If you’d like to step back in time without ever leaving the present, Amistad Tour’s cultural tours of Armenia are designed just for you. Our tours are developed to give you a deep understanding and appreciation for this ancient land, it’s people, and their customs.
While every tour is customized to the interests of each group, our tours can take you from the lush forests and ancient monasteries in the north like Haghpat, Sanahin, and Samosavank, to the 4000m+ mountain peaks, Lake Sevan, and ancient fortresses like Amberd in the center of Armenia, to the ancient wineries in Areni, to the world’s longest open-span tramway on the way to Tatev Monastery,and the ghost towns, walnut groves and mysteries of Nagorno Karabagh.
If exploring the past is your passion, let Amistad Tours design an historical tour of Armenia just for you.
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Arrival in Yerevan.
Arrival at Zvartnots International Airport.Airport meeting and greeting. Transfer to the hotel. Accommodation at the selected hotel.
Yerevan City Tour
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 ArinBerd 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 Fortressitself. 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, the Cascade is a surprisingly modern treat in the heart of our ancient city.
Lunch at 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.
Echmiadzin – Zvartnots – Vernissage
After breakfast, we’ll depart for Echmiadzin to visit the Echmiadzin Cathedral which was constructed in 303 A.D. and is the first church built in the world. It continues to be the oldest church in Christianity. According to the Annals of S. V, St. Gregory had a vision of Christ descending from heaven and striking the Earth with a golden hammer to show where the new cathedral was to be erected.
We’ll also visit other famous churches including the Church of St. Hripsime (618 A.D.) and The Church of St. Gayane (630 A.D.). Etchmiadzinistheresidence of the Catholicos, the head of the Armenian Apostolic Church.
After lunch we’ll visit the Zvartnots Cathedral. It was a circular cathedral of VII century, located about 15 kilometers west of Yerevan, on the edge of Etchmiadzin.
We’ll return to Yerevan and have time for shopping at Vernissage, the open-air crafts and souvenirs market.
Dinner will again be at our guests’ discretion.
Garni and Geghard
After breakfast, we’ll then drive to the Kotayk region. On the way, we’ll stop at the Charents Arch, named after the great Armenian Poet. Here there is a spectacular view of Mt. Ararat (weather permitting). Then, will proceed to visit the Geghard Monestary, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Geghard was founded in the IV century by Gregory the Illuminator around a spring in a cave and carved from the rock.
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.
There will then be a visit to the Greco-Roman Garni Temple, a pagan temple (1stc. A.D.) and the fortress (2nd c. B.C.) in Garni village. The visit includes an opportunity to listen to a capellaconcert in the natural acoustic hall of Garni and is followed by a khorovats(barbeque) prepared in a traditional tondir. Our guest will also see the process of making Armenian bread (lavash) at the home of an Armenian family.
Return to Yerevan.
After breakfast at the hotel, we’ll check out and proceed to Lake Sevan, one of the largest and high-altitude lakes in the world. We’ll visit Hayravank monastery (9-12th centuries) and the Sevan monastery (9th century) on the peninsula. We’ll see ancient Khachkars (9-17th centuries) near the Noradouz village.
We’ll have lunch at the restaurant on the peninsula. The afternoon will be free to walk and explore the lakeshore. We’ll have dinner and overnight at a hotel on the lakeshore.
Selim – Karahunge – Goris
After breakfast and check-out at the hotel we’ll drive towards Selim Pass (2410m) and visit the Selim Karavansaray (1332 AD), which was once a stop on the Silk Road. From there we’ll drive to the Vayots Dzor region and visit the medieval Zorats church (14th century) in village of Yeghegis.
After lunch, we’ll continue on to Karahunge, an ancient observatory (5 millennium B.C.), before ending our day in Goris – a town nestled in a valley on Armenia’s frontier. We’ll have dinner and overnight in Goris.
Goris – Tatev – Shushi – Stepanakert
After breakfast and check-out at the hotel, we’ll drive towards one of the great treasures of Armenia – Tatev Monastery (9-13th centuries). A UNESCO World Heritage site located on an impenetrable cliff in a remote valley of Armenia’s southern highlands, Tatev is perhaps the crown jewel of Armenia’s over 15,000 ruins. To get to Tatev, we’ll take the world’s longest reversible aerial tramway (5750m).
Following lunch in Tatev, we’ll visit Khdzoresk or old village in caves from the 1st millennium B.C. From there we’ll continue towards Nagorno Karabakh. After checking-in in Stepanakert, we’ll tour the ruins of the ancient city of Shushi. Thereafter we’ll have dinner and overnight at the hotel in Stepanakert.
After breakfast at the hotel we’ll head out to tour Gandzasar monastery (10-13th centuries), whose name means literally hilltop treasure. The church is thought to have relics from John the Baptist and his father Zechariah Lunch. The afternoon will be free to explore more of Stepanakert. We’ll have dinner and overnight at the hotel in Stepanakert.
Stepanakert – Areni – Noravank – KhorVirap – Yerevan
After breakfast and check-out at the hotel we’ll drive towards Vayots Dzor region. On the way we’ll visit a wine factory in Areni village where travellers can taste delicious Armenian wine. The road itself winds through a rugged, rocky canyon and we’ll 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 centuries) - 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.
After Noravank, we’ll head to Khor Virap Monastery (4-17th centuries), whose name means deep 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 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.
Upon return to Yerevan, our guests will have the evening at their leisure.
Today is a free day. After breakfast at the hotel, our guests are free to explore Yerevan at their leisure.
Ohanavank – Saghmosavank – Amberd Castle – Karmravor – Tsiranavor
Following breakfast at the hotel, we’ll have a packed day visiting a variety of ancient sites including: the Ohanavank Monastery (5-13th centuries), the Saghmosavank Monastery (12-13th centuries), and Amberd Castle (10-13th centuries).
We’ll have lunch and then drive towards the town of Ashtarak, where we view a medieval bridge (14-17th centuries), Karmravor (7th century) which is an old water mill, and Tsiranavor Church (5th century).
We’ll return to Yerevan and our guests will have the remainder of the evening to continue discovering the culinary delights of Armenia’s capitol.
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 the 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.
The evening will again be free in Yerevan.
Yerevan Museums – the Ararat Cognac Factory
Following breakfast at the hotel we’ll visit a traditional Armenian fruit and vegetable market where our guests can try their hand at bargaining, the original Armenian sport. From there we’ll visit the State History Museum and the National Gallery of Art.
After lunch in the city, we’ll visit the Yerevan Brandy Company and get a chance to taste their famous Ararat Cognac, which was Winston Churchill’s cognac.
Thereafter there will be an optional visit to the Parajanov Museum, which is home to the works of one of the Armenia’s greatest dissident cinematographers and artists Sergei Parajanov. His work, totally out of step with the officially sanctioned Soviet style: socialist realism. Alternatively our guests may wish to make a visit to Vernissage(Yerevan’s open air souvenir market).
Our farewell dinner will be at the Ararat restaurant.During the first part of the evening, our guests will be introduced to traditional folk dance, and enjoy the mystical sounds of the ancient Armenian duduk, a wind instrument, and will watch a charming ensemble playing stringedQanons. During the second part of the show, a showman will entertain the guests by singing popular hits in their native languages.
Overnight at the hotel.
Breakfast. Check-out. Transfer to the airport.Departure.