Fortress - X c., main church - XIII c.

The famous fortress of Akhtala was built in the 10th century during the reign of Kyurik Bagratouni in Lori district of Armenia. The  northern part of the fortress is strenghened by overhanging pyramidal walls. Walls, made with huge, bazalt, peglike stones, are connected to each other through firm pyramidal, three-storey towers, rising from the both sides of the main entrance. Inside the fortress there is a monastery which consists of 3 churches, a bell-tower, hall and stonemade dwellings. The  main church of the fortress - St.Astvatzatzin (Holy Virgin) (VIIIc.), has a rectangular schemed structure with cruciform vault. From inside walls are covered with frescos, which represent separate chapters of the New and the Old Testament. St.Mariam sitting on the throne is painted in the main absid, and among other saints in the row there is St.Grigory the Еnlightener. Other  monuments of Akhtala are St.Trinity monastery (consisting of 2 churches and 2 chapels), St.Gevorg church(XIIIc.), two twin churches (XIIIc.) located to the west from the fortress.


The present three-nave basilica (13.5 x 23.2m) church of Amaras was built in 1858. The convent is in the center of 5m high ramparts (85x59m) with round towers at each corner. Into the ramparts are built many rooms for dwelling and auxiliary uses. In the center of the west yard is St.Grigoris church. It actually dares back to far 4th century. In the 330s, it was already the seat of the bishop, and remained an important religious center until the 19th cc. It has been destroyed and reconstructed for several times. Frist time it was destroyed during the 5th century. During the first period of Arabic invasions, Amaras was again destroyed. Rebuilt again in the 9 c under Dizak's Prince Yesayi Abu-Muse's patronage, and prospered once again. In 1223 Tatar-Mongols looted the wealth of Amaras. Among the robbed treasure were St.Grigor's crosier and a golden cross ornamented with 36 stones left from 4c. Again in 1387, like dozens of churches of Artsakh, Amaras was leveled by the forces of Lenk-Temur.  In the second quarter of the 19c Amaras served as a customs house. Caravans going from the orient stopped here en route to Russia or to other European countries. The monastery at one time owned many lands, water-mills and summer-cottages. 


Amberd is a midcentury fort-city. It was built during the 10th century, 7 km. to the north of Byurakan village, of the historical Aragatzotn district (on the southern wing of the Aragatz mountain). It was situated in the triangular cape where the rivers Arkashen and Amberd were joined, at an elevation of 2300m. height. The mansion and some parts of the fortress’s wall were constructed in the 7th century. In the 10th century it was the military defense center of the Bagratuni and Pahlavuni kingdoms. In the 11th century it was invaded by the Selghuks and became their military center. In 1196 the united Armenian-Georgian army, under the leadership of Zakare, freed Amberd from the Seljuks. And once again in 1236 the Mongols invaded the fort and nearly ruined it. At the end of the 13th century the Vachutyan’s once again reconsructed the fort. The ruins of Amberd fortress including the walls, the church, the bathroom and other sections have been preserved. The fortress had an irregular triangular shape. The most accessible section from the outside of the three-storey mansion was located at the north-western section of the fort-city, and it streched for approximately 1500 km. On the southern side of the mansion, which faced the center of the fort window, openings of the upper storeys were preserved. For defense reasons, the lower story did not have windows, instead, it had a small entrance hidden by a sliding stone door. During excavation, weapons, decorations, coins and other such items of metal have been found.


Areni village was an old and famous village in Vayots Dzor district. The historical location of the village was to the west of present day Areni, on top of the hill (the ruins were preserved). In the 13th century the ruler of Syunik ditrict, Orbelyan Tarsaitch moved his palace from Yeghegis to Areni. On the eastern edge of the Areni village, St.Astvatzatzin (Holy Virgin) church is situated. According to the inscriptions it was built by architect and painter Momik in 1321. In the center of the western entrance of the church there is a barelief of St.Mary embracing The Holy Child. The Holy Mother is portrayed realistically in contemporary attire.



