Dates for Guaranteed Departures:
WHY ARMENIA WAS ON THE GREAT SILK ROAD…
May 08 - May 16
June 18 - June 26
July 10 - July 19
August 08 - August 16
October 12 - October 20
This tour will take you to the remote forests, mountains and town of Armenia which were a part of the Great Silk Road. You’ll be following the route all the time meeting the road signs everywhere saying “Armenian Silk Road”.
Armenia was on the Great Silk Road as this ancient country had something special to offer. In Armenia the monks would produce a very high quality deep and fiery red dye from a worm called “Vordan Karmir”(translated as “red worm”) endemic to the Araratian Plateau. The dye never fades under natural light. It was used in manuscript illustration, in painting rugs, carpets, textiles as well as in architecture. The Bible mentions this red dye derived from the red worm, used by Noah's offspring. In the third century Leonardo da Vinci witnessed he received a red dye from Armenia “of such a high quality that the color would never fade”. A.D., the king of Persia presented Emperor Aurelian with a woven wool fabric dyed in red, which became a phenomenon in Rome because of the brilliance of the color, all the more remarkable because the source of that dye was a worm growing in distant Armenia.
Besides the cochineal dye Armenia exported horses highly valued in China, arming, gold and silver, obsidian, leather and wool, carpets and rugs, exotic fruits – watermelons and peaches, wine, fat-tail sheep and hounds, leopards and lions.
ARMENIA ON THE GREAT SILK ROAD…
DAY 1. Meeting at Zvartnots airport. Transfer to hotel. Check-in. Overnight in Yerevan.
DAY 2. YEREVAN CITY TOUR: Abovyan Street on the GREAT SILK ROAD, Cascade, Matenadaran – Manuscript Museum, History Museum, Erebuni Fortress – the birthplace of Yerevan, “Covered” Bazaar, Mother Armenia Statue offering a “bird eye view” of Yerevan. Overnight in Yerevan.
DAY 3. ECHMIADZIN TOUR, the Holy See of the Armenian Apostolic Churuch. Echmiadzin Mother Cathedral, the oldest church in Armenia, St. Hripsime Church, Zvartnots Cathedral Ruins. Visit a Carpet factory. Overnight in Yerevan.
DAY 4. NORTHERN ARMENIA: Haghpat and Sanahin Monasteries (UNESCO World Heritage Sites). Vanadzor – Dilijan highway which was a part of the GREAT SILK ROAD offering fascinating landscapes with its forests and Russian villages along the highway. Overnight in Dilijan spa town.
DAY 5. Old Dilijan town. Haghartsin Monastery in the middle of a rainforest. Lake Sevan National Park. Sevanavank Monastery. Noradouz – world’s biggest field of Armenian stone-crosses (khachkars). Selim Mounatain Pass & its renowned Caravanserai on the GREAT SILK ROAD where you’ll see the remains of the real old road and ancient bridges, innumerable fresh water springs. Jermuk spa town. Overnight in Jermuk.
DAY 6. Take a stroll in Jermuk’s Park of Statues. Mineral water tasting gallery. Mermaid’s Hair waterfall. Kotrats Caravanserai on the GREAT SILK ROAD. Qarahunge Observatory (7500years old) known as “Armenian Stonehenge”. Goris town. Overnight in Goris.
DAY 7. Take the world’s longest aerial tramway to reach Tatev Monastery, the biggest Armenian Monastery – Fortress. Noravank Monastery amidst huge red cliffs. Khor Virap Monastery on the background of the biblical Mount Ararat. Overnight in Yerevan.
DAY 8. Garni Pagan Temple, the only Hellenistic Temple in the Caucasus. Geghard Monastery carved out of a huge monolithic rock where the Holy Spear piercing Christ’s side was preserved. Vernisage Market of arts & crafts in Yerevan. Overnight in Yerevan.
DAY 9. Transfer to International Airport of Zvartnots, Armenia. At this point our service ends. Thank you!
Arrival. Meet & greet at the airport. Transfer to hotel. Check-in. Rest. Overnight in Yerevan.
YEREVAN CITY TOUR: Yerevan is the pink “pearl” of Armenia, the capital of Armenia. This ancient European city is mostly built by different shades of the local pink stone called tuff. Yerevan is one of the most ancient cities in the world founded in 782B.C. It’s 29years older than Rome, the capital of Italy. The founder of Yerevan was the Urartian King Argishti I who founded the fortress of Erebouni on the southern part of nowadays Yerevan. Visit Erebouni Fortress with its citadel after having visited the Statue of “Mother Armenia” offering a bird-eye-view of the city. Then continue to the renowned Abovyan Street on THE GTREAT SILK ROAD to see some old and beautiful buildings. In ancient times on this street there were caravanserais, hotels of antiquity, a welcome sight for traders, travelers and explorers of old. They stayed there overnight with horses, camels… Feel the taste and the culinary spirit of Armenia by visiting the “Covered” Bazaar where you can taste the dried fruits, some stuffed with different kinds of nuts, flavorsome vegetables, spices and typical Armenian desserts. Get acquainted with the rich spiritual and cultural life of ancient Armenia at Matenadaran, a unique Research Institute and museum of ancient and medieval illustrated manuscripts. Marvel at the illuminated pages of some of those manuscripts within their glass cases. The pictures and titles on those pages are decorated with blues, greens, violets, and reds which never seem to have faded. The deep reds, delicately touched with gold, virtually burned out of the pages yellowed by their age of hundreds of years, and they seem as if they had been retouched only yesterday… Overnight in Yerevan.
