly brought to Armenia by Apostle Jude, called here Thaddeus, and stored amongst many other relics. Now it is displayed in the Echmiadzin treasury. The spectacular towering cliffs surrounding the monastery are part of the Azat river gorge, and are included together with the monastery in the World Heritage Site listing.
Some of the churches within the monastery complex are entirely dug out of the cliff rocks, others are little more than caves, while others are elaborate structures, with both architecturally complex walled sections and rooms deep inside the cliff. The combination, together with numerous engraved and free-standing khachkars is a unique sight, being one of the most frequented tourist destinations in Armenia.
The Temple of Garni is a first century Hellenic temple near Garni village, Armenia. The first traces of human occupation date back to the 3rd millennium BC. In the 8th century BC the area was conquered by the king Argishti I. The first literary testimony to the existence of a fortress on the spur crowning the site of Garni comes from the Roman historian Tacitus and dates from the middle of the 1st century AD. The actual fortification had been erected much earlier, sometime in the 3rd century BC as a summer residence for the Armenian Orontid and Artaxiad royal dynasties. The fortress of Garni became the last refuge of king Mithridates of Armenia, where he and his family were assassinated by his son in law and nephew Rhadamistus.
The Temple was constructed in the 1st century (76) AD by the King Tiridates I of Armenia
The actual building is a peripteros temple resting on an elevated podium and was most likely dedicated to the god Mihr. The entablature is supported by 24 Ionic columns resting on Attic bases. Unlike other Greco-Roman temples, it is made of basalt. After the adoption of Christianity some churches and a katholikos' palace were also constructed at the fortification site, but these are now in ruins like most of the other buildings except the temple.
Azat river canyon "Symphony of Stones"
Jermuk Waterfall "Мermaid’s hair"
The ruins of Bardzraqash St. Gregory church (X-XIII century) Lori Province
Akhtala fortress (10th century)
Armenia from helicopter. Canyon of the Dzoraget River
Canyon of the Dzoraget River, Lori Province
Tigranakert's castle in Artsakh
Bjni Fortress is a castle located in the village of Bjni in the Kotayk Province of Armenia. It sits upon the top and along the sides of a mesa that divides the village nearly in half. The larger portion of which is located west of the mesa and curves south, while a smaller portion is east. The walls of the fortress may only be seen from the western side of the village, and are easiest reached via a narrow dirt road. The fortress of Bjni was built in the 9th to 10th centuries by the royal Pahlavuni family of the Bagratuni Dynasty.
Dadivank is an Armenian monastery in the Shahumian Region of Artsakh (Karabakh). It was built between the 9th and 13th century. The monastery was founded by St. Dadi who was the disciple of Thaddeus the Apostle who spread Christianity in Eastern Armenia during the first century A.C.
The Etchmiadzin Cathedral is the Mother Church of the Armenian Apostolic Church and the central building of the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin. Located in the center of the city of Vagharshapat, it is the first church to be built in Armenia. It is also considered the oldest cathedral in the world. The original church was built between 301 and 303 by Armenia's patron saint Gregory the Illuminator, following the adoption of Christianity as a state religion by King Tiridates III. Etchmiadzin was the seat of the Catholicos, head of the Armenian Church, until 484. Subsequently, it suffered almost a millennium of neglect until 1441, when it was restored as catholicosate and remains as such to this day. As the spiritual center of Armenians, Etchmiadzin has been one of the most important locations (not only religiously) in Armenia since its foundation. The cathedral complex is called the "Armenian Vatican" for its significance. Along with several important early medieval churches located nearby, the Etchmiadzin Cathedral was listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
The Church of Saint Gayane is a 7th-century Armenian church in Vagharshapat. It is located within walking distance from the Etchmiadzin Cathedral. St. Gayane was built by Catholicos Ezra I in the year 630. Its design has remained unchanged despite partial renovations of the dome and some ceilings in 1652. Gayane was the name of an abbess who was martyred with other nuns by Tiridates III of Armenia in the year 301, and subsequently made a saint of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Saint Gayane Church was listed in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites along with historical churches of Vagharshapat.
The monastery of Geghard (Meaning spear) was founded in the 4th century
The monastery of Geghard, wall carvings
The Holy Lance, also known as the Holy Spear, Lance of Longinus, is the name given to the lance that pierced the side of Jesus as he hung on the cross, according to the Gospel of John. The Holy Lance in Echmiadzin is conserved in Vagharshapat, Armenia (Echmiadzin), the religious capital of the country. The spear which pierced Jesus was to have been brought to Armenia (The monastery of Geghard) by the Apostle Thaddeus.
