As a wonderland of pre-historic and ancient history, as well as the first country to official convert to Christianity in 301 AD, Armenia is the ideal destination who want to explore world history as it happened over the last 6000 years along the far Western end of the old Silk Road.
Religious Tours in Armenia
Outside of Israel or Italy, there may not be another country with as much religious history and significance as Armenia. As the first country to officially accept Christianity in 301 A.D., Armenia is literally bursting at the seams with ancient Armenian churches and monasteries (at last count there are over 15,000 ruins), and amazing stories of a persecuted church surviving through invasions, genocides, and Communism to continue to shine Jesus’ light today.
While tours in Armenia are incomplete without taking into account Armenia’s religious history, for those passionate about uncovering the origins of early Christianity, Amistad Tour has developed a unique approach to religious tourism that provides an indepth overview and upfront personal experiences at the places of most significance., be it the ancient monastery and university of Tatev, or the secluded bulwarks like Geghard that helped keep faith alive for nearly two millennia.
Day 1Arrival at Zvartnots International Airport.Airport meeting and greeting. Transfer to the hotel. Accommodation at the selected hotel.
City tour of Yerevan: Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, is as old as Rome, Babylon, Nineveh, and Carthage.
Our tour starts with a visit to the Archaeological Museum of Erebuni, which stands at the foot of the Arin-Berd hills. This is the location of the Urartian-period fortress Erebuni, the antecedent of present day Yerevan. The museum was established in 1968 on the occasion of the 2750th anniversary of Yerevan. Here you can view stone irrigation and water pipes, a large stone bowl made of volcanic rock used for filtering water and an ancient grinding stone. This hall also exhibits jars, saddles and farming implements, wine vessels, weaponry and crafts, exhibits iron pipes, door locks, vessels, molds and weaponry, including helmets, spears, small swords, slings, and arrows. There are examples of Urartianjewellery, ceramic figures, bronze tureens, etc.
From the museum we will continue to the Erebuni Fortress itself. In 782 B.C. the Urartian king Argishti the First founded Erebuni, which became the military and administrative center of the state of Urartu. The ruins of the fortress Erebuni are in the southeastern part of today’s Yerevan, on the Arin-Berd hill.
After the visit we will have a short coffee break in one of the cafes located in the very heart of the city.
After the visit we will have a walking tour over Yerevan. We will see the Statue of Mother Armenia which symbolizes peace through strength.
Next, we will visit the Matenadaran– the national deposit of ancient manuscripts. The museum has 17,000 manuscripts. Among the museum's treasures are Lazarus' Gospel, the oldest complete manuscript dated to 887 A.D.; the Echmiatsin Gospel, the oldest complete manuscript illustrations (dated 989 A.D.), the oldest manuscript written on paper (981 A.D.), as well as other unique manuscripts.
Thereafter we’ll visit the Cascade Monument, a huge white stairwell built into a Yerevan hillside in the 1970’s. Resplendent with water fountains running down the entire length of the stairs, the visual effect is reminiscent of a natural cascade in a river or stream.
The Cascade Monument is also home to the Cafesjian Modern Art Museum and Sculpture Garden. With works by artists like Botero, Lynn Chadwick, Barry Flanagan, StanislavLibensky and JaroslavaBrychtova, and Paul Cox, theCascadeis a surprisinglymoderntreat intheheartofourancientcity.
Lunch in a nearby restaurant.
In the afternoon we’ll visit the Genocide Memorial Complex and the Museum, which pays tribute to the 1.5 million Armenians who were slaughtered in the first genocide of the 20th century.
After a rest at the hotel, the evening is free for our guest to explore the city.
After breakfast at the hotel, we’ll visit the State History Museum which was founded in 1921. The museum presents the whole history of Armenia from the era of primitive society to present day. It displays a variety of jewelry, coins, household items, tools, weapons, carpets and clothing, all found during numerous archaeological expeditions in the region.
We’ll then drive to the Kotayk region. On the way, we will stop on the Arch of Charents (with a stunning view of Mount Ararat). Then we’ll visit to the monastery of Geghard (XII-XIII centuries) which is carved from rocks and caves. Afterwards we’ll visit to the pagan temple Garni (1st century A.D.) and the fortress (2nd century B.C.) in the village of Garni.
