Whether you want to soak in the Soviet style bathtubs that dominate Jermuk and Arzni, the hot water rooms of Hankavan Village, or the swimming pools of Arzakan, you'll have plenty of hot mineral water options to keep you relaxed and healthy.
Jermuk is the jewel in the crown of Armenia's hot springs, and the waters are bottled and sold everywhere you go in Armenia. The bath is piping hot, and very relaxing, but most places stick to the old Soviet bathtub and nurses regimen, insisting this is only medical treatment. The town is beautiful, the setting gorgeous, and the rumors of ski lifts coming are rampant.
Yerevan is a bit more tourist friendly in terms of traveling solo. There are more group tours to take rather than paying for individual trips like you do in Georgia. Most places are a day from from Yervan while a few take a couple of days. Lake Sevan is a great day trip and allows you to see some of the monasteries. You are surrounded by snwo capped mountains which help make this a great trip.
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.
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 took a marshrutka to Erebuni (nr 6) from Nalbandyan Poghots. It was 100 drams (June 2006).
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).
To go to Zvartnots from Yerevan you can take any bus or minibus from the corner of Mesrop Mashtots Poghota and Sarian Poghots (near the Modern Art Museum) going to Echmiadzin. Along the road look for a pillar with an eagle on top, because that’s where you are getting of f. The bus to Zvarnots was 400 drams and the marshrutka back to Yerevan was 250 drams (August 2006). Going back to Yerevan you just stop a bus passing by.
If you have time after visiting Hagphat and Sanahin, you should check out Akhtala. Although we weren't able to go inside (the Lonely Planet guide said that the people who live near there have the key to unlock it, but we didn't see them), we enjoyed the area around it and the views of the river. A young boy did follow us around for awhile trying to sell us some rocks - but we never could figure out what kind.
There are thick walls around the complex that used to be part of a fortress. Lovely spot.
This is another must-see monastery complex in northern Armenia. Not far from Hagphat, Sanahin is slightly older and laid out differently with a rectangular wall around the building itself. Inside we met a very old woman selling candles for saying prayers. The atmosphere is very tranquil and holy here - and very charming. Be sure to explore the cemetary behind the church - Armenians put their pictures on their gravestones and sometimes even cause of death. So you'll learn that one entire family perished in a car crash, or that one woman lived 50 years longer than her husband but doesn't look a day older than him ;)
This has UNESCO world heritage status and it deserves it. Though it was so foggy when we visited that we didn't get to enjoy the said to be spectacular views of Dedbed Canyon, it was a great experience to explore the nooks and crannies of the monastery itself. We had the place to ourselves and just hung around and soaked up the charming atmosphere. Hagphat dates from the 8th-12th century and was a center of christianity in these parts. Highly recommended!
Sevanavank is situated high up on Sevan Peninsula, 6 km from Sevan town. From a car park stairs are leading up to the churches. You will pass some khatchkars on your way up, and a tomb of a 20th century navy captain. The first church you will come to is the smaller Arakelots Church (Holy Apostles), which was not open when I visited. The second church is Astvatsatsin Church (Holy Mother of God). In the courtyard of this church there are a lot of khatchkars. Queen Mariam had the churches built in 874.
I visited on the 1st of August, a time when many Armenians come to Sevan on holiday and thus there were more visitors at Sevanavank than I have seen at any other monastery in Armenia. The churches are not the greatest ones, but the view over the lake is lovely.
Sevan town is situated about 60 km from Yerevan, not just by the shores of the lake, but a couple of kilometres inland. Since Armenia got independent about a third of the population has left the town, which now has got a population of 10 000 people. The town doesn’t look very pretty. There are a lot of apartment blocks built in the pink coloured stone so common in Armenia.
Along the main road there are several money changing offices and banks, grocery stores, a market and a post office.
I walked the 6 km from Sevan Peninsula in to town as there was no public transport and took a taxi back. The minibus from Yerevan to Sevan will stop in town. If your plans are to go from Yerevan only to Sevanavank it might be better to take a marshrutka going further, which will pass the peninsula.