Matenadaran is a repository of ancient manuscripts, research institute and museum located in Yerevan. It holds one of the world's richest depositories of medieval manuscripts and books which span a broad range of subjects, including history, philosophy, medicine, literature, art history and cosmography in Armenian and many other languages. The Matenadaran is in possession of a collection of nearly 17,000 manuscripts and 30,000 other documents.
Hovhannavank is an Armenian Apostolic Church monastery located in the village of Ohanavan in the Aragatsotn Province. It is situated atop a steep gorge carved by the Kasagh river. St. Hovhannes Karapet (St. John the Baptist) Cathedral, Hovhannavank Monastery (1216 and 1221)
Caves of Lastiver are located in the valley of the river Khachakhpyur
Karahunj (also called Zorats Karer) - ancient astrological observatory near the city of Sisian in the Syunik province of Armenia. The phrase Zorats Karer is translated from Armenian as Worrier Stones or Stone Army. It is an acknowledged fact that Qarahunj predates the Stonehenge in England. The Armenian memorial has a history of 7500 years, whereas the Stonehenge – a history of 3500. The experts and scientists continue in parallel the studies of British and Armenian stone complexes, trying to conceive the imperceptible link between these two mystic complexes.
Sevanavank is a monastic complex located on a peninsula at the northwestern shore of Lake Sevan in the Gegharkunik Province. Initially the monastery was built at the southern shore of a small island. After the artificial draining of Lake Sevan, the water level fell about 20 metres, and the island transformed into a peninsula. Sevanavank is one of the most visited tourism sights in Armenia. According to an inscription in one of the churches, the monastery of Sevanavank was founded in 874 by Princess Mariam, the daughter of Ashot I (who became a king a decade later). At the time, Armenia was still struggling to free itself from Arab rule.
Lake Sevan is the largest lake in Armenia and the Caucasus region. It is one of the largest fresh-water high-altitude lakes in the world. Along with Lake Van and Lake Urmia, Sevan was considered one of the three great lakes of the historical Armenian Kingdom, collectively referred to as the Seas of Armenia; it is the only one within the boundaries of today's Republic of Armenia.
Haghpat Monastery (10th century) UNESCO World Heritage Site
Haghartsin is a 13th-century monastery located near the town of Dilijan in the Tavush Province of Armenia. It was built between the 10th and 14th centuries, much of it under the patronage of the Bagratuni Dynasty. St. Astvatsatsin Church in Haghardzin (1281) is the largest building and the dominant artistic feature.
Haghartsin Monastery, Refectory interior
Tatev Monastery (9th-century)
Gospel of Queen Keran - 1272 (Leon II, queen Guerane, and their five children). Armenian illuminated manuscripts form a separate tradition, related to other forms of Medieval Armenian art. The earliest surviving examples date from the Golden Age of Armenian art and literature in the 5th century. Early Armenian Illuminated manuscripts are remarkable for their festive designs to the Armenian culture; they make one feel the power of art and the universality of its language. The greatest Armenian miniaturist, Toros Roslin, lived in the 13th century.
Holy Savior Cathedral, also known as Vank Cathedral and The Church of the Saintly Sisters, is a cathedral in Isfahan, Iran. Vank means "monastery" or "convent" in the Armenian language. Vank Cathedral was one of the first churches to be established in the city's Jolfa district by Armenian deportees settled by Shah Abbas I after the Ottoman War of 1603-1605.
Armenian church architecture
In Armenian mythology Mt. Ararat is the home of the Gods, much like Mt. Olympus is in Greek Mythology, and in the modern-era Ararat has been revered by the Armenians as symbolizing their national identity. Ararat dominates the skyline of Armenia's capital, Yerevan. Ararat is the national symbol of the Republic of Armenia, being featured in the center of its coat of arms.
