Armenia in 1 Week 

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It's the perfect summer trip: see the sites, meet new people, have some kick-ass food, and immerse yourself in a new culture in this undiscovered travel destination. Here's how we did it in only 1 week.

Day 1

We spent our first day in the capital city of Armenia, enjoying the amazing array of history, cultural sites, great views, and amazing food that the city has to offer.

Photo of Yerevan, Armenia by Cristina Araxie Cass

You can't go to Armenia without commemorating one of the most tragic and influential events in the country's history. Learn the story at the Genocide Museum, and feel the strength and resilience of Armenia's spirit when you visit the memorial.

Photo of Tsitsernakaberd Armenian Genocide Memorial Complex, Yerevan, Armenia by Cristina Araxie Cass

See the unique modern art in Armenia in this five-level Soviet-Era structure that was renovated in 2009 and reborn as the most important contemporary art museum in Armenia.

Photo of Cafesjian Center for the Arts, Tamanyan Street, Yerevan, Armenia by Cristina Araxie Cass

Visit Victory Park, named for Armenia's participation in World War II, to see the most well known statue of Mother Armenia. It was originally built in 1950 as a statue of Stalin, but in 1962, it was taken down for "repairs" and, coincidentally, it came back as Mother Armenia.

Photo of Mother Armenia monument, Azatutyan Avenue, Yerevan, Armenia by Cristina Araxie Cass

A great place to shop for souvenirs where you'll find everything from patriotic t-shirts to paintings, rugs, vintage soviet medals, and handmade dolls in traditional dress.

Photo of Yerevan Vernissage, Yerevan, Armenia by Cristina Araxie Cass

Gumi Shuka Market

The Gumi Shuka food market offers a dizzying array of everything from spices to dried fruits to fresh meat and cheese. The vendors are extremely friendly, and will be more than happy to let you sample their food as you walk through, and probably tell you when and where they picked it from their fields.

Photo of Armenia in 1 Week by Cristina Araxie Cass

An interesting juxtaposition of ancient and modern, with the 2009 St. Anna Church towering over the 1264 Holy Mother of God church.

Photo of Zoravor S. Astvatsatsin Church, Ghazar Parpetsi Street, Yerevan, Armenia by Cristina Araxie Cass
Day 2

No visit to Armenia is complete without a visit to Echmiadzin, the center of the Armenian Church. Construction on the first church in Armenia began here in 301 AD, the year when Armenia became the first Christian country.

Photo of Echmiadzin, Armavir, Armenia by Cristina Araxie Cass

Armenia is a land full of churches, but Zvartnots Cathedral, built in 643 A.D. is unique for its circular shape. It is ruined, but many of the details, including columns and arches survive. It is one of Armenia's popular tourist sites.

Photo of Zvartnots, Vagharshapat, Armavir, Armenia by Cristina Araxie Cass

After visiting churches, take a trip back in time to Armenia's pagan days at Garni Temple. This iconic site is from 77 AD, and shows Armenia's importance as a place of cultural exchange with its Greco-Roman style. It is also the only Armenian pagan temple that survives today.

Photo of Garni, Kotayk, Armenia by Cristina Araxie Cass

Geghard Monastery is known for its chapels and tombs that are cut into the mountain, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The main chapel is also said to have the best acoustics in the world.

Photo of Geghard, Kotayk, Armenia by Cristina Araxie Cass
Day 3

The Armenian Alphabet Monument was constructed for the 1600th birthday of the Armenian alphabet in 2005. This monument gives you just a little bit of an idea of the pride Armenians have in their alphabet, which was created by St. Mesrob Mashtots, in 405 AD. It is believed to have been revealed by God, and the church still considers the Armenian language to be sacred today.

Photo of Armenian Alphabet Monument, Aragatsotn, Armenia by Cristina Araxie Cass

Amberd Fortress, 7th century AD, sits on a site on Mt. Aragats occupied continuously since the Stone Age. It was sacked by the Mongols in 1236 AD. The ribbons of colorful fabric tied to bushes and trees are another way of expressing Armenian spiritualism through wishes and blessings left by visitors.

