Khor Virap

Visited – August 2013

Getting to Khor Virap took a very scenic 40 minute drive southeast of Yerevan to the border with Turkey, surrounded by the vineyards of the Ararat plain. This trip is best done early in the morning, as the monastery is located on the Ararat plains and your chances of getting a good look at beautiful Mount Ararat are better at this time of day.

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Notes from visit in August 2013

Yerevan is the capital and  gateway for arrivals to Armenia by train or plane and is convenient base for exploring the rest of the country. The city itself, while quite pleasant, safe and easy to get around, does not have much worth exploring. If your time in Armenia is limited, my advice would be to use Yerevan as a base, but spend most of your time outside the city, as it pales in comparison to this country’s true wonders. Continue reading Yerevan


Visited in August 2013

The Noravank (New Monastery in Armenian) complex is just over 120 km from Yerevan, but we came here from Khor Virap, which is a bit closer at 83 km or about an hour and half by car. If you are not pressed for time, it’s best to time your visit for either early morning or late afternoon, when there will likely be fewer tourists and the light is sure to better. We did not have that luxury, but the site was great even in the mid-afternoon heat. Do not miss.

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Monastery of Geghard and the Upper Azat Valley

UNESCO World Heritage Site inscription details

Visited in August 2013

Our take on it – A terrific site and a must see for any trip to Armenia.

A great way to start your tour of this beautiful Armenian site is at the nearby village called Garni, a place that has been inhabited since the 3rd millennium BC and used as a summer residence by the Armenian royal dynasty since the 3rd century BC.

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Highlights from trip in summer 2013

Sometimes all it takes is one picture. One day a photo of a beautiful monastery in a mountain setting showed up in my Facebook feed. The caption simply read something like “Mountain Monastery in Armenia” and I was hooked immediately. It just so happened a group of us had been planning a trip to Georgia for a few months and adding neighboring Armenia was a no-brainer.

Armenia did not disappoint. The country is fascinating and little visited by foreign tourists, yet some of its site can easily compete with much more famous tourist attractions worldwide.

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UNESCO World Heritage Sites inscription details

Visited in August 2013

Haghpat is inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage list together with another nearby monastery – Sanahin. We only had time to do one on our last day in Armenia, as we were on a strict timeline. It was our 6th monastery complex of a 3 day tour and we were still enchanted and amazed. Haghpat and Sanahin are located in northern Armenia, not far from the border with Georgia and is a great day trip option from Georgia into Armenia, if you don’t have time to spend in both countries and want to sample Armenian architecture.

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Etchmiatsin and Zvartnots

UNESCO World Heritage Sites inscription details

Visited in August 2013.

We did not see Etchmiatsin at its best. The cathedral was undergoing restoration and covered in scaffolding. The ruins of Zvartnots are very interesting. Overall, however, we preferred the other sites we saw. Still, it’s a very easy and quick trip from Yerevan and an important part of the country’s history and cultural heritage.

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