Day 1: Early morning. Arrival to Yerevan. Meeting at the airport. Transfer to the hotel in Yerevan. Check into hotel. Time for resting. Early Breakfast. We will start by getting acquaintanced with the city of Yerevan by walking through the history of its foundation. Erebouni museum and fortress founded in 782 B.C.
The next stop on the tour will include a visit to the remarkable Matenadaran Library and Research Institute of Armenia which houses close to 17,000 rare manuscripts. The Matenadaran is one of the richest depositories of manuscripts and books in the world. Lunch in an Armenian Traditional Restaurant. Later this afternoon we will round off our tour with a stroll through ‘Vernissage’, Yerevan's bustling open air handicraft market.
Day 2: Breakfast served. Driving through the fertile plains of the Ararat valley, you will reach Khor Virab Monastery – the beginning of the History of Christianity in Armenia, magnificently set against the towering slopes of Biblical Mount Ararat. This setting offers some of the most spectacular photo opportunities in all of Armenia. The monastery is the site where St. Gregory the Illuminator was incarcerated and is a pilgrimage destination for every Armenian, as well as for foreign believers.
On the way to Noravank, you will enjoy a guided tour of the famous “Areni Winery.” In Armenian, there is a famous saying that “Wine is bottled poetry”. Next, we will take the path through the narrow gorge, revealing Noravank Monastery, nestled inside the deep red landscape of the tuf stone mountains. Lunch will be served in the historic 12th c. refectory of Noravank Monastery.
Day 3: Breakfast served. This morning begins with a visit to the Tsitsernakaberd memorial and museum dedicated to the 1915 Genocide, one of the most impressive monuments in Yerevan. Later, we will proceed to Garni, the rare pre-Christian pagan temple maintained in Armenia and Garni canyon, with a view magnificent sheer vertical cliffs, which appear to be a gigantic basalt organ carved in the rocks.
The next stop is the Geghard (Cave monastery) architectural complex, rising out from the mountain, carved from one monolithic rock in the 12th-13th centuries. Sing an ancinet hymn while inside; the acoustics in this chamber are extraordinary. Lunch in Garni. You have free time to stroll and make your own discoveries in the local shops, bars, restaurants or any attractive areas per your interest.
Day 4: Early Breakfast. Check out. Early morning Depart from Yerevan; Cross the Armenian – Georgian border. Lunch in Akhalkalakhi (Georgia); Cross the Georgian – Turkey border. First stop in the Historical Armenia is Kars – stands at an altitude of 1750 meters and has played an important role in Armenian history. Overnight in Kars, Dinner.
Day 5: Breakfast served. Kars City Tour (walk). Kars is a town that is dominated by the ruins of the ancient castle, which sits at the top a rocky hill, over-looking Kars and St. Arakelots (Holy Apostles) Cathedral (10th century), old Armenian houses and Kars Museum, with a wide collection of antiquities.
About 42 kilometers east of Kars, on the ancient Silk Road, is the medieval city of Ani, one of the capital's of Armenia. Today the great City of Ani is in ruins... a ghost town, a mere shadow of the once world-renowned splendor of over a 1,000 years ago; can attract us even today; panoramic view of Mt. Ararat from the Western Armenia; Lunch, rest. The city of Igdir stands on a large, fertile plain where fruit and, unusual for this geographical region, cotton grow. The Bible relates that when the flood waters receded, Noah and his family descended from Mount Ararat toward the fertile plain.
From here, their progeny most likely settled to the south and west along the Euphrates and Tigris rivers, established the second generation on mankind. From this plain you have the best view of Biblical Mount Ararat. Igdir with its high mountain ranges, remote plateaus, plains splashed with color, and some of the amazing architecture, this region brings history to life.
Dougbayazid was settled by Armenians in the Daroynk Fortress during the time of the Kingdom of Urartu (over 3000 years ago). Agri has 1650 meters-hisgh palteau, is 183 km east of Erzurum. Berkry Waterfall - the pleasant waterfall to the northeast, not surprisingly, has plenty of fish restaurants serving local delicacies. Van – dinner, overnight in Van.
Day 6: Breakfast served. Van-Tushpa: one of the ancient and the first capital of Great Armenia in the second millennium B.C., ancient fortress of Van Kingdom, Mher's Door - with the famous Urartian cuneiform inscription. This city is set in a verdant oasis at the foot of a rocky peak. An imposing 9th century B.C. citadel overlooks the new and the old parts of town. Steps carved in the dock lead to the Urartian fortress. Halfway up the steps, inscriptions in cuneiform pay homage to Xerxes. Within the fortress are several Urartian royal rock tombs.
The exotic Van Cat, protected specie, has thick white fur and one blue and one green eye. Lake Van is at an altitude of 1720 meters and is ringed by beautiful mountains. Mount Sipan (4058 meters) is on the northwest side. Forty one kilometers southwest of Van - Akhtamar island, on which only the majestic 10th century Holy Cross Church has survived and has been renovated; every place with a breathtaking view of Lake Van as it has been said “Van is in this World - Paradise is in the Next”.
Varagavank - about 10km east of the town of Van, are the remains of the once huge complex of Varagavank Monastery, known by locals as Yedi Kilise or Yedikilise (Seven Churches), reflecting it's past glory. The ruins are still worthy of a visit. A few churches of the monastery remain in various states of collapse, two without roofs, one with frescoes, and some splendidly carved crosses, particularly along the front under the arches.
