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Culinary tour:delicious Armenia – 7 days

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  • Gastronomy tour

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Dear tourists, welcome to Armenia!

Armenia is the first country, which adopted Christianity as a state religion in 301 AD.

Armenia is truly an indescribable open-air museum. Here even the ruins of temples and historical monuments treasure the history of centuries and have a significant importance.

Armenia is a fabulous place, a country of contrasts, where the summer nights are so comfortable and soulful, that your heart is filled with warmth.

Armenia is an earthly paradise with its sharp turns and passes. Only in Armenia you can move from one city to another through lots of passes. The nature of Armenia is not only strikingly beautiful, but also healing.

The Armenian nation, being formed in the second millennium BC, is one of the most ancient nations in the world: the genetic code of Armenians is more than 4000 years old.

Yerevan is the capital 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. In 1950 in the territory of modern-day Yerevan was found a cuneiform script with the following text: «By the greatness of God Khaldi, Argishti, son of Menua, built this mighty stronghold and proclaimed it Erebuni for the glory of Biainili and to instill fear among the king’s enemies…»

Meeting at the “Zvartnots” airport, transfer to the hotel in Yerevan, registration and a short rest. After having lunch at the hotel the city tour will begin.

So, the most important sights of Yerevan are waiting for you: places, which you have seen in pictures or probably have heard and read about, but have never seen live.

We’ll begin with the Arshakunyats Avenue and will come to the train station (Kayaran). The decoration of the forecourt is the fabulous statue David of Sasoon by famous Armenian sculptor Ervand Kochar.

Following the route we’ll pass the streets Tigran Mets, Ervand Kochar and will stop at the St. Gregory the Illuminator cathedral, which was founded in 1997.

 It’s the biggest cathedral in Armenia and the second biggest in
Transcaucasia. Passing the main streets of the capital we’ll see trade center “Russia”, the Pedаgogical University, the statue of Griboyedov established in 1975. Alexander Griboyedov was very close to the Armenian nation, shared its joys and sorrows, and did a lot for the Armenians. Today his statue is deservedly considered a decoration of street scenery of the Armenian capital.

Turning to Khanjian Street and reaching the Vernisage, on the opposite side of the street you’ll see the majestic statue of Armenian nobleman and warlord Vardan Mamikonyan. Reaching one of the central streets, Sayat-Nova, on the right side we can see the Chess House and also the Armenian Radio House already located on the Alex Manoogian Street. On the same street you’ll see the building of Yerevan State University, in front of which stands the statue of the creator of the Armenian alphabet Mesrop Mashtots and the Catholicos Sahak the Parthian. Also here is situated the Armenian State University of Economics. Passing the Nalbandyan Street we’re turning to the Moskovyan. On the right side we see the statue of famous Armenian painter Ivan Aivazovsky. A little further, on the crossroad of Moskovyan and Abovyan streets is situated the statue of polar explorer and a great friend of the Armenian nation Fridtjof Nansen. And here it is, the heart and the flavor of the city, the Abovyan Street, through which, looking at the universities (Yerevan State Medical University, branches of YSU), passing the garden after Abovyan, we’re heading to the Victory Park – one of the favorite places of townspeople. Here stands the monument Mother Armenia in honor of the victory of the Soviet Union in the Great Patriotic War. The statue is 54 meters in height and symbolizes a figure of an Armenian mother putting her sword into the scabbard and with a shield lying under her feet. The pedestal hosts the Mother Armenia Military museum of the Ministry of Defense, which houses exhibit of the times of World War II and Nagorno-Karabakh War.

