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Destinations Offered > Armenia > Armenia… A Country of Contrasts, Culture and Charm

Armenia… A Country of Contrasts, Culture and Charm

Museum of Art and History
Armenia is one of the few secrets left in the world, as well as one of the most thrilling. Since the earliest days of recorded history, Armenia has been a cultural crossroad between east and west, north and south. Winning independence from the Assyrian empire in biblical times allowed the development of a culture both dynamic and unique. Amid pagan and then Muslim neighbors, becoming the first country in the world (including Rome) to declare Christianity as its national faith, allowed Armenians to retain their unique identity through hundreds of years of occupation. Over its 1,700 years of Christianity, cathedrals and monasteries were built and many of them still stand today. But Armenia also has a modern face from the concerts, galleries, cafes, bars and nightclubs of Yerevan. When contrasted with the sheer scope of the mountains surrounding Lake Sevan and monuments older than the pyramids it’s not hard to be carried away with all that Armenia has to offer.
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Phone:(800)-356-8504 Email:Concierge@Ultitude.com
Traveler's Overview13 Days $2,495 per person inclusive of superior rooms in superior hotels, most meals, comprehensive sightseeing and private guides and drivers throughout. International airfare is additional. Private departures based on your schedule for a minimum of 4 and a maximum of 6 guests. Private departures for 2 guests available on request.
Trip Dossier

Personal Highlights:


• A visit to the Matenadaran with its collection of over 14,000 ancient books hand-written and illustrated in incredible detail
• Learning the secrets to making Lavash, the bread of Armenia
• Visiting vineyards reputedly started by Noah upon descending from the Ark on Mount Ararat
• Strolling the streets of Old Dilijan and shopping for a variety of handicrafts

Day 1 Depart USA

Your journey to Armenia begins when you board your overnight flight to Europe where you will connect to the charming country of Armenia

 

Day 2 Arrival in Yerevan

Depending on your connecting point you will likely arrive in the evening in Yerevan the capital of Armenia. You are met by your Ultitude guide and escorted to your car which will take you to your centrally located hotel.

 

Day 3 Highlights of Yerevan

Today you will meet your guide for an introduction to the key sights in Yerevan. The city itself enjoys a dry temperate climate, has mountains on three sides and is divided by the Hrazdan River. The city was founded in the 8th Century although the country itself is much older. There is about 1,200 feet of elevation change in the city and you start at the highest parts to get a good view of the city. You then proceed to the city centre where your guide will take you on a walking tour including Abovyan Street, Republic Square and the City Park. You will stop for lunch before visiting the Matenadaran which although relatively new, houses one of the world's largest collections of ancient illustrated manuscripts. There are over 14,000 completely preserved handwritten books, beautifully illustrated and covered in ancient leather embossed with silver. In addition there are also 300,000 documents with many dating back hundreds of years. After your tour you return to the hotel to freshen up before having dinner at a local restaurant with traditional Armenian music.

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Day 4 Garni Village and the Secrets of Lavash

After breakfast you meet up with your guide and head into the countryside. Your excursion starts at the Monastery of Geghard which means Lance in Armenian. Legend says that the lance that pierced the body of Christ on the cross was found in the area and the monastery itself is partly carved out of the rocks. Nearby is the area of Garni which at one time was the site of a major Hellenistic temple and fortress complex. That was destroyed by the Romans in 59AD but was replaced by a Roman Pagan temple which still stands today despite the conversion of the country to Christianity (70 years before Rome) and the many onslaughts by Arabs and Turks through the Centuries. There are also some excellent Roman Baths and Mosaics. You will then travel to the village of Garni where you will enter a local home to learn the secret of making Lavash the famous Armenian Bread. Lunch follows at a charming outdoor restaurant before returning to Yerevan. In the afternoon you will visit the Genocide Memorial Museum built in remembrance to the 1.5 million Armenians massacred by the Ottoman Turks starting in 1877 but reaching its crescendo during the first two years of the First World War. This evening is left open to allow you to select one of the many charming restaurants in the city.

