Religious Tour

Religion, having ancient roots, is very important in Armenia and has remained strong up to present days. The Armenian Apostolic Church is considered to be one of the most ancient Christian churches in the world.
Armenia became the first country to establish Christianity as its state religion when, in an event traditionally dated to 301 AD, St. Gregory the Illuminator convinced Tiridates III, the king of Armenia, to convert to Christianity.
Christianity has a strong influence in the country, but there is a small presence of other religions, too. 
There are three seminaries in Armenia located in Gyumri, Echmiadzin (the Gevorkian Theological Seminary) and Sevan (the Vazkenian theological seminary).

Arrival in Yerevan.
Transfer to the hotel for overnight.

Breakfast at the hotel.
Our religious tour starts with a full day excursion to Armavir Region: a visit to Echmiadzin – the holy seat of the Supreme Patriarch-Catholicos of all Armenians. The Cathedral was built in 303 on the site of a pagan temple after the adoption of Christianity as a state religion in 301 in a walled compound with gardens and various structures. The word “Echmiadzin” means “the coming of the only-begotten”, and the cathedral was built on the very spot St. Gregory the Illuminator dreamt Jesus Himself descended on from heaven to show him where He wanted the church to be built. Here you can also meet the priest in the Gevorkian Theological Seminary founded by Catholicos Gevork IV in 1874.
The tour continues with a visit to St. Hripsime Church (7th century). Being one of the oldest surviving churches in Armenia it was built by Catholicos Sahak the Great in the year 395 AD that contained the remains of the martyred Saint Hripsime to who the church was dedicated. A few kilometers from Echmiadzin there are the ruins of the 7th century AD Temple of Zvartnots (buiIt in 641—661), which was to suppress Echmiadzin cathedral by its grandeur. The remnants of Zvartnots are a wonderful sight, even in ruins. Only the lower parts of the walls and individual fragments have been survived.
Returning to Yerevan we will have an afternoon visit to Armenia History Museum and Matenadaran, one of the world’s oldest repositories of Greek, Persian and Arabic manuscripts having a collection of over 16000 ancient manuscripts.
Lunch .
Dinner at a local restaurant in Yerevan.
Overnight at the hotel in Yerevan.

Echmiadzin CathedralHripsime ChurchMatenadaran

Breakfast at the hotel.
Full day excursion to Ashtarak – one of the ancient cities of Armenia. The settlement is full of historical architectural monuments constructed in different periods of time (from II millennium BC to XVIII AD). Here we will visit Karmravor church (VII-XIX) that preserved its original appearance with red tile roofing. The 4th century Ohanavank monastery complex will also be visited. We will see the spectacular and romantic 7th century fortress of Amberd located 2300 meters above sea level beneath the groups of snow-covered Aragats Mountains founded by St. Gregory the Illuminator. The 13th century Saghmosavank, famous for its depository of manuscripts, is also located in this region.
The tour includes a visit to Mughni church as well.The church has a distinctive striped drum below the conical cupola. It was rebuilt in 1661-1669 by the architects Sahak Khizanetsi and his successor Murat.
Lunch independent.
Dinner at a local restaurant.
Overnight at the hotel in Yerevan.

Amberd FortressKarmravor ChurchSaghmosavank

Breakfast at the hotel.
Transfer to Sevan via sightseeing of the picturesque Avan Canyon skirting formidable cliffs and passing exotic-looking gorges until a green plateau by the Azat River comes into view. Here, in the harmony of relief and the virgin nature we will see the pagan Garni architectural complex of the 1st century and feel the spirit of ancient ages. Garni Temple lies on the road to Geghard and both can be comfortably seen on the same day. When you get to Garni, it will remind you of a somewhat plain Parthenon. It was built in the first century A.D. by the Armenian King Tiridates with the money he received after visiting Emperor Nero in Rome. The temple was destroyed in 1679 in an earthquake, but was reconstructed in Soviet times.Another ten minutes ride through the gorge will take us to the cave monastery of Geghard (12th –13th centuries). The monastery of Geghard is a unique architectural construction in the Kotayk province of Armenia, being partially carved out of the adjacent mountain, surrounded by cliffs. It is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Continuing our tour we arrive in Sevan and visit Sevanavank monastery. Here you have the opportunity of meeting the priest in the Vazkenian theological seminary founded in 1990 on the Sevan peninsula.
Check in the hotel in Sevan.
Lunch independent.
Dinner at a local restaurant.
Overnight at the hotel in Sevan.