The Arutch monastery complex is situated at the outside part of the rock in the western foot of the mountain Aragatz (Aragatzotn district). Here the ruins of the ancient fortifications (IIc .B.C.) are preserved. At the cemetery of the village there are ruins of the basilica church, which date back to V c. along with several interesting gravestones. In the 5th century Arutch serves as a winter residence for the royal army. The Arutch temple (St.Grigor church) is a famous monument of Armenian architecture built by Grigor Mamikonyan in the middle of VII century. From inside the temple was covered with frescos which date back to VIIc. that are mostly damaged now were representing the Resurrection scene.  

Dadivank or Khutavank was founded in the 1st century. Its name is connected with one of the 70 students of the Apostle St. Thaddeus, named Dadi or Dado, who preached Christianity in Artsakh and died there. The oldest church is situated on the northern slope of the complex. The second church is adjacent to the first one from south. The western hall had probably served as a chapel. The most important construction period of Dadi temple is the first half of 13c. One of the first buildings built during that period is considered Grigor episcope’s vestibule-chapel. The inscription on the right side of the door shows that it was built in 1224 by Grigor episcope. Numerous khachkars were put inside the vestibule’s walls. Grigor episcope vestibule-chapel had been the grave-house of Verin Khachen's prince family throughout centuries. From inside the floor is covered with tombstones, parts of writings on which are already erased. Arzu-Khatun church-monument stands out like a wonderful monument in Dadi temple complex.  This remarkable and famous monument  of Armenian architecture is situated in the eastern part of the temple, on the brink of the precipice going down to the deep canyon. All the other constructions are placed towards north and south-west from it. Bell tower is situated in the western part of the complex, in front of the gate. 


Devil’s bridge is located on Vorotan River at the eastern part of Tatev village. The bridge consists of travertine and has natural origin. Its length is about 30m, width 50-60m. There are many mineral springs around, from which wonderful stalactites have been formed. Some springs are under the bridge and fall into Vorotan River making it more full-flowing. At first sight it looks like a little river flows under the bridge and a big one outflows from the other side. It is assumed that this might be the reason of a strange name of the bridge.


The Mother See of Holy Ejmiatsin is the spiritual and administrative headquarters of the worldwide Armenian Church.  The Mother Cathedral, founded by the Descent of Christ, built by St. Gregory the Illuminator and King Trdat III, has stood as a symbol against time of the Armenian faith, nation and people. Its construction begun in the 4th century, built on the ruins of a pagan cult site, but it has been heavily restored through the centuries, most thoroughly in the 17th cent. Displacing a rival mother church at Ashtishat in Western Armenia, Ejmiatsin has been seat of the Catholicos in the 4th and 5th centuries and again since 1441. As such, and as the seat of the miraculous relics of the Armenian church – the Lance, the hand of St. Gregory the Illuminator, the hand of the Apostle Thaddeus, a finger of St. Jude, a drop of St. Hripsime's blood, etc. – it came to control vast estates and received rich gifts from around the Armenian world. The place where the Cathedral sits is not an occasional one. It is said that Gregory the Illuminator had a vision in his dream that Jesus descended from heaven and pointed to the place where the Cathedral of Ejmiatsin is currently situated. Thus, the name Ejmiatsin means “the coming of the only begotten”. A visit to the Cathedral will not be full without a tour to the Museum. It protects numerous cultural values, exclusive art works, candles, curtains, old carpets, religious artifacts as well as illuminated artifacts worth seeing. These national values were brought from different Armenian colonies which proved Armenian national high taste and conception of beauty. Amongst all sacred relics this museum also protects the lance (geghard in Armenian), which is said to have been used to pierce Christ’s body. Ejmiatsin Cathedral together with the other churches in the territory is inscribed in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

782 y. B.C.