Photo of Amberd Fortress, Aragatsotn, Armenia by Cristina Araxie Cass

Drive to the top of Mt. Aragats, 13,419 feet, to find the only place where you can eat the famous Armenian Khash in the summer. But make sure to bring a jacket, especially if you want to sit outside next to the windswept Kari Lake.

Photo of Mount Aragats, Shirak, Armenia by Cristina Araxie Cass

Haghpat Monastery, 10th century, is a UNESCO world Heritage site. It was founded by Queen Khosrovanuysh, and was purposely hidden on the side of the hill to offer it greater privacy and protection.

Photo of Haghpat Monastery Complex, Haghpat, Lori, Armenia by Cristina Araxie Cass

Drive into Dilijan to enjoy the last few hours of the day in the "Little Switzerland" of Armenia. You can visit the historic Sharambeyan Street to see examples of old Armenian architecture and visit shops to buy handmade crafts.

Photo of Dilijan, Tavush, Armenia by Cristina Araxie Cass
Day 4

Get some sun, see stunning views, and visit another ancient monastery at Sevan Lake, Armenia's favorite beach destination. It is a favorite place for both tourists and artists, and it also has a few good bakeries around it, where you can try Armenian gata and baklava.

Photo of Sevan Lake, Gegharkunik, Armenia by Cristina Araxie Cass

Noratus Cemetery has nearly one thousand khachkars, or carved tombstones, the oldest from the 10th century. Since the ancient khachkars of historically Armenian Julfa were destroyed by the Azerbaijani government to the dismay of UNESCO, this is the largest group that remains in Armenia. Besides the lovely flowering crosses, some khachkars depict wedding celebrations or scenes of village life, offering a glimpse into private life in ancient times. The broken bottles you may see are not evidence of vandalism, but a practice of mysticism involving a saint and a ritual for overcoming your fears.

Photo of Noratus Cemetery, Noratus, Gegharkunik, Armenia by Cristina Araxie Cass

Orbelian's Caravanserai, also known as Selim Caravanserai, was built in 1332 by Prince Chesar Orbelian as accommodation for merchants and travelers making their way through the rugged mountains of Armenia. It also offers more stunning panoramic views of the Armenian mountains.

Photo of Selim Caravanserai, Vayots Dzor, Armenia by Cristina Araxie Cass

Spend a relaxing night at the Lucytour resort in Hermon. Participate in making a traditional Armenian khorovats (barbecue), explore the flower gardens, and enjoy tea by the campfire at night.

Photo of Lucytour Hotel, Hermon, Armenia by Cristina Araxie Cass
Day 5

Tatev Monastery is one of the most iconic sites in Armenia. Sitting on a plateau in the middle of the mountains, it is best reached by the Wings of Tatev aerial tram, which gives beautiful views of the surrounding area. If you want to be adventurous, like we were, you can also see the site from a new perspective by riding in a self-driving Soviet truck.

Photo of Tatev Monastery, Tatev, Syunik, Armenia by Cristina Araxie Cass

Khndzoresk, located on the steep slopes of Khor Dzor, or deep gorge, is an ancient village, where people lived in caves from the middle ages until the 1950s, when residents were forced out by the Soviets. The only entrance is a suspension bridge where you can see the gorge below you. Ask for the Nine Children Fountain and hear the legend of Sona, one of the women who fought side by side with the men to defend their homes from one of the many armed hordes of foreign invaders trying to colonize Armenia.

Photo of Khndzoresk, Syunik, Armenia by Cristina Araxie Cass

Note: Here we cross the border into the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, which remains unrecognized by much of the world, so accurate locations within its borders are not available on Google maps which incorrectly lists it as part of Azerbaijan. To find out more go to www.justiceforartsakh.com.

Gandzasar Monastery

Crossing over the border with the Nagorno Karabakh Republic, we visited the 13th century monastery of Gandzasar. It is a functioning monastery, and you will see its beautiful chapels in use for services, sacraments, meditation, and prayer. Stone carving is an especially developed art among Armenian artisans, and it is diverse and lovely here at Gandzasar.

Photo of Armenia in 1 Week by Cristina Araxie Cass

Spend your afternoon in Stepanakert, the capital city of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. This country was born in a battle for self-determination and survival which ended in 1994, and though the scars of war can still be seen throughout the country, Stepanakert is a perfect example of the success that the people of the NKR have had in becoming a thriving modern society.

