THE LAND OF GREAT CONTRASTS

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Sustainable Tour (10 days, 9 nights)

Route: Yerevan (city Sightseeing, National Gallery), Ararat region (Khor Virap), Gegharkunik region (Sevan, Sevan, Noratus, Ayrivank), Artsakh – District Karvachar (Handaberd, Dzhermadzhur, Dadivank), Martakert region (Jraberd, Yerits Mankants monastery, village of Vank, Gandzasar) Askeran region (“Nikol Duman” Askeran, Tigranakert, Stepanakert), Shushi (Kazanchetsots church, fortress Shushi, gorge of Unot) Hadrut region (village Toh, Gtchavank medieval bridges “Alevori Kamurj” and “Abunts gel ‘), Syunik region (Tatev), Vayots Dzor region (Noravank, Areni village), Armavir region (Echmiadzin, Zvartnots).

Description

Two absolutely extraordinary worlds – a warm sunny Armenia and the proud magic of Artsakh!
The appearance of Armenia is special and unique. Strict and majestic, this country emits a wise way of thinking that allows you to feel a harmonious unity with nature, to understand the true meaning of life.
Armenia – the oldest country – has always been at the crossroads of routes connecting Europe and Asia. It is not only the world’s first Christian state, but also one of the earliest countries of the world – in the IX-VI centuries BC in Armenia was the powerful state of Urartu.
Since then, all ages that have swept over this ancient land, have left their mark on it. Therefore, the number of monuments of history and culture of this country can be considered one of the most interesting in the Old World. No wonder Armenia is called an “open air museum”. Here you can see traces of almost all ancient civilizations of old, numerous monuments of art and architecture make the country a storage and exhibition of masterpieces of the culture of the past.
It has a magnificent nature, due to which the region is rightly called “Little Switzerland”, majestic mountain ranges and picturesque canyons, virgin forests, rich with wild fruits and berries, magical singing of birds, icy mountain springs with medicinal waters and invigorating air …
The unique beauty of the nature of Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh), worthy of the brush of the artist, rich historical heritage, gray-haired mountains, lush alpine meadows, dense forests, fleeting mountain streams, and the pearl of the lake have long attracted tourists to this enchanting region of centenarians. Hospitable owners live on this generous land, sowing wheat, vineyards and mulberry gardens.

Nagorno-Karabakh is rich with historical and cultural values. On the territory of the Republic are at the moment 10,000 reminders to history and culture, including 2,000 archaeological memorials (caves, settlements, mausoleums, cemeteries), more than 1,500 architectural memorials (churches, monasteries, fortresses, defenses, chapels, bridges) and more than 5000 monumental memorials (cross-stones, tombstones, epigraphs).

Day 1
 
 
Arrival in Yerevan.
Meeting at the international airport “Zvartnots” with a representative of the company “Land of Noah”.
Transfer and accommodation at the hotel in Yerevan. 
Lunch Time.

Sightseeing tour in Yerevan – one of the oldest cities in the world. You will see the central streets of the Yerevan Opera House, the cascading staircase, the Victory Bridge “Mother Armenia”, Tsitsernakaberd (memorial to the victims of the Armenian Genocide in 1915), the stadium and the Hrazdan gorge.
Armenia – a wonderful country that inspires creativity. In Armenia Osip Mandelstam, Shostakovich, Rockwell Kent and many other prominent masters worked. Armenia and its culture served as a source of inspiration for George Byron, Andrew White, Franz Werfel, Francis Zhamma, Peyo Yavorov and others. The picturesque and mysterious nature of Armenia awaken new feelings in your soul.
A visit to the Art Gallery. The National Gallery of the country includes a large museum complex on the Republic Square. The exhibits of the Art Gallery of Armenia hold more than 20,000 works of art. The museum presents the most complete collection of paintings by Aivazovsky.
The National Gallery of Armenia presents Auguste Rodin, Peter Paul Rubens, Marc Chagall, Wassily Kandinsky, Georges Braque, Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin, Isaac Levitan, famous Armenian painter Hovhannes (Ivan) Aivazovsky, Martiros Saryan, and others.
Next is an evening walk on the Republic Square to the “singing fountain”, admiring the magnificent view of the city from the top of the Yerevan Cascade complex, which is one of the most popular attractions of the city.
Return to the hotel.
Dinner. Overnight.
 
 
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Day 2
 
 
Breakfast at the hotel. 
Departure with luggage.

