Yerevan Off The Beaten Path

  • Ejmiatsin: Saint Shoghakat Church
    Ejmiatsin: Saint Shoghakat Church
    by HORSCHECK
  • Ejmiatsin: Saint Gayane Church and Mount Ararat
    Ejmiatsin: Saint Gayane Church and Mount...
    by HORSCHECK
  • Ejmiatsin: Saint Gayane Church
    Ejmiatsin: Saint Gayane Church
    by HORSCHECK

Most Recent Off The Beaten Path in Yerevan

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    Northern Tour through Armenia

    by HORSCHECK Written Oct 12, 2014

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    This tip is about a Northern Tour through Armenia, which I took together with two other travellers; one from Singapore and one from America. We booked the tour through Wonderland Armenia, which I got in contact with already before my trip to Armenia.

    The price per person was 14.000 AMD and the tour started at 09:00 h in the morning and lasted about 12 hours. The price even included a lunch packet and some pastries. Our group consisted of us three travellers, a driver and Lilit the guide. Lilit speaks English very well and has a very good knowledge about her homecountry.

    On this tour we mainly visited the following places:

    Armenian Alphabet Park:
    Our first stop was at the Armenian Alphabet Park, which is located near the main street between Aparan and Artashavan. The park exhibits 36 stone sculptures of the Armenian letters as introduced by the Armenian linguist Mesrop Mashtots at the beginning of the 5th century.

    Sanahin Monastery:
    The history of the Sanahin Monastery dates back to the 10th century. The name means something like "older than the other" and refers to the neighbouring Haghpat Monastery. The Sanahin Monastery sits halfway on a hillside of the Debed gorge near the town of Alaverdi.

    Haghpat Monastery:
    Like the Sanahin Monastery also the Haghpat Monastery overlooks the Debed gorge. It is a fortified building complex, which is dominated by the Church of Surb Nishan. Construction begun in 976 and it was finished in 991. The name Haghpat refers to the "huge walls" of the complex.

    Haghartsin Monastery:
    Our next stop was the Haghartsin Monastery complex, which is located near the town of Dilijan. It was built between the 10th and 14th century and consists of several churches with the St. Astvatsatsin Church being the largest one. In 2010 the whole complex underwent massive renovations, which were financed by His Highness Dr. Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohamed Al Qasimi (Ruler of Sharjah).

    Goshavank Monastery:
    Unfortunately Goshavank Monastery (12 century) was partly scaffolded when I visited it. The monastery complex is located on a small hill above the village of Gosh. Some of the nicest Armenian cross-stones (Khachkar) can be seen here.

    Lake Sevan:
    Lake Sevan, which is the largest lake of the Caucasus region, was our last point of interest on this tour. I was most surprised to hear that it is situated at an altitude of almost 2000 metres. We stopped at the Sevanavank Monastery complex. It was founded in 876 and is located on a peninsula on the northern shore of the lake.

    Website: http://www.wonderlandarmenia.com/

    Sanahin Monastery Armenian Alphabet Park Haghpat Monastery Haghartsin Monastery Lake Sevan: Sevanavank Monastery
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    Southern Tour through Armenia

    by HORSCHECK Updated Oct 12, 2014

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    Although I am usually not the person who takes tours, but prefer to explore everything by myself, I made an exception in Armenia. This was mainly because I realised that many of the famous things to see are located in off the beaten path places, which are very difficult to reach by public transport.

    So I took part in two tours through the country. This tip is about a southern tour, which I took together with two travellers from Singapore. We booked the tour through Penthouse/Downtown Hostel.

    The price per person was 15.000 AMD and the tour started at 09:00 h in the morning and lasted more than 13 hours. Our driver didn't speak any English, but knew the places and was quite flexible regarding the length of the stops and the route.

    One of the Singaporean travellers had negotiated our route in advance so that we mainly visited the following places:

    Khor Virap Monastery:
    The original chapel was built in 642, but the current buildings date back to 1662. It is not the monastery why to come here, but its location on top of a hill in front of the Ararat mountains. The fenced border with Turkey is just behind the monastery.

    Noravank Monastery:
    This was probably my favourite spot on this tour. The monastery sits on a cliff in the Amaghu valley. It mainly consists of two churches, which were built in the 13th and 14th century. The Noravank Monstery is situated approximately 120 km south of Yerevan.

