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A Destination of Biblical Proportions

Armenia was the first country to officially declare Christianity as the state religion. This took place in 301 AD. Approximately 94% of the country practice Christianity. Armenia is a wonderful site to visit for those seeking biblical travel.

The Great Flood
Many have heard the story from Genesis from a young age. For forty days and forty nights it rained. Noah built an ark and took two of every animal onto it. At the end of the flood, his ark came to a rest on top of Mount Ararat. Featured on the Armenian coat of arms, this snow-capped dormant volcano is a must-see.

Bartholomew and Thaddeus
Following Christ’s death, Apostles Bartholomew and Thaddeus traveled to introduce the Christian faith. While traveling, they crossed ancient Armenia and evangelized to the masses.

St. Gregory the Illuminator and Khor Virap
For thirteen years, Grigor Lusavorich was locked away in a cell at the bottom of a pit in the Armenian hillock. Local Christian women would sneak food to Lusavorich to keep him alive. Following his release, he was sainted as St. Gregory the Illuminator for curing King Trdat III of a disease, rumored to be madness, and converted the king to the Christian faith. The Khor Virap monastery houses the deep dungeon and is a common spot for locals to visit for baptisms and religious sacrifices of sheep and chickens.

Geghard Monastery
Named in remembrance of the spear used to pierce the side of Jesus during his crucifixion, the Geghard monastery is a masterpiece of 13th-century architecture. Carved from stone under the direction of St. Gregory, Geghard is believed to once house the Holy Lance that was given in good faith to Thaddeus by St. Peter to spread the gospel across the lands.

Echmiatsin
Located in the center of the Armenian Apostolic Church, within a walled compound with various structures and gardens, is Echmiatsin. Translating to “the Only Begotten Descended”, the cathedral was built in 480 under St. Gregory the Illuminator’s direction. He dreamt Jesus descended from heaven to show him where to build the church. Housed in the Echmiatsin are the Holy Lance (Geghard), the Right Hand of St. Gregory the Illuminator, and the relic of Noah’s Ark.

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Intro to Armenia

Beautiful Yerevan, Armenia

Armenia was formally part of the Ottoman empire, the Russian empire and then the Soviet Union. The Eastern Armenians under the rule of the Ottomans were the victims of genocide during the First World War. Eastern and Western Armenia were rejoined in 1920 shortly before the Soviets gained control of the country. The country did not regain its independence until after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The end of the Soviet era brought renewed conflict with neighboring state Azerbaijan. Now the country is a democratic state, with a multi-party system.

So that was a brief history of Armenia, yet it is also a country with rich traditions and culture, not to mention interesting places to visit. Armenia was one of the earliest countries to convert to the Christian religion in 301 AD (before the Roman empire) and there are some of the earliest known surviving churches can be found in this country. The country has had periods of being independent mixed with being part of other empires or states like the Byzantine empire and most recently the Soviet Union.

So people who have an interest in culture, history and religion will find Armenia an interesting place to visit. It is in the Caucasus mountains in a region where Europe meets Asia. Armenians have a strong sense of their distinct culture, language and religion yet are still welcoming and friendly towards their visitors. Aside from the mountains and the landscapes tourists can visit some of the country’s fine architecture and historical buildings. Such buildings also reflect the different rulers of the country, all of whom failed to repress Armenian culture and identity.

Armenia is a country that should be visited by tourists that want to learn things and to discover different cultures and traditions instead of just lounging on a beach.

Must See Religious Sites in Armenia

Garni Gorge and Temple
Garni, Armenia
Garni Gorge located in Garni, Armenia is truly a sight to see. Carved by the Goht River, this geological oddity consists of mainly well-preserved basalt columns. These columns, referred to by locals as “Symphony of Stones” look almost man-made. Busses will not make drips down the area, so to reach the bottom you must drive or walk.
Another remarkable feature of the gorge is Garni Temple. Despite dating back to the first century AD, Garni Temple has been preserved quite well. It was originally built for the worship of Greek gods prior to Armenia adopting Christianity in 301 AD. Roman Emperor Nero is believed to have funded the building of the temple.

Khor Virap Monastery
Lusarat, Armenia
Khor Virap, or Deep Dungeon, Monastery is a popular pilgrimage and holy site of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Locals will visit the site for baptism or to perform a sacrifice or “matagh” of sheep and chicken following a wedding. The history behind Deep Dungeon is fascinating, though be warned. If you’re claustrophobic, it may be better not to explore St.Gregory’s Pit.
For thirteen years, Grigor Lusavorich was housed in an Armenian hillock, at the bottom of a pit with a cell. He survived by being fed secretly by local Christian women After his release, he is said to have cured King Trdat III of disease and converted him to Christianity. After the king converted, Armenia followed suit and was officially recognized as the first Christian nation. Grigor was then sainted as Gregory the Illuminator and the hills became what they are today.

Geghard Monastery
Goght, Armenia
Geghard Monastery, translated as Monastery of the Spear, is a complex named after the spear used during the Crucifixion to would Jesus. It was alleged the spear had been brought to Armenia following the Crucifixion and is now housed at the Echmiadzin Treasury. St. Gregory the Illuminator declared a sacred spring ran through the small cave chapel and from there the site grew. By 1215, the main chapel was built from carved out rocks on every side. Armenian stonework and carved crosses mixed with the bare caves are a classic.

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Natural Wonders in Armenia

Mount Ararat Armenia

Mount Ararat
A significant part of Armenia’s culture, Mount Ararat is seen on the country’s coat of arms. It overlooks Iran, Turkey, and Armenia. This dormant snow-capped volcano is famous in the Christian culture as it is associated as the resting place for Noah’s Ark.

Lake Sevan
As one of the world’s biggest high-altitude freshwater lakes, Lake Sevan is located in the province of Gegharkunik. It is the largest lake in Armenia and covers approximately 5% of the country’s surface. During clear days, the water is a deep turquoise and the sands are a beautiful white.

Vorotan River Gorges
With unrivaled scenery, this river canyon is in Syunik. More than one hundred meters deep and up to three kilometers wide, the canyon is a tourist hot spot. Deep canyons, peaked mountains, and island fortresses will leave you breathless as you view from the east.

Khosrov Forest State Reserve
The Khosrov Forest, or Khosrov Reserve is one of the earliest protected areas in the world. In the Ararat Province, the reserve was founded by King Khosrov III, ruler from 330-339. Containing a natural mountain range with high plateaus overlooked by volcanic peaks and massifs, this area was originally reserved as a hunting place for the royal family, as well as an area for natural climatic condition development for the nearby city of Artashat.

Lake Arpi
Home to around one hundred species of birds, Lake Arpi is the perfect getaway from the crowds. With camping and hiking trails, you can feel at one with nature at the second most important water source in Armenia.

Dilijan National Park
Known for the curing mineral water fountains, Dilijan National Park is often called the “Switzerland of Armenia”. The lush, green forested area is rich in biodiversity and nature. From ecotourism trails, hiking, biking, and camping, this Tavush Province treasure is worth a visit.

Zuar
A hidden gem in the Karvachar region, Zuar is known for its hot water springs. Just a twenty-minute walk from the village center will take you to the main bathing spring. For thousands of years, people have traveled far and wide to bathe in the springs for their healing properties.