9 June 1992 is the date on which Armenia became one of the member states of UNESCO. As of July 2016, 1052 sites are listed in the world heritage list: 814 cultural, 203 natural, and 35 mixed properties, in 165 states parties. Armenia with 29,743 km2 territory has a rather long list in here. Among them are Properties inscribed on the list of World Heritage sites.
Monasteries of Haghpat and Sanahin were the first in this list in 1996. These two monastery complexes, situated in the Lori province, are distinguished by their special character and unique style of medieval architecture. Built in the 10-13th centuries, they had high standard schools and were cultural centers. Also manuscripts were copied and illustrated in Haghpat.
Cathedral and Churches of Etchmiadzin (St. Hripsime, St. Gayane, Shoghakat) and the Archaeological Site of Zvartnots as one group of monuments and Monastery of Geghard with the Upper Azat Valley as another group of monuments were included in the World heritage list in 2000.
Etchmiadzin Cathedral, the mother church of the Armenian Apostolic Church, was built in 4th century, and the churches of Vagharshapat and Zvartnots were built in 7th century. These buildings illustrate the development of the Armenian central-domed cross-hall type of church, which afterwards had a profound influence on architectural and artistic development in the region.
Geghard is a monastery carved out of the adjacent mountain and initially was called Ayrivank (the Monastery of the Cave). But the famous spear with which Jesus was wounded by a Roman soldier in Calvary was kept here for 500 years. Later due to this fact the monastery was called Geghardavank (the Monastery of the Spear). The architecture of the monastery is also unique. Besides the Katoghike Chapel, the complex has four big handmade cave-halls connected to the narthex.
UNESCO’s list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity include “The Duduk and its Music” (2008), “Armenian cross-stones art. Symbolism and craftsmanship of Khachkars” (2010), “Performance of the Armenian epic of ‘Daredevils of Sassoun’ or ‘David of Sassoun” (2012), “Lavash, the preparation, meaning and appearance of traditional bread as an expression of culture in Armenia” (2014). The history of the Armenian Duduk goes back to the times of Armenian king Tigran the Great (95-55 BC). It is made of apricot wood. There are mainly 4 types of duduk, and the sound of the melody mainly depends on the type of the instrument. Khachkars (cross-stones) are one of Armenian visiting-cards. There are over 5000 khachkars in Armenia and each of them is unique and doesn’t repeat the ornaments of the other. The main element of the carving is cross and around the cross are depicted images of animals or plants, symbols of eternity, sacred images, geometric trimmings.
The national Epic, created in the middle Ages, first was written in 1873, before that it bequeathed orally due to which it reflects important facts of physical and spiritual life of the Armenian people in different eras. And Armenian traditional bread lavash is an integral part of Armenian cuisine. Since ancient times, to solve the problem of having fresh bread for a long time, lavash was created. In dry form it can be preserved up to 6 months. How is lavash made? After kneading simple dough with flour, water and salt, they form little balls, which are later rolled into thin layers. These layers are stretched over a special oval cushion and slapped against the wall of a traditional tandoor (“tonir” in Armenian). In a minute you can taste the flavor of new baked bread.
UNESCO’s Memory of the World International Register includes Mashtots Matenadaran ancient manuscripts collection (1997), First Byurakan Survey (2011), Collection of note manuscripts and film music of Composer Aram Khachaturian (2013). Over 17.000 manuscripts and 300.000 archival documents are kept in Matenadaran. It is one of the richest depositories in the world. First Byurakan Survey is the biggest spectral survey of the world which includes the study of nearby universe and is one of the greatest achievements in astrophysics of the 20th century.
Aram Khachatryan, universally recognized Armenian composer and conductor, raised Armenian composition school to a new classical and left a comprehensive musical legacy embracing almost all genres.
As you understand, Armenia has its own indelible mark on the memory of the world’s cultural heritage. So when you plan to visit Armenia and organize or take archeological tour in Armenia, do your best to manage to see, taste, listen and touch the Armenian treasures.