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Armenia – Home of the Gods

June 12, 2014

1 armenia-landscapeMount Ararat is the national symbol of Armenia. In Armenian mythology, the mountain is home of the Gods. The mountain was historically part of Armenia, but now belongs to the Turks. The only permitted route to climb the revered mountain begins in Doğubayazıt, a city in the most eastern district of Ağrı Province of Turkey, bordering Iran. Snow covers the top of the mountain almost year-round.
Armenia, a small and mountainous country, lies in the highlands surrounding Mount Ararat in the South Caucasus region of Eurasia and is bordered by Georgia to the north, Nakhchivan to the south, Turkey to the west and Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh to the east. The country is divided into the regions of Central Armenia, Lake Sevan Region, Northern Armenia and Southern Armenia. Nagorno-Karabakh is independent of Azerbaijan and can only be entered via Armenia.
Explore Armenia by Bike

Haghartsin Monastery

Haghartsin Monastery

A bike tour is the perfect way to explore Armenia. You can try sections of the designed route or challenge the entire stretch from Gyumri to Hoktemberyan or the optional route from Syunik and Shamsshadin. These routes allow you to see as much of the country’s scenery as possible.
One of the popular routes begins at Dilijan. Great sites to visit along the way include Matosavank and Jukhtak Vank. Haghartsin Monastery is the most visited monastery in Armenia, and you have to ride through the forest along a narrow road. The monastery is located at the end of the road in the village of Gosh.
An optional route from Ijevan to Berd will take you to the villages of Yenokavan and Achajur and up to the Makaravank Monastery. A trip from Noyemberyan heads to the border of Azerbaijan and Georgia. Past the village of Berdavan and the Georgian border, the highway ends and the road from here will take you through some charming villages before it reaches the Debed River. Once you reach the Akhtala Village, ensure to visit the Akhtala Monastery.
Akhtala Monastery

Akhtala Monastery

One of the highlights on the route from Alaverdi to Tumanyan is the Haghpat Monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage site located just before Alaverdi. Further up to the highway, you can spot the Horomayri Monastery against the cliffs of the gorge. The stretch from Tumanyan to Vanadzor offers beautiful scenery as you travel along the forested Debed river gorge.
From Vanadzor, the road heads up a steep mountain pass to Spitak. The mountain pass offers magnificent views of Mount Aragats and the alpine valley. Once you reach Aparan, you can visit the Kasagh Basilica located in town. From Artashavan, you can go back on the highway that will take you to the village of Ohanavan and Ashtarak. The town of Ashtarak offers a traditional Armenian experience with its dancing and singing performances; traditional food and khorovats fare.
Armenian Dancers

Armenian Dancers

The Hrazdan Canyon road is exciting and takes you through stunning nature and ancient villages. Ensure to relax in the hot springs in Arzakan and visit the monastery in Makravan. The road from Tsaghkadzor to Lake Sevan is in poor condition, but offers great sightseeing. From Martuni, you can admire the wildflowers and enjoy the good road. Yeghegnadzor is home to several monuments and the ruins of the Glazdor University.
From Yeghegnadzor, the road heads down to Sisian and then to Goris. The picturesque town of Goris is a good place to wander around for a while. The road from Goris towards Lachin will take you past and cave village, Khndzoresk and then to Lachin with its beautiful new church. From here you will travel through the forests and mountains to Shushi, a historic town with mosques, old city walls and churches.
The road from Shushi to Stepanakert is a short distance. The Mamik and Babik monument is situated on the edge of the town of Stepanakert. From here you can travel to Aghdam and then head north towards Martakert and again west towards Dadivank. From Dadivank, you continue west to Vardenis with amazing views of Lake Sevan. There is public transport available at Vardenis to get you back to Yerevan, the capital of Armenia.
The City of Yerevan
5 YerevanThe magnificent Mount Ararat dominates the skyline of Yerevan, the beautiful capital of Armenia. Yerevan offers endless tourist attractions, entertainment and dining options. Downtown is locally called Kentron and is the heart of the city. Armenia has one of the highest rates of smoking, but there are many restaurants with outdoor seating or non-smoking sections. A great and affordable café to enjoy a meal and relax is Design Café in close proximity to the Yerevan State Lingustic University at 42 Toumanyan Street. Khingali, also on Toumanyan Street and next to Mer Tagh, serves excellent meat with cheese filling.
Yerevan offers amazing places and historical sites such as the 3,000-year-old Erebuni Fortress. Lover’s Park is the oldest park in the city and worth a visit. Another great park to visit is the Children’s Park, situated in a canyon of the Hrazdan River and features a children’s railway. Ensure to visit the Singing Fountains and enjoy an amazing light and fountain show. The fountains are in front of the Art Gallery at the Republic Square.
Yerevan is home to several museums, including the Museum of Woodwork at 2 Paronyan Street, and the City Museum of Yerevan. The Armenian Genocide Memorial and Museum are located on a hill near the city center and features a collection of paintings done by Jean Jansem.
Dried Fruit at Market, Yerevan

Dried Fruit at Market, Yerevan

For a great shopping experience, ensure to visit the Yerevan Vernissage on Aram and Buzand Streets. The open-air market offers musical instruments, art works, pets, books, electronics, carpets, carved wood and almost anything you can think of.
The oldest surviving church is Katoghike on the crossroads of Sayat-Nova Avenue and Abovian Street. The Saint Gregory the Illuminator Cathedral, not far from the Republic Square, is a megalomaniac exaggeration of traditional Armenian Architecture.
You cannot leave this area without visiting the Ararat Cognac Factory, the oldest factory in Armenia. Explore the tastes of The Sun of Armenia, Legend of Armenia, Arpi-Mulberry or Arpi-Apricot. The factory offers tours and tasting. You can contact the Ararat Cognac Factory at +374 10 526639 for more information on tour dates and time.
Yerevan is famous for its strip clubs and pubs. The Calumet Ethnic Lounge Bar on 56-a Pushkin Street is a cozy place with great music and ambiance. The Wild West Pub on Tumanyan Street and Pub Red Bull on Moscovyan Street are also worth visiting. For a night at the Karaoke club, you can try 7Notes on Sayat-Nova Street.
Eating Traditional Food in Armenia
Traditional Harissa

Traditional Harissa

The two national dishes in Armenia are Harissa and Khash. Harissa is a porridge made of wheat and meat such as chicken, lamb or beef. Khash consists of beef or lamb feet with crushed garlic and vodka.
Dolma is a delicious dish with stuffed grape leaves, chard leaves, peppers, eggplants or cabbage leaves. Almost any cut of meat or vegetable is used for stuffing.
The Armenian fast food is Khorovatz and is typically made with pork and served with fried potatoes or rice, along with a traditional salad, such as sliced onions and herbs. Local herbs are used well throughout the country. Most of the Armenian salads are Russian-inspired recipes.
Armenian main courses are usually stew with green beans, lamb and tomato broth, pumpkin stew, fried liver with kidneys and onions or a casserole of mixed vegetables with meat.
A typical dessert in Armenia includes dried peaches stuffed with ground walnuts or sweet bread filled with cream.
Visa Requirements for Entering Armenia
Armenia allows citizens of specific countries and territories to visit Armenia for tourism or without having to obtain a visa or allows them to obtain a visa on arrival or online.

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