Monastery of Tatev
Located on an 850 meter-high cliff above springs and incredible nature, the ninth century monastery of Tatev is a must-visit not only for its religious and historical importance but also for its breathtaking natural landscapes all around. To reach it, travelers can hop on board of the world’s longest cableway between Halidzor and the monastery and enjoy the stunning views from above. In medieval Armenia, this was the location of the country’s most important scholastic and spiritual center. Today, this old and famous complex is certainly one of Armenia’s most impressive sites of interest.
Goris Rock Formations
Located in a beautiful valley on the Goris River, the small town of Goris is one of the most charming in southern Armenia. With lush green mountains in the surroundings, the area is home to the most breathtaking natural landscapes. What sets this place apart from others, however, is the gigantic rock formations on the edges of the town. These strikingly jagged and numerous foundations are worth the trip.
Located in Vayots Dzor, Noravank Gorge is not to be missed. Visitors will see fascinating caves where ancient shoes and traditional wine making facilities from the Chalcolithic period have been found. This makes the so-called Bird Cave one of the earliest wine fermentation sites in the world. In addition to the stunning caves, there is a wide variety of birds including eagles and vultures, impressive rocky walls with changing colors according to the time of the day, and a magnificent 13th-century monastery to visit.
Stunning Lake Sevan is one of Armenia’s natural gems and is the nearest ocean equivalent for this land-locked country. Located 1905 meters above sea level, this incredible freshwater lake is one of the world’s largest high-altitude lakes. The perfect place to take a dip on hot summer days. There is also Sevanavank, a stunning ancient monastery made out of crude black stones that travelers can visit. The church is a perfect viewpoint, too. While at the lake, make sure to try the local grilled trout.
Located on a small hill in the Ararat Valley, Khor Virap is where Grigor Luisavorich, or Saint Gregory the Illuminator, was imprisoned for a period of 13 years until he cured King Trdat III who was then suffering from an illness. The king’s recovery made him convert to Christianity and Armenia became the first country in the world to adopt the Christian religion in 301. Today, travelers can explore the underground chamber where the Saint was held, and the beautiful Khor Virap monastery itself. The setting is one of the most impressive as it is the closest point to stunning Mount Ararat.
About 30 kilometers east of Armenia’s capital city, Yerevan, stands the breathtaking Garni Canyon with its gorgeous vertical cliffs and unique basalt polygon columns called the ‘Symphony of Stones.’ Looking at it from afar, the cliffs can indeed resemble a massive pipe organ. Believed to be formed after volcanic eruptions a long time ago, a visit to this stunning gorge is highly recommended. The trip can also be combined with a visit to the nearby Temple of Garni, Armenia’s only pagan temple built in the first century.
Aragats is a mesmerizing mountainous area rich in diverse natural landscapes and culture. Visit the beautiful ancient fortress and monastery on the way up to the peak surrounded by alpine meadows and fragrant flowers. In the summer, they will also come across the Yezidi who live in tents and raise sheep on its slopes, making dairy products that they then sell in the valley. However, located 3,190 meters above sea level on the slopes of Mount Aragats, it is the fascinating landscape of Lake Kar. Even on hot sunny days, visitors can play in snow.
Old Khndzoresk Cave Village
Travel back in time to the village of Khndzoresk, home to numerous fascinating cave shelters carved into the sloping hillsides. This cave village, which used to be active and vibrant until the 20th century, is a captivating sight of interest for history and nature lovers. Particularly as the carved caves blend in perfectly with the nearby canyon and greenness around. Let your imagination run wild and picture what life must have been like for those living in eastern Armenia’s mostly man-made network of caves: the biggest village in the region back then.
Rich in history and culture, Debed Canyon is one of the most attractive sites in Armenia. Lacking tourist facilities, visitors usually stay in Vanadzor and take day trips to the stunning canyon. On the way, you can choose to visit the World Heritage listed Sanahin and Haghpat monasteries, together with countless little villages along the Debed River. The area is home to a number of fascinating khachkars; impressive cross stones which are the perfect reflection of Medieval Christian Armenian traditional art.
Dilijan National Park
Located in the Tavush Province, Dilijan National Park is well known for its mineral water curing fountains, making the town of the same name a major spa destination. Rich in biodiversity, culture, and nature, no wonder this lush green forested area is often referred to as the ‘Switzerland of Armenia.’ Occupying 24 000 hectares, the National Park is the ideal spot for outdoor activities including hiking and mountain biking. Visitors can follow ecotourism trails and spend the night in tents.
By Sarine Arslanian