Attractions and Sacred Places:

Golden Ring

To reach the most remote and embrace the most fascinating corners of Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh (Artsakh) is possible only by choosing the cultural-historical tour «Golden Ring of Armenia». And then it will be possible to discover such amazing places as the monasteries of Akhtala and Kobayr with their beautiful frescos, to climb the guard towers of the fortress of Amberd and touch the eternity at the fortress walls of Lori Berd. Three days are dedicated to Nagorno-Karabakh to explore its amazing nature, monasteries and of course Jermajur hot springs. Guests will spend the first and the last three overnights in Yerevan thus having more free time to walk in the city, enjoy the evenings in cafes and restaurants.

Day 1

Yerevan
After a brief rest at the hotel, guests will embark on a tour of Yerevan city that includes stops at Republic Square, Victory Park, Mother Armenia, Cafesjian Center for the Arts, The Cascade, a carpet factory, the monument to A.Tamanyan, Opera House, and Tsitsernakaberd Armenian Genocide Memorial.

(Note: Arrival day activities will be adjusted as needed according to the itinerary of the traveler.)
Meals: Lunch
Hotel Accommodations: Regineh
Travel Distance: 70 km (44 miles)

Day 2

Yerevan – Oshakan – Harich – Gyumri
A trip to the southern slope of Mount Aragats in Aragatsotn province. From the road leading to Ashtarak there is a wonderful panorama of the extinct volcanoes Aragats and Arailer. Near the town of Ashtarak there opens a beautiful view on the gorge of the Kasakh River.

Visiting Oshakan village in Aragatsotn Province . Oshakan is most famous as the last resting place of Mesrop Mashtots, (d 442) founder of the Armenian Alphabet. Above his grave (19th c. gravestone) is a church rebuilt by Catholicos George IV in 1875.

A trip to the southern slope of Mount Aragats. Visiting Amberd, which means «a fortress in the clouds» a fitting name given its elevation (2300 m.).

On the way to Yerevan a stop at the Alphabet Square – a Monument to the letters of Armenian Alphabet.

The trip continues along the Shirak plateau. Visiting the Monastery Harichavank (7-9 c) – the largest religious and cultural center of Shirak marz, famous for its monastery.

Gyumri is the center of Shirak marz and the second largest and economically important city of the Republic. A trip through Gyumri city, reveals a city in recovery from the devastating earthquake of 1988. Visitors will see the restored city, new churches, a new residential area «Ani» and a Monument to favored French-Armenian singer-actor Charles Aznavour.

Lodging in hotel in Gyumri.
Meals: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
Hotel Accommodations: Araks
Travel Distance: 250 km (156 miles)

Day 3

Gyumri – Marmashen – Dendro Park – Lori Berd – Stepanavan
Marmashen: Located in the Akhurian Valley, this 10th century monastery has four churches: two rebuilt and two in ruins. Standing in the complex, one can imagine the enormous wealth that poured into this monastery when it was a center of learning, manuscript production, and prayer.

Dendro Park: This botanical garden and tree preserve is located in Lori, Armenia's largest province.

Lori Berd: Originally settled during the Bronze Age, the ruins of a large medieval city and fortress are found here.

Lodging in hotel in Stepanavan.
Meals: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
Hotel Accommodations: Lori
Travel Distance: 165 km (103 miles)

Day 4

Stepanavan – Dsegh – Sanahin – Odzun
Dsegh: The road to Dsegh goes through the 500-meter deep gorge of the Dzoraghet River. Known as the birthplace of popular Armenian writer Hovhannes Tumanyan (1869-1923), Dsegh was once named for the poet. The Tumanyan House-Museum is located here.

Sanahin: An outstanding example of medieval Armenian architecture, this monastery dates from the 10th to 14th centuries. Its churches and library helped make it a religious and cultural center during the Kiurikid kingdom of the 10th – 12th centuries.

Lodging in Guest-house in Odzun.
Meals: Lunch Dinner
Travel Distance: 180 km (113 miles)

Day 5

Odzun – Haghpat – Goshavank – Sevan
St. Hovhannes: Constructed from the 5th to 7th centuries, this basilica-styled church has cloisters, wall carvings, and a funerary monument.

Haghpat: A medieval Armenian monastery from the 10th to 14th centuries. Once called the Holy Cross church, it is believed to contain holy water that has curative qualities for people with heart conditions.

Goshavank: Founded by Armenian cleric Mkhitar Gosh in the 12th century and known for being a prominent religious, cultural, and educational center during the Middle Ages. Also located here is the famous khachkar by Varpet (Master) Poghos.

Lake Sevan: Known as the "blue pearl of Armenia" this lake is the largest high altitude lake in Armenia (1900 meters / 6234 feet).

