Capital of Armenia- one of the ancient cities in the world. According to researchers and scientists the name of the city comes from the fortress Erebuni which was built by Argishty I, the King of Urartu, in 782 B.C. In 2008 Yerevan celebrated its 2790 – year anniversary . The Cuneiform which was found during excavations of the fortress of Urartu and was situated on the city boundaries, says ,- “ Argishti Menua’s son built this powerful fortress and gave it the name Erebuni for the power of the country Biaini(Urartu) and for the frightening of enemy countries.
Today Yerevan is a modern city with population of 1.200.000. The city is located in the north-eastern part of the Ararat Valley at a height of 900-1300 meter above sea level in the area of 270 square kilometres. Through the city flows the Hrazdan River. Yerevan is the political, economical, cultural and scientific center of Armenia. The museums of Yerevan are of special value for guests of the city. The most remarkable of them are the Matenadaran – the depository of ancient manuscripts, the History Museum of Armenia, the National Picture Gallery, and the Museum-Fortress Erebuni, the Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of Folk Art, the Museum of Russian Painting, Children’s Picture Gallery. There are a lot of theatres and concert halls for theatre and music lovers , the main of which is one of the most monumental architectural buildings of Yerevan -the building of National Opera and Ballet. There are also modern hotels, great number of restaurants, cafes, cinemas, casinos and night clubs, the Water Park , Botanical Garden and Zoo for the guests of the capital. Everywhere in the city there are markets and trades of skilled craftsmen in the open air which give the city a unique eastern color.
Khor Virap – The monastery complex of Khor Virap is located just on the border of Armenia with Turkey, on the hill which is in the front side of Mt. Ararat. In the 4th century on the site of pit of ancient Armenian capital Artashat one of the first Armenian churches was built here. Gregory The Illuminator , the First Patriarch of Armenian Church, was imprisoned exactly in this deep cave and spent here more than 14 years for his devotedness to the Christianity . From the hillside where the monastery Khor Virap was built , you can watch the majestic view of Ararat. According to the biblical legend the Noah’s Ark landed on the top of Ararat.
It is the administrative and spiritual center of Armenian Apostolic Church. The Cathedral, Spiritual Academy, Synod of the Armenian Church, Treasury, Library, printing-house and other monastery structures are placed on the territory of Saint Echmiadzin. The Cathedral of St. Echmiadzin is the oldest Christian temple of Armenia and one of the first temples in the world. If we translate the word “Echmiadzin” from Armenian it means ” the site of descent of the begotten”. The foundation of the temple was laid in 301 on the place pointed by Gregory The Illuminator. According to the legend the First Patriarch of Armenia saw the Christ in his dream who showed the site where the first Armenian temple should be constructed. The cathedral preliminary built in the form of Basilica was reconstructed in 483 and then it had a cross-like shape crowned with wooden dome. It was replaced with stones in the 7th century. This composition of the cathedral facade is preserved without any changes up to now. In the 17th century a three-tier belfry was arranged in front of the cathedral’s western entrance and six-column rotundas were erected above Northern, Southern and Eastern conches in the 18th century. The frescos of the cathedral also belong to the period of 18th century. Three more monuments of Armenian classical architecture can also be seen in Echmiadzin : Churches of St. Hripsime, Gayane and Shoghakat were built on the site of torturous death of first Christian women who according to the legend came here at the end of the 3rd Century from Roman Empire. The Cathedral of St. Hripsime was built in the 7th Century and is a pattern of perfection of Armenian church architecture. The Cathedral is triumphal and has a crystal brightness. The construction of St. Gayane temple also dates back to 7th century. Erected in the form of domelike basilica the temple was completely renovated in 17th century. The construction of St. Shoghakat Cathedral built on the place of 4th century chapel belongs to the 17th century as well.
