Armenia. Sightseeing tours

Overview
The forefather of the Armenians is considered to be the biblical Noah, whose ark landed on Mount Ararat.
The country is located in the Transcaucasia, in the north-east of the Armenian Plateau, bordered by Azerbaijan to the east and south-west. Georgia is across the northern border, Iran is to the south, Turkey, to the west.

For many people, Armenia is an open air museum. There are about four thousand historical monuments, most of which are Christian churches and monasteries.Built of volcanic tuff, they are usually located in the most remote places - on the cliffs, at the bottom of gorges - and look so perfectly, as if grown there by themselves, without human intervention.Here, even in a remote village, you can find a monument of cultural heritage, and the climate zone may change in a couple of hours from icebound peaks and barren rocky slopes to alpine meadows and valleys, where in the dry desert air grow vineyards and fruit trees.

History
In September 2008, during excavations in Areni cave were found the oldest shoes that are older than five and a half thousand years. Those were soft shoes with pointed ends, and they were practically the same as traditional shoes of many Armenian villages.
Three thousand years ago there were the cities of Urartu. In the first century BC. e. during the reign of King Tigranes II, the Great Armenia was a powerful state with borders from the Kura to the Jordan and from the Mediterranean Sea to the Caspian.
In 301 AD. Armenia was the first state to adopt Christianity as the state religion.
At the end of IV century, a part of Great Armenia goes to Rome, the main part - to Persia. In the middle of VII century Armenian lands were seized by the Arabs. In the IX century the representatives of the Bagration dynasty managed to unite most of the Arab lands and overthrow the power of the caliphate,. Soon afterwards, the independence of the Armenian kingdom of the Bagratides was recognized by the Arabs and Byzantines.
In the second half of the XI century, under the blows of Byzantines and Seljuks, Armenian statehood is shifted to the west. At the end of the XII century, Armenian lands became part of Georgia; in the first half of the XIII century, the Mongols invaded it, later - the army of Tamerlane. During the XIII-XIV centuries the Armenian aristocracy was gradually replaced by military-nomadic aristocracy of Turkic or Kurdish origin.

In the XVI-XVIII centuries the Transcaucasia becomes a battleground for supremacy between Persia and the Ottoman Empire. Its one of the most important events was the forced relocation of Armenians in the central regions of Iran, held in the early XVII century by the decision of the Persian Shah Abbas I (the so-called "Great surgun "), during which were killed several thousands of Armenians, mostly women, children and the elderly.
In the first half of the XVIII century, Russia states their interests in the South Caucasus. In 1828, the Armenian territories get included in the Russian Empire as a result of wars with Turkey. Armenian Oblast was formed, with the center in Erivan.
In 1915, due to the genocide of Christians living in the Ottoman Empire, Armenia lost a significant part of the population. In 1918 was announced the formation of the independent Republic of Armenia in the Russian territory of Armenia; from 1922 to 1936, Armenia was in the Soviet Union as part of the Transcaucasian SFSR, then as an independent Soviet republic.
On September 23, 1991 was proclaimed the independence of the Republic of Armenia. Armenia is a presidential republic (president - Serge Sargsyan), divided into 10 provinces and the city of Yerevan.

Religion
Approximately 98.7% of the population belongs to the Orthodox Armenian Apostolic Church. THe Head of AAC is the Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, whose residence is located in Echmiadzin Monastery (Yerevan).

National holidays
•    December 1 - January 1-2 - New Year
•    January 28 - Army Day
•    March 8 - International Women's Day
•    April 7 - Celebration of Motherhood and Beauty
•    April 24 - Day of Remembrance of the Armenian Genocide
•    May 1 - Labor Day
•    May 8 - Yerkrap Day (Fatherland Defender's Day)
•    May 9 - Victory and Peace Day
•    May 28 - Day of the First Republic
•    June 1 - International Children's Day
•    July 5 - Constitution Day
•    September 1 - Day of Knowledge, Writing and Literature
•    September 21 - Independence Day
•    December 7 - Day of Remembrance of the Victims of the 1988 earthquake in Spitak

Religious Holidays
•    Christmas and Epiphany - January 6.
•    Easter
•    Day of Holy Etchmiadzin - Sunday, 64 days after Easter Day.
•    Sv.Vardanide holiday - Thursday, 8 weeks before Easter. Commemorates the defeat of the Armenian forces in the battle against the Persian army on Avarayr field. The Persians intended to turn Armenians into paganism, but even at the cost of huge losses, having won, abandoned their intention. The Armenians defended the Christian faith.

National cuisine
A separate attraction of the country is the national cuisine, rooted in the era of Urartu. It has elements of the Mediterranean and Minor Asia cuisine. Armenian cuisine is an abundance of herbs, cheeses, vegetables, meat and, of course, pita, which is still baked in clay ovens according to an ancient technology.
Since ancient times, the inhabitants of Armenian Highland engaged in cattle breeding, hence the abundance of meat dishes in Armenian cuisine. Very popular are "khorovatz" - skewers of large pieces of meat (often it can also mean vegetables baked in the fire: eggplant, tomatoes, peppers), "iki-bir" - skewers with lemon juice and fat-tail fat, meat balls "kyufta" "dolma" - the same meat in grape leaves, but cooked in Armenian style, the delicious "baskyrtat" - strings of boiled beef with walnuts and cilantro with a special sauce, "bozbash" and "Putuk" - two completely different dishes made of meat with peas, Armenian "basturma", rice soup with fried onions "chulumbur", the famous "hash" - a very thick and hearty meat soup.
Until recently, no vegetable oil was used in Armenian cuisine, instead of it was used only butter (basically melted).
Herding affected the popularity of dairy products - pickled cheeses and sour dairy products.
The "ishkhan khorovatz" is unique - Sevan trout roasted on a spit.
Most Armenian sweets are made of fruits. "Alanis" - dried peaches stuffed with grated walnuts, sugar and cinnamon instead of the bone are very popular.
Despite the fact that brandy production in Armenia was founded just over a hundred years ago, the country in such a short time has gained fame as one of the best producers of it, and the drink itself received national status.
Famous is also the homemade mulberry vodka, in small quantities it is considered to be good for the heart and metabolism. It can be brewed two or three times, but even at 50-60 degrees it remains soft and still has a fruity aroma. It is rarely made for sale, mostly kept for home use. But in Armenian, there is no word for hangover.
Another favorite drink of the Armenians is coffee. It is prepared on coals or hot sand, strong, with foam, and is drunk with ice water.