Saint Hripsime Church is one of the oldest surviving churches in Armenia. The church was erected by Catholicos Komitas atop the original mausoleum built by Catholicos Sahak the Great in 395 AD that contained the remains of the martyred Saint Hripsimé to whom the church was dedicated. The structure was completed in 618 AD. It is known for its fine Armenian-style architecture of the classical period, which has influenced many other Armenian churches since. (UNESCO World Heritage Site)
Odzun Church (6th century) is an Armenian basilica in the Odzun village of the Lori Province of Armenia. There are numerous gravestones of the clergy around the church and a funerary monument. Its stepped platform supports two carved stelae between double arches. The east and west sides of the monument are carved with scenes from the Bible and introduction of Christianity in Armenia. Its north and south side are carved with geometrical motifs and floral shapes.
Western Armenia - Lake Van, Akdamar Island and the Armenian Cathedral of the Holy Cross, a 10th-century church and monastic complex.
Western Armenia - Mountain Nemrut, notable for the summit where a number of large statues are erected around what is assumed to be a royal tomb from the 1st century BC. In 62 BC, Armenian King Antiochus I Theos (Orontid Dynasty) of Commagene built on the mountain top a tomb-sanctuary flanked by huge statues (8–9 m) of himself, two lions, two eagles and various Greek, Armenian, and Iranian gods, such as Vahagn-Hercules, Aramazd-Zeus or Oromasdes. These statues were once seated, with names of each god inscribed on them. The heads of the statues have at some stage been removed from their bodies, and they are now scattered throughout the site.
Western Armenia - Ani is a ruined medieval Armenian city. Between 961 and 1045 it was the capital of the medieval (Bagratuni) Armenian Kingdom that covered much of present day Armenia and eastern Turkey. Called the "City of 1001 Churches," Ani stood on various trade routes and its many religious buildings, palaces, and fortifications were amongst the most technically and artistically advanced structures in the world. At its height, Ani had a population of 100,000–200,000 people and was the rival of Constantinople, Baghdad and Damascus.
Akhtala (Pghindzahank, which means copper mine) is a 10th-century Armenian Apostolic Church monastery located in the town of Akhtala. The monastery is currently inactive. The main church at the compound is famous for its highly artistic frescoes, which cover the inside walls, the partitions, and the bearings of the building.
Khachkars (cross-stones) UNESCO list of Intangible Cultural Heritage
Armenian church. Abovyan city
Matosavank monastery includes a small church dedicated to Saint Astvatsatsin of Pghndzahank dated in 1247 (Region: Tavoush)
Armenian cross-stone ornaments from julfa cemetery - The Armenian cemetery in Julfa was a medieval-era cemetery near the town of Julfa, Nakhchivan, an exclave of the Republic of Azerbaijan that originally housed around 10,000 funerary monuments. The tombstones consisted mainly of thousands of khachkars, uniquely decorated cross-stones characteristic of medieval Christian Armenian art. The cemetery was still standing in the late 1990s, when the government of Azerbaijan began a systematic campaign to destroy the monuments. In the spring of 2006, a journalist from the Institute for War and Peace Reporting who visited the area reported that no visible traces of the cemetery remained. In the same year, photographs taken from Iran showed that the cemetery site had been turned into a military firing range. After studying and comparing satellite photos of Julfa taken in 2003 and 2009, in December 2010 the American Association for the Advancement of Science came to the conclusion that the cemetery was demolished and leveled.
Armenian ornaments (Saint Thaddeus Monastery)
Haghartsin Monastery (13th-century)
Goshavank (Meaning "Monastery of Gosh", previously known as Nor Getik) is a 12th century. Goshavank was erected in the place of an older monastery once known as Nor Getik, which had been destroyed by an earthquake in 1188. Mkhitar Gosh, a statesman, scientist and author of numerous fables and parables as well as the first criminal code, took part in the rebuilding of the monastery.
2 khackars (cross-stone), Hovhannavank monastery (13th century)
Gndevank (Meaning Round cathedral) is a 10th-13th century Armenian monastery in the Vayots Dzor Province
Gandzasar monastery is a tenth to thirteenth century Armenian monastery. "Gandzasar" means treasure mountain or hilltop treasure in Armenian. The monastery holds relics believed to belong to St. John the Baptist and his father St Zechariah. Gandzasar is now the seat of the Archbishop of Artsakh appointed by the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin of the Armenian Apostolic Church.
Tatev is a masterpiece of confluence of ingenious medieval architecture and fabulous nature of Armenia. There is no doubt, that Tatev is one of the most spectacular tourist attractions on the Planet. Tatev was also widely regarded as one of the most famous spiritual and educational centers of the Middle Ages.
Armenia - Noah's Route, Your Route