The Temple of Vigil Forces or Zvartnots built in the 7th century not far from Echmiadzin is perhaps the most imposing construction of Armenia’s church architecture of early medieval period. The three-storied building of the temple with the height of 30 m is different due to courageous architectural decision and richness of decorations. The composition of equal-end cross, inscribed in the circle, was laid in the basis of the structure. The construction of the temple unfortunately could not bear the severe earthquake of the 10th century which destroyed this unique architectural monument. Nevertheless the ruins of the temple allow to judge about its grandness and richness of the relief decorations.
It is an administrative center of Aragatsotn region which is spread at the bottom of Mt. Aragats on both slopes of the picturesque gorge of Kasakh River. Ashtarak is rich in architectural monuments of early and late Middle Ages. The most significant monuments are Tsiranavor Basilica (5th century), Churches Karmravor (7th century), St. Marine (13th century) and the three-arch bridge across Kasakh River (17th century).
Oshakan. The church with the tomb of Armenian literacy creator Mesrop Mashtots is situated here. The Armenian alphabet which Armenians use up to nowadays was created by this scientist in 405.
The Monastery complexes of Saghmosavank and Ohanavank constructed in the 13-14th centuries are located on the edge of the picturesque gorge of Kasakh River at the distance of 5 km from each other. The first one of these temples was famous for its library and possesses an excellent acoustics. The second one is significant for refined decorations and the biggest belfry-rotunda in Armenia.
Fortress-castle Amberd being the family property of Pakhlavouni princes is located on the southern slope of Aragats Mount at the height of 2300 m above sea level. The fortress preserved in relatively good conditions with adjacent to its territory is erected on the inaccessible plateau the slopes of which are steeply inclined down to the deep gorge.
The Monastery Noravank is situated at the edge of curvy canyon among fantastic sheer red rocks. The most significant construction of the architectural monument is church of the Blessed Virgin built in the 14th century by talented sculptor and miniaturist Momik. The peculiarities of this highly artistic monument of the medieval Armenian architecture are the unique relief images of Godfather blessing the crucifixion of Christ on the window tympanum of St. Karapet church vestibule and Godmother with the infant and archangels Michael and Gabriel as well as waist-high image of Christ and figures of Apostles Paul and Peter on the walls of the Blessed Virgin church. On the territory of the monastery many khachkars (“cross-stones”) are preserved among them the creations with Momik’s tracery carving is distinguished.
Gladzor University, one of the most famous educational centers of medieval Armenia was established on the territory of Vayk in the beginning of 1280. There were accepted and taught. such classical disciplines as Divinity, Grammar, Rhetorics, Logics, Arithmetics, Geometry, Astronomy and Music in medieval Armenia The book depository of the University contained thousand volumes of Greek and Armenian books which were sufficient to get comprehensive education in the course of 7-8 year- studying in the University.
The coasts of Lake Sevan , the blue pearl of Armenia, are rich in architectural monuments of various periods. On the top of the rocky island of the lake a monastery surrounded with high fortified wall with many solid structures was found. Churches of St. Astvatsatsin and Apostles are preserved up to nowadays. There are also the ruins of Urartian fortress dating back to the 8th century B.C. and other historical monuments on the coast of the lake.
The medieval cemetery with good preserved khachkars (cross-stones) of the 10-16th century is located at the edge of community Noradouz on the shore of Lake Sevan. Among these khachkars there are a lot of highly-artistic compositions. Khachkar is a typical Armenian work of sculptural art. It is a stone stela with the cross image occupying the central part of the whole composition of the sculpture. The upper and lateral borders of the khachkar are covered with vegetable or geometric ornaments.
The impregnable citadel located on the rocky triangular ledge at the edge of the deep gorge of river Azat served as the royal summer- residence from the 3rd century B.C. up to the 4th century A.D. The area of the citadel is a real archeological museum under open sky. The exceptional structure of the architectural complex is the pagan temple of the sun (1st century A.D.) which represents a classical construction of antique era: rectangular construction surrounded with 24 ionic columns from all sides. The walls, cornice and caps of the temple are decorated with rich ornaments, graffiti and bas-reliefs.
