Day 1. Arrival in Yerevan, meeting at the airport, transfer to the hotel, greeting dinner
Day 2. Garni, Geghard, sightseeing tour of the city Yerevan
- The temple of Garni is 28 km south-west from Yerevan, over the gorge of the River Azat is located a fortress of the same name. On the hill, surrounded by vineyards, rise the remains of the pagan temple (the I century). The pagan temple Garni is the only monument to the epoch of Hellenism in Armenia. The temple, dedicated to the sun goddess Mythra, was built in the second half of the first century, in the days of Tiridates I.
- Geghard Monastery is 7 km north-west from Garni, above the gorge of the River Azat. There was founded a cloister named Ayrivank (Cave-Monastery) because of its location in natural and artificial caves. The later name of the Monastery – Geghard, church legends connect with the spear, once kept there, the one, with which Jesus Christ was pierced by one of the Romanian legionaries, guarding him.
The diamond-shaped tip plate of that spear nowadays is kept in the Museum of Armenian Church in Etchmiadzin.
- Yerevan is one of the ancient cities in the world, founded in 782 B.C. by Argishti II. During the excursion you’ll attend the Republic Square, which had been building for 50 years by different architects, nevertheless a perfect architectural ensemble has been made; Opera and Ballet National Academic Theatre is a unique architectural complex in the center of Yerevan; Ring boulevard, where you’ll see monuments to Andranik Zoravar, Griboedov, Zoravar Vartan Mamikonyan, Michael Nalbandyan, Ivan Aivazovsky; St. Grigor Lusavorich Cathedral; Cinema ‘’Russia’’, Komitas Chamber Music House, Cascade hills, Yerevan train station of Sasuntsi David, which has become the symbol of Yerevan.
Day 3. Etchmiadzin, Hripsime, Shoghakat, Gayane, Zvartnots
- Etchmiadzin is 15 km from Yerevan. This place is worshiped by Armenians all over the world, because here is the center of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Etchmiadzin, the former name of which is Vagharshapat, was founded in the first half of the II century on the site of ancient colony Vardgesavan. Since 163, after the destruction of Artashat by the Romans, the town has become the political, cultural, and later the religious and enlightening center of the country.
- St. Hripsime Church before the entrance to Etchmiadzin stands a magnificent St. Hripsime Temple. Hripsime is the name of a martyr, whose grave is located in the tomb, under the altar. On the site of her death in the fourth century A.C. was built a chapel, and in the seventh century Catholicos Komitas erected a temple.
- St. Shoghakat Church. Shoghakat is the name of one of the 40 martyrs, whose grave is also under the altar. It is located not far from the St. Hripsime Church. According to a blindly accepted belief, the temple got its name from the name of a virgin, who perished there. However, the name of the martyr, according to а legend, is Marine. The name ‘’Shoghakat’’ is connected with the vision of Grigor Lusavorich and means ‘’descending ray’’. The church was built in the XVII century.
- St. Gayane Church is south from the temple of Etchmiadzin. It was built in 630 by the designation of Catholicos Ezra, on the site of a chapel, erected in the place, where, according to the same legend, was buried Gayane, the abbess of virgin-christians and the governess of Hripsime, who also accepted martyrdom and, like Hripsime, was convicted to a rank of saints. In the southern aisle, near the altar apse, the relics of Hripsime are at rest.
- St. Etchmiadzin Cathedral in 301 Christianity became the state religion in Armenia. According to a legend, the first patriarch Grigor Lusavorich had a vision as the only begotten, Jesus Christ, came down from heaven with a flaming hammer in his hands and indicated the place for building the Cathedral. There, where was an ancient pagan temple, in 303 was built the church, named Etchmiadzin, which in Armenian means “Descent of the Only Begotten Son".
- Zvartnots Temple is 10 km from Yerevan. The construction of the Temple of Watching Forces began in 641-643 and had been conducting for 20 years. The initiator of the construction was Catholicos Nerses III the Builder (Shinarar), who engaged masters from ancient Armenian town Dvin, a city which was famous for its beauty. Extant to our days remains of Zvartnots are witnessing the glory of the building.
