WRITING about my recent trip to Armenia is not going to be easy – there are just too many great experiences to note down!
Friends and family were wondering what got into our heads when we decided to go there. Where and what is there to do? And why of all places Armenia? You’ll soon see why. Armenia is honestly one of the most gorgeous countries I’ve been to.
Armenia is right smack in the middle of four other nations: Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Iran. It’s made up of mostly landmass and is not bordered by any seas. It is a dominantly Christian country and was the first in the world to adopt Christianity as their state religion. It is also one of the oldest countries in the world. It is known as Noah’s land, for in the bible it is said that his ark came to rest on Mt. Ararat:
In the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, the ark rested upon the mountains of Ararat. (Genesis 8:5)
The moment we landed in Yerevan, we immediately saw a rather faint, but rather clear outline of Mt. Ararat. We also saw it from above, while on the plane, and it got us so excited to see the famed mountain of Noah on the very first day.
Yerevan is such a beautiful city. It had a very European feel, is clean, modern but with touches of culture and architecture from another era. Our hotel was located at Republic Square. At night, the scene transformed. Imagine the sight with fountains, lit up buildings and Andrea Bocelli’s Time to Say Goodbye playing in the background. It was gorgeous! The city is also called the rose colored capital because most of its buildings are built in a pink shade of “tuf” stone.
We spent the majority of the trip in Yerevan and would just drive out every day to visit the sights. The Armenian countryside is very pleasant and each drive always yielded different views.
One fun thing we did while on one of our drives out to the tourist sites was to stop by the road and pick up some obsidian. There is so much of it in the country!
A lot of the sights that we went to were monasteries. I’ll have to say I was pretty much blown away almost every time I visited a new one. Each one had a more fantastic location than the last. There were dramatic backdrops like gorges, valleys and mountains, while locations were usually in the middle of nowhere.
One of the first ones we visited were the churches that were overlooking Lake Sevan. This lake is the largest body of water in Armenia and is situated pretty high above sea level at 1,900 meters.
The next was the Khor Virap monastery. This was supposed to be where you could get the best views of Mt. Ararat and its snowy peaks, but it was covered with fog on the day that we went. There were some vendors selling doves, which you could release in the direction of Mt. Ararat. Sounded like another one of those tourist traps, but of course, one of my sisters still bought one. Why not though, right? When else can you say you released a dove out into a biblical mountain? It was still a fun and funny experience (She had to carry the bird up lots of steps and it would not stop twitching!).
Khor Virap also had St. Gregory the Illuminator’s underground pit. St. Gregory is the country’s patron saint and is credited for converting Armenia from paganism to Christianity.
The next monastery, Noravank, was my favorite. The mountains surrounding it were all red rock and jagged stones.
A visit to Geghard Monastery, which is carved from a single rock, was a must. It had really amazing acoustics, that when one person sings, it sounds like a whole choir! We also went to Sanahin and Haghpat monasteries, both of which are Unesco World Heritage Sites. Saghmosavank Monastery is a monastery that is perched at the edge of the precipitous gorge of the Kasakh river. Celyn Sala