Biblical Armenia

Pilgrimage tour|9 nights

Day 1. Arrival – transfer to hotel – overnight
Day 2. Yerevan City Tour: History Museum – Matenadaran – Lunch at local restaurant – Cascade Complex (The Cafesjian Center) – Republic Square- overnight
Day 3. Khor Virap – Noravank –Lunch at local restaurant - Tatev monastery (UNESCO World Heritage Site) - Goris – overnight
Day 4. Khndzoresk – Karahunj – Lunch at local restaurant - Jermuk - overnight
Day 5. Vardenyants mountain pass- Selim Caravanserai – Noraduz Cemetery– Lunch at local restaurant- Lake Sevan - Sevanavank – Dilijan - overnight
Day 6. Haghartsin – Goshavank - Lunch at local restaurant - Sanahin – Haghpat monastic complex (UNESCO World Heritage Site) - overnight at Tufenkian Avan Dzoraget
Day 7. Odzun –Amberd– Lunch at local restaurant - Ashtarak - Yerevan– overnight
Day 8. Garni – Geghard - Lunch at local restaurant – Megerian Carpet Museum– free time – overnight
Day 9. Echmiatsin – Zvartnots ruins (UNESCO World Heritage Site) – lunch at a restaurant – Yerevan –Ararat Brandy Factory– Farewell dinner with Armenian National Show - overnight
Day 10. Transfer to airport – departure    
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Day 1. Arrival in Yerevan – transfer to hotel – overnight   Day 2. Yerevan City Tour: History Museum – Matenadaran – Lunch at local restaurant – Cascade Complex (The Cafesjian Center) – Republic Square- overnight
History Museum - was founded by the Parliament September 9, 1919. It was called Ethnographic-Anthropological Museum-Library and Yervand Lalayan was the first director. Yerevan History Museum with the number of its exhibits, the number of its publications and its preservation means corresponds to the demands of a modern museum. It has become one of the leading museums of our country.
Matenadaran (a book depository), one of the world's earliest libraries, is situated on the northern part of Mashtots avenue. Its collections contain ancient Armenian books and miniature paintings that have gained world-wide fame. Among its unique treasures are the works of ancient classical authors and rare manuscripts that have come to our days only in the Armenian translation.  
The Cascade complex - Built in 1970s Cascade is a huge stairway (572 steps) linking Yerevan center to the Haghtanak Park and the Monument Neighborhood. Inside the Cascade there is an escalator equal to the length of the complex. This is a perfect option for those who don’t love climbing the stairs, who feel too weary to climb the stairs or are just unable. Inside the complex presently the Cafesjian Museum of Art can be found.   The spectacular view that opens from Cascade is the first thing that ensures the presence of great many visitors throughout the year and every day. Cascade is full of visitors even on cold winter days, of course the number of visitors will never be the same as in summertime, but still it’s one of the rare places, which is "populated" even in cold weather. Many people will even choose to climb the stairs in rainy weather, no matter it’s raining heavily or it’s just a summer rain.
Overnight in Yerevan.
    