Armenia can be considered as the most favorable area for ecotourism.
Armenia is located at an altitude of 390 – 4090 m above sea level, and includes an infinite variety of nature, starting with natural stones, to deciduous forests and meadows. On each square meter you can see more than 100 species of plants, which by the world standards is a record number.
A trip to the Ararat valley.
Excursion to the monastery of Khor Virap, which translated from Armenian means “deep hole”, in which for many years was locked up the future first Catholicos of the Armenian Apostolic Church St. Gregory the Illuminator. The monastery is located opposite of Mount Ararat (5165 m.), where the state border between Armenia and Turkey is. From the walls of the monastery you are offered a panoramic view of the majestic mountain.
Excursion to the summer residence of Armenian kings – the fortress of Garni (III century BC. – XIII c. BC), a pagan temple of the Sun (I century), built by king Trdat in 77 – The only surviving Hellenistic temple on the territory of the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States).
A trip to the monastery Gegardavank.
Examination of the unique cave (carved into the rock) of Geghard (XII-XIII century),
several buildings of which some have unsurpassed acoustics.

A trip to the ancient relict Lake Sevan – “The Pearl of Armenia” or “Geghama Sea” – one of the largest freshwater lakes in the world.
This true miracle of nature is located in the heart of the Armenian plateau, in a huge mountain bowl framed by picturesque mountain ranges at an altitude of 1900 m. The origin of the lake comes from the Geghama ridge volcano. Lava erupted about 250 thousand years ago, the ancient river valley stemmed. The resulting depression began to fill with meltwater from glaciers and snowfields surrounding ridges, and later river water. These stunning views are impossible not to admire. In addition, there is a reign of pure mountain air with the freshness of the sea breeze. The area around the lake – a protected area of the National Park. The harsh and peculiar beauty of Lake Sevan is remembered for a long time. Especially because it is surrounded by numerous temples started in a very unique style of Armenian architecture.
Visiting the Monastery of Sevan (IX c.) – A monument of early medieval Armenian architecture on the Sevan peninsula. In those ancient times, the peninsula was a lonely island. It was separated from the coast by about 3 km of clear water, in which there were many fish, a fishery, in which lived a monastic cloister. Monks settled here at the end of the VIII century, they built a chapel and several cells. The position of the island was so convenient that the increased amount of monks began to build a monastery on the island. Initially, they placed rocks around the island shelf and put down large stone blocks. The fence was built around the island and on the fence a watchtower was built with a small gate. After that three churches, cells and outbuildings were built.
Today only the monastery, built in the IX century, and only two churches – St. Arakelots and Astvatsatsin remain standing among the many ancient khachkars. The church buildings were built of solid stone called black tuff, hence that is why the name of the monastery is believed to be “Sevan” – “Black monastery”.
Recreation at Lake Sevan (bathing, catamarans, boats, fishing opportunities). 
Dinner at the lake.
Accommodation at the hotel. Overnight.

 
 
