10 essential things to do when you visit Armenia
Armenia is a land of both the old and the new. As the first Christian country in Europe and after more than 600 years of slavery to foreign powers, it is indeed one of the most exciting places to be, as well as being one of the historically richest countries in Europe. So if you want a vacation full of culture, history, relaxation, and fun, here are the top ten essential things to do in Armenia:
Getting to this ancient fortress is even more daunting than its name, as only a 4×4 combined with the summer weather can take tourists across the top of the mountain plateau where it is located. Arriving at the site you will see more than 2000 petroglyphs left by ancient people depicting hunting scenes, ancient rituals and culture. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the view from this site is also excellent.
2.) Erebuni Fortress
Erebuni Fortress also houses a treasure trove of artifacts. These artifacts date back to the millennium BC. The fortress has been turned into a museum and here you will find around 12,000 items belonging to the ancient civilization that thrived on the land.
3.) Zvartnots Temple
This temple is testimony that Armenia has the oldest national church in the world. This temple dates back more than 1700 years and has been recently excavated by a team of archaeologists. On the grounds, you’ll see not only the old church, but also a museum, cathedral, and seminary. This place serves as the center of the Armenian Apostolic Church.
4.) National Gallery
The national gallery serves to house national treasures such as art from classical to modern times. It contains not only Armenian art but also Western art. It was founded in 1919 and has since served as a repository for the country’s cultural elements.
5.) Old Dilijan
This picturesque rural town is situated in the heart of the forest of Northern Armenia. The city boasts of having been home to many famous artists, musicians, composers, and others. This popular destination draws tourists for its early 20th-century architecture and displays of musical instruments and handicrafts.
6.) Ararat Cognac Factory
This serves as the base of operations for the producer of the country’s most famous brandy maker. The brandy made here has become a favorite of people all over the world, including the famous Winston Churchill. It is a must see place.
7.) Matenadaran Institute
It is located in the heart of Yerevan. The Matenadaran Institute houses an impressive collection of manuscript books. It is an imposing building guarded by silent statues of famous Armenian intellectuals like Mesrp Mashtots, Mkhitar Gosh, Anania Shirakatsi, Toros Roslin, etc.
8.) Gaghard Cathedral
A church made famous for the fact that it is literally carved out of solid rock, Gaghard Cathedral is indeed an example of this country’s exemplary architecture. The name Geghard literally translates to spear. It is due to the fact that it has housed the spear that has pierced the body of Jesus during his crucifixion.
9.) Haghpat and Sanahin Monasteries
Located in the Lori region and along the banks of the River Debed, these two famous monasteries are among the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. These two sites serve to remind not only tourists, but also the people of the country of their rich cultural heritage and intellectual achievements. Both sites were built during the 10th century and have taken hundreds of years to complete.
10.) The Garni Temple
Adorned by two dozen Ionic columns, this temple stands as a reminder of the past of the Hellenistic countries. It was built as part of a fortress during the 3rd century BC. Naturally protected on three sides by rocky cliffs and a deep canyon, but destroyed several times over the course of history, it nonetheless resembles the National Spirit of Armenia that inspires all of its people to rebuild.