RELICS OF THE SAINTS

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Religious Tour (5 days, 4 nights)

Route: Yerevan – Gegharkunik region (Sevan Noratus), NKR – District Karvachar (Dadivank), Martakert region (Yerits Mankants Monastery, Gandzasar), Stepanakert, Hadrut region (Katarovank) Shushi (Kazanchetsots), Martuni region (Amaras) region Syunik (Tatev), Ararat region (Khor Virap), Armavir region (Echmiadzin, Zvartnots).

Description

Day 1
 
 
Arrival in Yerevan. 
Meeting with representatives of the “Land of Noah”.

The country, the world’s first to take Christianity as the official religion in the year 301, is rich in ancient temples, monasteries and holy places.
A trip to Lake Sevan and visit the world’s largest collection of khachkars (cross-stones) in the village of Noratus.
Lunch at the lake.
Moving along the road of Vardenis-Sotk-Karvachar in the Karvachar region of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Excursion to the monastery complex of Dadivank (V-XIII century), located on the picturesque banks of the River Tartar.
Dadivank – is more than just an ancient monastery. It is rightly considered a spiritual phenomenon with an interesting history, embodied by the skilled builders of the Stone Age.
The monastery Dadivank or Hutavank (literally – “monastery on the hill”) is located on the northern outskirts of the village of the same name, in the wooded mountainside Mrav in Karvachar (Shahumyan) region of Nagorno-Karabakh. Like the vast majority of Armenian monasteries Dadivank stands in a fantastically beautiful place and it blends brilliantly into the surrounding landscape.
According to legend, the first basilica, which still exists today, was built in the middle of the I Century. On top of Dadi’s grave – a disciple of the Apostle Thaddeus. On the south side adjacent to it is also quite an ancient church, which is a basilica structure with a vaulted ceiling.
In 2007 Dadivank was excavated, as a result the grave of St. Dadi was discovered under the holy altar of the main church.
Dinner and overnight at the camp or guesthouse near the monastery.
 
 
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Day 2
 
 
Breakfast at the camp or guesthouse. 
Moving to the Martakert region of Artsakh.

A visit to the monastery complex of Yerits Mankants (XVII c.)
The monastery of Erits Mankants (Yerits Mankants) is named after the three young men from the Old Testament (the first three chapters of the “Book of Daniel”), who were thrown into the fire by Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon for refusing to worship idols, but they were saved by the Archangel Michael and came from hell unscathed. Built around 1691, it is an outstanding example of the architecture of Artsakh in the late middle ages. The monastery was erected in the county of Jraberd, and established by the feudal family of Melik Israelian, the lords of Jraberd. The monastery has preserved Armenian cross-stones from the XI – XII centuries.
Visiting the monastery of Gandzasar (XIII c.)
Karabakh is widely known in the Christian world as one of the pockets of shrines of the Christian Church. Believers know that, as one of the centers of Christianity in the South Caucasus, Karabakh with faith and love has preserved relics with sacred significance for Christians. Perhaps the most famous of them-is the head of St. John the Baptist, resting under the altar of the cathedral of the same name in the monastery of Gandzasar.
For centuries, this monastery has been the cultural and spiritual center, and at end of the XIV century. – The seat of the Catholicos of the Aghvank area.
Gandzasar Monastery “Treasure Mountain” – an outstanding monument of Armenian culture, a monastery of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Located on the left bank of the river Khachen, near the village of Vank in Nagorno-Karabakh. Gandzasar was first mentioned by the Armenian Catholicos Ananias in the middle of the X century. It is a recent and now known temple to be built by Prince Hasan Jalal Dawla “A pious and God-loving man, humble, an Armenian by origin” on the site of the old temple mentioned in the X century and consecrated on July 22, 1240. According to legend, the temple buried in the tomb of Herod the severed head of John the Baptist, brought here from Cilician Armenia during one of the Crusades, because of that the church was named St. Hovhannes Mkrtich (St. John the Baptist).
Lunch in the village of Vank.
Resting.
Examination of areas.
 
