Armenia is a stunningly beautiful country located between the majestic mountains of the Caucasus and the tranquil waters of the Black and Caspian seas. Rich in history, mystery, and culture, Armenia offers visitors a unique and unforgettable travel experience. Ancient churches and monasteries dot the countryside, and cities are filled with bustling markets and winding narrow streets flanked by colorful villas and buildings. Nature lovers will find a wide range of activities to explore, from skiing and snowboarding in the winter to rugged hikes in summertime. Those looking for an ancient culture should venture to the capital city of Yerevan, whose cobblestone streets and Soviet architecture will take you through an awe-inspiring journey of history. Whether you're a fan of food, art, or shopping, you'll be able to find something to explore in Armenia. With its restaurants, galleries, and shops, the vibrant country is a sparkling gem in the former Soviet Union with plenty of surprises waiting to be discovered.
The History of Armenia
Armenia, first little nation of the world, is an amazing country with an amazing history. Armenia is an important location, as it has a crucial geography. The area is located between two rivers, the Black Sea, the Mediterranean Sea and several others. Throughout the times various nations have lived in this region, leaving behind beautiful monuments and cultural heritage that give an opportunity to people of the present to explore and travel.
The earliest people of Armenia were the Hittites, who settled in the area about 1500BC. In 590BC the Achaemenid Empire took over the region, then in 331BC Alexander the Great conquered it. Armenia's first kingdom, which was established around 190BC, was named the Kingdom of Armenia. Under this rule the country was greatly influenced by the Roman Empire, yet maintained its own language, customs and traditions.
This occurred until the adoption of Christianity as the state religion in 301AD, which changed the face of the Armenian nation in dramatic ways. The church and its services are integral to Armenian culture today and the influence of Christianity is still seen. Armenia was later ruled by the Byzantine Empire and in 1045 it was attacked and destroyed by the Seljuk Turks. The entire population of Armenia was moved to the south and when they returned they found an empty land. But this process of destruction and resettlement allowed Armenians to turn towards Russia, which eventually annexed the land in 1822.
The 20th century in Armenia was tumultuous, with challenges including opportunities for independence, attempted and successful colonization, and civil War. In 1918 it was declared an independent republic, only to be invaded the same year by the Ottoman army. Later, the Soviets annexed Armenia in 1922 and two years later, the Armenian people were subjected to the Armenian Genocide by the Turkish government, with atrocities that are still remembered today.
But despite the struggles that the people of Armenia have experienced, the history of the place is one of resilience and courage. The country is an exciting place to visit and to explore what has been left behind by the many rulers, cultures and religions that have been part of its history. Its authentic churches and monuments will take your breath away, as will the traditional villages and breathtaking national parks that still exist throughout the country. Going back in time while tasting some of the local cuisine and exploring centuries-old arts and crafts will give you a deeper understanding of the fascinating history of Armenia.
The Culture of Armenia
Armenia is a land of culture and history. It has a long and complicated past and diverse population that gives the country a unique flavor.
The culture of Armenia is a product of the nation's more than three millennia of recorded history. Armenia is closely associated with the Armenian Apostolic Church, the wellspring of many of its values, beliefs and practices. Armenian art is rich in tradition and has great works from both ancient and recent times the most renowned being the frescoes of Echmiadzin Cathedral and the Khatchkars at Noravank. Music is also part of the culture his history with Armenian music being among the oldest in the world featuring Armenian folk songs as well as classical songs, choral music and orchestral pieces.
Armenians also have a great tradition of hospitality and welcoming strangers. Visitors to Armenia will find the people of Armenia to be warm and welcoming; they are always eager to help a stranger become familiar with Armenian culture and to share their own traditions. Those visitors who take the time to spend some time visiting Armenia can learn a great deal about its culture and even pick up some of the sayings, words and phrases.
In Armenia, visitors can explore a plethora of cultural sights, including ancient monuments, stunning monasteries, pre-Christian sites, historic fortresses, and vibrant local towns and villages. Not to be missed are the lovely countrysides, lush green valleys, beautiful seaside paths, and of course, the breathtaking and iconic Mount Ararat.
To round out the cultural experience, visitors can also take in Armenia's vibrant art scene, with galleries, museum collections, and traditional music and dance performances taking precedence. Also in abundance is the vast range of cuisines with influences from its Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, and European neighbors.
For those who desire a journey steeped in culture, Armenia is an inspiration. It offers a unique blend of intriguing stories of its past, deep cultural traditions, generous people- to -people hospitality, and a breathtaking natural beauty.
The Food of Armenia
The culinary experience in Armenia is one that is sure to tantalize your taste buds and leave a lasting impression on your palate. From succulent kebabs to vibrant salads, unique desserts and flavorful spices, the cuisine of this country is a vibrant fusion of Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, and Eastern European flavors. Whether you're someone who enjoys the traditional local dishes or searching for something a little more international, Armenia has something to offer food lovers of all backgrounds.
One great way to experience Armenian cuisine is to join a Cooking Class. These types of classes offer a hands-on way of learning about Armenian cooking and culture. Not only will you get to sample local dishes and cook at traditional methods, but you'll also gain a better understanding of the nation's rich culinary history. No matter what type of cook you are, a cooking class in Armenia is sure to provide a flavorful and educational experience.