Day 3. Khor Virap – Noravank –Lunch at local restaurant - Tatev monastery (UNESCO World Heritage Site) - Goris – overnight Khor Virap
Khor Virap is directly connected with the adoption of Christianity. As a state religion Christianity in Armenia was adopted in 301 due to endeavors of Saint Gregory the Illuminator, who before converting king Trdat the 3rd to Christianity, was imprisoned in the dungeon over which a church of Khor Virap monastery was built in the 17th century. From the monastery one can admire the stunning view of the Biblical Mount Ararat.
Areni village - The village of Areni is in Vayots Dzor region. This sunny village is famous for its best wine assortments. Due to its specific flavor and delicate taste "Areni" wine has its respectful place among the best Armenian wines. The visit to the wine factory of the village will serve a good testimony to the above mentioned.  
Noravank – is a 13th century Armenian monastery, located 122km from Yerevan in a narrow gorge made by Amaghu river, near the city of Yeghegnadzor, Armenia. 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. The monastery is sometimes called Noravank at Amaghu, with Amaghu being the name of a small and nowadays abandoned village above the canyon, in order to distinguish it from Bgheno-Noravank, near Goris. 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.
Tatev - Among the architectural pillars of Zangezour the monastery of Tatev doesn't have its rivals. This used to be wealthiest medieval monastery in Armenia. Besides being a religious center Tatev was also the important strategical center of Syunik kingdom. Being situated on a naturally defended place Tatev monastery has always been an impregnable fortress for alien. In non-stable political conditions the several secret ways in the territory of the fortress led the way to the canyon and served as a link between the monastery and external world. A visit to Tatev Monastery is always long remembered or better to say, is hardly ever forgotten because the mind is never able to cover with oblivion anything, which causes striking and miraculous feelings in the heart. Reaching Tatev monastery might take long but it’s never boring, especially when the gorge of Tatev appears in front of you with its stunningly beautiful view and divinely inspiring nature and the awesome Devil’s bridge, which might be a real challenge but crossing it is worth a try. There is another nature wonders of Armenia on Vorotan River – Satani Kamurj (Devil’s Bridge). It is an amazing natural bridge hung on the river, with 150m width and 170 m length. The bridge height above the river level is 50 m. There are naturally carbonated mineral springs on the bridge and around it. In 1995, Tatev Monastery and its adjacent areas of the Vorotan Valley were added to the list of World Heritage of UNESCO.
The ropeway "Wings of Tatev" - a Guiness Book of Records entry - is located in Syunik Province, in the south of Armenia. The ropeway goes from the village Halidzor to the village Tatev. The main purpose of the ropeway was to take people to one of the world's unique medieval monuments - Tatev Monastery. Taking it will give you a lifelong remembered experience, since you can enjoy fantastic aerial views of mountains and gorges and take pictures.  Dinner at Hotel Mirhav, Overnight.
Overnight in Goris.
      

Day 4. Khndzoresk – Karahunj – Lunch at local restaurant - Jermuk – overnight
Khndzoresk village is one of those places, about which we can precisely say, that people were able to dominate the nature and take the best of it. According to the legend, Khndzoresk, being situated in the deep canyon, was called “Khor Dzor («Deep Canyon») or “Khordzoresk”, which was later renamed as “Khndzoresk”. The two banks of the canyon are linked with a long bridge, built in 2012. The length of the bridge is 160 m, the height is 63 m.  The village is also famous for its numerous and indescribable defensive battles. Absolutely everyone took part in those battles, regardless of gender and age. The caves are connected with secret passages, which every dweller knew about. During invasions people moved to more save caves, dug into the steep cliffs.                                                                                                                                                                                                            
Karahunj, also called Zorats Karer, is an archaeological site near the city of Sisian in the Syunik province of Armenia. The site is located on a rocky promontory. This beautiful site was officially named Karahunj in 2004. According to some scientists, the site was a temple with a large observatory. It is a very famous archaeological site in Armenia. There were found about 223 large stone tombs in the area.  Many of those stones have smooth angled holes.  The age of Karahunj has been estimated to be 7500 years. It is one of the famous and well known sites for the foreigners. Covering a small territory, this breathtaking site contains a great mystery and attracts tourists with its beauty and history. 
Jermuk is a leading Armenian spa city, divided into two parts by the splendid gorge of Arpa River. The mineral waters of Jermuk have been used by both ordinary people and Armenian princes to treat various diseases. This statement is supported by the remains of the medieval pools uncovered there and reconstructed in the 19th century. The name Jermuk comes from the Armenian word “jerm”, meaning “warm”. The Jermuk region is rich with unique springs of both sweet and mineral water. Another tourist attraction in this region is the Jermuk waterfall, 72 m high, which flows into the river Arpa. The waterfall reminds girly hair. Hence the other name of the waterfall: mermaid's hair. 
Overnight in Jermuk
    