From the Victory Park we’ll go down to the center of the city by the stairs of Cascade (we can also use the escalator). Through the Tamanyan Street we’ll pass to the Marshal Baghramyan Avenue. There are a lot of residencies of public organizations on this avenue. Here is situated the complex of buildings of the National Academy of Sciences. In front of it is situated the building of the National Assembly of the Republic of Armenia. From here through the Leningradyan Street we’ll head to a large trade and entertainment center “Dalma Garden Mall”, we’ll see the Municipality of Yerevan and pass to the Republic Square, where we’ll stop to take a rest and to have a dinner. And, of course, the History Museum of Armenia located on the Republic Square and the Yerevan History Museum hosted by the building of the municipality will not be deprived of attention. The museum contains ancient household items, unique medieval books, drawings of foreign travellers who have visited Yerevan, military banners, awards and weapons, jewelry and of course the historical record of the Urartu king Argishti I, where the date of founding of the city-fortress of Erebuni (the nowadays Yerevan) is indicated – 782 BC .

After the city tour a master class in cooking Armenian tolma will be demonstrated for us. Tolma is one of the most popular national dishes, which is present at every festive table in Armenia. The grape leaves are stuffed with minced meat (this variant is easy in cooking). Summer tolma is also very tasty: vegetables are being cleaned from seeds, filled with minced meat, and the tasty and useful dish is ready!

Matenadaran

Yerevan Cascade

Tsitsernakaberd

After having breakfast at the hotel, we’ll head to the city of Vagharshapat.

The holy city of Vagharshapat (Etchmiadzin) founded by the Armenian Arsacid king Vagharsh I in 117 is the historical center of the Armenian Apostolic Church and place of worship of the early Christians. In the territory of Etchmiadzin Cathedral is situated the residency of the current Catholicos of All Armenians Garegin II.

You’ll also see the temples dedicated to the martyred nuns St. Hripsime and St. Gayane. After Christianity was proclaimed a state religion by king Tiridates III in 301, Vagharshapat became the religious capital of the country. And right in the place of destroyed pagan temple was built the first Armenia Cathedral – the St. Etchmiadzin. In 1945 the town was renamed to Etchmiadzin, but in 1992 the former name was given back to the city. Nowadays both names are widely used. In 2001, when celebrating the 1700th anniversary of the Christianization of Armenia, Pope John Paul II brought the relics of the first Armenian Catholicos. For 500 years the relics of Gregory the Illuminator were kept in Naples, and now they are in Etchmiadzin Cathedral.

We’ll have dinner in Vagharshapat, where we’ll see a master class in making national cookies shaqar – choraki. The taste of these sweet and soft cookies is unforgettable and they are suitable for both tea and coffee.

On our way back to Yerevan we’ll stop near the ruins of Zvartnots Cathedral.

Zvartnots                                                    

The temple of Zvartnots (or “the Temple of Vigil Powers”) is the pearl of Armenian architecture of the early Middle Ages. From the territory of the temple is perfectly visible the Biblical Ararat in all its unique glory.  The divine architecture of Zvartnots and the nature are merged here. Nowadays, from the temple remained only ruins, which you can tirelessly admire, ruins, which treasure pride and majesty. The temple was 49 meters in height. From the bottom and up to the height Zvartnots was exquisitely carved. The powerful three-tier cathedral with a spherical cupola was the highest building of the era. Zvartnots was destroyed by the severe earthquake in 930. The supporting columns of the second tier were weak and collapsed, burying all the beauty and splendor of the temple.

After seeing these stone monuments and taking with us a piece of history, we’ll return to Yerevan. You’ll have a free schedule.

We’re returning to the hotel in Yerevan.

Vagharshapat (Ejmiatsin)

Zvartnots Cathedral

We’ll have breakfast at the hotel. So, without wasting time, let’s continue our tour in the fabulous Armenia.

We’ll have a very interesting trip and not less interesting master class in making ghapama.