Another great way to get to the heart of Armenian cuisine is to visit a restaurant that specializes in local delicacies. You'll find a variety of traditional dishes here, such as dolma - dolmas stuffed with meat, vegetables and rice - khorovats (grilled meats), and various types of sarma (stuffed cabbage rolls). Many of these dishes are also available at smaller cafés and street stalls. These establishments offer a more informal dining atmosphere, perfect for enjoying a quick bite or a more leisurely meal.
Finally, to complete your culinary adventure in Armenia, it's important to sample some of the country's local delicacies. Armenian cheeses, fruits and vegetables are key components of the nation's eating culture. Of course, when in Armenia, make sure to sample some of the country's renown brandy and wines. From the white grape and apricot vodka to the mellow Armenian cognac, Armenian spirits are sure to top off your meal in style.
If you're looking for an unforgettable travel experience that's full of culture, tradition, and great food, look no further than Armenia. The cuisine here is one of the country's most revered jewels, offering a flavor-packed journey that is sure to stay with you long after you've left the country. So, if you're looking for a place to find truly unforgettable culinary experiences, Armenia is the perfect place for you.
What to See and Do in Armenia
- Visit the Gerandavan Monastery in Yerevan, Armenia: Built on the side of a picturesque mountain, this stunningly preserved monastery lays in ruins and is a perfect place to explore. Visit the ruins for a tour of the history and architecture. If you're looking for a truly immersive experience, you can even stay in a guest house within the monastery walls.
- Explore the National Museum of Art in Yerevan, Armenia: Located in the heart of the city center, the museum is home to some of the finest collections of modern and ancient Armenian art and artifacts. Explore the ancient galleries and the contemporary displays and get an insight into Armenia's rich heritage and culture.
- Taste Traditional Armenian Food in Yerevan, Armenia: Armenia is renowned for its delicious traditional cuisine, so make sure you take time to sample some of the delicious local delights while in Yerevan. Enjoy traditional dishes such as Dolma (stuffed vine-leaves), Khash (dried cattle feet), and Flonta (strips of beef in a yogurt sauce).
- Take a Wine Tour in Areni, Armenia: Follow the direct route of the Aras River and explore the lush Vineyards of Areni, known as one of the oldest winemaking regions on the planet. Take a tour of the vineyards and the wineries, learn about the fascinating process of winemaking and enjoy sampling some of the excellent wines produced in the area.
- Relax at Lake Sevan, Armenia: Take a break from the hustle and bustle of the city and explore Lake Sevan, one of the most picturesque lakes in the whole country. Swim, fish or just enjoy the views of the surrounding mountain of Geghama. Relax and soak up the history and atmosphere of this unique spot.
- Try Your Hand at Pottery in Meghri, Armenia: A visit to the small village of Meghri is a must for any traveler looking to explore Armenia's cultural heritage. Learn about the traditional methods of pottery making, try your hand at throwing a pot and then explore the fantastic ceramics collections in the area.
- Have Fun at the Amusement Park in Gyumri, Armenia: Gyumri is the home of the Grand Amusement Park, a perfect place for some family fun. Take a ride on the hip-high Ferris wheel, go wild in the wild roller coaster, or just enjoy the classic carousels and other traditional attractions.
- Hike the Trails of Aragats, Armenia: Take a trek through the beautiful mountain trails of Aragats and enjoy panoramic views of the countryside. Start your hike in Alagyaz, and make sure you navigate your way to the nearby lake where you can take a quick dip in the cool and refreshing waters.
- Visit the Opera House in Echmiadzin, Armenia: Make time to visit the magnificent Opera House in Echmiadzin, the most important and historic religious site of Armenia. Marvel at the beautiful architecture and admire the intricate frescos adorning the walls and learn more about the history of the building and the country.
- Discover the Karahunj Megaliths in Sisian, Armenia: Take time to explore the well-preserved collection of megaliths at Karahunj and become immersed in the mystery of the ancient sites. Also known as the Armenian Stonehenge, it is thought to be the oldest observatory in the world and it offers an interesting glimpse into the life of people thousands of years ago.
Why You Should Travel to Armenia
Armenia is a remarkable country on the edge of Europe, with a rich history and a culture that boasts incredible biodiversity, stunning architecture and UNESCO world heritage sites. It is a land of surprises, offering a range of experiences for travelers seeking to explore a country with a captivating history, vibrant culture, and breathtaking nature.
One of the major attractions for travelers in Armenia is the country's amazing natural beauty. Astounding snow-capped mountains, timeless monasteries, and wild rain forests create a soulful landscape that visitors find hard to resist. These natural gems are accompanied by ancient cities, unique churches, and awe-inspiring fortresses. Armenia also offers outdoor adventurers an abundance of outdoor activities. With hiking, mountaineering, and various sports like horse riding and skiing available throughout the year, travelers have plenty of ways to explore the majestic landscapes of Armenia.
