Armenia is a country with a rich centuries-old history, some episodes of which are forever “captured” in a variety of monuments and arise particular interest to tourists. A large number of cultural values are kept in the museums of Yerevan. You can also find quite many monuments located in different parts of the country right under the open sky. We have compiled a short list of the main historical sights, which you should definitely include in your program of excursions in Armenia.
Karahunj is a mysterious megalithic complex consisting of 223 upright huge stones weighing about 10 tons. You can see round holes in the upper part of the vast megaliths. According to the most popular theory, Karahunj is the oldest observatory, and the holes in the stones are made to observe the celestial bodies. The age of the monument is from 5 to 7 thousand years.
The only pagan temple dedicated to the god of fire and the Sun Mithra was built in the 1st century AD. Garni Temple is a magnificently preserved example of Hellenistic architecture. Not far from the temple, you can see the ruins of the palace complex, which served as the summer residence of the Armenian kings.
Zvartnots – “Celestial angels’ cathedral”, is one of the most beautiful and large-scale religious buildings of the early Middle Ages. The temple stood for about 300 years, after which it was destroyed by a massive earthquake. Currently, the building is partially restored and there is an archaeological museum “Zvartnots” in it. It is planned to complete the restoration of the three-tier building of the temple in the future.
Erebuni fortress, founded by Urartian King Argishti I in 782, is considered the “ancestor” of modern Yerevan and from that time, the Armenian capital counted its age. Erebuni Museum, as well as the ruins of the citadel, the royal palace and other ancient buildings are located on Arin-Berd hill, located in the territory of Yerevan, and excursions for tourists are available almost every day.
Geghard Monastery (IV century AD), located not far from Yerevan, is notable, first of all, for its unique architecture. Part of the church is carved into a large monolithic piece of rock. The name “Geghard” is translated as “spear”: it originates from the spear, which had wounded Jesus at the Crucifixion, allegedly brought to Armenia by Apostle Jude, called here Thaddeus, and stored amongst many other relics. A fragment of the cross on which the Lord was crucified is also kept here.
Echmiadzin Mother Cathedral
Echmiadzin is considered the spiritual capital of Armenia. The Echmiadzin Mother Cathedral includes a number of churches and religious buildings, as well the residence of the Supreme Patriarch, the Catholicos of All Armenians. Echmiadzin Cathedral (IV-V) is one of the most ancient Christian churches in the world; it is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Matenadaran – Institute of Ancient Manuscripts, museum, as well as repository where about 17 thousand manuscripts and more than 100 thousand old archival documents are kept. Numerous samples of ancient writings and miniatures are exhibited in the Matenadaran Museum; tourists can see here great artistic and historical “treasures”.
The Blue Mosque
The Blue Mosque is a functioning Muslim temple, which is located on the central avenue of Yerevan and symbolizes the Iranian-Armenian friendship. The total area of the temple is about 7000 m2, and the height of the minaret is 24 m. The building is decorated in the traditional Muslim style; some fragments are decorated with amazingly beautiful mosaic tiles. The sight is open for tours; there are several special exhibition halls.
The statue of Mother Armenia
The statue of Mother Armenia is a monument dedicated to the victory in the Great Patriotic War. The original version of the monument (Stalin’s statue) was later replaced by the image of a warrior mother who sheathed her sword. The massive pedestal of the statue is an independent building, inside which the Military Museum is located.
Yerevan Brandy Factory
Yerevan Brandy Factory has centuries-old history and is a leading producer and exporter of alcoholic beverages in Armenia. Unique samples of brandy, made according to special recipes, are stored here. There is a museum in the factory; an excursion here will allow visitors to see “from the inside” the whole process of getting the original drink, after which guests can taste it.