WHY TO VISIT ARMENIA
Despite its small territorial area, Armenia does not lack attractions. Its Capital, Erevan, does not need more than a days visit to see the major attractions such as the National History Museum, the Blue Mosque, Katoghike Church and the modern cathedral as well as the culturally significant Armenian Genocide Museum.
Leaving Erevan, there are several sites worth a detour. To the east you could visit the Hellenistic Temple of Garni, reconstructed next to a ravine, then there is a magnificent monastery at Geghard; a beautiful example of medieval architecture. Towards the south Mount Ararat is a splendid backdrop for the Khor Virap Monastery and to the west you can discover the Neolithic site of Metsamor. A hike to the summit of Mount Aragats (4,090 metres) will give you the opportunity to appreciate the surrounding peaceful landscape. In the north of the country it is recommended that you go and see the River Debed gorges and the two beautiful monasteries of Sanahin and Haghpat together with the medieval fresco at the Achtala monastery.
Cool down beside Lake Sevan; at an altitude of 2,000 metres and 75 kilometres in length with white sand beaches and turquoise waters glittering in the sunlight it really is a sight to see.
Still relatively few in number, tourists are given a warm and enthusiastic welcome thus contributing to Armenia’s reputation for finding a special place in visitor’s hearts and memories.Initially Yerevan, many area attractions worth visiting. To the east, you can visit the Hellenistic temple of Garni, rebuilt at the edge of a ravine, and then the magnificent monastery Geghard, sumptuous representative of medieval architecture. To the south, Mount Ararat is the framework in the monastery of Khor Virap, and west, you can explore the Neolithic site of Metsamor. A hike to the summit of Mount Aragats (4090 meters) will give you the opportunity to contemplate peaceful scenery.
In the north, go see Debed River Gorge, and two beautiful monasteries and Sanahin Haghpat, then that of medieval fresco Achtal.
Mount cool on the shores of Lake Sevan, suspended nearly 2000 meters and measuring 75 kilometers long, with banks of white sand and turquoise water under sunlight.
Yet few tourists are welcomed with warmth and enthusiasm that contributes to Armenia very endearing.
WHAT TO SEE IN ARMENIA
top destinations in Armenia are:
- Shikahogh State Reserve
- Lake Sevan
- Dilijan National Park
- Mount Aragats
- Lake Arpi
- Amberd Fortress
- Upper Azat Valley
- Karahunj Observatory
- Khor Virap
WHEN TO GO TO ARMENIA
Best period to visit Armenia is from June to September.
The climate is clearly continental: The temperatures differ greatly between winter and summer and are even more marked in the higher altitudes. The summer can be very hot with temperatures reaching 40°C but winter in some areas can be quite harsh. Snowfall is fairly common in the north.
In the spring, rain is fairly abundant although the south benefits from a dryer climate. Throughout the country however there is a lot of sunshine all through the year. June and September are the ideal months for visiting Armenia with pleasant temperatures and almost no rain apart from that resulting from a few storms in the mountains.
In spring, precipitation is relatively abundant, but the south but has a dry climate. Everywhere country enjoys bel sunshine throughout year. June and September are ideal months to visit Armenia, with pleasant temperatures and virtually no rain, except for possible thunderstorms in the mountains.
Following a list of typical festival and celebrations of Armenia.
- Christmas (January): is the Birthday of Christ and is celebrated by people all over the world. The Armenians celebrate this Christian holiday together with the Epiphany and go to churches in their neighborhoods and celebrate these two holidays all at once. According to tradition the major dish is considered to be fish and rice porridge.
- St. Sargis Holiday (February): This holiday is very popular among Armenians, especially among young people and has been well preserved to date. There is no exact date for observing it and it is celebrated on a Saturday from January 18 to February 23, 63 days before Easter. On the night of the holiday young people, eat salty pies to dream at night. They believe that St. Sargis decides their fate and the person who gives them water to drink in their dreams will become their future spouse.
