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Armenia - Christian Oasis Tour

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Armenia - Christian Oasis Following Steps of Pope Day 1: Departure from hometown Day 2: Arrival / Yerevan City Tour Arrival at Zvartnots international airport. Meet and greet transfer to the airport. Accommodation at the hotel. . .
Country: Armenia
City: Ararat
Duration: 8 Day(s) - 7 Night(s)
Tour Category: Pilgrimage Tours
Departure Date: Thu 01 Jan '99
Package Itinerary

Armenia - Christian Oasis

Following Steps of Pope

Day 1: Departure from hometown

Day 2: Arrival / Yerevan City Tour

Arrival at Zvartnots international airport. Meet and greet transfer to the airport. Accommodation at the hotel. Rest. After breakfast starts a city tour around Yerevan. Yerevan is the capital and largest city of Armenia and one of the world's oldest continuously-inhabited cities. Situated along the Hrazdan River. Yerevan is the administrative, cultural, and industrial center of the country. It has been the capital since 1918, the thirteenth in the history of Armenia. During your tour, you will visit also Memorial Park and Tsiternakaberd memorial, and the museum of victims of Genocide.

In the second half of the day visit Armenian National History Museum, here the important archaeological collection from Stone Age through Medieval periods is dark and almost unlabeled, but should not be missed. Lunch in a local restaurant. Excursion to the biggest Panamanian church Grigor Lousavorich - the opening ceremony of this church was blessed by his holiness John Paul II. Visiting Armenia John Paul II has brought the holy relics of Grigor Lousavorich – the first Catholicos of all Armenians from the church S. Gregorio di Napoli in Italy. Welcome dinner in a local traditional restaurant. Overnight at the hotel in Yerevan.

Day 3: Holly See Etchmiatsin / Zvartnots / Vernissage

After breakfast at the hotel departure to Echmiadzin which is a mere 20 km from Yerevan. It is known as the center of the Armenian - Gregorian Church and appears to be one of the world's first Christian churches. Legend has it that it was here that Jesus Christ descended from heaven to show where he wanted a church built. So Echmiadzin means “The only-begotten descended”. The Church was built between the years 301 - 303 AD under the Armenian king Tiridates III and the first Armenian Catholicos, St. Gregory the Illuminator.

Visit the Cathedral Treasury that hosts the main relics of the Armenian apostolic church such as the Holy Spear which had wounded Jesus during his crucifixion, the famous piece of Noah’s Arc found by Hakob Mtsbnatsi, the Chrism Bowl where the holy chrism is made once in 7 years. Being the center of the Armenian Church Etchmiadzin was visited by his holiness John Paul II. Visit The Churches of St. Hripsimeh St. Gayane (630 AD) that are veritable masterpieces of Armenian architecture and St Hripsime is considered to be one of the 7 wonders of Armenia. Return to Yerevan with a stop at the ruins of Zvartnots temple - the pearl of the 7th c. architecture. Lunch in a national restaurant in Yerevan city.

Visit an open-air Vernissage flea market that bustles with hundreds of vendors selling a variety of crafts on weekends. Dinner and overnight in Yerevan.

Day 4: Yerevan / Ashtarak / Fortress of Amberd / Saghmossavank / Haghpat & Sanahin Monasteries / Dzoraget

In the morning after breakfast drive to the Aragatsotn region. Visit the smallest pan-Armenian church Karmravour (7th c.) in Ashtarak* - one of the most ancient Armenian cities. Drive to the Fortress of Amberd* (9th c.), stands halfway up Mt. Aragats, at the height of 2300m. The fortress stands on a rocky cape.

Drive to Saghmossavank Monastery. Saghmosavank Monastery was founded in 1215 when prince Vache Vachyutian ordered to erect there the temple of Surb Zion (Holy Zion). Later the temple acquired extensions from the western and southern sides – the vestibule (1250), the book-depository (1255), the church of St. Astvatsatsin (1235). Drive to Lori region.

Visit Haghpat Monastery. The location of Haghpat Monastery was chosen so that it overlooks the Debed River in northern Armenia's Lori region. It was built, not on a peak, but halfway up a hillside on a site chosen to afford protection and concealment from prying eyes and also in response to a kind of monastic humility. It is built on a verdant promontory located in the middle of a mountain cirque, which is often wreathed in clouds. A peak on the opposite side of the river is over 2,500 meters high.

