Standing on the Silk Road
9 days/ 8 nights
Tour code: 2C/4
The Silk Road, or Silk Routes, are an extensive interconnected network of trade routes across the Asian continent connecting East, South, and Western Asia with the Mediterranean world, including North Africa and Europe. The Silk Road earns its name from the extensive Chinese silk trade, the main reason for which the road was created. The Silk Road represents an early phenomenon of political and cultural integration due to inter-regional trade. In its heyday, the Silk Road sustained an international culture that strung together groups as diverse as the Magyars, Armenians, and Chinese.
This program gives you a nice opportunity to discover some routes of the Great Silk Road in Armenia!
Day 1: Arrival
Arrival at the International Zvartnots Airport. Meet and greet transfer airport / hotel. Accomodation. Rest
Day 2: City tour
In the morning meet your tour director and start city tour around Yerevan. The history of Yerevan dates back to the 8th century BC. A little part of the capital city's 3,000-year history has survived: Central Yerevan was once dominated by huge Soviet-style buildings, but now, due to the nowadays active constructions, many modern-style buildings appear and are going to appear. While your tour you will see the Republic Square which is designed in the traditional Armenian architectural style and includes the Government House, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Central Post Office, the National Art Gallery. Along with all major sights of the capital you will also see “Cat statue” by famous sculptor Fernando Botero, will climb up the Cascade to enjoy the panoramic view of Yerevan as well as will see Opera house, Victory Park with Mother Armenia statue, Kievyan Bridge, Baghramyan Avenue, the Presidential Palace, Academy of Sciences, National Parliament,Writers Union and Fruit market. Lunch in a local restaurant. In the second half of the day your main attractions will be Erebouni Fortress Museum and Armenian History Museum, here the important archaeological collections from Stone Age through Medieval periods are dark and almost unlabeled, but should not be missed. Welcome dinner and overnight at the hotel in Yerevan.
Day: 3 Genocide museum / Echmiadzin / Zvartnots / Vernisage
After breakfast at the hotel departure to Echmiadzin which is mere 20 km from Yerevan. On the way visit to St Hripsime church which is considered to be one of the 7 wonders of Armenia. Etchmiadzin Cathedral 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 were 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. Return to Yerevan with stop at the ruins of Zvartnots temple - the pearl of the 7th c. architecture which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage. Lunch in a national restaurant in Yerevan city. Visit to the Tsitsernakaberd Memorial park and museum of the victims of Genocide. In the second half of the day visit open air market Vernissage that bustles with hundreds of vendors selling a variety of crafts on weekends. The market offers woodcarving, antiques, fine lace, and the hand-knotted wool carpets and kilims that are a Caucasus specialty. Dinner and overnight at the hotel in Yerevan.
Day 4: Khor Virap / Noravank / Selim Caravansary / Noraduz / Tsapatagh
Sightseeing tour to Khor-Virap monastery 4- 17th cc. 45 km. from Yerevan the monastery of Khor-Virap has a very rich history, both religious and secular. Khor Virap was built in Artashat during the reign of the Arshakids dynasty. At that time it was used as a pit- dungeon for convicts. In the 60s of the 4th century Artashat was ruined by Persian invaders. It is situated in the Ararat valley against the biblical Ararat Mountain, were Noah's arch cast anchor. The importance of it is connected with Gregory the Illuminator, who introduced Christianity to Armenia and is considered to be the first Armenian catholicos. Here you will also have an opportunity to take a lit candle from the pit like His holiness Paul II did while his visit to Khor Virap. Continue tour to Noravank monastery - a great religious and cultural centre of 12th c. On the way visit Areni wine factory to taste local wine made from special sorts of vines. Noravank (“New Monasterey”) is 122 km away from Yerevan and is located in an inaccessible location throughout the stunning nature. The oldest structure of the monastery is the church of St. Karapet (9-10 c) that has not survived. The principal church is known as St. Karapet as well, which was built in the 13th c. The church has an atrium, which was rebuilt by the famous architect and sculptor Momik and is decorated with bas-relives on religious themes. Lunch in a local cave cafe. Drive to Selim Pass for visiting the caravanserai (XIV c.). The Selim caravanseray was built in 1332 by Prince Chesar Orbelian, according to an inscription in Armenian and Arabic, this used to be an important trade point in the famous Silk Road. Overnight at the hotel in Sevan.
Day 5: Sevan – Dilijan-Goshavank - Haghpat – Sanahin Monasteries-Dzoraget
Start tour from Sevan to the North of Armenia through spectacular forested region of Dilijan, where you can walk through a museum street, with the buildings preserved from 19 c. with the ceramics workshop and woodcarvers’ studio. Visiting of Gohsavank complex situated in the woodlands of Dilijan that represents an indescribable example of blend of nature with architecture. It was founded in 11-13 th centuries. Continue tour to the architectural complexes of Sanahin (966 AD) and Haghpat (976 AD) which are among the outstanding works of medieval Armenian architecture and are inscribed in UNESCO World Heritage list. The architectural details and decoration of the monuments, which belong to the same epoch, have much in common and are even exactly alike in some cases, which gives us ground to presume that they were created by craftsmen of the same school. Dinner and overnight at the hotel Avan Dzoraget.