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Day 5 The Vineyards of Noah

Today you will depart Yerevan and head into the Armenian countryside. Your first stop will be Khor Virap Monstery. The name means deep dungeon and it is so called because an Armenian King imprisoned Gregory the Illustrator in a dungeon (which you can visit today) because of his desire to convert the country to Christianity. Gregory was imprisoned for 13 years before the king released him. As punishment God turned the king's head into that of a boar but Gregory turned him back causing both the King and the country to convert to Christianity. The monastery also offers spectacular views of Mount Ararat the final resting place of Noah's Ark. It is said that one of the first things Noah did upon coming down from Mt. Ararat was to plant a vineyard and to this day fine wine is produced here which you will have a chance to sample before and during lunch. You then head to Karahunj which was created 6,000 years ago as an ancient observatory much like Stonehenge. You then arrive in the charming town of Goris where you will spend the night.

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Day 6 Tatev Monastery the Medieval Centre of the Armenian Apostolic Church

After a hearty country breakfast you head for the impressive Tatev Monastery Complex built in the 9th Century on a high bluff overlooking a spectacular valley. Because it was well protected and almost inaccessible it flourished as the centre of the Church's science and education programs. Although damaged by an earthquake in 1932, most of the complex remains and offers outstanding works of art and architecture. A picnic lunch is in store today combined with the opportunity to hike the nearby hills before returning to Goris

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Day 7 Echoes of the Silk Road

Your journey today will take you between two regions by way of the Selim Pass which, in ancient times was part of the Silk Road. You will have lunch at a Caravanserai where the traders would stay on their way from China to Europe. After lunch you stop and Noraduz Cemetery with a large and unique collection of ornate tombstones carved from the 6th through the 13th Century before arriving at Lake Sevan where you have a chance to visit Seven Monastery one of the last functioning monasteries in the country. You arrive at your charming hotel overlooking the Lake where fish, fresh from the lake is a specialty in the restaurant.

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Day 8 Enjoying Lake Sevan

After a leisurely breakfast your guide will take you for a scenic tour around part of the lake which covers over 750 square miles. Since it is situated over 5,000 feet above sea level the sun can be deceptively strong so summer precautions are recommended. After lunch at a lakeside restaurant you head to the charming craft village of Dilijan located in the mountains covered with trees and reminding many people of Switzerland. Your hotel this evening is charming and integrated into the community.

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Day 9 The Crafts of Old Dilijan

In the 19th Century Dilijan was a center of culture and cuisine with wealthy vacationers traveling from Tbilisi and Baku to escape the summer heat and enjoy the culture. Things atrophied under the soviet era but now work is underway to restore Dilijan to its former glory. The center of life is Sharembayan Street where you will find specialized workshops and studios selling jewelry, clothing, carpets, ceramics, woodcarvings and furniture all made by hand according to Armenian traditions You have the morning to explore and then, after lunch, you head to the foothills of the Caucasus Mountains and a picturesque hotel on the banks of the Ebed River. Although relatively new, the hotel includes native ingredients and captures the buildings from more ancient times; the restaurant offers excellent fare with a touch of influence from nearby Georgia.

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Day 10 A Day in the Mountains

Today you have numerous choices. You can join your guide for some walks in the woods visiting ancient fortresses and present day villages. Given the river flowing nearby you can try your hand at fishing or you can sit on the terrace listening to the rushing water. You can even try all three

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Day 11 Return to Yerevan

In the morning you will begin the return journey to Yerevan. Along the way you will stop at the monastic complexes at Haughpat and Sanahin before stopping at the Museum dedicated to Mikoyan the inventor of the MIG fighter jet. After lunch in Alaverdy you will pass through Vandzor the third largest city in Armenia and the site of the major earthquake in 1988. Arriving back at your hotel the rest of the evening is left open

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Day 12 Yerevan’s Markets and Winston’s Brandy

In the morning you will visit the food markets to see the bounty that Armenia has to offer, particularly fresh fruit. You will also visit an open air market dedicated to the sale of handicrafts. Your last visit will be to the Ararat Brandy Company where you get to taste this nectar. So tasty is it that Winston Churchill ordered 400 bottles a year (one per day with a little extra) after first tasting it at the Yalta Conference. After lunch the rest of the afternoon is open. In the evening depending on the schedule and your inclination, numerous cultural activities will be offered. It could be a performance at the Opera House or Symphony Hall or traditional folk music or dancing. Jazz and Rock Clubs are also an option

