From the tourism point of view Armenia is one of the most underrated countries in the world. And this is not only my opinion, but the one mentioned by many famous websites, such as the National Geographic.
According to the statistics nearly 1 million tourists are visiting Armenia every year and let’s agree on the fact, that it is not a huge number. Now, let us discuss some of the advantages that will make Armenia a great destination and the reasons why I think Armenia is really underrated.
As we know, one of the most interesting branches of the tourism is culture. People often travel to different countries and when asked the question, why they chose specifically Prague or Paris, they may get hard times answering that question. However, most of the times the reason is the rich culture of that country with the many infrastractures of it (for example the Louvre Museum in Paris) or the beautiful architecture which is the part of the culture.
Armenia has a very rich cultural inheritance which can be seen both in the museums and out of them. The history of the country has started more than 2000 years ago. On 2018 Armenia was celebrating the 2800 anniversary of Yerevan.
Thus, I want to present the places where you can most easily get acquainted with the best cultural samples of the country.
Matenadaran – Matenadaran is considered to be the archive of Armenian writings. The value and beauty that the manuscripts in Matenadaran have, is simply impossible to describe in words. I will mention only about the Gospels with their amazing medieval miniature paintings.
Another thing worth mentioning is that Armenian alphabet was invented in the 5th century, which means you can find many books and manuscripts in Matenadaran which were created in the 5th century.
History Museum of Armenia – The museum is a real present for all of the cultural tourism lovers. This is a place where you can see not only Armenian but also Urartian era items. Urartu was one of the most ancient countries – right in the territory of Historical Armenia. The biggest part of the historical Armenia’s territory was in the nowadays Turkey and the Republic of Armenia occupies only the 10% of the historical territories.
National gallery – A place where you can get acquainted with the best examples of Armenian art. Besides you can see the works of both Armenian and foreign artists, such as Tintoretto, Guercino, Druce, Class, Golan and Martiros Saryan, Aivazovsky and others. Besides, there is also one more section in the gallery which deserves so much of attention of the tourists: that is the Fresco Gallery. From different parts of Armenia the frescoes depicted on the Armenian church walls are bought and kept here.
The history of gallery is remarkable. The first director of the gallery was Martiros Saryan – one of the most famous Armenian artists. Let me change a little bit the topic by mentioning that in on one of the central streets of Yerevan which is named after Saryan, one can find the most beautiful and amazing wine houses.
Armenian architecture is deeply connected with its powerful past. With my non-professional point of view Armenian architecture can be divided into 3 parts.
Armenia was used to be a pagan country before Christianity came to the country. As some of the local guides are telling there were a lot of temples at those times, most of which are not even preserved. To be more correct – only one named Garni Pagan Temple is preserved. It was built in the 1st century AD by king Tiridates to worship the God of the Sun. Most of the tourists in the world, when talking about the pagan or prehistoric period structures always mention Athens or Rome being the best destination for seeing those. However, in my opinion Garni temple is not less beautiful than Acropolis. Besides, from the Garni Temple you can also admire the beautiful nature, as there is a wonderful view to Garni Gorge.
Armenia is the first country in the world which has adopted Christianity as a State religion in 301. However, the Armenian church is not Catholic, but Apostolic. The reason could be the apostles (the Christ’s disciples ) who came to Armenia at that period for spreading Christianity. I think that is the reason why Armenian churches are so different from the other churches of the world. They have a simpler architecture, lacking the statues which are special to Catholic churches, various colors. However, at the same time they are very beautiful, unique and influential. They are giving special feelings to the visitors, the ones that can’t be described with words.
They are domed by their design, made of gray stone, and have a cross-sectional structure inside. Below I present the most impressive churches and monasteries I have visited.
Monastery of Tatev– Tatev is one of the most famous tourist destinations in Armenia. The reason is the ropeway of Tatever which is the longest in the world and has a length of 5.7 km. This distance can be crossed in 12 minutes. For 12 minutes you are flying over the height of 300 meters, and enjoying the view of the canyon where one of the most famous rivers of Armenia flows. Amazing nature, mountains, clean and fresh air even on the hot summer days. And at the end – the amazing medieval monastic complex appears to you. Tatev – a church which is built right on the rocks. it is worth taking a car or a tour offered in Armenia drive of for 4-5 hours from Yerevan to see this beauty.
Khor Virap: Khor Virap monastery is the place from where Christianity was spread throughout Armenia in the 4th century. The point is that Grigor Lusavorich, the clergy whose efforts were to spread Christianity in Armenia, was imprisoned in the monastery territory. In the literal translation Khor Virap would mean a deep pit. It is very symbolic to visit Khor Virap when you are in the first Christian country. Besides, I think that Mount Ararat – the mount on which Noah’s ark landed after the flood, is best seen right from Khor Virap. The mountain is used to be known as the symbol of Armenia, though is in the territory of Turkey nowadays. I guess you remember my mention about the historical territories of Armenia being in territories of Turkey.
There are a lot of beautiful churches and monasteries in Armenia. Another one of them is the Geghard monastery which is cut in the rock. By the way, it is close to the Garni temple. Some other famous churches are Haghartsin, Goshavank, Haghpat and Sanahin, which are in the northern part of Armenia. The last two are included in the list of UNESCO’s World Cultural Heritage. The Mother Cathedral of the Mother See of Etchmiadzin is also included in that list.
Urban architecture: The buildings of Urban architecture were built since 19th century. This is known to be the Caucasian style of urban architecture. These type of buildings can be seen in Yerevan and Gyumri. I am more specifically advising you to visit Gyumri in order to admire the beautiful and unique architecture there.
Here, I also want to talk about the capital Yerevan, the history of which starts 2800 years ago. I can say that Yerevan is one of those cities only for which you could visit Armenia. Though the old age of it, most of the parts of Yerevan were built only 100 years ago, during the USSR years. But Yerevan doesn’t attract the tourists only with the buildings, but the warmness it has. You will meet smiling and happy people everywhere, people who are always ready to help you, become friends with you and make your trip one of the most pleasant ones.