Garni

We’re heading to Garni, where we’ll continue our tour after the dinner. The only memorial in Armenia, which remained from the era of paganism, the temple of Garni, was built in the second half of the first century AD by the Armenian Arsacid king Tiridates I and was dedicated to the sun god Mihr, whose figure was standing in the depths of the sanctuary. The fortress of Garni is one of the clearest evidences of the centuries-old culture of pre-Christian Armenia. Its construction began in the II century BC and continued during ancient times and, partly, in the Middle Ages. The temple is characterized with its unique structure. 9 massive 30 cm high steps stretched-out over the entire width of the facade strengthen the majesty of the temple. The 24 columns have their designation (2+4=6, i.e. perfection, 24=8*3, according to the sacral geometry – new life multiplied by the Holy Trinity, i.e. life given by God). The location of the columns also has its designation: 6 columns set up on both front and rear parts of the structure, and 8 columns (the symbol of life, infinity) on each of the sides.

Geghard

After visiting the temple of Garni we’ll head to the monastic complex of Geghard, which is a unique architectural construction located in the gorge of the river Azat. According to the chronicles, Geghard was founded in the IV century. In the times of paganism in its place was a stream, which starts from the cave, and the water from this stream was considered sacred. The old name of the fortress is Ayrivank, which means “the Monastery of the Cave”, and the full name Geghardavank literally means “the Monastery of the Spear”. The biblical spear, by which Jesus Christ had been wounded on the Cross, allegedly was brought here by Apostle Thaddeus and is kept in the museum of Etchmiadzin monastery nowadays. After our interesting sightseeing trip we’ll return to the capital, which is very dear to us.

Further we’ll have diner and see a master class in making ghapama.  Ghapama is a bright and delicious dish symbolizing the union and friendship. This is a traditional dish of pumpkin, which may be stuffed with red beans rice, dried apricots, honey. Depending on the stuffing, ghapama may be both entree and dessert. Ghapama used to be an indispensable dish of the Armenian weddings, to make the life of the couple sweet and abundant.

After our sightseeing and tasting the delicious ghapama we’ll return to Yerevan.

Further the schedule is free. We’ll have a very interesting evening, for example, we can go to a jazz club and enjoy summer Yerevan.

Temple of Garni

Monastery of Geghard

After having breakfast at the hotel, we’re heading to Haghartsin.

Haghartsin  

Haghartsin is one of the oldest and, undoubtedly, one of the most fabulous architectural structures in the holy Armenian land. Established in the X – XIII centuries in the territory of Haghartsin canyon surrounded by densely blossoming forests and proud mountains of Dilijan, Haghartsavank monastery stores silence and quietism. The secular monastery complex is founded by the monks, true followers of Christianity, who had fled from prosecutions from the Western Armenia, which was a part of the Byzantine Empire at the end of the X century.

Further we’re going to Goshavank.

Goshavank

The monastic complex of Goshavank, which is also called Nor Getik (in Armenian nor – new, get – river, because of the river passing near the church), was built in the XII – XIII centuries in the territory of the village Gosh. It’s a magnificent architectural structure with a fabulous background – the nature of Armenia. In 1972 the Historical and Architectural Museum was opened here.

We’ll continue to explore the area.

Dilijan

Dilijan is a town which has a status of a national park, the most ecologically clean region of Armenia. It’s located in the Tavush province at the north – east of the Armenian Highlands. Due to its location, nature, clean and fresh air Dilijan, out of competition, is considered as a health and mountain resort. In addition to everything, there’s a fascinating picturesque landscape.  The way to Dilijan itself is very interesting: the endless passes with the densely growing trees lying around them. On our way we’ll see the statue of the characters from popular movie “Mimino” and also we’ll visit the “Old Dilijan” complex on the Vanik Sharambeyan Street: Vanik Sharambeyan is a famous Armenian artist, who established the Folk – Art Museum in Dilijan. This area is called Tufenkian. Here are the works of the skilled artists from Dilijan. We’ll spend the night here to continue our tour in wonderful Dilijan tomorrow. Then we’ll head to Sevan, where a master class will be demonstrated for us.

