UK - Yerevan
Titan’s VIP door-to-door travel service collects you from home, for your flight to Yerevan. Upon arrival, we transfer to the Grand Hotel Yerevan (4T+).
After a leisurely morning, we take a guided tour of Yerevan which offers a glimpse of the Soviet past. We take a look at Armenian culture at The Cascade, home of the Cafesjian Centre for the Arts; and take a short tour of Matenadaran, one of the oldest and richest book-depositories in the world, holding over 17,000 fascinating ancient manuscripts of culture and sciences. We also visit the Genocide Memorial and the museum dedicated to the victims of the horrific events. We continue to the Megerian Carpet Factory to learn about years-old traditions of Armenian carpet making and enjoy an Armenian lunch with a special culinary masterclass. We then take a tour of the Opera Theatre and History Museum. Dinner is in an authentic restaurant.
From the 4th century Khor Virap Monastery, we’ll see the closed border between Turkey and Armenia, 20km away, and admire the beauty of Mount Ararat. The mountain’s snow-capped peak is said to be the resting place of Noah’s Ark. The chapel was constructed over the deep dungeon where Gregory the Illuminator, the nation's spiritual father and patron saint, was imprisoned. Then in Echmiadzin, our tour includes the UNESCO-listed cathedral, reputed to be one of the world’s oldest cathedrals and the first official Christian church in the world; and an exclusive visit to the Treasury Museum. After lunch, you can take part in carpet weaving or make Armenian dishes. We also visit the Cross of Armenian Unity, a charity founded in 1991 to provide humanitarian assistance to orphans. We then drive to Zvartnots Cathedral, another UNESCO World Heritage Site which even in ruins reflects its unique, impressive architectural value.
Visit the ruined 7th century fortress of Amberd, on the slope of Mount Aragats. This historically important ‘fortress in the clouds’ is in a spectacular, elevated rural location. In Ashtarak, we visit the Perch Proshyan House-Museum, birthplace of the famous Armenian writer and teacher. In the Ararat valley grows a unique variety of grapes, used to make much loved Ararat brandy, a brand favoured by the court of His Imperial Majesty Nicholas II and Sir Winston Churchill. Before we taste this national spirit, we take a tour of the factory, with cellars full of barrels dating back to the 19th century, and the Peace Barrel, filled with the brandy spirit of 1994, the year when the ceasefire agreement was signed.
Yerevan - Dilijan
Geghard Monastery is a UNESCO World Heritage Site hewn into the rock, and has incredibly haunting acoustics demonstrated during a short, private recital. The UNESCO-listed pagan Temple of Garni is next, with Roman bath mosaics dedicated to Mithra. It sits in the gorge formed by the Azat River and has stunning views of the mountains and canyons of the State Khosrov Reserve. We’ll take lunch at a local family house, where we participate in making Armenian bread, before our host shows us around the village. Later, we drive to the beautiful Lake Sevan and visit the medieval Sevanavank Monastery, before heading to Dilijan, surrounded by astonishingly rich vegetation. We stay at the Best Western Paradise Hotel Dilijan (3T+).
Dilijan - Tbilisi
Visit a potter’s workshop and the Haghartsin Monastery, in the heart of the forest. A short walk through the village introduces you to the Molokans, a Russian Orthodox sect who settled in Armenia after being exiled from Russia several centuries ago. We stop in a typical Molokan house to taste Samovar tea. After lunch, we visit UNESCO-protected Haghpat Monastery, a masterpiece of religious architecture and a major centre of learning in the Middle Ages. We then cross the border into Georgia, where we stay at the Mercure Tbilisi Old Town (4T) or Biltmore Hotel Tbilisi (4T).
Founded in the 4th century on the site of warm mineral springs, Tbilisi developed into the main city of the Caucasus. By the 12th century it was one of the most important political, economic and cultural centres of Eurasia. It stood as a key stop on the Silk Road - right on the border between Europe and Asia, creating a harmonious mix of cultures. Our city tour will include the Old Town, Metekhi Temple, the baths area, the Mosque and Narikala, the main fortress of Tbilisi.
Mtskheta - Gori - Kazbegi
Mtskheta was the capital of the Georgian Kingdom of Iberia between 500 BC - AD 500, and holds outstanding, UNESCO-listed historical monuments including Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, built on the spot where a piece of Christ’s Robe is thought to be buried. Many Georgian monarchs are also entombed here. We see this vast cathedral before heading to Gori, a town mainly known for its huge fortress and as the birthplace of Joseph Stalin. We visit the dictator’s family home, then take the Georgian Military Highway into the Caucasus Mountains. We stay at the Rooms Hotel Kazbegi (4T) or Porta Caucasia Kazbegi Hotel (4T).
Kazbegi is a picturesque settlement overlooked by the biggest peak of the Caucasus - Mount Kazbek. In Greek mythology, Prometheus taught man how to make fire. Various versions say his punishment was to be chained to Mount Kazbek for eternity, and have his liver pecked out every day by an eagle. After many years, Hercules killed the bird and broke his chains to free him. We ascend to Gergeti Sameba Church in an incomparably photogenic mountaintop setting. Returning after lunch, the rest of the day is at leisure, with an optional excursion available to beautiful Sno Valley and the village of Juta.
Ananuri - Tbilisi
We visit Ananuri castle complex, the scene of many battles including peasant uprisings. Then, after checking in at the Mercure Tbilisi Old Town (4T), we take the funicular railway to the top of the Mtatsminda plateau for spectacular panoramic views of the city; which we enjoy further during dinner at a restaurant on the plateau.
Kakheti, Georgia’s famous wine district, is filled with acres of vineyards, dotted with fine old churches. We pause in Sighnaghi, a town with beautiful views of the Alazani Valley and the Eastern Caucasus Mountains; and arrive in Kvareli, where we visit a wine cellar and taste some Georgian wines, have a masterclass in how to make Churchhela sweets, and enjoy lunch. We then explore Gremi, a medieval capital with a monumental castle; and Tsinandali, the beautiful ancestral estate of a 19th century noble family. The first owner - Garsevan Chavchavadze - participated in the annexation of Georgia to Russia.
Day 12 Tbilisi - UK
Transfer to the airport for your return flight to the UK. Upon arrival, your Titan vehicle will be waiting for the journey home.