Leave for the town of Echmiadzin, the spiritual capital of Armenia, the Holy See of the Armenian Apostolic Church, where the Armenian Catholicos (Supreme Patriarch) resides. Echmiadzin used to be one of the ancient capitals of Armenia. Visit St. Hripsime Church built in 7th century. It is considered a masterpiece of early medieval Armenian architecture.
Proceed to Echmiadzin Mother Cathedral, where you’ll participate in the DIVINE LITURGY. This church, historically, is the focal point of the city of Echmiadzin, the one of the oldest churches in the world. It was originally built by Saint Gregory the Illuminator as a vaulted basilica in 301-303A.D., when Armenia became the first officially Christian country in the world. The Mother Cathedral of Etchmiadzin is listed among the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. On the way back to Yerevan visit the Ruins of Zvartnots Cathedral. Zvartnots was a majestic cathedral dedicated to St. Gregory. Zvartnots, built as Armenia's main cathedral in 641-661A.D., was to suppress the Echmiadzin Cathedral by its grandeur. The remnants of Zvartnots, even in ruins, are a majestic sight. The Ruins of Zvartnots are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Visit a carpet factory in Yerevan which aims to recreate all the styles of antique and historical Armenian carpets, preserving our national heritage of design and carpet styles. All of our carpets are produced in Armenia, the source of so many classic carpets! Overnight in Yerevan.
Discover the most beautiful forested area of Armenia with its miraculous mountainous woodlands and bottomless gorges! Visit Haghpat and Sanahin Monasteries. These are huge complexes in Northern Armenia founded in the 10th-13th cc. The both monasteries are outstanding masterpieces of Armenian architecture in which artistic merits transcended the limits of the national culture. They are included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Then you’ll take Vanadzor – Dilijan highway which was a part of the GREAT SILK ROAD offering fascinating landscapes with its forests and Molokan’s (Milk drinkers) Russian villages along the highway. Arrival in Dilijan spa town in Dilijan National Park. Hotel check-in. Words alone can’t describe the natural beauty of Dilijan. Many poets used to say, "If there are woods, mountains, streams and mineral waters in paradise, it must be like Dilijan”. As a climatic balneal health centre of medium-mountain zone, Dilijan is characterized by mild, moderate warm summer, sunny warm winter and dry warm weather during the whole year. Due to its forested mountains and mild climate, Dilijan is named "Armenia's little Switzerland". Overnight in Dilijan.
Take a stroll in the most beautiful part of the town, Old Dilijan. Then continue to the fairy tale Haghartsin Monastery located in the middle of a thick rainforest. Founded in the 12th century it was a very important spiritual, cultural and educational center in the medieval Armenia. It consists of some beautiful churches, a refectory and a bakery. The artistic dominant of the ensemble is the church of St. Mary bearing a bas-relieve of the founders of the church. There is a beautiful khachkar (stone cross) at the entrance to the church and a 1000year old walnut tree. Then we proceed to Lake Sevan National Park to marvel at the fascinating Lake Sevan. The Lake Sevan is a huge mountainous lake which takes up 5% of Armenia's surface area. It’s one of the most beautiful alpine lakes in the world situated at 1900m above sea level. On a clear and sunny day, the water is often deep turquoise color. It has white-sand beaches. The Sevan basin has a unique combination of mountainous air, the big fresh water lake and woods. The Russian poet Maxim Gorky poetically described the lake, “The Lake Sevan is like a genuine piece of sky dropped down from heaven into the mountains”. Climb up to Sevanavank Monastery (9th century) which is located on Sevan peninsula. We continue driving to the other shores of the Lake Sevan following THE SILK ROAD which takes us to Noradouz village where the biggest field of Armenian khachkars (stone crosses) in the world is located with approximately 1000 example. Like two snowflakes none of them is alike. Khachkars are stone cross-bearing carved memorial stele. Khachkar is used as focal points for worship, memorial stones, and relics that facilitate communication between the secular and divine. The height of a khachkar can reach 1.5 metres. The most common feature is a cross in the centre of the stele with a rosette symbolizing wheel of eternity or a solar disc below it. The front side of the stele is usually decorated with carved abstract knot-work patterns, botanical motifs or images of biblical characters. Each of 50 000 khachkars of Armenia has a peculiar composition which is never repeated. This type of Armenian art can be found throughout Armenia and its Diaspora worldwide. THE GREAT SILK ROAD takes us to Selim Mountain Pass (2410 m), offering a breathtaking landscapes of colorful mountains. Here we’ll see the best preserved caravanserai in Armenia, Selim where little has changed since the fourteenth century. It was built in 1332 by Prince Chesar Orbelian, according to an inscription in Armenian and Arabic. This caravanserai offered hospitality to travelers along the highway crossing the Selim (Sulema) mountains. Reaching Jermuk town. Overnight in Jermuk.