The cultural diversity of Armenia also adds to its character as a travel destination. Armenians are celebrated for their hospitality, love of food and good wine, and long-standing tradition of craftsmanship and arts. Visitors can experience Armenia's sophisticated performing arts, renowned cuisine and colorful festivals. A huge variety of archaeological sites and monuments honor the rich past of Armenia, and the country is also known for its rich wine, which is sure to delight passionate connoisseurs.
My reasons for traveling to Armenia are endless; its unparalleled natural beauty, rich cultural heritage and outdoors activities are just some aspects that make this country so attractive. Whether you're looking for a peaceful vacation or seeking to explore an enchanting culture and country, Armenia is a place you need to visit.
Tips & Tricks for Traveling in Armenia
- Visit Lake Sevan: Located in the Gegharkunik region of Armenia, this stunning alpine lake is a must-visit destination when in the country. With Crystal clear views of the surrounding forests and mountains, it's a great place to take a leisurely stroll or a more adventurous hike.
- Make use of Armenia's Public Transportation: If you plan to explore the country, taking the public buses is a great way to get around. These buses are often reasonably priced and reliable, making them the perfect way to get around if you're on a tight budget.
- Take a River Cruise on the Arax River: Taking a cruise through the Arax River and its bordering marshlands offers up some amazing views of the mountains and lush meadows. You will also get to experience some of Armenia's fascinating wildlife.
- Explore the Monasteries: Spend some time exploring the monasteries that dot the Armenian countryside. With over 3,000 years of Christian culture, these religious sites offer some of the country's most ancient and interesting landmarks.
- Visit Armenian Villages: Whether you're trekking through the backcountry or looking for a more traditional cultural experience, pay a visit to some of the rural villages in Armenia. Here, you will get to experience the day-to-day life of Armenian people and get a better understanding of their culture.
- Check out Armenia's Canyons: Armenia is home to some of the country's most stunning canyons. From the Vtanganaap Canyon to the Debov Canyon, taking some time to explore the canyons is essential if you're looking to get a better appreciation of the land's topography.
- Learn a Few Words of Armenian: Learning a few local words will go a long way when it comes to connecting with the locals. Memorize your greetings, numbers and a few other key phrases to ensure smooth and successful communication.
- Pack Lightly: Armenia may be a small country, but it's home to some of the world's most rugged terrain. Make sure you're prepared for your journey by packing lightly. Bring the essentials and leave any bulky items at home.
- Pack for Any Weather: Armenia packs all four seasons into one. Make sure you're suited for any kind of weather by packing for any scenario.
- Avoid Unsanctioned Tourists Companies: To ensure a safe and successful journey, avoid any unsanctioned tourist companies. Stick to hiring organizations that have been endorsed by the Armenian government. That way, you know that your safety and comfort is their highest priority.
Other Places You Might Like
- Yerevan, Armenia: This vibrant and lively capital of Armenia is the perfect destination for anyone looking to explore the country's culture and history. It's filled with traditional Armenian cuisine, historical sites, and some of the most hospitable people in the region. Spend the day meandering through the winding cobbled streets of Yerevan's old city, where you'll find traditional Armenian churches such as the Matenadaran, and some of the country's most important archaeological sites. Stop by the Republic Square, and explore its many cafes, restaurants and art galleries.
- Kars, Turkey: Found just a short drive from Yerevan, the city of Kars is known for its rustic churches, rare Armenian architecture and remarkable views of Mount Ararat. Visit the 19th-century Kars Fortress, used by the Russian and Ottoman empires, admire stunning Armenian architecture, explore Armenian memorials scattered throughout the city, and enjoy traditional Turkish cuisine at a local street market.
- Jerusalem, Israel: Jerusalem is a special place for Armenia, with a long and complex relationship with the city. Explore the ancient sights and religious sites of the Old City, including the Armenian Quarter and St. James Cathedral, and spend time meditating at the nearby churches and monasteries. As you wander, smell the waft of incense, learn the shared stories of Armenian and Jewish communities, and find out more about the family and business ties between them.
- Tbilisi, Georgia: Found at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, the Georgian capital of Tbilisi is a great place to learn more about Armenian culture. Home to one of the oldest Armenian churches in the world, the Jvari Monastery, a visit to Tbilisi will give you an authentic look at Armenia's rich history and culture. Explore the old Armenian Quarter of Avlabari, and wander along the cobbled streets and colourful markets, as you sample some of the city's traditional Georgian cuisine.
- Dilijan, Armenia: Also known as Armenia's "little Switzerland", Dilijan is the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. With its colourful wooden houses, rolling green hills and Crystal clear lakes, this mountain town is a great place to relax and enjoy the fresh mountain air. Hike through the pine forested hills of the Goshavank Monastery, visit the 11th Century churches of Haghartsin and Sevanavank and explore the nearby Haghartsin Cave.
- Yerevan, Artsakh: Part of the Nagorno-Karabakh region, Artsakh is home to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Gandzasar Monastery. Nestled high in the hills of Nagorno-Karabakh, the monastery is worth a visit for any Armenia enthusiast. Stop by the nearby towns of Shushi, Bushan, and Stepanakert, and explore the ancient catacombs and city walls scattered throughout the region.