The unification of Nair tribes in the middle of the ninth century B.C. in the southern part of the Armenian plateau completed with the formation of the kingdom known as Urartu. Having strengthened its position over a short pe­riod, it became one of the mighty slave-owning states of the Ancient East. Under King Argishti I, who reigned in 786-750, the Urarts conquered Ararat plain - an enormous ter­ritory spreading as far north as the lakes of Sevan and Chaldyr. Erebuni was one of the earliest and biggest towns situated on Arin-berd hill (the south-eastern outskirt of what is now Yerevan), a major administrative and economic centre of the northern part of the country. According to the Khorkhor cuneiform record and two other identical re­cords found in the citadel, Erebuni was built by Argishti I in 782 B. C. (this date is considered that of the foundation of Yerevan). In honour of the foundation the city, a painted wooden figurine of an armed warrior was made, with a cuneiform inscription on a bronze pedestal. This confirms the significance of Erebuni is an important military stronghold of the country. This small sculpture is an interesting specimen of Urartu art. The citadel comprised palaces, houses of worship and serv­ice premises situated at various levels, depending on the hill surface, and interconnected by stairways. This, as well as the varying heights of palaces and service buildings, im­parted to the citadel of Erebuni a stepped silhouette charac­teristic of such structures on the Armenian upland. The successors of Argishti the First - Sarduri II (764-730 B.C.) and Rusa I (730-714 B.C.) continued construction work to improve the citadel. The loss of the state independence of Urartu in the 6th century B.C. and the establishment of the Akhemenids' domination led to substantial changes in the architectural composition of Erebuni citadel. The main yard, greatly reduced in size, lost its importance as the nucleus of the complex's layout which became denser. As a result the mon­umental structures lost their solemn appearance. The architectural and artistic tradition of Urartu, vividly represented in Erebuni and in other Urartu monuments, played a prominent role in the further development of ar­chitecture on the territory of the Armenian upland.  

1238 y.
Gandzasar monastery (Martakert district of Artsakh) has been built between 1216-1238 years. The foundation date of the vestibule built in its western side is unknown, but according to the inscription here the building was finished in 1266. From historical sources of 9-10cc it is known that Gandzasar old church served as a political and religious meeting place for Artsakh and the surrounding Armenian regions. In a short period Gandzasar became an important point in the  cultural life of the region, the seat of Eastern Armenian patriarchate and etc. In teh end of 17 th century it was already the centre of the movement of struggle for liberation. The Catholicos Yesayi, a fighter devoted to the battle of national liberation, became the head of that movement. Gandzasar complex consists of  the primarily church and the vestibule. St.Hovhannes Mkrtich church has a cruciform interior and rectangle domed exterior (sizes of the hall 12,3x17, 75), the four corners of which occupy the two-story side-chapels. The unknown architect of the temple has created a memorable drum. It is divided into 16 triangular grooves, which are outlined with ornaments. Each triangle has a separate sculpture at its base. The vestibule has been the grave-house of Hasan-Jalalyan's family. Inside the stony ramparts of Gandzasar, in the northern wing of the church there are eight small and two large rooms. A larger  building is situated in the eastern part. In the past it served as a school, then a cloister-hotel.There are around 200 inscriptions on the walls of the temple. The head of Hovhannes Mkrtich (John the Baptist), brought by Armenian merchants from Venice, is buried under the altar of Gandzasar. 

Founded in I c B.C.

The fortress of Garni is situated in the village of the same name in the Kotayk District. That was a mighty fortress well known from chronicles (Cornelius Tacitus, Movses Khorenatsi, etc.). The structures of Garni combine elements of Hellenistic and national culture, which are evidences of antique influences and the distinctive building traditions of the Armenian people. Artistic merits and uniqueness of its monuments place Garni among outstanding creations of architecture of world importance. The temple was built in the second half of the first century B.C. and dedicated to Mitra, the god of the sun, whose figure stood in the depth of the sanctuary. After Christianity had been proclaimed the state religion in Armenia in 301, the temple was probably used as a summer residence of the kings. A chronicle describes it as ‘‘a house of coolness‘‘. Its architecture is very similar to the former Musasir temple in Armenia which had been destroyed. But it also has some influences from Hellenistic style.  One of the most interesting phenomena of the temple is its bath- house which is situated in the northern part of the temple, at an angle to the residential block. Built in the third century, it comprised no less than five premises serving various purposes. The first room from the east was a dressing room; the second one was a cold-water bathroom, the third and fourth ones, warm and hot water bathrooms respectively. Of special interest is the soft-colour mosaic of the dressing room floor dating back to the 3rd-4th centuries, an outstanding example of monumental painting in central Armenia. Ocean and sea have been painted in the mosaic. Ocean symbolized the man and sea symbolized the woman. The mosaic has been preserved till our days.  Garni Temple is the only monument which has been preserved from the pagan times of Armenia.