 
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Day 3
 
 
Breakfast at the hotel.
Departure with luggage.
Moving to the NKR capital – the city of Stepanakert.

Sightseeing tour.
Continuation of the road leads to a height of 1368 m above sea level, where the foothills of the Karabakh ridge dominate the town of Shushi.
Entrance to the city of Shusha, accommodation in hotel.
Lunch (Karabakh kitchen).
A trip to the Hadrut region of Karabakh.
Moving to the hill Ardzhahpyur, hike to the monastery Katarovank (IV c.) On top of the mountain Dizapayt – a hike of medium difficulty lasting 90-100 minutes.
An interesting story about the monastery: in 335 the king of Maskut Manesan, angry at the conversion to the Christian faith of his three sons, attacked them when they were hiding in the monastery of Katar. The king’s soldiers put all the inhabitants of the monastery to death, which numbered up to 3870 people, including new converts and the princes. Then, on the orders of Manesan all the bodies were burned along with the monastery.
The present-day chapel is a 17th-century structure. It is a single nave basilica constructed from local coarse-cut sandstone.
Return to the hotel. 
Dinner. Overnight.

 
 
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Day 4
 
 
Breakfast at the hotel.
Departure with luggage.
Sightseeing.
Going to church of Kazanchetsots (Cathedral of St. Amenaprkich (St. Saviour)).
The church of St. Kazanchetsots. This marvelous church, is built of white limestone, located in the ancient city of Shusha. The church is entirely decorated with sculptural works that emphasize its majestic appearance. According to ancient manuscripts found in the church, it was built in the years 1868 – 1888.
Next stop – Amaras Monastery, a famous religious and cultural center of medieval Armenia. According to an Armenian historian from the IV-V centuries Faustus of Byzantium, the church of the monastery Amaras was founded at the beginning of the IV century. By St. Gregory the Illuminator.
At the beginning of the V c., the creator of the Armenian alphabet St. Mesrop Mashtots founded the first Armenian school in Amaras, hence also began the spread of the Armenian alphabet.
Being the grandson of St. Gregory the Illuminator, the son of the St. Vrtanes, Bishop Grigoris spread the light of Christianity in the Caucasus.
Disciples of Grigoris secretly brought his remains to Karabakh, where they were buried near the village of Amaras. To avoid abuse of the relics, the burial place was not marked in any way, and eventually forgotten.
The relics of the saint were found in the year 489. How the historians tell it: The king Vachagan the Pious desired to find the graves of saints and went to Amaras accompanied by the clergy and nobles. A priest and Deacon of the king’s had a vision of the place of burial. Following the vision, they found the remains of St. Grigoris, as well as vessels with the relics of St. Panteleimon and St. Zaccaria. Over the relics a chapel was built, which has been preserved to this day, under the altar of the church of Amaras monastery.
According to historian Movses Kaghankatvatsi, the tomb of Bishop Grigoris was anciently worshiped as “sacred place.” Childless couples come here on pilgrimage, taking a handful of the holy land, and then had children.
Moving to Armenia, Syunik region.
Visiting the gorge of the river Vorotan and a journey through the gorge on the world’s longest cableway “Wings of Tatev” to Tatev Monastery (IX c.).
Near the town of Goris, there is a unique monastery complex “Tatev”. Located on the banks of the Vorotan, the monastery is an impregnable fortress due to rocky slopes of the Vorotan Gorge. The name of the monastery was given in honor of St. Eustache (in Armenian – Tatev), a disciple of the Apostle Fadei. Eustace preached Christianity and died for their faith.
Lunch in the village near the monastery.
A trip to Mount Ararat and visiting the monastery complex of Khor Virap (IV – XVII centuries) – the place of imprisonment of St. Gregory – Illuminator Armenian.
At the foot of Mount Ararat on the border with Turkey is the monastery of Khor Virap. From the monastery of Khor Virap is a beautiful view of the biblical Mount Ararat.
The monastery was built in the period from the VI to the XVII century, over the dungeon, where the Baptist St. Gregory the Illuminator was languishing in prison – for the spread of Christianity, until king Tradt decided to adopt this as a state religion. The dungeon where the holy man suffered, was the royal dungeon (“Khor Virap” – “deep hole”). Here in the pit infested with poisonous snakes and scorpions, prisoners were lowered. According to legend, St. Gregory the Illuminator was in the pit for 13 years.
Return to Yerevan, hotel accommodation.
Dinner.Overnight.
 