Lake Sevan is the largest lake in Armenia, covering about 5% of the country’s area. Sevan is situated at 1900 metres above sea level and winters here are long and cold, but during the summer months lots of people come here for holiday to swim.
I stayed by the beach at the busy Sevan Peninsula, but there are more quiet places. When I was in Dilijan I met a couple who had spent some days in Chorja on the north side of the lake. It is a calm, relaxing place and they recommended it. I have heard the north side has cleaner water than the south coast, where there are some factories.
Goris is a lovely town situated in a valley in south Armenia. In the town there are many traditional stone houses with balconies and arched windows. In one of the stone houses there is a museum over the writer Axel Bakountas. Unfortunately it was closed both times when I passed. Another site I didn’t get a closer look at was Old Goris where caves carved into the hillside once were used as stables and shelter (but I saw the similar site Khndzorsk outside Goris).
Goris is on the way to Iran (but still about 5 hours from the border) and Nagorno Karabakh. It is a good base if you want to visit Tatev.
After Vatican and Escorial libraries, Matenadaran is the one with the richer collection of old Illuminated manuscripts in the world, reaching nearly 17.000 exemplars plus about 300.000 archival documents comprising all areas of Armenian culture and science: medicine, geography, law, history, cosmology, alchemy, music, miniature painting, etc. It also shelters manuscripts written in Arabic, Persian, Ethiopian, Greek, Syrian, Latin, and in many other foreign languages.
The Library existed since the V century, and in the XV it was moved to the monastery of Echmiadzin, the religious centre of the Christian Armenian Faith (Armenia was the first country in the world to accept Christianity, in the year 301 AD), at a stone throw distance from Yerevan, and only in 1939 it was transferred to Yerevan.
Matenadaran was named after Mesrop Mashtots, the monk who created the Armenian alphabet in 405, and whose huge statue stands in the front of the gate of the attractive building of this Library.
This Armenian Monument, Dzidzernagapert, was constructed in 1965 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. The monument is a towering grantie needle flanked by an eternal flame. Twelve imposing pylons, representing the twelve provinces where the Armenians were massacred, surround the memorial flame inside the fortress. The flame burns to represent the Armenian spirit, which can never be extinguished. The monument which means "Citadel of Swallows" is named for a bird that always returns to its nest, even if its home has been destroyed. The needle-shaped shaft beside it represents the rebirth of the Armenian people.
by visiting Dzidzernagapert, in Yerevan and paying a move tribute to the 1.5 million Armenians who were killed in the early 20th century by the turkish ottoman empire.. will be one of the most adorable and appreciatable visits for Armenians all around the world.
Etchmiadzin - is situated 20km from Yerevan, in the very heart of the Ararat valley. It was founded 2,000 years ago by the Armenian king Vagarsh, who made this place his residence and gave it his name Vagarshapat. Etchmiadzin is rich in wonderful architectural monuments, among them the Hripsime Church (618~one of the finest examples of medieval Armenian architecture, the Gayane Church (630) and the Shogakat Church, both built in honour of the first disseminators of Christianity in Armenia.
The Etchmiadzin Cathedral, completed in 303 A.D., is one of the oldest Christian churches in the world. For seventeen centuries Etchmiadzin has been the Holy Seat of the Catholicos of the Armenian Church.
Here you will see one of the most unique ancient structures - the Keghart Monastery - a whole group of cave buildings consisting of a two-storey church, monastery cells and chapels, all carved out of the rock. Still higher can be seen the entrances to other caves.
According to an old legend for a long time there was preserved here a spear ("Keghart" in Hebrew) with which a Roman legionary pricked Christ on the crucifix to see whether he was still alive. Hence the name of the, monastery, Keghart.
Keghart was breathtaking and cleverly built. Portions of the church were carved out of a mountain! This helped disguise the church’s location from enemies who would try to destroy it.
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