Founded in the IV c., main church - 1215 y.

To north-east of Garni, higher up the gorge of the Azat River, there is a magnificent monument of medieval Armenian architecture - Geghard monastery. The specific character of this monument reflects, no doubt, the peculiarities of the austere and majestic scenery around it. The picturesque gorge of Gegharda-dzor with its high and precipitous cliffs is extremely winding, and the monastery opens to view unexpectedly behind a turn of a steep path leading to it. In the 1950s a road sign was put up near this turn - a lioness on a high pedestal, with its head turned as if showing the way. Its figure is stylistically connected with the decoration of the monastery. The exact date of the foundation Geghard monastery is unknown but it was built at the 4th century and formerly was called Ayrivank which means “cave monastery” because the half part of it is in the rock. The present name is to be traced back to the 13th century when, as a legend says, the legendary spear – “geghard” - was brought there. This spear is believed to be used to pierce Christ’s body during crucifixion. Nothing has remained of the structures of Ayrivank. According to Armenian historians of the 4th, 8th and 10th centuries the monastery had not only religious buildings but also well-appointed residential and service installations. Ayrivank suffered greatly in 923 from Nasr, a vice-regent of an Arabian caliph in Armenia, who plundered its valuable property, including unique manuscripts, and burned down the magnificent structures of the monastery. Earthquakes also did it no small damage. The existing ensemble dates back to the 12th-13th centuries, the period of the flourishing of national culture, especially architecture. Under the princes of Zakharia and Ivane the chapels of Grigory the Еnlightener - the most ancient structure of the monastery - its main temple and its vestibule, as well as the first cave church have been built. 

630 y.

Gayane church was built by Ezr Catholicos in 630 in Vagharshapat. In 1652 the walls and the roof were reconstructed. In 1683 next to the facade a gallery was added. This church is an example of a vaulted basilica type. The constructive elements, the arches, quarters, tromps, have been created with great skill. There are entries on the both sides of the main altar. The windows of the church are typical to the shapes of the style of 7th century. Gayane church is well known because of its simplicity and architectural-artistic style, impressive interior and convincing spatial forms.

1886 y.

Ghazanchetsots, St.Amenaprkich, Monastery is the great attraction of the city of Shushi in Artsakh. It is a great monument. The exterior decorations are luxurious; there are ornament-carvings everywhere, especially on the arches of doors and windows. During the reconstruction of the church an inscription was discovered, thanks to which the name of the architect of the church became known. This inscription enriched the list of masters and architects of XIXc by two bright names; Avetis Yearamishents and Simeon Ter-Hakobyants.


Nor Getik (New Getik) was founded in place of an older monastery, Getik, which had been destroyed by an earthquake in 1188. Mkhitar Gosh, a statesman, outstanding scientist and writer, an author of numerous fables and parables and of the first criminal code, built the monastery, which was later called Goshavank in his honour. In Nor Getik Mkhitar Gosh founded a school. One of its students was Kirakos Gandzaketsi, an Armenian scientist, who later wrote "The History of Armenia". The church of St.Grigor Lusavorich in Nor Getik, started in 1237 and finished by Prince Grigor-Tgha in 1241. Other buildings are the bell-tower the library, which was one of the biggest libraries of that time . This monastic complex stands out with its khachkars, “cross stones”.  Among them there are unique and highly artistic ones. The khachkars created by the carver Pavgos stand out among the others. The best of them is the one carved in 1291 and carries the name of its creator in the bottom left star. This is a masterpiece of khachkar-carving art.

Haghartzin monastery is located in the upper reaches of the Aghstev River of Tavush district. It is situated in dense oak wood, in the gorge of small but turbulent mountain river. The church of St.Astvatzatzin (1281) is the biggest building of all, the artistic dominant of the ensemble. The tall sixteen-faceted dome, dominating all the other structures, is decorated with great proficiency. This adds the optical height of the dome and creates the impression that its drum is weightless. The refectory of Haghartzin, built by the architect Minas in 1248, is a structure of a rare composition. The structure is divided by pillars into two square-plan parts roofed with a system of intersecting arches. The walls are lined with stone benches, and at the western butt wall, next to the door, there is a broad archway for the numerous pilgrims to get in and out. Decoration is concentrated only in the central sections of the roofing, near the main lighting apertures. The proportionally diminishing architectural shapes create the impression of space.