Day 4. Lake Sevan, Sevanavank, Ayrivank, Noratus
- Lake Sevan, a nature miracle, adjoining the sky, the most beautiful of all the high-mountain lakes, is located in a huge thicket at the height of 1916 meters above sea level, it is the largest in the Caucasus region, 1240 km2, with the depth up to 83 meters. The Sevan is 63 km north from Yerevan. It is fed by 28 rivers and streams, the only flowing out river is the River Hrazdan. Its water is clear and pure, according to a legend, only stars and gods drank water from the Sevan.
- Sevanavank Monastery is 6 km west from the town of Sevan, on Sevan peninsula. Before the shallowing of the lake, the peninsula was a small island, separated from the land by a three-kilometer stride. At the end of the VIII century a few monarchs settled there. The congenial location of the island contributed to the enlargement of the monastic brethren and the dynamic construction of the Monastery.
- Ayrivank Church is located on a craggy cape on the east coast of Lake Sevan, in the village of the same name, and refers to the IX-XII centuries.
- Noratus is an old village, 27 km from the town of Sevan. In the XVI century Noratus is the residence of Armenian Meliks (Kings). There was the largest cemetery with khachkars – cross-stones, on the territory of modern Armenia. Most of the khachkars in Noratus cemetery go back to the XIII-XVII centuries, the most ancient goes back to the V century.
Day 5. Areni, Noravank Monastery, ‘’Wings of Tatev’’ cableway, Tatev Monastery
- Village Areni is one of the oldest villages of historical Syunik. The significance of the village was explained, first of all, by its geographical location on exit from a gorge, connecting Vayots Dzor with the valley of Sharur. Thereby, the village was not only a resting-place, but also an important military point. On the surrounding heights military fortifications were built. In the XIII century King Orbelyan Tarsaich built a palace here. By his order Bishop Sarkis (1265-1287) of Noravank built a three-arch bridge near Areni on the river, the foundation of which remained till our days. In 1321 by the order of Bishop Hovhannes of Syunik the architect Momik built St. Astvatsatsin Church in Areni.
- Noravank Monastery is located among fancy sheer red cliffs at the mouth of a meandering gorge. The Monastery was founded in the XII century on the site of ancient buildings. In the days of King Orbelyan it became a major religious center, and in the XIV century – the residence of the Bishops of Syunik. The gorge is famous for sheer red cliffs, rising behind the Monatery, on the territory of which is located a two-story St. Astvatsatsin Church with narrow cantilevered staircases. This Church, the construction of which was finished in 1339, is considered the last masterpiece of a talented Armenian sculptor and miniaturist Momik.
- Dinner, wine degustation
- "Wings of Tatev" cableway is the longest reversible aerial tramway, connecting villages Halidzor and Tatev through Vorotan gorge, stretches 5,7 km. The maximum height above the gorge is 320 km. The cabin, holding 25 passengers, moves with the maximal speed of 37 km/h, passing the way from the point of departure to the destination in 11 minutes 25 seconds.
- Tatev Monastery is located in the middle of Syunik Province in South Armenia, 30 km from the town of Goris near the village of the same name – Tatev, on the right bank of the River Vorotan. It was founded in 895-906. The Monastery is one of the intellectual centers of medieval Armenia. Its strategically beneficial location on a foreland, created by the deep, rocky slopes of the river, prospered to the creation of a powerful defensive complex. Gavazan (the pendulous column), built in 904 in the courtyard, near the living quarters of the Monastery, refers to the number of unique works of architectural-engineering art of Armenia. It is octahedral, folded out of shallow stones, column with the height of 8 meters. Under the impact of seismic soil fluctuations and even from a simple touch of a human arm, the column, due to articulation, bent and returned to its initial position.
Day 6. Check out, transfer to the airport