5 things you didn't know about Armenia
Armenia isn’t your typical holiday destination. In fact, this former Soviet republic has only recently thrown open its doors to tourists, and most places aren’t particularly geared up for visitors. But that’s all part of the appeal – tour Armenia and you’ll get a real insight into local life.
You’ll witness age-old traditions and customs. You’ll sample dishes you won’t find anywhere else, made from recipes that have been handed down from generation to generation. You’ll see sights you would never expect (a stark medieval monastery standing on an otherwise barren mountainside, or a pagan temple that wouldn’t look out of place in the centre of Rome).
If you’re looking to explore somewhere a little off the beaten tourist trail, our holidays to Armenia and Georgia might be just what you’re looking for. You’ll get to experience the wonders of both countries, with the reassurance and peace of mind that comes with an escorted tour.
For more inspiration, here are five things you might not have known about Armenia…
It was the world’s first Christian nation
Armenia was something of a religious trailblazer back in AD 301, when it became the first country in the world to adopt Christianity as its state religion. With churches, monasteries and cathedrals scattered across the country, it’s no surprise that Armenia has earned itself the nickname ‘land of churches’. We visit some beautiful ones on our Armenia holidays, including Khor Virap monastery (overlooked by Mount Ararat, supposedly the resting place of Noah’s Ark), and the cathedral in Echmiadzin, thought to be the oldest in the world.
Its capital recently celebrated its 2,800th birthday
Yerevan, Armenia’s capital city, is one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world. In 2018, it marked its 2,800th birthday (that’s a lot of candles!), although remains of settlements from even earlier have been found. Despite its mature age, Yerevan is surprisingly modern, with Soviet-era architecture (often with a rose hue thanks to the local volcanic rock used) and a cosmopolitan downtown district. On our Yerevan city tour, we’ll introduce you to Armenian culture with visits to Cafesjian Centre for the Arts and a traditional carpet-making workshop, plus a cooking masterclass.
Brandy is big business
While neighbouring Georgia is all about wine, Armenia’s tipple of choice is brandy – it’s supposedly been distilled here since the 12th century. Around 20 million litres a year are produced, distilled using only indigenous grape varieties. Rumour has it that Sir Winston Churchill and Russian Tsar Nicholas II were fans. We’ll have a chance to sip some ourselves on our Armenia tours, as we pay a visit to the Ararat brandy factory.
It’s home to a trio of World Heritage Sites
Three sites have been given the UNESCO badge of honour – and we’ll take you to all of them on our Armenia holidays. At the rock-hewn monastery of Geghard, we’ll enjoy the incredible acoustics with a private music recital. At Haghpat monastery, we’ll find out why this was a major centre for learning in the Middle Ages. And at Echmiadzin’s churches and cathedral, we’ll appreciate the unique architecture that influenced many other places of worship across Armenia.
A Greco-Roman temple stands against a mountain backdrop
When Armenia became a Christian nation, most of the country’s pagan temples were destroyed. The Temple of Garni stayed standing, however, and makes for an unusual sight today with its Parthenon-style columns standing proudly against a backdrop of the Geghama Mountains. A little way from the temple is an ancient bathhouse, which houses beautiful Roman mosaic floors. In a country filled with medieval monasteries and churches, it’s delightfully different.
Have we tempted you to join one of our Armenia and Georgia escorted tours?
Although she loves a lie-in at home, Laura is often up and about before dawn on holiday. She’s watched the sun rise over the Grand Canyon, Uluru and Angkor Wat, but her favourite was seeing the first light of the New Year sweeping across the yacht-dotted waters of Sydney Harbour.
Laura | About the author
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