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Day 3
 
 
Breakfast at the hotel.
Departure with luggage.
A scenic road runs along Lake Sevan, absolutely not tiring, and its very quality makes it possible not to be distracted from the azure beauty of the lake.
Visiting the village of Noratus.
Not far from the monastery Ayrivank, on the shore of Lake Sevan is the village Noratus with the largest known cemetery of cross-stones. On this small area, there are about 900 cross-stones of different eras and styles. This is one of the largest collections of Armenian cross-stones. A characteristic feature of the majority of cross-stones is a cross with a sun disk underneath. The rest of the stone is decorated with images of leaves, bunches of grapes, pomegranates or abstract patterns. Many cross-stones are mounted on special grounds. Most cross-stones in the cemetery of Noratus date from the XIII – XVII centuries, the oldest date back to the VII century.
Moving to Artsakh through Vardenis-Sotk-Karvachar in the Karvachar region of Nagorno-Karabakh.
The history of Artsakh-Karabakh dates back to time immemorial. In different periods of history the land was called: Urtekhe, Urtekhini, Orkhistene, Artsakh, Khachen, Karabakh.
On the territory of the region about 10,000 historical and architectural monuments are recorded, including dozens of monasteries and hundreds of churches.
In addition to the historical and architectural monuments the region is known for its natural resources – dense, virgin forests, rapid mountain rivers, small but very picturesque waterfalls and hot mineral springs. All this provides an excellent opportunity to relax in the Karvachar region not only for lovers of antiquity, but also fans of extreme tourism such as hiking, horseback riding and traveling on mountain rivers.
The flora of Nagorno-Karabakh is diverse. Here there are about 2 thousand species of plants. Forest glades in large numbers grow plants with fragrant flowers. Above the forest belt, and alpine parts are the typical tundra plants. The fauna of the region is also very diverse.
On the territory of the Karvachar region are numerous hot springs, among which the most famous are in the village Dzhermadzhur (at 12 km. From Karvachar) and Zuari village (22 km from the monastery Dadivank). The first is known for its healing properties. The geyser near the village of Zuari is a natural “Jacuzzi” with limestone deposits, with a diameter of about 2.5 meters and a depth of more than a meter in the center of which there is hot mineral water. The water temperature in this natural “Jacuzzi” is the same even in the coldest days, meaning that there is no risk to your health.
Visit to the hot mineral water source Dzhermadzhur (with the composition and curative properties similar to the water source close to Karlovy Vary and Jermuk).
Lunch Time.
The Karvachar district occupies the north-western part of the NCR. There are numerous monuments of architecture, showing the role played by this corner of Artsakh in Armenian history. Among the most famous monuments is included the Monastery of Dadivank and Handaberd fortress, in the village Zar.
Going down the stream after leaving the village and before you reach the crossroads leading to Qarvachar, you find yourself in a place that leaves a long aftertaste. On one side of the road until Getavan is a torrent of rushing waters of the river Tartar, and on the other – are massive amounts of mountains covered with greenery. But the most impressive is to the front: just 300 meters from the road leading from Karvachar to Getavan, as if from the depths of centuries appears one of the oldest Armenian monasteries – Dadivank. Immediately you will not understand what you are feeling, from the air, the odors – from the past or from the future, but it seems that it always wanted you to come here.
A famous monument of the Armenian culture is Dadivank Monastery (IV-XIII century) in the north of the Martakert region. According to the legend one of the disciples of the apostle Thaddeus, Dadi or Dado was martyred in Artsakh for preaching Christianity. It is known that the first preachers of Christianity in Armenia appeared in the 1st century AD and the first sanctuary-martyrium monastery was built in the early Middle Ages over the grave of the preacher Dadi, who died in 1st century.
Dinner.
Accommodation and overnight at the guest house in the Karvachar district.

 
 
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Day 4
 
 
Breakfast at the hotel. 
Departure with luggage.

Moving to the Martakert region, visiting the medieval fortress Jraberd – “Fortress on the water” (VII c.), Located on a cliff above the beds of the two rivers – Tsure (tartar) and Trhi.
Lunch.
Jraberd – one of the oldest fortresses in northeastern Armenia. The fortress was built in the period of the Armenian royal dynasty of Arshakuni.
Jraberd fortress was first mentioned in the work of early-medieval Armenian historian Movses Kaghankatvatsi. Jraberd rulers were alternated between Armenian (princely) clans Vahtangyan, Hasan-Jalalyan, Melik Israelian, Melik-Alaverdyan and Atabekyan.
The ruins survived up until the present time; military and economic structures were preserved in the castle gates. Under Jraberd fortress a tunnel was dug. Near the fortress an Armenian monastery from the XVI-XVII centuries is located. Yerits Mankants Monastery, where Armenian khachkars are preserved (stones sculptured into a cross).
Transfer to the monastery complex “Erits mankants” (XVII – XVIII centuries) Or Yerits Mankants Monastery (Monastery of the three children).
Yerits Mankants Monastery or Erits Mankants (Monastery of the three children) – XVII century, is located in the Martakert region. The monastery is located 7 kilometers from Jraberd. Built around 1691, it is an outstanding example of architecture of Artsakh in the late Middle Ages, which in the XVII century experienced a rise after a period of decline in the XIV-XVI centuries. Monastery Yerits Mankants was built by the lords of Jraberd, the princely family of Melik Israelian competed with the rulers Khachen – the family of Hasan Dzhalalelyan patronized the monastery and the patriarchal throne in Gandzasar.
Transfer to the village of Vank.
Check in at the hotel.
Dinner at the restaurant. Overnight.
 
 
4,5.1  Yerits Mankats Monastery 4,5.4
 
 
Day 5
 
 
Breakfast at the hotel.
Visiting Gandzasar
Monastery, an outstanding monument of Armenian culture, an active monastery of the Armenian Apostolic Church.
According to legend, the monastery received its name from the mountain, which locals call Gandzasar, because of the silver mines in it. 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).
Moving to the village of Tsahkashat, Askeran region. A visit to the ethnic complex of “Nikol Duman”, lunch on site.
On the territory of the ethnographic quarter is the home – a museum of one of the heroes of the national liberation movement of the Armenian people, from the end of the XIX century to the beginning of XX century, of Nikol Duman (Nikoghayos Ter-Hovhannisyan). One of the halls of the house is a museum dedicated to his life and work. It demonstrates maps and diagrams illustrating the liberation movement of the Armenians, the exploits of the Fedayee Defenders of the Fatherland, authentic samples of weapons and other military accessories of the XIX century, used by the Armenian Fedayee.
On the territory of the museum are also renovated farm buildings of that era.
Visiting the excavations of the ancient city Tigranakert.
Inspection of the Tigranakert fortress and Museum.