Garni TempleGeghard MonasterySevanavank Monastery

Breakfast at the hotel.
We continue our religious tour driving to Lori region for the sightseeing of the 10th-13th centuries Haghpat and Sanahin historical and architectural monuments set amidst forest-clad hills close to the town of Alaverdi (178 kilometers from Yerevan). The monuments are preserved by UNESCO and included in the World Heritage List. The ensembles of Sanahin and Haghpat stand out not only for the original architecture of religious and especially civil buildings but also as samples of town building art which show high skill of Armenian architects. Marked by the unity and compactness of their asymmetrical layout, they had a tremendous influence on the development of medieval Armenian architecture.
Today we will also visit Akhtala church. Above Sanahin and Haghpat there lies less known but very worthwhile fortified monastery of Akhtala with breathtaking frescoes.
Lunch independent.
Dinner at a local restaurant or at the hotel in Sevan.
Overnight at the hotel in Sevan.

HaghpatSanahinAkhtala Fortress

Breakfast at the hotel.
Visit Hayravank Monastery dating to the 9th century. The Monastery is located near the village of Hayravank along the southwest shore of Lake Sevan in the Gegharkunik Province of Armenia. Hayravank has a quatrefoil cruciform central-plan with four semi-circular apses that intersect to create a space for the drum and dome to stand above. The drum and dome at one point had collapsed completely, but were later restored. Visit Noratus -medieval cemetery with a large number of early khachkars located in the village of Noratus. The cemetery has the largest cluster of khachkars in the republic of Armenia. It is currently the largest surviving cemetery with khachkars.
Drive to Goris via Selim pass. Stop at Halidzor Village to take the longest in the world tramway (build in October 2010) to the Tatev Monastery. According to historian Stepanos Orbelian, the first church of what later became the mighty walled complex of Tatev was actually built in the 4th century. In the 8th century, it was made the throne of the Syunik bishopric and in the 9th century it expanded becoming a major feudal power. 
Lunch independent.
Dinner at a local restaurant or at the hotel in Goris.
Overnight at a hotel in Goris.

HayrivankNoratus khachkarsTatev Monastery

Breakfast at the hotel.
Visit Zorats Karer. The site is located on a rocky promontory near Sisian. About 223 large stone tombs can be found in the area. It was explored by a team of archaeologists from the Institut für Vorderasiatische Archäologie, University of Munich who published their findings in 2000. The tour will on to the monastery complex of Noravank set in a canyon rich with rare flora. Noravank (meaning “New Monastery” in Armenian) is a 13th century Armenian Apostolic Church monastery, located 122 km from Yerevan in a narrow gorge made by the Amaghu river, nearby the city of Yeghegnadzor. The gorge is known for its tall, sheer, brick-red cliffs, directly across from the monastery. The monastery is best known for its two-storey S. Astvatsatsin church, which grants access to the second floor by way of narrow stones jutting out from the face of building. The monastery is sometimes called Amaghu-Noravank, Amaghu being the name of a small recently destroyed village above the canyon, in order to distinguish it from Bgheno-Noravank near Goris. On our way to Yerevan we will visit Areni wine factory where you can taste the local wine and get acquainted with the production process. After it we will visit Khor-Virap (4th-17th cc), an important place for a religious tour. Khor Virap is one of the romantically sited monasteries in Armenia with views across a bast plain to Turkey and the twin peaks of Mount Ararat. Here, in the atmosphere of historical environment and vivid imagination you will notice the Noah’s Ark in the snows of Ararat.
Lunch independent.
Dinner at a national restaurant with folk music performance.
Overnight at the hotel in Yerevan.

Zorats KarerNoravank Khor Virap

Breakfast at the hotel.
Transfer to the airport.





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