 
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Day 5
 
 
Breakfast at the hotel. 
Moving to the region of Armavir.

A visit to the monastery complex of Echmiadzin, the treasury of the Armenian Apostolic Church, where, among other artifacts is stored the Spear of Longinus.
Echmiadzin – the spiritual and administrative center of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Here, there are two monasteries from the VII century, St. Hripsime and St. Gayane, these are classic monuments of Armenian architecture. In Echmiadzin the Theological Academy and Seminary is also located.
The founders of the Armenian Church of the Holy Apostles are considered to be – Thaddeus and Bartholomew, known as the first educators of Armenia.
Armenia was the first country in the world to adopt Christianity as a state religion. This happened in 301, during the reign of King Tiridates III, through the work of Gregory I the Illuminator. In 302, Gregory the Illuminator I became the First Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians. He was later canonized. The Church was called by the name of Gregory I.
In 303 Etchmiadzin Cathedral (near Yerevan) was built, which to this day remains the religious center of all Armenians and the seat of the Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians (except for a short period in the XIV-XV centuries.).
The Bible was translated into Armenian in the V century.
The Spear of Destiny – is considered one of the greatest relics of Christianity. According to legend, The Spear of Destiny was brought to Armenia by Apostle Thaddeus. The first Armenian repository of spears became Gegardavank (“the monastery of spears”), and in the XIII century the relic was taken to the treasury of St. Etchmiadzin, where it remains today.
On the territory of the cloister two ancient cross-stone deserve special attention. Khachkar so-called cross-stones, were installed in honor of all major events. One of the cross-stones was carved in XIII, the other in the XVII century. Both are covered with complex patterns and images of animals and birds. It also features a modern Armenian cross-stone monument to victims of the 1915 genocide.
In Echmiadzin there are three more ancient monuments. According to legend these temples were erected in honor of the martyrs – the first Christians who fled from the persecution of the Emperor of Rome. These churches are: St. Hripsime, St. Gayane and St. Shoghakat. Temples were erected on the spot of death of the three holy virgins.
Return to Yerevan.
Lunch Time.
Free time according to the time of departure.
Transfer to the airport.
Departure from the international airport “Zvartnots”.
 

The price includes:

  • All transfers (In comfortable modern minibuses);
  • Staying at the hotel (accommodation in double rooms);
  • Full board: Breakfast (hotel), lunch, dinner (restaurant / menu); and drinks – coffee, tea, water are available on request throughout the trip;
  • Excursions in the program with a professional guide;
  • All entrance fees (museums, galleries, participation in various events);
  • Entry to the Nagorno – Karabakh Republic (Artsakh);
  • During the trip you will be accompanied by a group representative of the
    “Land of Noah”.

The price does not include:

  • Insurance;
  • Personal and other expenses not covered by the program (souvenirs);
  • Airplane ticket (we can help you find the best and most convenient ticket);

Notes:

  • Excursion program first and last days will depend on the time of arrival and departure, as well as days of the week;
  • If you want, you can choose another hotel;
  • The tour can be started from any address in Yerevan;
  • Accommodation in guest houses or camps will depend on the time of year and weather conditions;

At 6 people the price of the tour per person will be €911, when there are less than 6 people, the price per person will increase – when there are more than 6 people the price per person will be lowered.

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