Once the best known monastery of Vaspurakan and the seat of the Archbishop of Van, the monastery takes it's name from Mt. Varag (now Erek Dagi), whose southern slopes it rests on. The monastery was destroyed by the Turkish army on April 30th 1915, during the siege of Van. Lunch in Van. Datvan – Mt. Nemrut makes a challenging climb. In its center a deep crater bubbles with volcanic hot springs. Mush the center of both Paganism and Christianity in Armenia. Dinner. Overnight in Mush.
Day 7: Breakfast served. Mush valley a rare picturesque setting, in the highest region of this area, in present in Turkey. The plains of Mush have a natural beauty, with lakes and greenery between high mountains; they are especially very famous for the fields of tulips. Many Armenians were inspired by the landscapes of "blanket of tulips" (Mush valley) and created their artistic masterpieces. Sulukh Bridge - with 12 arches. Visit to the remains of St. Garabed Monastery, in the mountains of Mush.
About 8 km east of the town of Mush is situated St. Arakelots Church. According to local tradition, and also recorded in a document dated 1079, Arakelots monastery was founded in the 4th century by Saint Gregory the Illuminator to house various relics he received in Rome. Those relics (which included the left arms of Saint Peter and Saint Paul and right arm of the apostle Andrew) account for the monastery's name. Most of the monastery was contained within a circuit of high walls.
Behind those walls was a large church with a dome, a three-tiered bell tower that stood in front of the church, two chapels to the north and south of the large church, and various monastic accommodations and ancillary buildings. A little to the south, and outside the walls, was a second domed church. If you hope to experience this unrepeatable monastery let's muster up our courage to do it. Erzrum – is one of the largest city in area, sprawls on a high plateau at an altitude of 1950 meters. Dinner, Overnight in Erzrum.
Day 8: Breakfast served. Erzrum City Tour. Tortum – wonderfull water fall. Ardvin city
Hopa. Lunch in Hopa. To the north of Ardvin via Sarpi lies the border gate Turkey – Georgia. Cross the Turkey - Georgian border. Meeting in Sarpi (Turkey/Georgia border ). Visit the Gonio fortress and ancient town (17th c.), Batumi - the capital of Ajara, is a major sea port and offers a beautiful Botanical Garden beside the Black sea, surrounded by tea and citrus plantations. Overnight in 3* hotel in Batumi.
Day 9: Breakfast served. Depart for Borjomi. On the way to Kutailsi (dated back to Argonauts times 13th -12th c. B.C.) visit an ancient Gelati monastery, founded by King David the IV in 12th c. Gelati, was an educational center of Georgia. Lunch. We drive through Borjomi to visit the National park and taste the famous Borjomi mineral water. Overnight in Bakuriani - famous ski resort (2100m) in the winter and walker’s paradise in the summer.
Day 10: Breakfast served. Walking along Bakuriani park. Drive to Uplistsikhe (“the Lord’s citadel”) is a cave town dated to the 7thc. B.C. where you can see a big hall for pagan rituals and a church of the 9th c. It served as a strategic point on the Silk Road from ancient times until the 15th c A.D. Lunch. Arrival and overnight in Tbilisi.
Day 11: Breakfast served. Breakfast served. City tour of old Tbilisi – capital of Georgia from the 5th C A.D. The mosque, the synagogue, the Armenian and Roman churches mix harmoniously with the Georgian churches and architecture. Farewell party in a traditional restaurant with Georgian cuisine and folklore. Departure for Sadakhlo border. Meeting in Georgia - Armenian border. Dinner and Overnight in the hotel of Alaverdy.
Day 12: Breakfast served. On the way, through retained ancient village setting on the slope of the hill, you will get acquainted with inhabitant’s life. After descending from this area, we follow the road of two magical and beautiful monasteries: Sanahin and Haghpat, where artistic merits transcend the limits of the national culture. We traverse level plains, rivers, gorges, and cross several passes before reaching Kobayer to admire its breathtaking frescos and unique landscape.
This walk takes you through the wooded way along a stepped path. Continuing our journey across Armenia’s fascinating landscapes, we will drive to the lush environs of Dilijan- “a piece of Switzerland” in Armenia and one of Armenia’s most appealing resort towns. The town is peppered with numerous examples of traditional Armenian architecture and the romantic settings of the monastery of Haghartsin (11th c.).
No trip to Armenia is ever complete without a visit to the sparkling blue waters of Lake Sevan - “The Emerald of Armenia”, set approximately 1900m above sea level, situated high in the mountains and famed for its glorious and ever-changing hues. On arrival, you have a stop by the lakeside churches, on the top of peninsula, to admire a spectacularly picturesque scene overlooking the lake and distant mountains. Lunch will be served in the restaurant of Sevan, tasting the famous fish of the lake, ishkhanatsoog. Return to Yerevan. Check in.
Day 13: Breakfast served. After an appetizing breakfast, you will visit the ancient monastery, churches and museum complex of Etchmiadzin, the seat of the Catholics of all Armenians. The Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin is the "religious capital" of the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Church. The complex houses 4 main churches, including the Cathedral. Built in 303AD, the cathedral is a masterpiece of Armenian classical architecture and considered to be one of the world’s earliest Christian churches. Just steps away, you will admire the Hripsime and Gayane Churches (7th c.) named after the faithful virgins of the 3rd century.
On the way back to Yerevan, the magnificent ruins of Zvartnots (celestial angels) Cathedral (7th c) will show you the uniqueness of Armenian Church architecture. You will also participate in Divine Liturgy (optional, only on Sundays). Free time (you have a chance to wander or join any cultural event you like). The farewell dinner will be enjoyed in a typical Armenian restuarant, with live Armenian folk music and dance, completeing your journey with unforgettable memories.
Day 14: Check out. Transfer to the airport.
Price to be determined upon request.
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Europe Armenia Georgia History Whiz Archeology/History