Sevanavank: Located on Sevan peninsula, this 11th century monastery was originally founded by Princess Mariam Bagratuni. Its two churches were reconstructed and restored in the mid-20th century.

Lodging in hotel near the Lake.
Meals: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
Hotel Accommodations: Kaputak Sevan
Travel Distance: 250 km (156 miles)

Day 6

Sevan – Hayravank – Selim caravanserai – Jermuk
Hayravank: This monastery, dating to the 9th - 11th centuries, is located on a rocky promontory in a village on the western shore of Lake Sevan. Fortification and settlement remains dating from the Bronze Age to the Middle Ages are found here.

Selim Caravanserai: Built by Prince Chesar Orbelian in 1331, this inn accommodated travelers and their animals as they traversed the Silk Road through the Selim Pass. Restored in the 1950s, this caravanserai has unique decorations and stone carvings.

Jermuk: Known as a health resort with healing mineral waters Jermuk is surrounded on three sides by mountains covered with alpine forests. There is also a scenic panorama of the Arpa River gorge.

Lodging in hotel in Jermuk.
Meals: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
Hotel Accommodations: Verona
Travel Distance: 220 km (138 miles)

Day 7

Jermuk – Karahunj – Tatev – Khndzoresk – Goris
Visiting the territory of the stunning Bronze Age «Armenian Stonehenge» – Karahunj – which dates to the second millennium B.C. According to scientific consensus today, the arrangement of stones was most probably meant for astronomical observation. Karahunj is situated 3 km north of Sisian. The site consists of hundreds of vertically constructed boulders situated in a deliberate arrangement covering over 3 hectares. At first glance they appear to be randomly scattered but aerial views reveal a surprisingly precise arrangement of these giant stones.

Panorama of the Syunik Mountains and Vorotan river gorge (500 meters deep) takes your breath away. A stop on the bridge called Satani Kamurj («devil's bridge»), and site of mineral waters.

A trip to the Monastery of Tatevavank (9-17c) – the spiritual and cultural center of medieval Armenia, which is famous for its university (14-15c), an inspirer of the conquer of national-liberation of Syunik Armenians against Iranians and Osmanli Turk invaders (18c).

Visiting Khndzoresk village, the panorama of cave town «Old Khndzoresk». Khndzoresk is a historic place, with very interesting caves and mysterious rocks. Since the Bronze Age and almost till the 20th century, these caves were used as homes.
Lodging in Goris.
Meals: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
Hotel Accommodations: Mirhav
Travel Distance: 220 km (138 miles)

Day 8

Goris – Shushi – Gandzasar – Stepanakert
The main route to Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR) is a scenic drive from Goris through the Lachin Corridor where visitors will begin to understand why the area is also known as Mountainous Karabakh. Within this range of rugged mountains, deep canyons, limestone rock formations, and lush forests a wide of array of flora and fauna can be found.

Prominently sited on stone cliffs above the Karintak River valley, Shushi is an 18th century fortress city. Recognized as the commercial, cultural, and religious center of the region, the city was nearly destroyed during the Karabakh War but in recent years has been undergoing reconstruction and restoration.

Before arriving in Stepanakert, a stop will be made at Gandzasar Monastery, one of the most important architectural monuments of NKR. Literally translated, it means Treasure (gandz) Mountain (sar). Located near the town of Vank in the Mardakert district, on a hill overlooking the Khachen River, this monastery has long been a symbol of Karabakh Armenian statehood. Recently restored, the monastery is known for the reliefs carved into the walls of the 13th century Church of St. John the Baptist.
Meals: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
Hotel Accommodations: Armenia
Travel Distance: 210 km (131 miles)

Day 9

Stepanakert – Amaras – Stepanakert
In 1926, Alexander Tamanian, the prominent Armenian architect responsible for the modern city plan of Yerevan, designed Stepanakert, the capital and largest city of NKR. Places to visit include an18th century church, a history museum where ancient artifacts and Christian manuscripts are on display, and a stone sculpture known as "Mamik and Babik" that symbolizes the union of the people and mountainous landscape in which they live.

Begun in the 5th century, Amaras Monastery is located in the Martuni region of NKR. Credited with housing the first Armenian school in Karabakh, this monastery complex has been destroyed and re-built over the centuries.
Meals: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
Hotel Accommodations: Armenia
Travel Distance: 145 km (91 miles)

Day 10

Stepanakert – Dadivank – Djermadjur – Stepanakert
Located north west of Stepanakert, on the border between Armenia and NKR, Dadivank Monastery was constructed in phases from the 5th to 13th centuries. From its subterranean spaces to its multi-leveled structures, the monastery complex exemplifies the evolution of Armenian ecclesiastical architecture. Despite being in ruins, and once covered with frescoes, the monastery is known for its bas-relief wall carvings and intricate khatchkars.

