Armenia, a former Soviet republic in the Caucasus region between Europe and Asia, has an ancient and rich culture and its nation, surrounded by Christians and Muslims for centuries, is one of the most homogeneous in the world.
This mountainous and relatively small country has always been the target of major powers in the region. The country has had many historical shakes, which are still essential piece of the stories told over vodka and beer (together). Armenians, after the Jewish, are the people who suffered the most in the past from the human evil that is ethnic cleansing. The perpetrators were the Turks in 1915, and the scars they left are still very deep. The border with Turkey is almost completely closed, relations cold and people resentful. A million and a half victims would be unbearable for many larger nations, let alone in a country with only about three million people nowadays. This is, among other things, one of the key reasons why Armenia has one of the largest diasporas. The testimonies of the genocide can be found in the memorial complex dedicated to the victims of Armenian genocide, located on the Tsitsernakaberd hill in Yerevan. Even in such a hostile environment, Armenians have managed to preserve their language and religion and to progress whenever they had the opportunity to do so. This proud nation paid a truly heavy price for that.
Armenia is worth visiting for many reasons. Because of the beautiful nature, historic sights and the fact that it was the first country to accept Christianity, with, so to speak, constant reminder of this fact in the thousands of churches and monasteries built in incredibly beautiful landscapes. The most beautiful, still, are the people – kind, hospitable and proud – of its nation, religion, country and history. Before traveling to Armenia, there are two things to keep in mind: it is the only country that was mentioned 3.000 years ago and the first to accept Christianity, in 301 BC.
What to see?
Yerevan, multimillion colossus mourned by the Hrazdan river, in Ararat valley, rises on seven hills, like Rome, and it is mentioned as the twelfth Armenian capital in the chronicles from 1918. Imaginative storytellers released into the world the fairy tale about the origin of it name. According to them, the ancestor of the Old Testament, the patriarch Noah – whom God has commanded to board the arc, besides his family, with the couple of every animal, – climbed to take a break up the Mount Ararat, the primordial sacred place for the Armenians, and gazing into the distance and shouted: “Erevuni eravat!” – Which means – I see something! – in Armenian.
Haghpat – monastery complex and Sanahin monastery from the 10th century (both under UNESCO protection)
Etchmiadzin Cathedral – the spiritual center of Armenian Christianity from the fourth century. There is also the Holy chair of the Council of Armenian Catholics, as well as the center of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Cathedral and museum are part of the world cultural heritage.
Geghard – monastery and amazing architectural complex which is included in the world cultural heritage. The complex was partly carved into the rock. Name of the monastery, which translates as spear, dates from the 13th century, when the spear, that was believed Christ was pierced by, was transferred here.
Garni – is the pagan temple from the first century, known for the Roman mosaics.
Khor Virap – is monastery complex, which was built from 4th till 17th century. This monastery has a special place in Armenian architectural, cultural and historical heritage. In translation, the name of the complex means “deep well.” According to legend, St. George educator spent 13 years in the pit and survived. After that, Christianity was declared for the state religion, and St. George educator became the first Armenian patriarch. The place has a beautiful view on the biblical Mount Ararat.
Noravank – is a monastery from the 13th and 14th century, unique for its historical and cultural heritage.
Lake Sevan – is fed by 28 rivers, but only one outgoing from it. There is also Sevan monastery, which was built in the 9th century on a small island, but because of the lowering of water level is now located on the peninsula. It was used for workshops, and as a place of pilgrimage and asylum.