    Jermuk:
    Jermuk is a popular spa town located at an altitude of 2100 metres. It is the source of much of Armenia's mineral water. Here we stopped at two points: At the Jermuk waterfalls in the Arpa river canyon and at the mineral water gallery in the town centre.

    Tatev Monastery:
    Since 2010 the Tatev Monastery can be reached by the world's longest cable car (5,7 km), which spans the Vorotan River Valley. Tatev Monastery consists of three churches, which date back to times between the 10th and 13th century.

    Karahunj near Sisian:
    At the end of our trip we stopped in lovely evening light at Karahunj, which is also known as Zorats Kar or sometimes even refered to as "Armenia's Stonehenge". It is an ancient archaeological site, which consists of more than 200 rough-hewn stones. There are several explanations about the layout of the stones, but none of these is proved.

    Noravank Monastery Khor Virap Monastery Vorotan pass (2400 m) Tatev Monastery Karahunj near Sisian
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    Day trip to Ejmiatsin

    by HORSCHECK Updated Oct 12, 2014

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    Ejmiatsin, officially called Vagharshapat since 1992, is an easy day trip destination from Yerevan. It can be reached by minibus (marshrutka) within about 30 minutes from the Armenian capital.

    The town was Armenia's first capital between the 2nd and 4th century and it is nowadays the seat of the head of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Unfortunately, the most important Ejmiatsin Cathedral, whose history date back to the early 3rd century, was scaffolded during my visit in June 2014.

    Beside this cathedral, Ejmiatsin offers many other interesting churches. Among them is the Saint Hripsime Church, which was completed in 618. It remained almost unchanged and was even active during the Soviet era. I got off the minibus from Tbilisi at this church as it stands near the eastern entrance to the city.

    Another worth seeing church from the 6th century is the Saint Gayane Church. It was built by the order of the Catholicos Ezra as a three nave basilica. It is located slightly south of Ejmiatsin's city centre.

    The Saint Shoghakat Church was finished at the end of the 17th century. It's red black façade colour comes from the use of the typical tufa stones.

    Other sights that I visited include the Central Square with a statue of the Armenian priest Komitas, the complex of Mother See of Holy Ejmiatsin and a World War II memorial from the Soviet era.

    Directions:
    Ejmiatsin is situated only about 20 km west of Yerevan. It can be reached by frequent minibus connections from Yerevan's Kilikia Central Bus Station. For more information, please read my appropriate transportation tip.

    Ejmiatsin: Komitas Square Ejmiatsin: Saint Gayane Church and Mount Ararat Ejmiatsin: Saint Hripsime Church Ejmiatsin: Saint Gayane Church Ejmiatsin: Saint Shoghakat Church
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    Kara Bala

    by etfromnc Updated Jul 13, 2012

    I first encountered these little statues, which seem to be placed at random on the sidewalks of many cities, in Bratislava, Slovakia but they seem to be a growing theme in city furniture. We saw a few in Yerevan but Kara Bala is the only one about which I have learned anything at all.
    Karabala means “black boy”although the real name of the man around whom this legend has grown, was Karapet. He was a young man, though he must have lived a long time because the man in the statue seems to be quite old. He grew and sold flowers, and used to hand out roses freely to pretty girls who passed by.

    This statue is located on Terian Street at Northern Ave. near the "Moskvichka" supermarket.

    Kara Bala
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    Go to Ashtarak

    by TTontherun Written Jun 5, 2011

    This little city, very close to Yerevan, is never on tourist maps but its churches, old houses and traditional food, especially whatever is done with walnuts, is well worth the trip. Ask around and find someone local who will give you a tour. The main attractions, which are near Yerevan, like Garni, Geghard are absolutely important to visit, but do make time for Ashtarak as well.

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    Lyova's potato cellar (or Divine Underground)

    by RaffiKojian Written Dec 1, 2008

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    If you're in Yerevan, and you want to see something pretty crazy, check out Lyova's potato cellar. You have to grab a cab up to Arinj, but this as you might have guessed, is no ordinary potato cellar!

    Since 1985, when his wife asked him to dig a potato cellar in the soft stone under their house, this man has not stopped digging. The resulting labyrinth of a cave, with stairs, rooms, chambers, open shafts and sculpting are something you'd only imagine in a fake Hollywood set. All under this guys very ordinary Armenian house.