Photo of Stepanakert by Cristina Araxie Cass
Day 6

Umbrella Falls

Enjoy stunning natural beauty and a nice hike in Honut Canyon. Follow the trail down to the Umbrella Falls, where you can cool off, and see the canyon from a new perspective.

Photo of Armenia in 1 Week by Cristina Araxie Cass

Tiger Cave

A natural cave, enhanced to delight children, sits beside the Sea Stone Restaurant where you can order the local specialty zhengalov hatz. Sit in the outdoor cafe and watch as the flatbread stuffed with local butter and mountain herbs is prepared to your order and served with locally grown tomatoes and cucumber and artisan cheese. A glass of the daily fruit water, herbal tea, or local beer makes a refreshing break after a day of hiking and exploring Honut Canyon.

Photo of Armenia in 1 Week by Cristina Araxie Cass

Look down on Stepanakert from the cliffs of Shushi, the historical capital city of Nagorno-Karabakh. Though the city was largely destroyed in the War for Independence, it is an amazing place to experience history, as it was one of the major cities on the Silk Road. The cliffs are a beautiful place to have a picnic, or watch the sun set.

Photo of Shushi Cliffs by Cristina Araxie Cass

Spend the night in Goris, another one of Armenia's many cities. In a classic Armenian scene, you may see rural mix with urban as a shepherd leads his flock down from the hills, trucks carry supplies into the city, and people wait for the sheep as they drive to work.

Photo of Goris, Syunik, Armenia by Cristina Araxie Cass
Day 7

Visit the world's oldest observatory at Karahunj, or the "Armenian Stonehenge." These 7,500 year old ruins lie on the rocky promontory of a sweeping plateau overlooking the Dar River canyon. On this wind-swept site with a view of the mountains, the graves of ancient folk lie open to view. Research continues into the possible uses of the site, but the existence of a prehistoric necropolis seems certain.

Photo of Karahunj, Syunik, Armenia by Cristina Araxie Cass

Noravank, or "New Monastery," dates from the 13th century, with a collection of beautiful kachkars and various ruins to see along with the restored chapels. The site on the Amaghu River gorge, with its red cliffs in the background, is particularly beautiful.

Photo of Noravank Monastery Road, Vayots Dzor, Armenia by Cristina Araxie Cass

With the world's oldest winery dating to 3000-3500 BC discovered at Areni, Armenian wines have the sophisticated flavors of centuries of wine-making behind them. Be sure to stop in the tasting rooms, then buy some for your picnic.

Photo of Areni Wine Factory, Areni, Vayots Dzor, Armenia by Cristina Araxie Cass

Khor Virap Monastery is famous in Armenia as the place where St. Gregory was imprisoned for 13 years by King Tiridates III, before St. Gregory performed a miracle and converted the king to Christianity, making Armenia the world's first Christian nation in 301 AD. It also has the best views of Mt. Ararat, the mountain where Noah's Ark is said to have landed. It is extremely sacred to Armenians and is the most famous symbol of Armenia, though it lies across the border with Turkey today.

Photo of Khor Virap, Ararat, Armenia by Cristina Araxie Cass
Photo of Khor Virap, Ararat, Armenia by Cristina Araxie Cass

Enjoy Republic Square, Yerevan's largest plaza, which is always bustling with locals and tourists watching the fountain, light, and music show every night. Pick up an ice cream at one of the nearby stands, and take a moment to relax on your last night in Armenia.

Photo of Republic Square, Aram Street, Yerevan, Armenia by Cristina Araxie Cass

If you have a 4:45 AM flight like we did, why bother with sleeping? Instead, go and dance your last night away at Parvana, a family-friendly restaurant with a dance floor in the middle, where you can hear music while you eat, and try your hand at traditional Armenian dance.

Photo of Parvana Restaurant, Hrazdan Gorge, Yerevan, Armenia by Cristina Araxie Cass

This itinerary was made as part of the Rebirth Armenia project to encourage international interest and tourism in Armenia. Read more in-depth stories, and learn more about the country at rebirtharmenia.com.

For travel services in Armenia, contact Hayk Avagyan haykavagyan787@yahoo.com, or www.travelatarmenia.com

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