Armenia. Just writing that word evokes something mysterious for me. How about you? I am always impressed with people who know way more about a place than I do, which is why I’m going to let Boris Sahakyan tell you what you MUST do in this intriguing country.
Armenia is a small country where ancient cultural heritage is harmonically combined with unique natural beauties. Each year tourists visit Armenia to get acquainted with landscapes that are truly unforgettable. Imagine wooded mountains and hills, crystal lakes, alpine meadows covered with flowers, noisy waterfalls, rapid rivers, deep and scenic gorges. Sounds amazing, doesn’t it? Armenia is also the oldest Christian country, which was the first in the world to adopt Christianity as a state religion. Now the territory of the country contains more than 4,000 religious monuments connected with Christianity, each of which has its own unique history. For a small country, there’s quite a lot to see and do. I’ve narrowed down five areas for Traveling to Armenia, which you should hit for a first time trip there.
Dilijan is one of the most beautiful towns of Armenia. Both locals and tourists come to have a good rest and breathe the salubrious health air filled with pine aromas. The town offers various cozy cottages and hotels that are surrounded by National Reserve, which was created for the protection of oak and pine forests, and mountain lakes. This fact explains the fresh, clean and salubrious air of Dilijan. About 20 minutes’ drive from Dilijan to the northeast – you will find the Lake Parz, which is a part of the reserve. The lake is surrounded by thick trees and there’s a forest path that departs from the lake and leads to the Gosh village. A decently easy hike that by the time you reach Gosh village, you can catch your breath and see the ancient medieval monastery of the 8th century – Goshavank.
Jermuk is the other pretty town of Armenia, famous not only for its beautiful scenery, but also for healing mineral waters used to treat many diseases. Beautiful Arpa River divides the city into two parts, and in its estuary is a waterfall – one of the most amazing sights of the town and the second largest waterfall in Armenia at a height of 68 meters. In the gorge of the river Arpa, you can see an interesting rock formation, which is a huge hundred-meter monolith with large steps, rising to the top. This monument is called “Stairway to Heaven”, a Led Zeppelin pun intended? It’s still not proven whether these steps appeared because of nature or man. See, the mysterious ways of Armenia hold strong!
Not far from the town of Goris in the Syunik region, there’s a village of intense beauty. For any tourist visiting this fascinating place, it’s like time stopped and froze centuries ago. The main attraction is a cave city, where people lived more than a thousand years ago. The caves served not only as housing, but also as a refuge from potential enemies.
The caves are now a monument and under state protection. Visitors from all over the world come to Khndzoresk to see this unique cave town, with its ancient churches and tombstones.
Lake Sevan is one of the largest freshwater lakes in the world. The lake is so big, that it is sometimes called the “Armenian Sea”, and because it’s so breathtaking, it’s also called “The Pearl of Armenia”. The landscapes surrounding the lake leave you breathless: mountain steppes, turning into alpine meadows, and picturesque hills. On the Sevan peninsula, you’ll find another religious site, the monastery of Sevanavank built in 874 BC. Both locals and foreigners come here in in the summer. You can surf, ride on yachts and catamarans, and go camping. Not to be outdone, this beautiful area also has skiing in the winter.
If you want a rigorous hike or go trekking, Mount Aragats is an extinct volcano and the highest point of Armenia (4,090 m). Alpine meadows with a variety of fragrant flowers surround the mountain, as well as hundreds of cold springs. This could be a slightly challenging hike, but once you see the panorama on the medium-side, the mountain lakes and emerald green slopes open onto the valley hills of the Araks River.
Temperatures here vary depending on the altitude, so thoroughly research any hiking or trekking you plan to do here.
Seriously, don’t you want to go? I sure damn well do. What a gorgeously layered country. Thanks to Boris for getting my travel juices pumping again!