    You can just show up, or call ahead. Either Lyova or his wife will likely be there to give a tour. There is no set price, but a donation box is there, and the wife will not forget to point it out a few times, though Lyova himself does not seem very concerned with it. $5 a person is certainly plenty if you're uncertain of how much to give - so carpool with some friends and check it out. Just tell the taxi driver to take you to Arinj and when you get there ask people where "Lyova Arakelyan" lives - just say his name and they'll point you in the right direction.

    It might be safe to say this is the coolest potato cellar in the world! (Though Lyova himself calls it "Lyova's Divine Underground").

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    Museum at Erebuni

    by MalenaN Written May 22, 2007

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    Before you walk up the hill to see the ruins of Erebuni fortress you should see the museum with items found at the excavations on the site. Among other things there are cuneiform tablets, Urartian seals, pottery, bronze artefacts and jewellery. The museum building is just up some stairs (in an old Soviet style building) and that’s where you buy the ticket. Entrance fee is 1000 drams (June 2006).
    I visited Erebuni a hot summer day and with little shadow on top of the hill it is a good idea to bring lots of water and a hat. Next to the museum there is a café with some tables in the shade, and there it was nice to sit down after the visit on the top to sip on a coke (250 drams) and listen to the Armenian and Russian music played, before looking for the bus back to central Yerevan.

    Erebuni Museum, Yerevan Erebuni Museum, Yerevan Erebuni Museum, Yerevan
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    Erebuni Fortress

    by MalenaN Written May 21, 2007

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    On a hill in the south-western suburb Arin-berd in Yerevan is the Urartian fortress of Erebuni. It was discovered in the 1950s when a farmer found a stone tablet with writings on it and excavations begun.
    It must have been an impressive fortress with palace, storerooms, workshops, a place for animal sacrifices and splendid views. Some of the ruins have been reconstructed and on the palace walls the paintings are replicas. From a cuneiform tablet found at the excavations it is known that the fortress was built by the Urartian king Argishti I in 782 BC.

    I took a marshrutka to Erebuni (nr 6) from Nalbandyan Poghots. It was 100 drams (June 2006).

    Erebuni Fortress Erebuni Erebuni Erebuni Erebuni
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    Zvartnots Cathedral

    by MalenaN Written May 17, 2007

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    Zvartnots Cathedral is situated along the Yerevan - Echmiadzin road, only 3 km from Echmiadzin. The church and the patriarchal palace are in ruins, but you can see that this church looked different from other churches in Armenia. It was a round church with a high dome, and it is supposed to have been the largest round church in the world when it was constructed in the middle of the 7th century. During the 10th century it was destroyed by an earthquake and Arab invaders.
    Today you can see finely carved stone pillars and other decorated stone fragments, the pool for baptism and remnants of a palace and winery. In the Armenian History Museum you can see a model of how the church once looked.
    In the background you can see Mount Ararat, and occasionally airplanes as the international airport is nearby.
    Together with Eechmiadzin, Zvartnots is an Unesco World Heritage Site.
    Entrance fee is 1000 drams (August 2006).

    Pillars at Zvartnots Catedral Zvartnots and Ararat
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    Vartan Mamikonian statue

    by call_me_rhia Written Sep 2, 2006

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    An interesting sight in Yerevan is the equestrian statue of Vartan Mamikonian brandishing his sword, created by the sculptor E. Kochar.

    The Mamikonian family was a noble family which dominated Armenian politics between the 4th and 8th centuries - and Vartan was a great military leader of Armenia, as well as a spiritual leader (in fact he's a Saint, too).

    Vartan is well known for having rejected the Persian-imposed religion as well asbeing one of the men behind the great Armenian rebellion against their Sassanian lords.

    Vartan Mamikonian
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    Erebuni town-fortress

    by R-men Written Nov 14, 2003

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    Visit the Erebuni town fortress in Yerevan. This is the ruins of Urartian fortress built 2785 years ago. You can walk in the narrow streets of Erebuni, see the king's palace with it's paintings in the walls, the paint of which is very well preserved. It's worth visiting there, though the site is pretty off the city center.

    Unforutnately I don't remember it's exact address, but it's near the Erebuni block of Yerevan. Any taxi driver can take you for approx. 1500 drams (~$3)

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    A shady and cool parks of Yerevan

    by MJL Written Feb 25, 2003

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    There was a lot of these kind of shady and cooler places. Nice place just sit and enjoy sounds of water.

    Yerevan
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Yerevan Off The Beaten Path

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