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Tourism in Armenia

Introduction

Armenia - a Cradle of Civilization 

rmenia - acknowledged as one of the cradles of civilization - is a beautiful country with a sophisticated people and a long and cultured history. As a result, Armenia is an intriguing tourist destination. Numerous monuments and masterpieces of the Ancient era and Middle Ages can be found throughout the country. Tourism in Armenia is rooted in the country's historical landmarks and natural attractions such as the water resorts of Lake Sevan, the hot springs of Arzni and Jermuk, the forests of Dilijan, Aghveran, Tsaghkadzor, Bjurakan and Gugark, and the mountainous natural caves and cliffs of the Southeast region. The 5165 meter Mount Ararat, geographically located in Turkey, is a national symbol of Armenia and is visible from much of the Southwest region. 

Yerevan, which is nestled in the shadow of the snow-capped heights of the majestic mount Ararat, where the Biblical Noah's Ark first landed escaping the Great Flood, is the capital city of Armenia. With a population numbering over 1.2 million, Yerevan is a bustling city. The central plaza, Republic Square, is designed in the Armenian national style and houses the Government House, the Cabinet and other governmental offices as well as the Erebuni and Armenia hotels. 

Also situated on Republic Square are the Armenian History Museum and the Art Gallery of Armenia. Here, one finds informative and interesting models and artifacts of ancient Urartu and Armenia. In the Art Gallery one finds a worthy section on Armenian art from the seventh century AD. Amongst the many other museums in the capital city, the two most interesting house museums are those of landscape artist Martiros Saryan (1880-1972) and twentieth century composer Aram Khatchaturyan. 

Yerevan, the ancient capital of Armenia, extends you a warm and friendly welcome. It is one of the oldest cities in the world. The earliest recorded settlement there dates back to 782 BC. King Argishty I founded a fortress city in the north-eastern part of present-day Yerevan, with the following cuneiform inscription, "With the majesty of God Khald, Argishty, son of Menua, built up this inaccessible castle and named it Erebuni..." You can still see relics from this part of our history at the Erebuni Museum in Yerevan. 

As you explore the many interesting sights in Yerevan, you will learn about the culture and history of one of the world's oldest nations. 

Cultural heritage

o gain further insights into Armenian cultural achievements you must visit her museums, theaters and concert halls. Theater in Armenia has a tradition dating back more than 2,000 years. You can attend a wide choice of performances ranging from concerts to puppet theater and jazz music. 

At the top of Mesrop Mashtots Avenue, the main artery of the capital city Yerevan, you will find the Matenadaran - the Institute of Ancient Manuscripts. Matenadaran boasts the world's largest collection of ancient manuscripts (over 16,000). The collection includes many valuable works of foreign philosophers, some of which have survived only in their Armenian translation. Among these are works by Aristotle, Eusebius of Caesarea and many others. Art aficionados can visit the National Art Gallery displaying its rich collections of works by European and Russian artists. This impressive building located in the Republic Square is also home to the largest national collection of paintings by famous Armenian artists such as Aivazovski and Sarian. The spirit of creativity is fostered and promoted in Armenians from the young age. Hence, the Children's Art Gallery, which was the first permanent exhibition of its sort in the world. It is conveniently located at 13 Abovian street, one of the better preserved streets of old Yerevan. 

The homes of many famous Armenian writes, poets, and artists are now open to tourists. Their hours of operation vary, so please phone in advance. 

Enjoy a leisurely stroll around Yerevan and take in its unique architectural vistas. Yerevan's architectural character stands out in that of the most of the buildings are constructed of various colors of tufa and basalt, both of them products of volcanic nature. This makes Yerevan one of the few cities with no painted buildings. 

The city is enshrined with many internationally acclaimed statues by famous sculptors, such Yervand Kochar, Levon Tokmadjian. Most of the statues depict Armenian national heroes or glorify events of national importance. It is advisable to check out the following: 

  • Sasuntsi Davit, the symbol of collective Armenian character 
  • Vardan Mamikonian, hero of the battle of Avarayr fought in 451 AD 
  • Eighteenth century bard, Sayat Nova 
  • Khachatour Abovian, renowned for revolutionizing modern Armenian language and climbing Mount Ararat in search of Noah's Ark. 
  • Outstanding Armenian poets, Hovhannes Toumanian and Avetik Issahakian 
  • Artist Martiros Sarian, famous for his vivid colors and unique interpretation of Armenian landscapes 
  • In the evening you can relax at the Parisian style cafes of the city or stroll by the singing fountains of the Republic Square. 


Attractions and resorts in the vicinity of Yerevan

rmenia is often referred to as a museum in the open air. There are about 40,000 historical monuments spread across Armenia. In 301 AD, Armenians were the first nation to make Christianity their state religion. As a result, much of Armenian cultural heritage is shaped by symbols and values associated with the Christian faith. 

Many of the 40,000 surviving ancient monuments in Armenia are Christian churches and monasteries, most of which were built over demolished pagan temples. Hence, only one pagan temple remains in Armenia, Garni. 

In building their churches, Armenians made a significant contribution to the world's architectural tradition. They developed the concept of laying out the floor plan of a church in the shape of a cross. This early Christian basilica style was later incorporated into the Gothic architecture of European cathedrals. 

Armenian khatchkars are a unique part of the national heritage. Intricately decorated crosses are carved on monolithic rocks. There are over 4,000 khatchkars in Armenia, and every one of them has a singular pattern. 

Etchmiadzin is the religious center of Armenia. It is the Holy Seat of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Its Cathedral was built in 301 AD on a site of a former pagan temple. 

Other significant attractions include: 

  • The ruins of Urartu Fortress (28 BC) 
  • Khor-Virab Monastery and the ruins of Dvin, the capital of Armenia during the reign of the Bagratuni dynasty (2BC) 
  • The pagan Temple of Garni (AD 1 ) 
  • Geghard monastery (AD10) hewn out of rock 
  • Amberd Fortress (AD 11), 
  • The National Ethnographic Museum and memorial complex at Sardarapat which marks the site of the Armenian people's famous battle for independence in 1918. 
  • Lake Sevan nestled up in the Armenian highlands, is the second largest lake in the world relative to its altitude. 


The mountainous terrain of Armenia is rich in mineral water sources, renowned for their healing powers. Although Armenian mineral water from such sources as Jermouk, Arzni, Bejni, Hankavan, and Dilijan is bottled and widely available throughout the country, it is advisable to make the most of their healing powers by visiting the sources themselves, all of them being picturesque and popular resorts. 

For instance, Dilijan, with its rolling hills and lush forests is ideal for hiking, back-packing and camping. Its beauty has inspired many famous composers and musicians, such as Benjamin Britten, Aram Khachaturian, Dimitri Shostakovich, Mstislav Rostropovich, and many others who stayed here at a vacation resort for musicians. 

Climate

he climate in Armenia is markedly continental. Summers are dry and sunny, lasting from June to mid-September. The temperature fluctuates between 22° and 36°C. However, the low humidity level mitigates the effect of high temperatures. Evening breezes blowing down the mountains provide a welcome refreshing and cooling effect.

Springs are short, while falls are long. Autumns are remarkable for their spectacularly colorful foliage. 
 

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. Winters are quite cold with plenty of snow, with temperatures ranging between -5° and -10°C. Winter sports enthusiasts can enjoy skiing down the hills of Tsakhkadzor, conveniently located 30 minutes outside of Yerevan. 

 

Yerevan - Continue >
Courtesy of 
Armenian Embassy Washington DC 
Web site: www.armeniaemb.org
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Updated 10 July, 2002 ..
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