Upstream of Azat River lies Geghard monastery, glorious for its rocky architecture. This splendid monument of medieval Armenian architecture constructed in the 12-13th centuries stands on the slope of reserved natural amphitheatre of sheer rocks encircled by severe and divine nature. The churches of the monastery and the funerary chamber of royal family who owned the monastery are carved in monolithic rock and are the result of architect Galdzak’s work. The structures of the temple are struck by architectural forms-shapes and by luxurious sculptural trimming. The territory of monastery is covered with highly artistic khachkars.
The resort city Tsakhkadzor (Gorge of flowers) is cosily disposed in picturesque lumber valley bordered with Pambak Mountain Range. This is the beloved resort place of the Armenians and guests. The Monastery Complex Kecharis (11-13th centuries), being the former big spiritual center of medieval Armenia with the school is located just in the center of the city. The proportionality of temple structures adds not only beauty but also majesty to this construction.
The architectural complex of Sanahin Monastery is located on small plateau near the gorge of Debed River flowing through Lori region. It is an amazing land of wooded mountains and deep gorges, alpine meadows and impetuous mountainous streams. For 4 centuries starting from 10th up to 13th centuries Armenian architects of various generations created wonderful constructions on the relatively small territory. Churches of St. Astvatsatsin , Amenaprkich and St. Gregory, erected in different periods, as well as gallery buildings, academies, book depositories and belfry are distinguished due to immaculate assemblage, integrity of compositional intention and uniformity. For centuries Sanahin Monastery Complex had been considered as an educational center of medieval Armenia. The Academy of Humanitarian sciences and medical college where many outstanding scientists and representatives of national culture worked were functioning here. Sanahin bridge is an eminent architectural construction of the 12th century according to its engineering-artistic peculiarities. This one-span arch bridge crosses Debed River. Its semi-circular arch has the span of 18 m; the height of the mean section of the bridge above water is 12 m. The high quality of stone laying under faultless engineering calculation gave the excellent firmness thanks to which it continues to serve to people up-to-day.
The Monastery of Haghpat, one more distinguishing creation of Armenian architects, is situated on the plateau in front of Sanahin Monastery. The structures of this architectural complex constructed in the 11-13th centuries belong to such monuments the artistic level and scientific significance of which are beyond the national boundaries. The latter circumstance was assumed as the basis for UNESCO to include Haghpat Monastery into worldwide cultural heritage of humanity. The churches of St. Astvatsatsin, St. Nshan, St. Gregory, dining hall, book depository and belfry are numbered as the monuments of Haghpat Monastery. The attendants of Haghpat high school had lectures on divinity, humanitarian sciences and painting.
Tatev Monastery, the biggest religious and educational center of Medieval Armenia, stretches at the edge of deep gorge of Vorotan River, near the village having the same name. The architectural complex perfectly harmonizes with surrounding it landscape of mountainous Syunik region. The main structure of Tatev Monastery is the temple of Peter and Paul Archangels constructed in the 9th century as well as St. Gregory church with adjacent gallery serving as a university building; other adjacent structures were erected in successive centuries. The prosperity of Tatev University was observed in the 14th century when according to the evidence of present scientists functioned three departments: the first for music teaching, the second for painting art and the third for external (pagan) and inner (church) sciences.
Monastery of Haghartsin erected in 11-13th centuries by several generations of Armenian architects is spread over on the emerald plain forsaken among forests of Dilijan Reserve. Churches of St. Astvatsatsin, St. Stephan, St. Gregory, the funerary chamber of Bagratuni royal family, the dining hall and other monastic buildings are skillfully inscribed in the surrounding wonderful landscape named “Armenian Switzerland”.