Day 6: Dzoraghet / Gyumri City tour / Mastara / Talin / Aruch Caravansary / Yerevan
Drive to Gyumri. Tour in Gyumri – the second largest city of Armenia. Lunch in Gyumri. Drive back to Yerevan. The road leads toward an excellent early church called Mastara (7 c.). Continue to Talin village in which are the impressive remains of an important cathedral church of 7 c. The village Aruch is one of the oldest settlements of Armenia. Aruch and its environs are rich with historical- architectural monuments; burial-vaults from Bronze Age, temples, palaces, fortresses, khachkars, etc The temple of Arutch (7 c A.D) is one of the most important medieval Armenian architectural constructions. The walls of the temple are plastered and decorated with frescos (now seriously damaged). The half-destroyed caravansary is preserved on the northern side of the village, on the Ashtarak-Talin highway. It belongs to the three-nave caravansaries type with one hall, that were built in Armenia in XIII-XIV cc. These three architectural highlights are unique as they are works of the same century but the have quite different architectural conceptions. Drive to Yerevan. Overnight at the hotel in Yerevan.
Day 7: Yerevan / Ashtarak / Sagmosavank / Hovanavank / Amberd / Yerevan
Proceed to Ashtarak – one of the most ancient Armenian cities, to visit the church of Karmravour. It’s one of the smallest pan-Armenian churches but in spite of its size you can still feel authentic Christianity. It’s also one of those rare churches where some traces of frescos are still seen. Continue to Hovanavank Monastery (5-13 cc.), is proud of its reach decoration both in internal and in external parts. The monastery was dedicated to John the Baptist whose relics are said to be buried in this area. Not far from Hovanavan is situated Saghmossavank medieval monastery, situated in the breathtaking site, at the deep canyon of Ashtarak. Sgmossamvank is translated as “monastery of psalms”. According to the tradition when the first church of the monastery was built the priests kept reading psalms 40 days long so the monastery was called monastery of psalms. . Lunch in a local house tasting homemade dishes. Tour to Fortress of Amberd, 9th century, 6 km from the village of Byurakan, stands halfway up Mt. Aragats, at the height of 2300m. The fortress stands on a rocky cape formed by the rivers Amberd and Arkhashen. There are also vestiges of a fortified three-storied palace, a church built in 1026, a palace bathhouse with two domes, a central heating system, water tanks, a water-supply system, and a secret passage to a nearby cleft, and other buildings. Drive back to Yerevan. Dinner and overnight at the hotel in Yerevan.
Day 8: Matenadaran / Garni / Gueghard / Fruit Market
Visit to the depositary of ancient manuscripts the Matenadaran which contains historical documents from all over Europe and Asia throughout many centuries. There is also the first copy of the Bible in Armenian and the Gospels that fascinate with their beautiful miniatures. Departure to Garni Temple. The citadel and pagan temple of Garni is a picturesque monument of the Hellenistic period and an impressive piece of ancient Armenian architecture. It was built in the first century A.D. by the Armenian King Tiridates and it is dedicated to a heathen god, probably to Mithra, the god of the sun whose figure stood in the depth of the sanctuary. After proclaiming Christianity as a state religion in Armenia in 301, the temple was probably used as a summer residence of the kings. Lunch at a local house in Garni where you will have opportunity to watch Armenian national bread “lavash” baking and barbeque making process in the underground stove called “tonir”. Northeast of Garni, higher up the gorge of the Azat river, there is a magnificent monument of medieval Armenian architecture - Geghard monastery inscribed in UNESCO World Heritage list (inscribed in UNESCO World Heritage list). Geghard is another incredible ancient Armenian monastery, partly carved out of a mountain. The meaning "the Monastery of the Spear", originates from the spear which had wounded Jesus during his crucifixion, allegedly brought to Armenia by Apostle Thaddeus, and stored amongst many other relics. Now the historical spear is displayed in the Etchmiadzin treasury. Though the monastery of Gueghard was around before the 4th century, the main cathedral was built in 1215. The entrance of the compound is surrounded by high walls on three sides and mountain on the other. Outside the monastery complex there are some caves which have a bunch of little cave rooms and are quite interesting. Return back. Visit the fruit market where local merchants sell fresh and dried fruits and vegetables, spices, and delicacies. Farewell dinner and overnight at the hotel in Yerevan.
Day 9: Departure
Transfer to airport. Departure.