Presumably the town was founded in the 1st century BC by Tigran the Great.
The town was built on Mount Vankasar, and because of the steepness of the hill for the construction terraces were cut. The acropolis of the city was built at a large source that provides the population with water. Limestone served as the building material. The city occupies about 50 acres and could accommodate several thousand people, which was average for an ancient city. Tigranakert consisted of three parts: in the upper part there were palaces, then – the central quarter, and at the bottom – the walled quarter – it all together had the form of a triangle.
The restored part of Tigranakert is really impressive. Blocks of ocher literally shine under the Artsakh sun, you can imagine the city filled with soldiers after the battle, the villagers with food, on the streets you will hear the chattering of children, and in numerous workshops weapons being forged.
Sightseeing tour of the capital of Nagorno-Karabakh Stepanakert.
Moving to the city of Shushi.
Check in at the hotel.
Dinner.Overnight.
 
 
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Day 6
 
 
Breakfast at the hotel.
Tour of the city of Shushi.
Visit to the cathedral of Kazanchetsots, castle of Unot and the gorge of Shushi.
In this city, the sense of time and space are blurred. All around are the old houses, churches and mosques which were built more than a century ago and some even earlier.
Shushi city is located on an unapproachable stone plateau. It has been inhabited since ancient times, but a full-fledged castle was founded here in the XVIII century. Then the city became the capital of the Karabakh khanate, and later, in the XIX century, with the arrival of the Russian crown – the center of the same county and a major cultural and economic hub of all the Caucasus. The rapid economic growth of the early twentieth century stimulated the urban development boom that has defined the unique architectural face of the city. This intimate flavor in the form of old houses, cobbled streets, arches, springs and squares are still present in the city. Shushi – a place with unique energy.
Next is a lunch at a family restaurant down in the valley of the river Karkar. The name in Armenian translates literally as “stone-stone” – it is a very rocky river. A narrow canyon formed by steep cliffs, hides a lot of interesting things – ruins of an ancient settlement, with a preserved stone mill house and medieval bridge.
Walking through the canyon.
One of the attractions of the city is the fortress of Shushi. The walls of the citadel have survived to this day.
The main architectural masterpiece of Artsakh is the church of St. Amenaprkich Kazanchetsots.
The church of St. Kazanchetsots. This marvelous church, built of white limestone, is located in the ancient city of Shushi. 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 of 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 century the creator of the Armenian alphabet St. Mesrop Mashtots founded in Amaras the first Armenian school, hence also began to spread the Armenian alphabet.
Return to the hotel.
Dinner. Overnight.
 
 
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Day 7
 
 
Breakfast at the hotel.
Visiting the monastery of Gtchavank (or Gtich Vank (XIII c.)).
In the basin of the north-eastern is the slope of Mount Tohasar (Aratsaha in the Hadrut region) among the dense forests is the famous monastery Gtchavank, the dome of which is surveyed well from afar.
Gtchavank has long been one of the political and spiritual centers of the eastern edge of Armenia. As a diocesan center the monastery was under the protection of Aranshakhiks, then, from the VIII century – by the Dizak. Located in the neighborhood of the fortress Ktish in the IX century was the seat of Esai Abu Musa. In the X century a castle here became the base of the Dizak kingdom.
In the middle of the XIII century the monastery was expanded with new buildings, and in the times of Dizak Melikov, especially under the rule of Melik Avan, or Yegana, it became one of the famous monasteries throughout Armenia.
It is adjoined by the church porch, which is much older than the church itself. The floor of the porch is covered with tombstones of priests of the monastery and several of the Melikov. The plates are decorated with beautiful and graceful ornamental laces and have inscriptions. The monastery played a great role in the cultural life of Artsakh. As the main spiritual and educational center of the Dizak for centuries, the monastery remained so until the beginning of the XIX century.
According to its architectural quality and the crucial role in the cultural life of Artsakh Gtchavank monastery ranks with such masterpieces of Armenian church architecture such as Gandzasar and Dadivank.
Inspection of the medieval bridge “Alevori Kamurj” and “Abunts gel.”
Lunch Time.
A visit to the forge.
Moving to the city of Stepanakert.
A visit to the Museum of History.
Tour of the capital of Artsakh
Return to the hotel.
Dinner.Overnight.
 