Day 5. Vardenyants mountain pass- Selim Caravanserai – Noraduz Cemetery – Lunch at local restaurant- Lake Sevan - Sevanavank – Dilijan - overnight
Selim caravanserai is the best-preserved caravanserai in Armenia and one of the best preserved in the world; its formerly remote site high on the Selim Pass prevented its being quarried for building materials. The caravanserai is situated just below the summit of the pass and affords wonderful views down along the valley. Looking at all the arrangements in this caravanserai, it is possible to capture an image of the life of the 14th-century merchants who passed this way, to an extent which can rarely be experienced anywhere in Europe.
Noraduz Cemetery , located near Lake Sevan is famous for its big khachkars (crosses-stones) cemetery. There are about 900 khachkars of various styles and epochs there. Noraduz Cemetery became one of the most visited and popular sights of the Gegarkunik region because there is one of the largest collections of Armenian khachkars. The prominent feature of the majority of khachkars is the cross with a solar disk under it. The rest of the stone is decorated with images of leaves, grapes, pomegranates or abstract patterns. Many khachkars are put on special foundations. The majority of khachkars of Noraduz cemetery is dated the 13 th – 17 th centuries; the most ancient is dated the 7 th century.
Lake Sevan – 'the Pearl of Armenia'. Lake Sevan is the biggest freshwater lake in Caucasus, and one of the largest in the world. Nowadays it is a beloved place to spend a holiday for both local and foreign tourists. One of the main attractions of the lake is Sevanavank monastery. It is a monastic complex located on a peninsula at the northwestern shore of Lake Sevan in the Gegharkunik Province of Armenia, not far from the town of Sevan. 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 meters, and the island transformed into a peninsula. At the southern shore of this newly created peninsula, a guesthouse of the Armenian Writers’ Union was built.
Further  guests arrive in Dilijan – little spa town in Tavush Province of Armenia, often called 'little Switzerland in Armenia' due to its amazing natural beauty and exceptional green surrounding.  
Overnight in Dilijan  
    

Day 6. Haghartsin – Goshavank - Lunch at local restaurant - Sanahin – Haghpat monastic complex (UNESCO World Heritage Site) - overnight at Tufenkian Avan Dzoraget
After breakfast at the hotel the guests visit one of the famous cultural sights in DilijanHaghartsin monastery. Haghartsin monastery situated in the woodlands of Tavush region represents an indescribable example of blend of nature with architecture. It was founded in the 10-11th centuries, though new buildings were added in the 12-13th centuries. Now it consists of St. Grigor, St. Astvatsatsin (Holy Mother of God), St. Stepanos churches and some other buildings. The refectory due to its skillful architectural composition is of great interest. The huge oak tree, which is almost the age as the monastery, completes the whole scene.  
Goshavank or Nor Getik is an example of 12th-13th century architecture. It was founded by Mkhitar Gosh, a medieval Armenian ruler who was both a scholar and a politician. The earliest building is the Church of the Virgin (1191-1196). On the church's western side is a large four-column gavit (1197-1203). The other church is St. Gregory (1208-1241) near a small chapel named for St. Gregory the Illuminator (1237) the portal and decorative arches of which exemplify the architect’s remarkable taste and décor.
Sanahin-Haghpat - The architectural complexes of Sanahin and Haghpat are among the outstanding works of medieval Armenian architecture. In their artistic merits they transcend the limits of national culture. The monasteries are situated in the north of Armenia, in Tumanian district. Sanahin is now within the limits of Alaverdi city, and Haghpat is to the north-east of it, in the village of the same name. Standing on a high plateau, among low structures, they rise sharp against the background of steep forest-grown slopes of Bazum ridge. The ensembles are complemented by small churches built near them. The exact date of the foundation of Sanahin and Haghpat is unknown. Documentary evidence and monuments of material culture suggest that these structures date back to the middle of the 10th century. Nowadays the monastic complexes of Sanahin and Haghpat are listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Overnight at Tufenkian Alaverdi
    

Day 7. Odzun –Fortress Amberd– Lunch at local restaurant - Ashtarak - Yerevan– overnight
Odzun - The first church appeared here in the 6th century. In the 8th century it was reconstructed by Hovhannes III Odznets  who served as Catholicos between 717 and 728 and was, as his name suggests, from Odzun. This is the time the church got its current form of a pink felsite basilica with three naves, the two side naves being narrow. At the northern and southern sides there are unusual arcaded cloisters and the west cloister has a blind wall with an arched entrance in the middle. The roof is barrel vaulted. Four columns support the rib vaulted tambour and there are two more columns at the western part of the church. At the eastern facade above the central window one can observe a carving of Christ with the gospel of St. John and two angels below. At the southern facade, at each side of the central window there are two angels and traces of another figure, probably Christ. Much later, in the 19th century two small bell towers were added.  
Fortress of Amberd - The area where the fortress presently sits, started as a Stone Age settlement. The fortress was built during the Bronze Age and Urartian periods. The castle of Amberd and some sections of walls were constructed in the 7th century AD as a possession of the noble House of Kamsarakan. Amberd was invaded in the 1070s by the Seljuk Turks who turned it into a military base. In 1197, a joint army of Georgians and Armenians led by General Zakarej Zakarian liberated the fortress. Under Zakarian control during the 12th–13th centuries, the walls were structurally reinforced and the castle and outer buildings were renovated.
Return to Yerevan. Overnight.
    