Upstream of River Aghstev on the slope of the gorge overgrown by oak forest, lies the Monastery of Nor Getik or Goshavank. The churches of St. Astvatsatsin, The Gregory Illuminator, the book depository with belfry, the school building and the galleries were created in the 12-13th centuries. The monastery had the fame of big educational center of Medieval Armenia connected with Mkhitar Gosh’s name, the author of remarkable fables and law book which had been serving to justice not only in Armenia but also in neighboring Georgia for centuries. There is also big quantity of original khachkars preserved on the territory of the monastery.
Not far from Akhuryan River which serves as a natural border between Armenia and Turkey, in ancient community Yereruyk, the walls of the 5th century basilica, bearing the same name, are preserved. This imposing three-nave basilica is one of the oldest Christian constructions of Armenia and even though only the remains stand it was not essentially modified. The basilica is a rectangular hall divided into three aisles by two rows of columns. Regardless of its dilapidated state Yereruyk Basilica is very interesting from archeological viewpoint.
Monastery Complex Harich which served as the summer-residence of Armenian Catholics in 19th century, is located on the rocky height at the bottom of Western slope of Mt. Aragats. The main constructions of the monastery – St. Astvatsatsin Church, St. Gregory Church, the chapel on the top of the rock, which deflected from main monoliths during the earthquake, were erected in different periods: 7-13th centuries.
Built in 10-11th centuries Monastery of Marmashen stretches on the valley of Akhuryan River. The cathedral church of the architectural complex is the integrate and complete embodiment of cross-like doom concept in the doom hall which is the beloved principle of Armenian medieval architecture.
City-resort Jermuk is situated in the south-eastern part of Armenia at the height of 1980-2070 metres above sea level. The name of the city is translated as “mineral spring”. The resort is located in the upper Arpa River in the two flat plateaus divided by a pictorial gorge over which a beautiful arched bridge is built. The city is surrounded by mountains covered with a deciduous wood and alpine meadows. The climate of the city is high-mountainous, with gently cold winter and gently warm summer. The adornment of the nature of the area is an exclusively beautiful waterfall dashing from the height of 70 metres. The main medical factors of the resort are the mineral waters which are used for inside and for outside use, as well as the natural-climatic conditions of the high-mountainous region.
In the north-eastern part of Armenia at the turn of the three pictorial mountainous valleys is situated a nook of nature of rare beauty. Since olden days there has existed a proverb in Armenia:”If there were woods, hills and springs in paradise, paradise would look like Dilijan”. City-resort Dilijan with all its countryside called “Armenian Switzerland” is a national reserve. It spreads out at the height of 1250-1500 meters above sea level by the banks of stormy Axstev River. The gorge of the Dilijan reserve is bordered from all sides with Caucasian chain of mountains covered with deciduous and coniferous forests. The climate of the region is soft, with cool summers and warm winters. The natural-climatic conditions of Dilijan are similar to those of Davos in Switzerland and Russian Kislavodsk. In the neighborhood of Dilijan which is worthy of the painter’s brush one can see the masterpieces of medieval architecture of Armenia- monasteries Haghartsin and Goshavank, raised apart from the populated area, surrounded by the primeval forest and marvelous mountainous scenery.
The pearl of Armenia – Lake Sevan, is located in the north-eastern part of Armenia at the height of 1900 metres above sea level. In opinion of many experienced travelers the Sevan is the most high-mountainous from the nice lakes and the most beautiful from the high-mountainous lakes of the world. Armenian proverb says: ”Sevan is so wonderful that one wants to sink in it”. This wonder of the nature was a source of inspiration of many poets, writers and painters of Armenian generation who devoted to it wonderful works of literature and art. “The huge cup” full of sweet water is bordered by mountainous tops of Caucasia. The length of the lake is 70 km, the most wide place is 30 km, a small depth-80m. The lakeside of Sevan is a favourite place for summer rest for inhabitants and guests of Armenia. Fresh air, sunny weather, clean water and golden sand create ideal conditions for the rest at the shore of the lake.