X-XIII cc.

Haghpat monastery is situated in the north of Armenia, in Haghpat village of Lori district. The exact date of the foundation of Haghpat is unknown. Documentary evidence and monuments of material culture suggest that it dates back to the halves of the 10th century. The formation of Tashir-Dzoraget kingdom of the Kyurikids in 979 and the great attention paid to Haghpat by various rulers of Armenia favored the construction of many religious and civil structures there. Religious structures are of the cross-winged dome type and have side-chapels in four corners, or of the cupola hall type. The most important of the cupola-hall type buildings is St.Nshan church, founded by Khosrovanuish in 976 and completed in 991.  Vestibules and galleries, as well as special structures, served as sepulchers for members of aristocracy. There are several structures of this kind in Haghpat. They differed from each other in their architectural composition, which is the evidence of the great creative ingenuity of their architects. The bell-tower of Haghpat (1245) is one of the earliest examples of this type of structures. It is a tall three-floor tower. Its first store is cross-shaped in the plan, and the second one rectangular, with the angles cut off. This way of composition of a bell-tower found its reflection not only in the construction of bell-towers built later, but also in various other buildings, such as mausoleums and even churches. The book depository of Haghpat (11th) is unique building illustrating the high level of development of civil architecture in the 11th-13th century Armenia. Such buildings were erected, as a rule, away from the main churches of the monastery. They were square-shaped in plan and had a niche for keeping manuscripts in. 


Halidzor fortress is an Armenian architectural complex of the late mid-centuries, which is located in Kapan area. Because of its inaccessible situation, it became the main fortress during Davit Bek’s liberation fight in 18c, and the center of Armenian kingdom of Syunik. It is located on the shores of the Voghji River. The walls of the fortress have abnormal square-like form. The only circular pyramid is on the south-western corner of the fort. There are two entrances from the southern and the northern sides. The church is made of large untreated basalt stones. The two-store constructions from both the southern and the northern sides of the church were used as entries. The great defense system of the fortress helped David Bek’s army to withstand the attacks of the Turkish army with very little number of soldiers.

Havuts Tar monastery is located to the east of Garni temple, on the left shore of the Azat River. It was a remarkable midcentury religious and cultural center of Armenia. According to Mkhitar Airivanatsy, in the 10th century Gevorg Marzpetuni built the St.Amenaprkich church. And according to the inscriptions, it was rebuilt in 1013 by Grigor Magistros. The monastery was founded during the 12-14th centuries and ruined by the earthquake of 1679. In the 18th century the monastery was reconstructed by Catholicos Astvatsatur. The complex consists of the main church (13th century) in the western side and two attached chapels (now half-ruined) in the eastern side.

618 y.

Hripsime church, one of the most attractive works of Armenian architecture of the classical period, a variant of the concentrically domed composition, stands on a slight elevation, at the eastern edge of Vagharshapat City. This kind of composition is characteristic only to the Christian countries of the Transcaucasia. Its expressive silhouette, seen from afar, stands up sharply against the background of an emerald green valley dominated by the snowcapped Mt. Ararat. St.Hripsime church, completed in 618, is a vivid example of a structure distinguished by the unity of layout and decoration in which the central-dome system is brought to perfection. The outside niches, which appeared in Hripsime Church for the first time, presently became a characteristic feature of Armenian architecture in the feudal epoch. Later, the church underwent certain changes; particularly, the western and southern entrance porticos were pulled down, and the side windows of the altar apse were walled up. The monastery is named after the virgin Hripsime, who came to Armenia with a group of 40 virgins to introduce Christianity. The Armenian king Trtad the Great strongly persecuted the virgins before accepting the religion.

Mozrov cave is located on the right side of the road which takes to Mozrov village. The cave was found during construction of the road. Its depth is more than 300m. There are stalactites and stalagmites everywhere in the huge rooms of the cave.