Sevan

Lake Sevan is one of the largest high-altitude lakes in the world. The lake is located in the heart of the Armenian highlands at the altitude of 1900 meters. The average depth of the Sevan is 27 meters, the maximum – 80-90 meters. The nature is indescribably beautiful here, the coastline is very picturesque with thickly wooded slopes, plains, stone cliffs, alpine forests and sand beaches. The lake and its surrounding area are included in the protected zone of Sevan National Park. Here always dominates moderate coolness, clean and clear water, fresh mountain air. This makes the Sevan beloved and unique for both locals and tourists. One of the famous sights in Sevan is Sevanvank – an ancient monastery at the north – western shore of Lake Sevan. The monastery was founded in 874. Only two small three – apse cross – domed churches have survived up to our days – St. Arakelots ans St. Astvatsatsin (871 – 874). Sevanavank, in contrast to other monastic complexes, is small and modest. At the same time, the main highlights of Sevanavank are the amazing views of the lake and surrounding area opening from the windows. Here operates The Vaskenian Theological Academy – a seminary of the Armenian Apostolic Church located on the Sevan peninsula. In 2002 a new, more comfortable and equipped building was built for the seminary. The academy is named in honor of the Catholicos of All Armenians and head of the Armenian Apostolic Church Vazgen I. Here future clergymen are being prepared.

We’ll have dinner at the shore of the Sevan. Here will be shown a master class, of course, in cooking the Sevan trout, widely known as ishkhan. In Armenian the word “ishkhan” means prince, lord. The Sevan trout is unique and useful fish, which will help us to rejuvenate, and the cooking skills will be useful in everyday life.

After having a great day we’ll return to Yerevan.

Haghartsin Monastery

Goshavank Monastery

Dilijan

Sevanavank

After the breakfast in the hotel we’ll continue our trip.

Today we’ll visit the Aruchavank monastery (also the St. Gregory the Illuminator church), built in the VII century. This is one of the most significant architectural monuments of Armenia. the dome of the church was destroyed and now the sky is a dome for it. After enjoying the architecture and the beauty of the nature, we’ll continue our way to Gyumri.

Gyumri is the second largest city of Armenia, the administrative center of the Shirak province, situated on the Shirak Plateau. The city is located near the northern branches of Mount Aragats. According to the chronicles, the history of Gyumri dates back to the Bronze Age. Till 1840 the city was called Kumayri, in 1840-1924 it was called Alexandropol, after Lenin’s death in 1924 it was renamed into Leninakan. After the independence of Armenia in 1991 the city was given the name Gyumri. The city tour promises to be very interesting as there are sights, that worth seeing. There are situated 5 churches, an orthodox chapel, the Kumayri historic district, the Dzitoghtsyan Museum of Social Life and National Architecture, the Aslamazyan sisters Gallery.

In Gyumri were born such famous people as actor Frunzik Mkrtchyan, actress Svetlana Svetlichnaya, poet Avetik Isahakyan, jazz musician Tigran Hamasyan.

People of Gyumri are very hospitable, kind and have a sharp sense of humor as we’ll see while walking in this sunny city and talking to them. After the city tour we’ll have dinner at a restaurant in Gyumri: we’ll taste kebab or ishli kofta of beef and bulgur, an also the delicious cheese “Chanakh”.

Further we’ll visit the St. Nicholas the Wonderworker orthodox chapel in Gyumri. The chapel is not that large, but its architecture is very elegant. In 1997 at the chapel was established the parish of the Russian Orthodox Church in the name of St. Nicholas.

We’re returning to Yerevan.

After the breakfast we’re heading to Sanahin.

Sanahin

Sanahin is one of the oldest memorials of Armenian architectural culture. It’s an indescribably wonderful place. Being inside these walls, touching the precious tuff, breathing air saturated with warmth, you’re unwittingly taking with you a piece of the ancient Armenia when leaving this ancient monastery.