Lunch will be in Garni at the home of an Armenian family. After lunch and a bit of we’ll be given a Master Class in making "lavash” (Armenian flat bread). Our guests can participate in the entire process and will later participate in the daily chores of this rural family. Afterwards we’ll return to Yerevan for another free evening of exploration and adventure.
After breakfast at the hotel we’ll drive towards KhorVirap Monastery (4-17th c.) (meaningdeep dungeon). This complex is the place where the founder of the Armenian church, St. Gregory the Illuminator, was imprisoned for being a Christian evangelist. He was freed when he prayed over the king and the king was miraculously healed. Therewith Armenia became a Christian nation (in 301 A.D.). Its location, near the closest point to Mount Ararat within Armenian borders, offers a spectacular view of the mountain, the national symbol of Armenia.
From there we’ll drive to the Vayots Dzor region. On the way we’ll visit a wine factory in Areni village where travellers can taste delicious Armenian wine. Along the way, we’ll drive through a rocky canyon and experience the unique scenery of the Amaghou valley.
Lunch will be served in the restaurant next to Noravank Monastery, where organic local food is served. The guests will have a great view of the Canyon.
Surrounded by red and grey limestone cliffs the guests will tour Noravank monastery (13-14th century) - meaning new monastery). It’s the only church in Armenia decorated with a unique relief representation of the large-headed and beardedGod the Father with large almond shaped eyes blessing the Crucifix with his right hand and holding in his left hand the head of Adam, with a dove - the Holy Spirit - above it. Noravank is a highly artistic monument reminiscent of the tower-like burial structures of the first years of Christianity in Armenia. Upon our return to Yerevan the guests will have another evening free.
After breakfast at the hotel, we will travel to the mountain resort town of Dilijan to visit the monastic complexes of Goshavank(12th-13th century located in the beautiful Guetik rock valley, 16 km from Dilijan) and Haghartsin (built by architect Minas in 1248 A.D. with lavish decorations of carved stone. The main church was typical of churches built between the tenth and thirteenth centuries. In city of Dilijan we will visit a special exhibit which was reconstructed by archaeologists to show how people lived in the Paleolithic age and what kind of tools they used. Our archaeologist will provide a tour and explanation.
From there we’ll travel to Lake Sevan. It is the largest lake in Armenia and one of the highest mountain lakes of the world. We will visit the monastery of the Holy Apostles called Sevanavanq, which was founded in 874 A.D. by Princess Mariam Bagratuni. Lunch will be at the AshotErkat Restaurant, which is located on the shore of the Lake Sevan and offers a magnificent panorama. The evening will again be free in Yerevan.
Yerevan-Echmiatzin- Aknashen (archaeological site VI-V mil. B.C)-Zvartnots-Yerevan
Following breakfast, we’ll drive to Echmiadzin, the religious center of Armenia. The excursion will cover the territory of residence of the Catholicos – the head of the Armenian Apostolic church, then visit to the First Cathedral of Saint Echmiadzin (303 A.D.), which means the The Descent of the Only Begotten Son. On the way, we’ll stop at the settlement of Aknashen.
We will continue with the visits to churches of Saint Hripsime and Saint Gayane (7th century), as well as the ruins of Zvartnots Temple, which is a monument that embodies the centuries old traditions of Armenian architects.Echmiadzin and Zvartnots are designated UNESCO World Heritage sites, because they ''graphically illustrate the evolution and development of the Armenian central-domed cross-hall type of church, which exerted a profound influence on architectural and artistic development in the region.”
Thereafter we’ll visit the Ararat Brandy Factory and Museum where our guests will get acquainted with the 120 year history of one of the world’s great brandies, and see the oldest Armenian barrels and the medals which Ararat has earned over the decades.
We’ll have a farewell dinner at the Ararat restaurant. During the first part of the evening guests will be introduced to traditional folk dance, experience the mystical sounds of the Armenian folk instrument called the Duduk, and will watch the charming women who play a Qanon. During the second part of the show the showman will entertain the guests by singing popular hits in their native languages.
Day 7Breakfast. Check-out. Transfer to the airport. Departure.