Noratus village is located on the banks of the Gavaraget River in Gegharkunik district. This village is very famous for its cemetery, which is the biggest cross-stones cemetery in the world. All the cemetery is covered with cross-stones the majority of them belonging to the 13-17th centuries, as a group of cross-stones on family cemeteries. Here smaller rectangular tombs may be found as well, with cross-stones placed on top of them. In Noratus many talented stone masters were famous, namely: Melikset, Nerses, Kiram and others. 

Noravank monastery is situated on the edge of a deep winding gorge of a tributary of Arpa River near the village of Amaghu, in Vayots Dzor district. Noravank ensemble stands amidst the bizarre-shaped precipitous red cliffs. Built in place of an ancient monastery, it grew under the reign of Princes Orbelyan of Syunik. In the 13th-14th centuries the monastery became a residence of bishops of Syunik and, consequently, a major religious and, later, cultural center of Armenia. The main buildings are the churches of St.Karapet and St.Astvatzatzin, built by Momik. The church of St.Karapet (the 9th-10th cc.), from which only ruins have been preserved, is the most ancient monument of Noravank. To the north of it, the main church is located which is also dedicated to St.Karapet. Erected in 1216-1223, it belongs to the widespread cross-winged domed type with two-store side-chapels in the corners. St.Astvatzatzin church, known as Burtelashen (built by Burtel) after the name of its founder, is situated to the south-east of St.Karapet church. Completed in 1339, it was Momik’s last work. His tomb khachkar is near the church there, small and modestly decorated, dated to the same year. The church of St.Grigory (the burial place of the Orbelyans) was added by the architect Siranes on the northern part of St.Karapet church in 1275. Several khachkars of original designs have survived in the territory of the complex. The most valuable of all them is one carved in 1308 by Momik. Apart from everything the most unique and outstanding phenomenon of this complex is the sculpture of Father God. It is something unusual not only to Armenian culture but also to the world culture. The most interesting is that the sculpture has almond-cut eyes, which is not characteristic to the eyes of Armenians. The sculpture has been carved during the attacks of Tatar-Mongols and the architecture made the eyes of the sculpture similar to the eyes of Mongols for them not to destroy it and the whole monastic complex.

The monastery of Odzun is located in Odzun village near Alaverdi in Lori district. The church dates to the end of the 6th century. The church is an unusual funerary monument 5th -6th centuries with two sculpted pillars depicting biblical scenes and the Christianization of Armenia. Standing on a tiered base and constructed in polished stone in the form of two arcades, this monument has a delicate harmony of symmetry. The sculptures of Odzun church are remarkable samples of the older Armenian religious art.

9-10th cc

Sevanavank monastery is located on the Sevan peninsula in Gegharkunik district. During the 9th century Sevan became the royal citadel of the Syuniats princes. In 874 the daughter of King Ashot Bagratuni, Mariam, built the Arakelots and the St.Astvatzatzin (Holy Virgin) churches. There is a chapel on the eastern side of the St.Astvatzatzin church, the columns of which are important examples of Armenian wood-carving art, and nowadays both of them are preserved in the Armenian State History museum. There are numerous cross-stones in the area of the monastery. During 1956-1957 the churches were reconstructed. 

Shaki waterfall is in Syunik region of Armenia. The origin of its name comes from a legend, according to which Shaki has been a very beautiful girl and a conqueror who adored her beauty ordered her to come to him. Shaki didn’t want to become a victim of his violence and jumped from a high rock. When falling down her long dress opened and turned into a waterfall. Since then this waterfall it is called Shaki.

Smbataberd fortress founded during10-11th centuries is located in the Vayots Dzor region, to the east from Artabuynk village. It has high and wide (2-3 m) pyramid-type fort-walls built with large bazalt stones, and is surrounded by the Artabuni and the Yeghegis Rivers and deep canyons. The fort preserves ruins of the middle-aged fort dwellings and water pools. 