- Purification (Trndez) – According to religious custom this holiday is connected with the idea of coming forward to the Lord with fire, after 40 days of his birth. The Armenian Church celebrates it on February 14th - 40 days after January 6th, from which originates the religious name: coming forward to the Lord. The main ceremony of Trndez is a bonfire, which symbolizes the coming of spring.
- Palm Sunday (Tsarzardar – Tree Decorating) – Palm Sunday (Tsarzardar) – is the penultimate Sunday holiday, and it is celebrated one week before Easter. The major part of the ceremony is devoted to the awakening of spring. Palm Sunday is also a holiday for young people. The customs, which are observed on the holiday, are a testament to this. On this people wear wreaths made of willow branches on their heads.
- Easter: Easter is the favorite and the most anticipated holiday in the Christian world. Everybody greets each other on this day: “Christ has arisen” – “Blessed is the resurrection of Christ”. This is the greatest holiday of the Armenian Church which begins on Good Friday and lasts throughout the weekend. A long-standing Easter tradition is the coloring of Easter eggs. Coloured eggs, especially the red ones symbolize the blood of Christ. In Armenia a traditional game is played where hard boiled pace eggs are distributed and each player hits the other players egg with their own. This is known as "egg dumping" or "egg jarping". The winner gets the eggs of the loser.
- Ascension Day (Hambartsum) – Ascension Day is the holiday of love and enjoyment, which is celebrated outdoors in the blossom of May, 40 days after Easter.
- Transfiguration – Vardavar (The feast of water) – in the traditional Armenian range of holidays Transfiguration is the greatest holiday of the summer, which is celebrated 14 weeks after Easter. In pre-Christian Armenia this holiday was connected with pagan goddess Anahit to whose heathen temple the young and the old went to on pilgrimage. The word Vardavar has two meanings: “the flaming of the rose” and “to sprinkle with water”. On the day of this holiday everybody pours water on one another starting in the early morning and no one must fell offended or displeased.
- Grape Blessing Day: this holiday is celebrated on the nearest Sunday of August 15. Catholicos of Armenian Church blesses the grape harvest.
- One Nation, One Culture: During March, the Armenian diaspora comes together in an artistic display of national unity in the capital city. Taking place every two years, the ‘One Nation, One Culture’ festival is an attempt to reunite Armenians who were forced to relocate after the Genocide. There are no prescriptions as the festival is based on what each individual and artist brings to the table, making it a little different every year. Visitors to Yerevan during this period have circus acts, fetes, cinema screenings, literature and poetry readings to look forward to.
- Yerevan International Film Festival ‘Golden Apricot’: Held annually every July, the Yerevan International Film festival, or the Golden Apricot as it is colloquially known, is a smorgasbord of the best independent films from around the globe. Bringing together directors, producers and cinematographers from Armenia and beyond, the festival aims to live up to its mission statement, a ‘Crossroads of Cultures and Civilizations.’ If you’re a movie buff, the event is well worth experiencing as it showcases some of the most riveting and poignant contemporary modern cinema.
- Vartavar: What started as a Pagan festival, Vartavar, or the ‘World of Water Day’ happens country-wide in July, 14 weeks after the Christian Easter holiday. This festival is particularly popular with children who thoroughly enjoy the main activity – pouring buckets of water on people as a blessing and a sign of cleansing. While most visitors may not understand the significance, tourists generally appreciate the cool water as a much-needed respite from the scorching temperatures of the Armenian summer.
- Extreme Sports Festival: A new addition to the Armenian events calendar, the Extreme Sports Festival takes place from August 1 to 10. Several countries compete in death defying feats and technical sporting skills. For 10 days the usually serene Lake Sevan area is transformed into an adrenaline junkie’s paradise to partake in paintball, rock climbing, paragliding and much more.
- HIGH FEST International Theater Festival: Taking place from October 1 through 8 every year, the main theater festival in the region hosts more than 250 artists from 30 different countries around the world. HIGH FEST aims to create a global culture of collaboration and inspiration and visitors can look forward to multi-genre art such as street performances, mime, dramatic and comedic theater, dance and puppetry.
