Sights of Armenia
Echmiadzin (height 700 m)
The city of Echmiadzin (Vagharshapat) is the ancient capital of Armenia. From the 4th century to the present day, it has been the largest religious center, the permanent residence of the head of the Armenian Church – the Catholicos.
Etchmiadzin Cathedral – one of the first churches in the Christian world – is the center of the Armenian Apostolic Church. It was founded in 301 by Gregory the Illuminator. Later it was rebuilt, completed and at present it is a complex that includes the Cathedral, the Theological Academy, the Residence of the Catholicos of All Armenians, the Synod of the Armenian Church, the library.
The museum of the cathedral, located behind the altar, contains: a collection of objects of decorative and applied art related to the liturgy, objects made of gold, silver, precious stones, jewelry, a huge silver cauldron for brewing and the legendary “holy spear”.
Zvartnots (5 km from Etchmiadzin)
One of the architectural marvels of Armenia, Zvartnots (641-661 AD) – the temple of Vigilant Forces – got its name from the word “zvart”, which means “joyfully beautiful” in Armenian. This former three-tiered building, supported by massive columns with images of eagles, is decorated with carved vines, branches of pomegranate, pametta and acapra. The remaining ruins give an idea of the rare beauty of this temple.
Church of St. Hripsime (on the outskirts of Etchmiadzin)
Church of St. Hripsime (618 AD) is dedicated to one of the main saints of the Armenian Gregorian Church. Its name is based on the legend of the noble Roman woman Hripsima and her nurse Gayana.
Having fled from the persecution of the Roman emperor, they settled in Vagharshapat (Etchmiadzin). Having heard about the beauty of Hripsime, the king of Armenia Trdat III wanted to take her as a concubine and Hripsime was forcibly brought to the royal palace. Hripsime managed to escape, but the royal servants caught up with her and tortured her. But retribution came from above and Tsar Trdat with his courtiers were turned into a herd of pigs. Salvation was possible on the condition that the champion of Christianity, Gregory the Illuminator, who has been imprisoned in a deep hole for 13 years, will be released and the entire Armenian people led by him will accept Christianity. So it all happened and Armenia became the first country to adopt Christianity as an official religion in 301. On one of the shrines of the Armenian church – the Banner of Gregory the Illuminator – all these three figures are depicted: King Trdat, Gregory the Illuminator and Hripsime.
Church of St. Gayane (in the south of Etchmiadzin)
It was built on the place of execution of Hripsime’s associate – Gayane. The temple has undergone significant changes since its foundation. The temple is distinguished by the clarity of its architectural design and is not inferior in terms of its impact to the Hripsime temple.
Garni (27 km from Yerevan, height 1500 m)
Unusually beautiful pagan temple of the Sun in the village of Garni.
Built in the Greek style with a characteristic colonnade on all sides and located on the top of a hill separated from the mountain range by a deep gorge, it is an extraordinary sight in its beauty, sometimes seeming unreal.
The fortress of Garni served as the summer residence of the Arshakid royal court. Destroyed by a strong earthquake in 1679. it was restored in 1969 – 1974. Part of the wall of the fortress that surrounded the temple, the ruins of the royal palace, as well as baths, have been preserved. The mosaic floor of the dressing room and the inscription on it: “We worked without getting anything” are interesting. Inscriptions in Greek have been preserved, from which it was clear that the temple was built in 77 by King Trdat I (Arshakid dynasty).
Tsakhkadzor (55 km from Yerevan, altitude 1700 – 1900 m)
Tsakhkadzor – translated from Armenian means “gorge of flowers”. In summer, its shady forests and flowering meadows attract numerous tourists and residents of Armenia. In winter, snowy valleys are a great place for ski lovers. A 2,500-meter cable car operates here, which meets the European standard. Skis, sleds and snowboards are available for rent.
By its beauty, Tsakhkadzor is a small Switzerland, which you can take a look at, climbing the cable car and rushing higher and higher to the tops of the mountains. Having risen to the 2nd station, you can take a short break by drinking a cup of hot oriental coffee in the bar, and then again continue on the cable car to the top (above 2800 m).
In winter, thrill-seekers are waiting for snowmobiles – snowstorms with and without drivers, which will take you down a steep descent like an arrow. If you are not shy – go for it!
You can also visit the Kecharis Monastery (11-13 centuries), located on the eastern outskirts of Tsaghkadzor.
Descending from the mountains in the same way, you can taste the dishes of the national village cuisine in the tavern “Atsatun”.