Visit Sanahin Monastery. Built-in the monasteries over three centuries were more than 20 various churches and chapels, four annexes, sepulchers, bell towers, the building of the Academy, book depositories, refectories, galleries, bridges, and other monumental structures, to say nothing of numerous dwelling and service premises. The main monastery buildings are grouped around their chief temples, forming integral architectural organisms. They are asymmetrical relative to their main axes, which lends them picturesqueness. Drive to Dzoraget. Dinner and overnight at the hotel in Dzoraget.

Day 5: Dzoraget / Dilijan / Goshavank / Noratous / Lake Sevan / Yerevan

Drive to the resort town of Dilijan - a green city located in the northern Armenian province of Tavush, Called by locals the "Little Switzerland" of Armenia, it is a worthwhile place to see, and spend the night. It is one of the most important resorts of Armenia, situated in Dilijan National Park. Visit Goshavank - meaning Monastery of Gosh - is a 12-13th century Armenian monastery located in a village of Armenia named Gosh (Tavush marz), which was originally known as Nor-Getik. It was the home of Mkhitar Gosh, after whom the village and monastery were named.

Drive to Noratous cemetery which is a medieval cemetery with a large number of early khachkars located in the village of Noratus, Gegharkunik marz near Gavar and Lake Sevan, 90 km north of Yerevan. The cemetery has the largest cluster of khachkars in the republic of Armenia. It is currently the largest surviving cemetery with khachkars.

Drive to Lake Sevan. Lunch in a local restaurant. Lake Sevan is the largest lake in Armenia and one of the largest high-altitude lakes in the world. The huge mountain lake takes up 5% of Armenia's surface area and is 2,000 meters above sea level. On a clear and sunny day, the water is a deep turquoise color. Sevan is a freshwater lake. Visit Sevanavank (8-9th cc.). Drive to Yerevan. Dinner and overnight in Yerevan.

Day 6: Yerevan / Khor Virap / Noravank / Yerevan

After breakfast drive to Khor Virap Monastery. This fortified monastery is the place of pilgrimage and one of the most worshipped ones in Armenia and the holy site for the Armenian Apostolic Church. The monastery was erected in the 6th – 17th centuries above the dungeon where St. Gregory the Illuminator, the Baptist of Armenia, had been kept for the disseminating of Christianity until tsar Trdat decided to adopt this religion. The dungeon where the holy elder was tortured used to be the tsar's dungeon (“Khor Virap” – “deep pit”). The pit swarming with poisonous snakes and scorpions served as a prison. According to the legend of St. Gregory, the Illuminator stayed in that pit for 13 years. Drive to Vayots Dzor region. Visit to Noravank Monastery.

Noravank (meaning "new monastery") is a 13th-century monastery, located 122 km from Yerevan in a narrow gorge made by the Darichay river, nearby the city of Yeghegnadzor, Armenia. The gorge is known for its tall, sheer, brick-red cliffs, directly across from the monastery. The monastery is best known for its two-story S. Astvatsatsin church, which grants access to the second floor by way of narrow stones jutting out from the face of the building. In the 13th–14th centuries, the monastery became a residence of Syunik's bishops and, consequently. a major religious and, later, cultural center of Armenia closely connected with many of the local seats of learning, especially with Gladzor's famed university and library. Lunch in a local cave cafe tasting local food. Drive back to Yerevan. Dinner and overnight in Yerevan.

Day 7: Geghard / Garni / Matenadaran

After breakfast departure to Geghard temple. 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. While the main chapel was built in 1215, the monastery complex was founded in the 4th century by Gregory the Illuminator at the site of a sacred spring inside a cave.

Drive to Garni Temple. Garni became the last refuge of King Mithridates of Armenia, where he and his family were assassinated by his son-in-law and nephew Rhadamistus. Several constructions and buildings have been identified within the enclosed area, including a two-story royal summer palace, a bath complex, a church built in AD 897, a cemetery, and the site's most famous and best-preserved edifice, a peristyle Greco-roman temple built in the Ionic order. Lunch in a local house and watch the Armenian national bread "lavash" making process.

Drive back to Yerevan. Visit Matenadaran depository of manuscripts which contains historical documents from all over Europe and Asia throughout the many countries. Farewell dinner in a traditional Armenian restaurant with folk music. Overnight at the hotel in Yerevan.

Day 8: Departure

Transfer to the airport. Departure home!

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