People
The Armenians are an ancient people, whose formation in the Armenian highlands had been completed by the VI century BC. e. Their endoethnonym - "Ike" - according to legend, goes back to a descendant of Noah, who rebelled against the Babylonian tyrant Bel, killed him in battle and returned to Armenia, giving rise to the Armenian kingdom.
As a rule, the Armenians are not stingy to express their emotions, are bright, talk loudly and emphasize their speech with facial expressions and gestures, they are impulsive and unpredictable, but rarely instigate scandals until you hurt their feelings or the dignity of their relatives or compatriots.
Usually they are not good at saving money, but there may be workaholics who selflessly dedicate themselves to work and are eager to rise to the top of the career ladder. Armenians tend to desire to get to the top in everything, but, along with hard work, Armenians switch tastes and preferences, and often change their occupation, seeking out new areas of labor.
The Armenians are sensual and open. Miraculously, they combine sentimentality with activity, they are impulsive and full of emotions, especially when they are young. At maturity they are wise and calm people. They appreciate family, family ties, respect national traditions.
The Armenians are quite stubborn - traditionally, they defend their opinion, especially men. Women tend to be conservate, first of all they are homemakers, economic and patient.

Cities and resorts
Yerevan
Yerevan is the capital and largest city of Armenia in terms of population (about 1 million 200 thousand inhabitants) and the area. It is the political, economic, cultural and scientific center of the country.It is located on the river Hrazdan. According to Master Plan of 1924, Yerevan was built as a city with a radial-circular plan, the principle of which persists to this day. The most common construction material was pink tuff, thereby Yerevan was named "Pink City."
There are many historical and architectural monuments - Zvartnots temple of the VII. century AD, one of the oldest in Europe; Monastery Echmiadzin - the center of the Armenian Gregorian Church and the residence of the Catholicos, with a cathedral of IV century AD and magnificent temples of St. Ripsime and St.Gayane. In Yerevan, you can also visit a botanical garden, the ruins of a Roman fortress, a XVI century Turkish fort and a mosque of the XVIII century, as well as the churches Katoghike (XIII century) and Zorawar (XVII-XVIII century).
In Yerevan there is also the Institute of Ancient Manuscripts - a research center and one of the largest repositories of manuscripts.
Gyumri
The second largest city of Armenia is located in the north-west of the country at an altitude of 1550 meters above sea level, 10 km from the border with Turkey. The city's name is derived from the name of the river Gyumriget,which is not far away. It is a city with a complex history, rich cultural heritage and traditions.
The ancient name of the city is Kumairi. In the Russian Empire it was called Alexandroupoli, in 1924 it was renamed to be Leninakan. After declaring independence, the Armenian city regained its historical name - Gyumri.
The city suffered very much from the 1988 earthquake, when most of it was destroyed in seconds. Not a single building over five floors survived in Leninakan. The recovery was long and difficult.
Modern Gyumri is a beautiful and neat city. The preserved streets and entire city blocks of the XIX century are under state protection. The town has five churches, one monastery and one Orthodox chapel.
Tsakhadzor
The city's name literally means "Valley of Flowers". It is a popular ski and climate resort, located 50 km north-east of Yerevan, in a picturesque valley at an altitude of about 1800 meters above sea level. The rarefied mountain air dramatically increases the level of hemoglobin in the blood, which is good for health.
In Soviet times it was where coached the USSR sports teams before international competitions. Here were constructed many hotels, resorts, sports facilities.
The ski season in Tsakhkadzor lasts from mid-November to mid-April.

Jermuk
It is a mountain resort, famous for its healing mineral waters. Not far away are medieval caves and Jermuk waterfall.
It produces table mineral water "Jermuk"

Arzni
It is also known for its mineral waters and good weather conditions.

Dilijan
The city produces the same name mineral water.
In the Art Museum of Dilijan are widely represented Western European paintings of the XVII-XIX centuries, Russian and Armenian art of the XIX-XX centuries, as well as archaeological finds.
Around the town are located the monastery complexes Agartsin and Goshavanq. Dilijan Reserve, 15 km from the town, includes the picturesque Lake Parz.

Tourism
Currently Armenia has more than 60 hotels, 30 hotel-type facilities, 23 tourist centers, 11 health centers and 11 boarding houses, and new hotels are being built and opened.
Numerous monuments - the ruins of the cities of Urartu and of ancient capitals of the Armenian state, Orthodox monasteries and temples, the pagan temple of Garni and others, a variety of mountain scenery and unique natural objects - Mount Ararat and Lake Sevan, Armenian food and hospitality - all this is waiting for visitors.