Upon leaving Dadivank, the tour heads to the former Soviet resort town of Istisu, meaning "hot water". Now known as Djermadjur, this area and its hot springs were once a small-scale version of Jermuk, the Armenian resort town known for its mineral waters. Before returning to Stepanakert, explore the thermal springs and enjoy the natural beauty of the landscape along the Terterchay River.
Meals: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
Hotel Accommodations: Armenia
Travel Distance: 275 km (172 miles)

Day 11

Stepanakert – Noravank – bird's caves - Areni - Khor Virap – Yerevan
On the way to Yerevan a trip to the monastery Noravank. One of the masterpieces of medieval Armenian architecture - Noravank the religious centre of Syunik province, was built in 13-14c by architects Siranes and Momik and is known for its laced stone ornaments.

The sight of the stalactites and stalagmites in Bird's cave.

The excursion also includes a trip to Areni village which is famous for its various factory and home-made wines. Visitors will see wine as it is being processed, followed by a tasting.

Visiting Ararat valley. A visit to Khor Virap Monastery «deep pit». According to Armenian historian Agatangeghos (5th c.) the future first patriarch of Armenian Apostolic Church, Grigor Lusavorich was imprisoned in this dungeon for 13 years. The monastery is several hundred meters away from the border between Armenia and Turkey, on the higher, left bank of Arax river. From here there is a panoramic view of Mount Ararat.

Back to Yerevan. Lodging in hotel in Yerevan.
Meals: Breakfast Lunch
Hotel Accommodations: Regineh
Travel Distance: 420 km (263 miles)

Day 12

Yerevan - Geghard - Garni - S. Parajanov House-Museum / Museum of M. Saryan - Yerevan
Geghardavank: Constructed from the 12th to 13th centuries, Geghard means "Monastery of the Lance". Its name was connected with a lance that, according to the Holy Bible, was used to pierce the side of the crucified Christ. What is believed to be a remnant of the lance is preserved in the museum at Holy Echmiadzin.

Garni: Dating from the 3rd century BC to the 13th century AD, this area not only housed the summer residence of Armenian kings but was also the site of a pre-Christian temple honoring Mithra, god of the sun.

Sergei Parajanov Museum: Known as both a filmmaker and fine artist, Parajanov (1924-1990) was an innovative and controversial figure during the Soviet years. This small and intimate museum houses more than 250 works of art that include assemblages, collages, drawings, dolls, and film sketches.

Martiros Saryan Museum: Born in the Russian Empire, Saryan (1880-1972) traveled extensively in Turkey, Egypt, and Iran before settling in Armenia in the 1920s. In addition to viewing works of art influenced by his travels (landscapes, portraits, sketches, watercolors) visitors will also see his home and studio.

Overnight in the hotel.
Meals: Breakfast Lunch
Hotel Accommodations: Regineh
Travel Distance: 100 km (63 miles)

Day 13

Yerevan – Matenadaran – Sardarapat – Echmiadzin – Zvartnots – Yerevan
Matenadaran: Also known as The Institute of Ancient Manuscripts, the Matenadaran contains over 16,000 manuscripts documenting the centuries-old history of the Armenian nation, art, literature, and natural sciences. Manuscript art is one of the most unique examples of Armenia's medieval culture.

Sardarapat: Designed by noted Armenian architect Rafayel Israyelian, this monument commemorates the Armenian defeat of an invading Turkish army in 1918. Located adjacent to the pair of Assyrian-style winged lions, a bell tower, and a memorial garden for soldiers killed in the Karabakh War is an ethnography and history museum.

Echmiadzin: Officially known as Vagharshapat, and once the capital of Armenia, Echmiadzin is the spiritual center of Armenia. In addition to the Echmiadzin Cathedral, constructed in the 4th century, the churches of Saint Hripsime, Saint Gayane and Shoghakat are also located here.

Zvartnots: The ruins of this circular 7th century cathedral have led to much speculation regarding not only its original appearance and size but also the cause of its collapse. In addition to massive columns with carved capitals, the remains of a palace and winery can also be seen.

Return to Yerevan.
Meals: Breakfast Lunch
Hotel Accommodations: Regineh
Travel Distance: 200 km (125 miles)

Day 14

Yerevan – Matenadaran – Vernissage – Yerevan Brandy Company «Ararat» – airport Zvartnots
Before departing from Armenia, this eight-day tour concludes with visits to the Matenadaran where ancient Armenian manuscripts are stored and exhibited, Vernissage crafts and flea market, and the Yerevan Brandy Company for a tour and brandy tasting.

(Note: Departure day activities will be adjusted as needed according to the itinerary of the traveler.)
Meals: Lunch
Travel Distance: 50 km (31 miles)

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