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Day 13 Return to USA

Depending on your airline selected you will be transferred to the airport and assisted with your check in for the return flight to the USA arriving back the same afternoon

 
Accommodations
Days 2 - 4
Yerevan

Tufenkian City Centre
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The new Tufenkian City Centre hotel is scheduled to open in the summer of 2012. The hotel is located on Alaverdyan Street near Vernisaj and will have six storeys with 82 double rooms. The exterior of the hotel will be made of black Armenian Tufa stone. The hotel will have a 90 seat restaurant, a bar, a lounge and an outside dining area and terrace. This will be the newest addition to the hotels being built in the country by James Tufenkian and American business man of Armenian heritage and is designed to offer luxury while maintaining the authenticity of Armenia n design. Ultitude guests arriving in Yerevan prior to opening will be accommodated at the 5 star Golden Tulip hotel.
Days 5 - 6
Goris

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Days 7 - 8
Lake Sevan

Avan Marak Tsapatagh
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This rustic but elegant property opened in 2003 and sits on the shores of Lake Sevan in a small farming and fishing village 75 miles north-east of Yerevan, Armenia’s capital. The hotel has 34 rooms including duplexes and suites and each has a private balcony that affords guests a sweeping view of the lake as it is set against mountain slopes on the opposite shore. The hotel offers a range of on-site recreational facilities including billiards, an outdoor swimming pool, a hot tub and sauna and table tennis. In the hotel’s inviting lounge guests can enjoy a variety of leisurely pursuits in a relaxing sitting area, lounge poolside at the hotel’s outdoor recreation area or spend the evening under the brightest stars in Armenia. The restaurant, whose vaulted ceilings transport guests to the grand hall of a country manor, specializes in dishes featuring locally caught fish indigenous to the lake. The outdoor dining area overlooks the sparkling panorama of the lake.
Days 9 - 10
Old Dilijan

Ananov Guest House
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In the 19th Century, Dilijan was a noted resort for the gentry from Tbilisi and as far away as Baku. They came for the picturesque landscape of the forests and the cooler summer air. In 2004 a renovation began to restore the charm of Old Dilijan and make it a haven for craftsmen whose skills were dying out. Today you are invited to experience Sharembayan Street as it was in the 19th Century and visit workshops creating jewelry, clothing, carpets ceramics and woodcarvings. As part of the renovation the Ananov guesthouse was created out of an existing building with two suites and eight bedrooms. The suites are filled with beautiful intricate wood work; from the furniture to balcony balustrades to the architectural details, it radiates care and craftsmanship. Antique wardrobes emblematic of the craftsmanship and artistry found in a 19th Century Dilijani home decorate the guestrooms, mafrashes (hand woven covers) and Tufenkian carpets give the rooms a warm and inviting feeling. The menu at Haykanoush Restaurant includes items that are unique like mushrooms and apricot soup or pomegranate stew, made from Armenia’s two signature fruits. Traditional Armenian pilafs are served alongside dishes that showcase a variety of Armenian cheeses. There is also a bakery onsite offering Boureg a flaky pastry filled with spinach or spiced meats
Days 11 - 12
Yerevan

Tufenkian City Centre
Select a different image from the previews below
The new Tufenkian City Centre hotel is scheduled to open in the summer of 2012. The hotel is located on Alaverdyan Street near Vernisaj and will have six storeys with 82 double rooms. The exterior of the hotel will be made of black Armenian Tufa stone. The hotel will have a 90 seat restaurant, a bar, a lounge and an outside dining area and terrace. This will be the newest addition to the hotels being built in the country by James Tufenkian and American business man of Armenian heritage and is designed to offer luxury while maintaining the authenticity of Armenia n design. Ultitude guests arriving in Yerevan prior to opening will be accommodated at the 5 star Golden Tulip hotel.