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ESSENTIAL REASONS TO VISIT ARMENIA

Armenia, one of the oldest countries in the world

In Armenia the rock carvings tell us about the first settlements of shepherds and farmers and the first social frames of  people’s life. Hundreds of engravings cover the slopes of Mount Aragats and the ancient territory of Syunik. The excavations allowed to establish that the site of Metsamor was occupied from the 4th millennium BC until the Middle Ages. Of particular interest is the ancient observatory of Karahunge or Armenian Stonehenge, which is the testimony of one of the oldest civilizations in the world. The archaeological excavations have returned both the fortress of Erebuni and the fortified settlement of Teyshebani.

First Christian nation of the world

In 301 King Tiridates III converted Armenia to Christianity and made it the state religion. Armenia became the first Christian nation (79 years before the Roman Empire). Gregory the Enlightener (the main architect of this conversion) and Tiridates founded the cathedral of Saint Echmiadzin in Vagharshapat, the church of all Armenians around the world, and of which Gregory was the first ‘catholicos’ – the supreme head of the Armenian Apostolic Church.

Yerevan, the capital of Armenia

Yerevan, the capital of the Republic of Armenia, is a contemporary metropolis with an ancient history, 29 years older than Rome. At the foot of Ararat the cuneiform signs of a large Urartean inscription unequivocally attest that the city of Erebuni, current Yerevan, was founded on the hill of Arin-Berd in 782 BC.

Matenadaran: the Library of ancient manuscripts

The Matenadaran, located in the heart of Yerevan, is one of the richest library archives in the world, with a collection of over 17,000 manuscripts that include all branches of Armenian medieval culture and science, as well as manuscripts in many foreign languages. Many ancient texts, whose originals had been lost for some time, were restored in their mother tongue based on the Armenian translations, which were kept safe at the Matenadaran.

Unique language and alphabet

Armenian language is an Indo-European language with a distinct 39-letter alphabet. Among the factors of union and identity of the Armenian people undoubtedly the alphabet is included. A large number of original texts and translations – both religious and otherwise – would be followed, turning the Golden Age of Armenian literature into the 5th century. An impressive collection of these unique manuscripts with complex decorations is in the Matenadaran Institute in Yerevan.

Armenian churches and monasteries: heart of spirituality, culture and art

Medieval churches and monasteries (Echmiadzin, Churches of Hripsime, Zvartnots, Mastara, Geghardavank, Noravank, Haghbat, Tatev, Marmashen and others) scattered throughout Armenia, sometimes located in the mute and deep gorges are amazing with their beauty and elegance . Born as spiritual and cultural centres, they are actually works of art and, like a beautiful music, they speak to the spirit and heart better than a whole book.

Khachkar, carved stones of Armenia: the symbol of Christian faith

The tradition and art of the khachkar should be considered as the most original manifestation of culture and religious tradition of medieval Armenia. The khachkar is the symbol of Armenian Christian art. Despite the immense variety of solutions adopted, one can give a definition of khachkar (literally cross-stone) as a stele or stone slab of generally rectangular shape resting on a base, square or circular, whose main theme is the representation of one or more Armenian crosses and whose secondary themes consist of floral designs and geometric shapes. These ‘stone crosses’ were raised with a commemorative, celebratory and funerary function. Each khachkar is a unique and unrepeatable unique work.

Road of Silk crossed by Marco Polo

Many think that the Silk Road is the only one, but in reality there were so many ways that connected  East to West, some by land, some by sea. These links crossed in Armenia and linked  East and West, the South and the North. The caravanserais, where they found lodging the caravan components and their loaded animals, indicated the route of the Armenian Silk Road.

Lake Sevan: one of the largest mountain lakes in the world

‘A piece of the sky fell on the mountains’ and many other poetic comparisons are unable to really describe the fascinating landscape of the lake surrounded by mountain ranges. Located at 1900 m above the sea level on the east side of Armenia, Sevan is one of the largest mountain lakes in the world (second after the Titicaca). The pelicans, the storks, the swans and also the pink flamingos stay and stop here  during the migrations. Traditionally, the fish, Sevan trout is the reason for Sevan’s pride. Trout is a real specialty. The Armenians call the trout ‘ishkhan’, that is ‘prince’ for its spots that make one think of a crown.

The pagan temple of Garni: The only temple left in Armenia

Before the Christian era, the landscape of Armenia was littered with pagan temples and monuments dedicated to the gods. The most important of these is the Temple of Garni, 1st century AD, the only pagan temple remained almost intact throughout Armenia.

The oldest winery in the world

‘It is the oldest and the most reliable evidence of wine production’, says archaeologist Gregory Areshian of the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). ‘For the first time we have a complete archaeological picture dating back to 6,100 years ago, of this type of activity’. The prehistoric peoples who lived in what is now Armenia had also built the oldest famous winery: a research funded by the National Geographic Society also reveals this. According to the research published in the Journal of Archaeological Science,  wine would be kept in jars in the cool and dry environment of  cave. It was ideal for a cellar – and would do the rest.

The oldest leather shoe in the world

The oldest leather shoe in the world was found in a cave in Armenia by archaeologists. Yet the oldest known leather shoe, recently discovered in Armenia, amazed the legendary American shoe maker.: ‘It’s amazing,’ commented Manolo Blahnik, ‘how much a modern shoe looks like’. Stuffed with grass, the shoe is dating back to 5,500 years ago. It has been found in an exceptional state of conservation. Now it is in the Historical Museum of Armenia.

The Wings of Tatev: the longest aerial cableway in the world

The Tatev cableway, is also known as the Wings if Tatev, is a 5.7 km long cable car connecting the village of Halidzor to the Tatev monastery in southern Armenia. The cable car consists of a single section of 5,750 m, much is higher than the 4,467 m of the one in Sandia Peak Tramway in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the United States. It is therefore the longest aerial cableway in the world. On October 23, 2010 it was officially registered in the Guinness World Records.