Explore the lovely spa town of Jermuk. It is a first-rank climatic and hydrotherapic resort in Armenia, known for its thermal mineral springs at a height of 2080m above sea level. Jermuk is one of the most unpolluted areas in Armenia. The spa offers treatment of the following diseases: diseases of the alimentary canal (gastritis, peptic ulcer, duodenal ulcer); diseases of liver, gall-bladder (cholecystitis, cholangitis) and pancreas; diseases of musculoskeletal system; gynecological illnesses; metabolic imbalance (alimentary obesity, pancreatic (insular) diabetes, gout, oxaluria); peripheral nervous system disorders; skin diseases; oral cavity diseases; ear-throat-nose diseases; orthopedic diseases; proctological and urological diseases; radiculitis; rheumatism; sciatica; and system diseases. Take a stroll in Jermuk’s Park of Statues. Drink Jermuk water at mineral water tasting gallery. Visit Mermaid’s Hair Waterfall in Jermuk.
Again we start following THE GREAT SILK ROAD of Armenia which takes us to Kotrats Caravanserai built in 1319 by the Orbelian family as a way point on the Silk Road. Then we visit Karahunj, Armenia's Stonehenge, an ancient observatory that has caused sensation in astronomical circles. The stones of Zorats Karer, sometimes also referred to as Karahunj after the name of a nearby village, have been the subject of much researches by various authors, notably Elma Parsamian of the Biurakan Observatory in the 1980s and Paris Herouni, an Armenian astronomer. According to Heruni, the site was "a temple with a large and developed observatory, and also a university". He thinks that the temple was dedicated to the Armenian sun-god Ar. He made a survey of the site and claimed it was 7600–4500 years old. Overnight in Goris.
Discover the spirit of the town of Goris, one of the most beautiful towns in Armenia. It’s a town in orchards and all the houses have the same unique architecture with red tile roofs. The town is beautifully planned by a German architect in the 19th century. It’s famous for its home-made mulberry and cornel vodka. Take the world’s longest aerial tramway to reach Tatev Monastery, a formidable monastic complex founded in the 9th century, the biggest monastery in Armenia. It's located on a promontory more than 100 meters above the Vorotan River. According to tradition the relics of the Apostles, Sts. Peter and Paul, were placed under the dome's supporting pillars. It’s a miraculous monastery surrounded by bottomless gorges. Proceed to Noravank Monastery, an architectural gemstone nestled among brick-red cliffs, just above a deep gorge. It’s only here where you can see a bas-relief with the representation of Father God with almond-shaped eyes which look far ahead. Nowhere else in medieval Armenian art God is represented as a man. He was usually depicted in the form of a descending right hand. But Noravank Monastery is an exception! It’s a majestic sight to visit which will remain in your memories forever. Visit Khor Virap Monastery. It was in Khor Virap Monastery where St. Gregory the Illuminator was imprisoned for 13 years before curing King Trdat III of a disease. This caused the conversion of the king and Armenia into the first officially Christian nation in the world in the year 301A.D. To this day you can visit the underground chamber he was imprisoned. Its location, near the closest point to Mount Ararat within Armenian borders, offers a spectacular view of the mountain, the national symbol of Armenia. Back to Yerevan. Overnight in Yerevan.
Visit Garni Pagan Temple, the only Hellenistic Temple in the Caucasus. The Pagan Temple of Garni is the only pagan temple currently standing in Armenia. Gracing the hillside the pagan temple was dedicated to the God of Sun, Mithra. It was built in 77A.D. by the Armenian King Trdat I. The architectural complex of Garni was Armenia's foremost center of Hellenistic culture and the summer residence of Armenian kings. Proceed to Geghard Monastery carved out of a huge monolithic rock. Geghard is an incredible ancient Armenian monastery, partly carved out of a mountain. It is said that the Holy Lance that pierced the body of Christ was kept here. The architectural forms and the decoration of Geghard's rock premises show that Armenian builders could not only create superb works of architecture out of stone, but also hew them in solid rock. It is included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. In Yerevan visit Vernissage Market where you can buy all kinds of artwork, carpets and rugs, jewelry and other typical Armenian souvenirs. Overnight in Yerevan.
Transfer to International Airport of Zvartnots, Armenia.