Mid August is the beginning of the harvest time, a time of rebirth and regeneration. Actually this is the best time to taste grapes, Blessed Grape in the Holy Land - Armenia.
Day 1, Friday, August 10: Arrive at Zvartnotz International Airport Meeting; Transfer to Hotel; Check in; Rest
Day 2, Saturday, August 11: Breakfast served. Yerevan - the rose-colored capital of Armenia, it is named as such because most of its buildings use a pink shade of "tuf" stone which is quarried in Armenia. This is the most prominent feature of Yerevan’s city scape. As we get acquainted with Yerevan, we should start with the Erebouni museum and Fortress, which was founded in 782 B.C., 29 years before Rome, the “Eternal City”, was built; we’ll pass through Republic Square, as well as by Yerevan State University.
Our next stop is essential to all who visit Armenia… Tsitsernakaberd memorial and museum to the 1915 Genocide, which is one of the most impressive monuments in Yerevan; Sports and Concert Complex, Kievian Bridge, Bagramyan Avenue, Presidential Palace, Academy of Sciences, National Parliament, Opera Theater. Lunch in Yerevan – Armenian Traditional Restaurant.
Day 3, Sunday, August 12: Breakfast served. On the day of the Feast of the Assumption of the Holy Mother of God, honoring Mary's journey into heaven, the blessing of the grapes takes place immediately after the celebration of the Divine Liturgy. Led by the presiding clergymen the procession ascends onto the open air Holy Altar of St. Mary’s Cathedral in Echmiadzin. As thanksgiving for the fruitfulness of the year, the church blesses the grapes, the queen of fruits and distributes to all people. The Holy Virgin Mary is considered the "Tree of Life" who bears the "Good Fruit" - Christ, for our salvation. Christ resembled Himself to the Vine (John 15:1) and blessed the cup of wine to be His Blood.
Today we embark on our Journey to the lands of ancient treasures of Christian history…the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, you will also participate in DIVINE LITURGY. It's the "religious capital" of the Armenian Church and the seat of the Supreme Patriarch-Catholics of all Armenians. It has 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. Admire Hripsime and Gayane Churches (7th c) named after faithful virgins. Lunch in Etchmiatsin. Let’s take a branch of grapes with us, put it on the altar for blessing and eat blessed grape. This truly is a different kind of experience.
Day 4, Monday, August 13: Breakfast served. Ashtarak, where we can find numerous churches and various ancient buildings at every turn; Artashavan - New Complex of Armenian Letters: “It is difficult to express the deep feeling Armenians have for their language, which many regard as the lifeblood of their culture”, Saghmosavank Monastery perch on the edge of the precipitous gorge of the Kasakh river. Oshakan – most famous as the last resting place of Mesrop Mashtots; Lunch and traditional table/lavash making: "Eat thy bread with joy"; with a local family, where you will experience the true hospitality of the Armenian people.
Day 5, Tuesday, August 14: Breakfast served. Visit to Lake Sevan – the emerald of Armenia, a beauty under the sky. Lake Sevan is considered to be one of the biggest lakes in the world with sweet water situated at an altitide of 1,897 meters above sea level. Gorgeous view to Lake Sevan is opened from the peninsula atop which Sevan Monastery is nicely nestled, dating to the 9th century; Dilijan: “A piece of Switzerland in Armenia” - Earth and sky, woods and fields, rivers, the mountains are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn otherwise… The old approach in the new century - “Old Town Dilijan” complete with craftsmen workshops, small shops with traditional Armenian products and crafts, museum, showing typical 19th century living with all its local customs and handmade wood furnishings 10-13th centuries Goshavank Monastery. Lunch in Sevan.
Day 6, Wednesday, August 15: Breakfast served. The museum of Sergei Parajanov's works - his graphics, dolls, collages, photographs, 23 screenplays and librettos of unrealized productions in cinema, theater, ballet. It is an adornment and pride of any city. “NOY” ARARAT Brandy, Wine Factory: “…one does not drink brandy, one derives pleasure from it.” Just let's do it in one of the oldies factories in "NOY" Yerevan Brandy factor; “MEGERIAN RUGS” Factory & Show room: Which brings together time-honored traditions and a rang of exquisite aesthetics to create objects of art for modern living and you will become acquainted with the ancient technology of Armenian carpet making. Pak Shuka - a covered bazaar where you can taste the rich yield of our Blessed Ground such as luscious fresh and dried fruits, flavorsome vegetables and delicacies; Lunch in Yerevan
Day 7, Thursday, August 16: Breakfast served. In the Armenian Church grapes are given preference over other fruits to be blessed as the first fruit of the harvest. This is conditioned by a number of historical and religious circumstances. After the devastating flood, our ancestor Noah planted a vineyard in the valley on the slopes of Mt. Ararat and grew grapes: "Noah, a man of the soil, was the first to plant a vineyard" (Genesis 9:10) The fruit of the vineyard became the decoration of the Ararat valley, it was considered to be the noblest fruit and was called QUEEN OF THE FRUIT. Jesus Christ repeatedly assimilated himself with the vine: "I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower" (John 15:1). So today we’ll try blessed grape in the Ararat valley.
Khor Virap Monastery (St. Gregory the Illuminator’s underground pit); amazing view of Biblical Mt. Ararat: “The blessed Mountain for Armenians. Driving via the fertile plains of the Ararat valley we reach the “Areni Winery” where they say, “Wine is bottled poetry”; we'll taste and enjoy a guided tour of the winery. After this, we travel through the narrow gorge, towards Noravank Monastery. Upon this road is revealed the miracle of both “Human-and-natural-created beauty”. Lunch in Noravank
Day 8, Friday, Saturday 17: Breakfast served. Vanadzor City – the historical and modern center of the province of Lori; Alaverdy town in a canyon, between Yerevan and Georgian - is famous for its copper mines. Dsegh Village beautiful and magnificent mountains, rolling green hills, singing brooks, streams and rivers accomplish you till the village where is situated the Home/Museum of famous Armenian writer Hovhannes Toumanyan; Lunch; We proceed to another outstanding masterpiece of Armenian architecture Haghpat Monastery (World UNESCO Heritage) in which artistic merits transcended the limits of the national culture.
Day 9, Saturday, August 18: Breakfast served. Matenadaran - Depository and Museum of ancient manuscripts, “Victory” Park with panoramic view of Yerevan and Mt. Ararat; Cascade and Gerard Cafesjian Art Museum, which is Armenia’s largest repository of modern art; Vernissage – outdoor market featuring hand made arts and crafts; Lunch in Yerevan.
Day 10, Sunday, August 19: Breakfast served. Garni the rare pre-Christian pagan monument maintained in Armenia; wonderful canyon of Garni, where you can see magnificent sheer vertical cliffs, which look manmade; Geghard (Cave monastery) architectural complex in the 12-13th century, cut in one monolithic rock; Lunch.
Day 11, Monday, August 20: Breakfast served. Free day. Evening: Farewell Party Dinner in the restaurant with Armenian traditional cuisine and folklore live music.
Day 12, Tuesday, August 21: Transfer.
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