Silk Road Tours offer private tailor made journeys to Armenia.
Nestled in the heart of the Caucasus Mountains, landlocked Armenia is a little-known gem with a fascinating past. The first country to officially adopt Christianity in the 301AD, it is a land of ancient churches and monasteries, many of which were hidden away in deep wooded valleys or built on rocky spurs to shield them from attack. The views from some of the monasteries, such as Tatev, Sanahin and Haghpat, are almost as majestic as the buildings themselves. Christianity is not just confined to medieval ruins, however, and is very much part of post-Soviet Armenian culture – it is not unusual to come across a church service or Christening even on a short visit..
With a history stretching back over the millennia, the country is filled with ancient sites, ranging from the Bronze Age stone circles at Karahunj to the incredible cave settlement at Khndzoresk and the surreal field of carved khachkars at Noraduz. Armenia’s pivotal trading role is brought to life in the remote Silk Road caravanserai on the Selim Pass, and the cultural melting pot of its capital city, Yerevan.
Armenia offers much more than unusual architecture and religious buildings. With an average altitude of close to 1500m, breathtaking mountain scenery and deep wooded valleys are the order of the day here. The hospitable people will make any visitor feel welcome, and the Persian, Arab and Ottoman traders who passed through the country throughout the centuries left their indelible mark on the mouthwatering cuisine.
Tours that visit Armenia
The stunning 9th century Tatev Monastery, perched high on a cliff top, is rightly regarded as a masterpiece of Armenian architecture. The fortified complex is located some 80kms south east of Yerevan in an area of beautiful scenery. In total 3 churches and a library as well as other ancillary buildings make up the Monastery. During the 10th century the interiors of the churches were decorated with fine frescoes fragments of which still survive to delight the visitor.
The UNESCO World Heritage sites of Haghpat and Sanahin monasteries represent masterpieces of Armenian religious architecture. The monasteries, located in the Debed Valley, were built between the 10th and 13th centuries include elements of Byzantine architecture and unlike monasteries in the rest of Armenian aren’t isolated in location, historically being surrounded by many hamlets. With their beautiful location and stunning views of the surrounding scenery both monasteries make for an excellent stop when visiting Armenia.
Sacred Khor Virap, located 30kms south of Yerevan, with its stunning backdrop of Mtn Ararat is perhaps one of the most iconic sights in Armenia. It was here that St Gregory the Illuminator who first brought Christianity to Armenia was imprisoned for 13 years in a deep pit, kept alive by a local Christian widow who brought him bread according to legend. Today the site consists of a fortified 17th century monastery built over an earlier 5th century chapel perched elegantly atop a small hill overlooking the surrounding plains. Khor Virap remains a place of pilgrimage for Armenians today and retains an important place in Armenian culture.