- Fish Festival (April): The festival is held in the town of Abovyan (located 10 km north-east of Yerevan) Kotayk region. The festival will feature both traditional and new dishes based on fish.
- Dolma Festival (May): The festival is held at the memorial complex “Sardarapat” in Armavir region. The festival aims to popularize Armenian dishes, where guests show cabbage varieties and are familiar with the recipes for their preparation. On this day, there is a competition for the title of the original version of the ancient dishes. On weekdays and holidays this dish decorated tables of every Armenian family. Event attendees can try dolma prepared by each of the participants and give their assessment. Also on this day is a holiday ritual food – participants can get acquainted with the national dishes of the Armenian people. Celebrations are accompanied by songs, dances and various competitions.
- Bread in the Mountains (June): The festival is held at the fortress of Erebuni in Yerevan. The festival aims to show visitors the history of bread and also its relationship to the rites of the Armenian people.
- Festival mulberry (mulberry): (last Saturday of June) in Karabakh in the vicinity of the fortress Amarayr
- NKR (last Saturday of June): mulberry festival held near Fortress Amaras
- Festival “Gifts of Syunik” (first Saturday of July): The festival will be held in Goris (located 240 km from Yerevan). Guests can follow the process of making mulberry vodka and, of course, on the spot to taste this drink. As part of the festival will be held tasting and other food and drinks, traditional Syunik. Will be an exhibition and sale of products of local craftsmen and women-handy people. The festival will not be without folk songs and dances.
- Navasard Festival (old Armenian New Year): (11-12 August) During the festival Armenian national dishes prepared during the celebration of the New Year are presented. A major role in the festival plays Tandoor – a clay oven, which dug into the ground with a clay-covered edges on the bottom which fueled the fire. It was prepared not only for food, it can heat their homes. Tandoor – a symbol of prosperity, as in it dishes and traditional bread – lavash are baked.
- Festival of carpets (second Saturday of August): The festival is held in the town of Dilijan (distance from Yerevan 100 km) in the Tavush region. The festival will feature master from all corners of Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh. Apart from the traditional exhibition and sale of Armenian carpets, guests will have the opportunity to see the works of applied art of Armenian artists.
- Tolma festival: Tolma is considered one of the most delicious national dishes of Armenia. It is prepared from minced meat, which is wrapped in grape leaves and is served with the sauce made of the fermented product “matsun” and garlic. The annual festival of dolma in Armenia is a great opportunity to get acquainted with this delicious meat dish. The festival is held on May 16 in Armavir region, near the memorial complex “Sardarapat”. During it Armenian cooks prepare different types of tolma and compete for the main prize. All the participants will be able to try both tolma and other national dishes. The event is accompanied by dancing and singing.
- International Theatre festival (October): The festival is held in Yerevan. The festival usually appear several theater groups from different countries. (In a short time we will send you more details).
- Wine Festival (October ): Vayotsdzor area and Rind village Areni. The festival is held in the villages Areni, Rind Vayotsdzor area. Wine Festival offers bright, colorful and spectacular parade of the best winemakers and accompanied by traditional dances and songs.During the Festival of wine you can taste the best of the best Armenian wines that are highly appreciated by European consumers
- Festival of Gata (October): in Vayots Dzor, in the village of Khachik. Festival of Armenian gata will be held, which is held for the third time where you become an eyewitness of the world’s largest gata baked in the village of Khachik.
- Wine Festival in Artsakh (Karabakh): held every year on the third Saturday of October.
- Festival of national costumes: This colorful festival will acquaint you with the national costumes of 15 areas of the Great Hayk (part of Armenia before the separation). Interesting program with dances, songs, and puppet shows will be organized for guests, and everyone will be able to purchase various works of Armenian masters of applied art. By visiting this festival, you will plunge into a colorful traditional atmosphere, meet interesting customs and get a feeling for the Armenian hospitality.
- Festival of sheep shearing (May): annual festival for live show lovers. The key of the program is a competition of sheep shearing, in which all the inhabitants of Alidzor village take part. The most interesting is the fact that the shearing is done with old scissors. Аfter the shearing, the wool is immediately transferred to skilled women who at an amazing speed make thread for carpet weaving. The guests of the festivals will be able to taste various national sweets, purchase souvenirs and have a good time.