Day 8. Garni – Geghard - Lunch at local restaurant – Megerian Carpet – free time – overnight

We begin the day with a visit to Garni temple – the only survived pagan temple in the territory of Armenia. Garni temple which towers over a three-cornered cape is the unique survived example of pagan culture in Armenia. It is a blend of Greco-Roman and Armenian styles. King Trdat the First began building of the temple in the first century A.D. and dedicated it to the God of Sun. After adopting Christianity in 301 the pagan temple lost its significance and the fortress of Garni became the summer residence of the kings. Nowadays the ruins of the royal palace and the bathroom with a stunning mosaic work can be found near the temple.
Geghard monastery is the unsurpassable masterwork of the 13th century Armenian architecture. Some of the churches of the complex are masterfully hewn in a huge rock. From the outset the complex was called Ayrivank (cave monastery), later it was renamed Geghard (lance), as the lance used by the roman soldier to sting Jesus Christ's side, was kept in this monastery for many centuries.The complex is rich in subtle sculptural embellishments and many striking khachkars (cross-stones).
Megerian Carpet Museum is the first in its type in Yerevan with its spectacular showroom where visitors from foreign countries as well as local residents can make their purchases. The museum started operating in 2014. The Megerian Family has been involved in selling, restoration, and production of fine oriental rugs for over four generations. Originally from Armenia, the Megerians established their rug trade business in the United States in 1917, and quickly developed an expertise in rug repairing and restoration. Over time, they began to realize the growing demand for different trends and subtle design changes, and took their well-honed skills to the loom to create their own decorative rugs. Visitors and guests are welcome to watch the production of the rugs which involve dyeing of the yarns by using vegetable dyes, weaving, shearing, finishing, etc.
Overnight in  Yerevan
    
Day 9. Echmiatsin – Zvartnots ruins (UNESCO World Heritage Site) – lunch at a restaurant – Yerevan –Ararat Brandy Factory– Farewell dinner with Armenian National Show - overnight
On the last excursion day the guests will visit the spiritual center of Armenia – Echmiatsin.   Echmiatsin is the center of the Armenian Apostolic Church. It is where the Catholicos  Of All Armenians lives, and the location of the Echmiatsin Cathedral. The cathedral, built in 480, is located in a walled compound with gardens and various structures. The word "Echmiatsin" means “the Only Begotten descended”, and the cathedral was built on the very spot Grigor Lusavorich (St. Gregory the Illuminator) dreamt Jesus Himself descended from heaven to show him where He wanted the church to be built. It is a scenic place to visit. Most of the exterior is plain until you make it around to the entrance which is intricately carved and very beautiful. Throughout the course of centuries, various religious relics have been brought from different monasteries and Dioceses to the Mother See of Holy Echmiadzin, as it is the spiritual center of the Armenian nation and people. Three of the most important pieces are the Holy Lance (Geghard), the Right Hand of Saint Gregory the Illuminator, and the relic of Noah’sArk. 
The architectural masterpiece of Zvartnots was built by order of the Catholicos Nerses 3rd between the years 641 and 662. It was damaged by an earthquake in the 10th century and unearthed nearly a thousand years later in 1900 – 1907, in the town of Echmiatsin. Zvartnots is listed in the UNESCO World Heritage List since 2000.
Ararat Brandy Factory - Visiting the museum of the factory, the guests will have the chance to get acquainted with the legends of ARARAT brandies, learn the 120 years old history of Armenian brandy manufacture, know who have drunk Armenian brandy, see the oldest Armenian barrels and the medals which decorate the ARARAT legend. They will also walk around the ageing cellar and see how the brandy spirits are preserved, know who have nominal barrels and enjoy the delicate aroma of the cellar. Finally the guests are invited to spend a lovely and unforgettable time in the tasting hall enjoying the wonderful sorts of cognac.
Farewell Dinner - In the end of the tour the tourists are invited to a farewell dinner at ‘Ararat’ restaurant in Yerevan, during which they are not only served delicious traditional Armenian food, but also enjoy an amazing show with national dances and music. Within 3 hours almost the whole Armenian culture and history is presented to the visitors.  This event is organized to make their trip to Armenia even more unforgettable.
Overnight in Yerevan.
    

Day 10. Transfer to airport – departure