“The land of the Kardashians, and rich cultural history”
Weather and Seasons
Armenia is often described as a sunny country. The climate is highland continental, dry with four seasons. Temperatrues can vary considerably between seasons. The summer is generally pleasant reaching 25°C, though in the Ararat valley temperatures can climb to 40°C. Winters can be quite cold with temperatures falling to -5°C in Yerevan, and colder in the Ararat Valley (-30°C)
Places to visit
Yerevan- Capital of Armenia
Yerevan- the capital city
Sevanavank Monastery, Sevan Lake
Dilijan national park
Khor Virap, Armenia
The travel story
Armenia is a small nation located in the mountainous region Caucasus region between Asia and Europe. This former soviet republic is the worlds first Christian country and is defined by religious sites, churches, temples and monasteries across the country located amidst incredible landscapes. Landlocked, Armenia is bordered by Turkey to the west, Georgia to the north, Iran to the south, Azerbaijan to the east, and Azerbaijan's Naxcivan exclave to the southwest.
The country is now a popular tourist destination boasting a rich history. The peak of Mount Ararat dominates the country’s skyline and is the national symbol of Armenia. Ararat is considered holy by locals due to its mention in The Bible – it is where Noah’s Ark landed. Although to much disappointment, the peak became part of Turkey as per the 1921 Treaty of Moscow and thus actually lies just over the Turkish border making is not so much Armenian geographically. The locals are usually bummed out about this as the mountain is the national symbol of Armenia.
Yerevan is the largest city in Armenia marked by grand Soviet era architecture. The Matenadaran library, housing thousands of ancient Greek and Armenian manuscripts, dominates its main avenue. Republic Square is the city's core, with musical water fountains that play in the evening and colonnaded government buildings. The 1920s History Museum of Armenia on the square's eastern side contains archaeological objects like a circa-3500-B.C. leather shoe.
Yerevan is a city of cafes and hosts many restaurants with fantastic ambience and food at very very affordable rates.
Lavash Restaurant is by far my favourite in the city and i went back multiple times. Other good places are Sherep (dont forget to try the broken pot desert), Wine republic. To give an idea, I ordered for a pint of beer, a 250g steak and a desert and the bill was about 18 USD. Now that's just a steal!
The local beer and wine are a must try out. Although I am not a fan of Ale, the Dargett apricot ale was a nice change in my usual drinking habit.
Yerevan is a charming city to walk around and see the different parks and sites. It is also very safe to explore alone. The must see place is the Cascade which is a giant stairway made of limestone. It links the downtown Ketron area of Yerevan with the Monument neighborhood. Inside the Cascade, underneath the exterior steps, are seven escalators that rise along the length of the complex. However, I took up the challenge to climb the external stairs all the way to the top. The exterior of The Cascade features multiple levels adorned with fountains and modernist sculptures from the Cafesjian collection. The stairs afford walkers unobstructed views of central Yerevan and Mount Ararat. Currently, there are 2,780 steps, one for each year since Yerevan’s founding (although Yerevan celebrates 2,800 years in 2018.
The country side of Armenia has beautiful monasteries surrounded by lush mountains and valleys. The Khor Virap monastery has a fantastic view of mount Ararat and a photo point where you can capture the monastery with the magnificent mountain in the backdrop. This fortified monastery is a place of pilgrimage and a holy site for the Armenian Apostolic Church.
The history of the site dates back to a pagan temple that stood here for centuries before Christ’s birth. An important visit happened at Khor Virap, between Gregory, son of Parthian nobles, and King Trdat III, of Armenia. Parthia and Armenia had been fighting for generations, and Gregory and Trdat were finally meeting after their fathers had been involved in a deadly battle. Trdat wanted to lay flowers at the pagan temple, and Gregory was forced to confess that he was Christian. Trdat threw Gregory in a deep pit and kept him there for 13 years. As the years went on, Trdat started to feel ill. His wife, who had already converted to Christianity, told him that he would feel better after he released Gregory, and she turned out to be right. After being cured, Trdat converted to Christianity in 301, making Armenia the first official Christian country in the world. Gregory became St. Gregory the Illuminator, revered for converting Armenia to Christianity.
Lake Sevan is the largest body of water in Armenia and Caucasus region and makes up 1/6th of the area of Armenia. It is usually crowded with water activities available at the lake although it ruins the peace and serenity of the lake a tad bit with loud music and excited tourists.
A short hike takes you up to the Sevanavank Monastery which provides 360 view of the Sevan region which is more peaceful than the lake shore. The area is located 60 km from Yerevan and is well connected by public transport.
After visiting loads of monasteries and slowly losing myself in conical roofs, tower pikes, frescoes and cruciforms I needed a change in scenery.
The Garni temple is like no other in Armenia. The Temple of Garni is the only standing Greco-Roman colonnaded building in Armenia and the former Soviet Union. An iconic pagan temple located in the village of Garni, Armenia- it is the best-known structure and symbol of pre-Christian Armenia. The temple is stands magnificently maintaining its perfect symmetry- geometrically impeccable colonnade and large double height stairs wrap around the temple. Above it triangular pediments rested on the columns. The temple was dedicated to the Armenian sun god Mihr.
The landscape in summer is rocky in some parts and lush green valley in some regions. The winter scenery is said to be magical with a blanket of snow covering the mountains and ushering in the season of skiing and winter sports.
Armenia is a country that is trying to prove to the world it has much more history than the lineage of the Kardashians. Many untold stories of religions and war are being uncovered with every new excavation spread across the country. The country survived through the mass Armenian genocide during the first world war and built itself into one of the newest tourism centric, people friendly, culturally rich destinations of Asia and Middle East. They may not have the glitz and glamour of New York or Dubai, but they sure have heart.
Local restaurants and local food and alcohol is very cheap in Yerevan and a must experience. Restaurant- Lavash, Sherep Bar- Wine republic.
The local rum is a must try out- Ararat.
Must opt for a wine tour.
Local guided tours are common and easily affordable. They have options to choose the language of guide and they pick up and drop from hotel- Yerani travel is a good tour company. Must try the city walking tour with them.