Armenia is a land of both the old and the new. As the first Christian country of Europe and after more than 600 years of bondage to foreign powers, it is indeed one of the most exiting places to be aside from being one of the most historically rich countries in Europe. So if you want a vacation filled with culture, history, relaxation and fun, here are the ten most essential things to do in Armenia:
How to get to this ancient fortress is even more daunting than its name as only a 4×4 combined with the summer climate can take tourists through the top of the mountainous plateau where it is located. Upon reaching the site, you will see more than 2000 petroglyphs left behind by ancient people depicting scenes of the hunt, ancient rituals and culture. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the view from this site is also terrific.
2.) Erebuni Fortress
The Fortress of Erebuni also holds a treasure trove of artifacts. These artifacts date back to the millennium before Christ. The fortress has been converted into a museum and here you will find around 12,000 items belonging to the ancient civilization that thrived on the land.
3.) Zvartnots Temple
This temple stands testament to Armenia as having the oldest national church in the world. This temple dates back more than 1700 years in the past and has only been recently excavated by a team of archaeologists. On the grounds, you will see not only the ancient church but a museum, cathedral and seminary as well. This place serves as the center of the Armenian Apostolic Church.
4.) National Gallery
The national gallery serves to hold national treasures such as art from classical to modern times. Not only does it contain Armenian art but western art as well. It was founded on 1919 and has since served as the repository for the country’s cultural items.
5.) Old Dilijan
This quaint country town as situated in the heart of the northern Armenian forest. The town boasts of having been the home of many famous artists, musicians, composers and others. This popular destination attracts tourists because of its early 20th century architecture and its displays of musical instruments and handicrafts.
6.) Ararat Cognac Factory
This serves as the home base for the producer of the most famous brandy maker in the country. The brandy made from this place has become the favorite of people all around the world including the famous Winston Churchill. It is a must-see place.
7.) Matenadaran Institute
It is located at the heart of Yerevan. The Matenadaran Institute houses an impressive collection of handwritten books. It is an imposing edifice guarded by the silent statues of famous Armenian intellectuals such as Mesrp Mashtots, Mkhitar Gosh, Anania Shirakatsi, Toros Roslin, etc.
8.) Gaghard Cathedral
A Church made famous by the fact that it is literally hollowed out of solid rock, the Cathedral of Gaghard is indeed an example of this countries exemplary architecture. The name Geghard literally translates into spear. It is because of the fact that it has housed the spear that has pierced the body of Jesus during His crucifixion.
9.) Haghpat and Sanahin Monasteries
Located in the region of Lori and along the banks of river of Debed, these two famous monasteries are some of the World Heritage Sites of Unesco. These two sites serve to remind not just tourists but the people of the country itself of their rich cultural heritage and intellectual achievements. The two sites’ were constructed during the 10th century and has taken hundreds of years to finish.
10.) The Garni Temple
Adorned by two dozen of Ionic columns, this temple stands as a reminder of the countries Hellenistic past. It was constructed as part of a fortress during the third century BC. Protected naturally on three sides by a rocky cliffs and a deep canyon but destroyed several times during the course of history nonetheless, it is likened to the national Spirit of Armenia which inspires its entire people to rebuild.