The monastic complex was one of the centers of cultural and educational life of medieval Armenia, the Kingdom of Kyurikids (X – XII centuries), the Duchy of Zakaryans (XII – IV centuries). It was founded by the Bagratid king Abas in the X century. In ancient times there were no certain dates of founding of the monasteries, but the name “Sanahin” literally means “this one is older than that” (arm. “sa nranic hin e”).

According to the legend, St. Gregory the Illuminator chose this place for the monastery. As the first Catholicos of All Armenians, he set up the first Christian temples along with king Tiridates III. The oldest building of Sanahin was built in the X century, during the reign of king Abas of Bagratuni Dynasty: in 934 the largest church of the complex, St. Astvatsatsin (the Holy mother of God), was built.

Haghpat

Located on a high plateau surrounded by gorges, Haghpat monastery is one of the most important monuments of urban planning in medieval Armenia with the most rigorous architecture. The monastery differs with its density, asymmetrical design, as well as with the elegance of the decorative details and extraordinary silhouette on the mountainous terrain.

Haghpat monastery is situated in the village with the same name. The monastery was founded in 976 by  Bagratid king Ashot III and was one of the centers of spiritual and cultural life of Armenia, the Kingdom of Kyurikids (X – XII centuries), the Duchy of Zakaryans (XII – IV centuries).

At a local restaurant a master class in making homemade halva and soup from tahn. After tasting these delicious dishes we’ll continue our journey and head to the city of Vanadzor.

Vanadzor

Vanadzor (till 1935 – Gharakilisa, in 1935 – 1993 – Kirovakan), the third largest city in Armenia after Yerevan and Gyumri, is very beautiful and picturesque. The city is located in the Vanadzor Basin, between the ridges of Bazum and Pambak, on the point, where the rivers of Tandzut and Vanadzor join the Pambak River. After exploring the city we’ll return to Yerevan.

Haghpat Monastery

Sanahin Monastery

Khor Virap

Following the route we’re heading to the monastery-fortress located underneath the magnificent mountain Ararat – Khor Virap – one of the religious centers of the country. In Armenian Khor Virap means “deep pit”. During the reign of pagan king Tiridates III, in this pit, filled with poisonous snakes and insects, the criminals condemned to death were being imprisoned. According to famous Armenian historian Agathangelos here was imprisoned also the initiator of the adoption of Christianity in Armenia (in 301) – St. Gregory the Illuminator, who survived and lived there for more than 13 years. In the XVII century at the place of Gregory the Illuminator’s prison cell was built the St. Astvatsatsin (the Holy mother of God). You can see the pit and go down the narrow stairs.

Noravank

“Noravank” literally means new monastery. The complex founded in XII-XIV centuries is located in narrow gorge made by the river Amaghu. It’s hard to describe in words and even in photos the whole majesty of this amazing ancient complex amid steep red rocks on the ledge of the gorge. The monastic complex includes: St. Karapet Church, St. Gregory Chapel and St. Astvatsatsin (the Holy Mother of God) Church. During the XIII – XIV centuries the monastic complex was the residency of bishops of Syunik, and later it remained an important religious and educational center of Armenia.

Here we’ll see a master class in making the most delicious khorovats (Armenian barbecue). There are hundreds of methods of making this dish, but it’s not a secret, that Armenian barbecue is a culinary masterpiece, starting from marinating the meat and ending with its serving. There’s a song dedicated to khorovats in Armenia. Khorovats is the most favorite traditional dish of the Armenians, and also an occasion to gather with a good company.

Areni

On our way we’ll stop in the village of Areni. This area has a very rich history. Recently in one of the caves of Areni a 5500-year-old shoe was found, which is the oldest shoe in the world. There have also been found ancient jugs, proving that winemaking in Areni has a long history. Today we’ll have the opportunity to taste natural Armenian wine.

We’re returning to Yerevan. Transfer to the “Zvartnots” airport.

Khor Virap

Noravank