HOW TO REACH AND TRAVEL THROUGH ARMENIA
The easiest means of access is by airplane: Various airlines fly to this destination, including Air France, where you will land at Erevan. It is possible to reach Armenia by road through Georgia.
A visa is required, either by request before your departure or on your arrival.
For transport within the country the buses aren’t too bad but they are quite uncomfortable. However they do reach all destinations, even those that seem most implausible. Renting a car is a possible solution, practical and affordable but be on guard for the often mediocre state of the roads.
by plane, main airports are:
GENERAL INFORMATION ON ARMENIA
country entry requirements: passport + visa (check your visa requirements)
health tips & vaccination: drink only bottled water and avoid ice
local currency: Armenian Dram
local time zone: GMT+4 (+5)
electricity: tipe C and F (230 V, 50Hz)
mobile phone operators:
WHAT TO DO IN ARMENIA
typical food in Armenia
- Shampours: skewers packed with all kinds of marinated meat and vegetables
- Ghapama: pumpkin stew with rice, raisins, apples and cinnamon
- Khash: A soup consisting of sheep or cow’s feet with garlic, vinegar, salt and lemon juice.
- Mante: Grilled dumpling made either of minced lamb or beef, served with garlic sprinkles and yogurt.
- Dolma: Lentils, tomato, Zucchini, garlic, eggplant, parsley, mint, red pepper, onions, coriander and rice are wrapped in grape leaves for winter and cabbage leaves for summer.
- Gata: A sweet bread made of flour, nuts, and baking soda as main ingredients.
- Baklava: A baked dough made with walnut, cinnamon, honey, cardamom, butter, and eggs.
- Choereg: Finely prepared sweet bread from white flour, baking soda, eggs, dry yeast and vanilla with sprinkled sesame seeds when served.
- Lula Kebab: Grilled lamb’s shoulder or breast marinated with egg, paprika, tomato paste, mint leaves, black pepper and onions.
- Borek: A spicy pastry made from the dough of spinach and beef along with layers of cheese.
- Chi Kofte: A beef kofta (meatball) preparation made of tomato paste, paprika, cumin powder, chili pepper, sea salt, and bulgur.
- Sini Kofte: Kofte (meatballs) baked in the oven with either turkey or lamb meat as the prime ingredient.
- Harissa: A porridge prepared with chicken, lamb or beef along with wheat grits.
- Basturma: A tasty dish using dried and seasoned beef with spices like garlic, black pepper, cumin, and paprika.
- Eech: Cooked bulgur (burghul) with tomato paste, vegetables, and paprika, tossed in parsley.
- Stuffed Peppers: Peppers, carrots and rice wrapped in cabbage rolls, sometimes along with meat, and stuffed inside peppers, eaten while hot along with fresh cream.
- Lahmacun: A pizza-like preparation using flour tortilla as the base, while a mixture containing meat, cumin, parsley, and salt is used as the upper layer.
- Tabbouleh: Salad made of burglar, mint, onions, and tomatoes with sprinkles of salts, drizzles of lemon juice and olive oil.
souvenirs from Armenia
- a pomegranate, the symbol of Armenian culture
- a medallion with the image of Tigran the Great, the symbol of Armenian power
- traditional silver and natural stones' (obsidian) jewelry
- soviet coins
- dryfruits, especially apricots
- sweets, such as bakhlava, doshab, sudjukh, alani
- jam from walnuts or rose petals
- national clothing
- carved wooden backgammon
- stone- and wood-carved items
- ladles made of wood and clay
- khachkars, carved, memorial stele bearing a cross, and often with additional motifs such as rosettes, interlaces, and botanical motifs
- musical instruments: duduk, double-reed woodwind flute made of apricot wood
- carpets and rugs
- poetry books
- coffee pots
How are you?: Inch’pes yes?
Thank you: Shnorhakalut’yun
What is your name?: Inch’ e k’vo anuny?
How much is it?: Inch’ arzhe?