 
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Day 8
 
 
Breakfast at the hotel. 
Leaving with luggage.

Moving to the Syunik region in Armenia.
Visiting the gorge of the river Vorotan journey through the gorge on the world’s longest cableway “Wings of Tatev” to Tatev Monastery (IX c.).

Going through the Vorotan Pass (2400m).
Seeing of the symbolic Syunik gates.
A magnificent panorama of the Syunik mountains.
The Tatev Monastery is located in the heart of the Syunik region, in the village of the same name, on the right, is the high bank of the river Vorotan. Before climbing this breathtaking height it is necessary to descend into the 500-meter canyon Vorotan. We will stay at a natural bridge (two banks of rivers converge, forming a kind of bridge), in the hot mineral springs and then climb up the mountain road. In a few turns you can see the monastery – a powerful and unassailable stronghold which stands on a rocky cliff.
Riding the world’s longest cable car (5.7 kilometers) to the monastery of Tatev. Above a magnificent landscape of mountains and serpentine roads. Ascent / descent 15 minutes.
Tour of the Tatev monastery (IX-XVII centuries) – spiritual and cultural center of medieval Armenia, famous for its university (XIV-XV centuries.), an inspirer of the national-liberation of Syunik Armenians against the Iranian and Ottoman invaders (XVIII c.).
The route passes amidst beautiful mountains and canyons toward the monastery of Noravank (XII-XV c.) – the spiritual center of the principality of Orbelian, where prominent Armenian figures of medieval culture lived and worked.
During the reign of the princes of Orbelian the monastery became a major religious center, and in the XIII – XIV centuries the residence of Syunik’s bishops and, accordingly, major religious and, later, cultural center of Armenia closely connected with many local institutions – especially the famous university and library Gladzor. According to legend, in Noravank a piece of a cross is hidden, covered with the blood of Christ.
Noravank, thanks to the magnificent creations of medieval architects and its location in the beautiful landscape, leaves a lasting impression. In 2002 the church was completely restored and is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Return to Yerevan.
Check in at hotel.
Dinner.Overnight.
 
 
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Day 9
 
 
Breakfast at the hotel.
A trip to Yerevan fair “Vernissage”.
It is interesting that at the Yerevan “Vernissage” you can buy anything, not just the picture, as one would think, based on the title. Of course, there are also the wonderful paintings by local artists, national souvenirs and icons, Cezve Coffee and coffee makers, cheap crafts and expensive Antiquities, jewelry and other handicrafts made of wood, precious stones, silver and other materials. And remember – a bargain at the “Vernissage” – is a tradition!
Visiting the Oriental market.
Purchase.
Lunch Time.
Free time.
Evening walk to the “singing fountain.”
Return to the hotel.
Dinner.Overnight.
 
 
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Day 10
 
 
Breakfast at the hotel.
A trip to the old capital of Armenia Vagharshapat.
Tour on the territory of the Catholicos, the residence of the Catholicos of the Armenian Apostolic Church and a visit to the St. Echmiadzin Cathedral (St. Echmiadzin, 303 AD), whose name translates as “The Descent of the Only-begotten” or “The Place of the descent of Christ”.
Visiting the museum “Treasury of Echmiadzin”.
Making acquaintance with monuments of Armenian architecture: the church of St. Hripsime (VII c.) and the Temple of Vigil Forces, Zvartnots (VII c.).
Saint Hripsime temple, built in the VII century, stands at the entrance to the city Vagarshapat and is part of the Echmiadzin Monastery. Here are the relics of St. Hripsime, who, according to legend, did not renounce the Christian faith and was killed by pagans. This temple is considered a masterpiece of Armenian architecture and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Echmiadzin – one of the most beautiful cities of Armenia, known from the II century BC, the center of the Armenian Gregorian Church and the residence of the Catholicos.
Visiting the ruins of the Zvartnots Temple (VII century), destroyed by an earthquake in the year 939.
Return to Yerevan.
Lunch.
Check out with luggage.
Transfer to the airport “Zvartnots”.
Departure from Yerevan.
 

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);
  • 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 your arrival and departure, as well as days of the week;
  • If you wish, you can choose any other hotel;
  • The tour can be started from any desired address in Yerevan;

At 6 people the price of the tour per person will be €1555, 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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