ARMENIA AND IRAN
ALL THE YEAR
A journey to discover two countries rich in contrasts but with similar aspects: culture, colors, spirituality … A journey for those who want to compare two apparently very different nations but with a fascinating common history. You will discover the unspoiled beauty of these territories, located on the margins between East and West, where great archaeological, religious and naturalistic treasures are preserved: Yerevan, ancient city; the ruins of the Zvartnots and Echmiadzin cathedral (Unesco World Heritage Site); Garni, the only non-Christian temple in the country; Khor Virap, “deep pit”; Sevan and its lake; Tabriz with the historic bazaar and Armenian churches; Shiraz, capital of Iranian poetry; Esfahan where the imprint of Persian art is always present; Tehran, “the young city”, with its museums and palaces …
Transfer and accommodation in hotel. Relax.
The second day will be dedicated to discovery of the main places and monuments of Yerevan, the capital of Armenian, including the Tsitsernakaberd Memorial dedicated to the victims of the Armenian Genocide of 1915 and Echmiadzin, the place where the heart of Armenian Christianity beats. In Echmiadzin we will visit the Echmiadzin Cathedral (4th century) where there is also the residence of the Catholicos of all Armenians, the Saint Hripsime and Saint Gayane churches (7th century), the ruins of Zvartnots (7th century). Overnight at the hotel.
Option 1: On Sundays it is possible to attend the Sunday Mass in the cathedral of Echmiadzin which is enchanting with its Gregorian spiritual songs. We will organize a visit to the museum of the Cathedral the other days, where they are also exposed the holy spear, the right arm of St. Gregory Enlightener and other relics.
Option 2: At the weekend it is possible to visit the “Vernissage” craft market to make purchases of souvenirs of the country.
Breakfast and visiting the museum of Matenadaran, the library of ancient manuscripts. There we will find a rich and outstanding collection of Armenian manuscripts which group all the spheres of culture and ancient sciences (history, geography, grammar, philosophy, cosmology, music, etc.). Visiting the monastery of Khor Virap, located on the Armenian-Turkish border, a place particularly dear to the Armenians. Its name which means “deep pit”, indicates the place where St. Gregory the Enlightener was imprisoned for long years. The Christianization of Armenia started from here. From its walls we can enjoy one of the most beautiful views of Ararat, the mountain whereas the biblical tradition tells how the Noah’s Ark stopped after the flood. In the Vayots Dzor region we will visit the UNESCO listed Noravank monastery from the 13th and 14th centuries. Overnight at the hotel.
After breakfast leaving for the world of Armenian spirituality and visiting the monastery of Geghard of the 13th century (monastery of the spear), half carved into the rock. The name derived from the relic of a fragment of the spear which the Roman warrior drove into the side of Christ on the cross. After visiting the monastery you will dive into the pagan world of the impressive place of Garni with its pagan temple of the 1st century, the only Hellenistic monument in the country. The place is also impressive with its 3rd century Roman baths. We will leave to discover the wonders of Lake Sevan with its peninsula. Overnight at the hotel.
Option: In the historical center, on the Square of Republic in Yerevan visiting the Historical Museum which includes the treasures of more than 3000 years of history.
After breakfast we go to the South to discover the medieval cemetery of Noraduz full of khatchkar scattered across the shore of Lake Sevan. We will cross the Selim pass where we will find the Selim caravanserai of the 14th century. After 2 hours’ drive we will discover the mysterious menhirs of Stonehenge. The megalithic site would be an ancient observatory that was used to follow the movements of celestial bodies and to measure time. Stonehenge has been compared with Stonehenge Carnac and Newgrange. And the last stop would be to the Tatev monastery (14th century) which is reached by the cableway, also known as the “Wings of Tatev”. A beautiful view of the Halidzor gorge opens from there. Founded in the 9th century, Tatev Monastery was the center of an important miniature school and a perfect religious and cultural center. Overnight at the hotel.
The morning short walk in the old cave village of Khndzoresk, located in the heart of a limestone cave landscape. Then continue to the border of Norduz, the afternoon leaving for Tabriz. On the way visiting the church of St. Stepanos. Arrival in the city. Overnight at the hotel.
After breakfast, visiting the city. In Tabriz we will visit the second large archaeological museum in the country, and the “Kabud” mosque, Arg-e Ali Shahi. In the afternoon a transfer to the airport for the internal flight to Shiraz. Arrival in Shiraz airport, transfer to the hotel. Overnight at the hotel.
The day is dedicated to the excursion to Persepolis and visiting the city. The Spring Palace was built by Darius I in 518 AD to celebrate the festivities at the beginning of a year. It is built on a huge platform and is covered with bas-reliefs depicted all the populations that were part of the Persian empire; first Darius and then Artaxerxes had brought the best craftsmen from all over the world to Persia to build a palace that was supposed to be the peak of architecture and sculpture of the Mesopotamian regions. Visiting Naqsh and Rostam. In the afternoon returning to the city Shiraz known for its gardens and the mildness of its climate; it had been the capital under reign of different dynasties, home of brilliant poets such as Hafez, has important monuments such as the Complex of Vakil, Arg Karim Khan (from the outside) the caravanserai of Moshir. Overnight at the hotel.
Departure by bus to Esfahan, on the way visiting Pasargad, the first capital of the Archemenide Kingdom, desired and conceived by Ciro the Great, on a vast plain few buildings in lights show us the Palace of the audiences, the monumental entrance, the private palace of the monarch. Isolated, the imposing and peaceful tomb of the great sovereign, Ciro the Great, dominates. Arrival in the late afternoon in Esfahan. Overnight at the hotel.
After breakfast visiting Esfahan. The whole day is dedicated to visit to the great desert oasis where the complete atmosphere of “A Thousand and One Nights” reigns. At the large central square of Naghsh-e Jahan two theories of arches are overlooked, in the lower part occupied by artisans’ shops (interesting shops of precious, miniatures, turquoise fabrics). Masjed-e Emam (Shah’s mosque) is set among the porticoes, one of the most beautiful in the entire Islamic world due to the refinement of the blue and yellow tiles decoration. The small jewel of the Masjed-e Sheikh Lotfollah mosque, the royal Safavid Ali Ghapu palace and the entrance to the central bazaar covered by small domes overcame by an open space where all the light that illuminates the exposed goods filters through. Overnight at the hotel.
Morning continuation and completion of the visit: the Great Mosque of Friday Jameh, the pavilion and park of Cehel Sotun, built by Abbas 1st , the Armenian church of Jolfa with the adjoining museum, the Khaju bridge of 1600, beautiful bridge of 33 arches of 1600. In afternoon leaving for Qom; arrival in the city. Overnight at the hotel.
Transfer to Tehran airport. Ending of the services.