Tatev monastery is situated near the village of Tatev - in Syunik district. The monastery was founded in the ninth century in place of a tabernacle well-known in those times. In the Middle Ages Tatev used to be the political center of Syunik principality. In the 10th century it had a population of 1000 and controlled numerous villages. In the 13th century it owned 680 villages. The main church of Poghos and Petros (Peter and Paul) was built during the years of 895-906. The outward appearance of the complex is severe and laconic. Its harmonious proportions strengthen the impression of its considerable height. Special attention was paid to the interior decoration of the church which was the main cathedral of Syunik principality. The walls of the church have been decorated with frescoes but now they are almost totally lost. In the main fresco Christ was represented sitting on a throne and surrounded with three prophets and four saints. Church St. Grigory adjoins the main church from the southern side. According to chronicle, the church was built in 1295 in the place of an earlier building of 836-848. The monument "Gavazan", founded in 904 in the yard is an outstanding work of Armenian architectural and engineering art. This is an octahedral pillar, built of small stones; it has eight meters height and is crowned with an ornamented cornice. The square-shaped church of St.Astvatzatzin (Holy Virgin), dates back to the 11th century. Tatev ensemble fits in perfectly with the mountainous landscape around it. The large church, dominating the surrounding structures and visible from afar, is the architectural and artistic center of the ensemble.The monastic complex served  not only as a religious centre for the whole region but it was also very famous with its university where contemporary arts and sciences were studied. And the university was not only popular in Armenia but also in abroad as many students from abroad studied here. This university gave many famous Armenian scientists, writers and artists. 

Yeghegis village is in Vayots dzor region. On the northeastern edge of the village 800-year-old Jewish cemetery is located.  Hebrew inscriptions are clearly visible on some of the grave markers. The engravings are biblical verses and the names of the deceased. Prior to the discovery of the cemetery there had been no evidence of Jews inhabiting Armenia. The cemetery was used for about 80 years – the oldest tombstone is dated to1266 and the newest is dated to1346. Researchers claim that the community of Jews arrived from Persia, having travelled up the Silk Road. The reason for their disappearance remains a mystery.

VI mil. B.C.

Zorats Karer , also called Karahunj or Carahunge, is an archaeological site near the city of Sisian in the Syunik province of Armenia. The site is located on a rocky promontory near Sisian. About 223 large stone tombs can be found in the area. About 84 of the stones feature a circular hole, although only about 50 of the stones survive. They have been of interest to Russian and Armenian archaeo-astronomists who have suggested that the standing stones could have been used for astronomical observation. This suggestion was made by observers who noted four stone holes which could be claimed to be sighted at the point on the horizon where the sun rises on midsummer's day. Four others standing stones display holes which observers claimed point where the sun sets on the same day. In the nearby city of Sisian, there is a small museum dedicated to findings in the area, including Paleolithic petroglyphs found on mountain tops in the area, and grave artifacts form the Bronze Age burial site with over 200 shaft graves. In 2004 the site was officially named the Karahunj (Carahunge) Observatory, by Parliamentary decree. There have been several research expeditions to study Zorats Karer over several decades. The most valuable research has been carried out by Paris Herouni and by Elma Parsamyan of Biurakan Observatory. According to Herouni, the site was "a temple with a large and developed observatory, and also a university". He thinks that the temple was dedicated to the Armenian god of sun, Ari. He made a survey of the site and claimed it was 7600-4500 years old. Herouni has proposed a further hypothesis, that some stones of the monument mirror the biggest star of the Cygnus constellation - Deneb. A stone discovered in Gobekli Tepe in modern Turkey excavated by German archaeologist Klaus Schmidt, shows the map of the night sky (Cygnus constellation), which in the Karahunj monument, as V. Vahradyan noticed, represents the same constellation, mirroring the Zorats Karer site.

652 y.

Zvartnots Cathedral is an amazing complex with unique architecture style, breathtaking view of Ararat mountain and its historical spirit in Armenia. Zvartnots Cathedral is located 15 kilometers away from Yerevan. And is on the way from Yerevan to Ejmiatsin. This temple was built in the 7th century, sometime between 643-652 by Nerses the Builder, Catholicos of all the Armenians. It was one of the tallest buildings of that time and was a real architectural miracle. During its consecration, the Emperor of Byzant, Constant II, got so impressed with the building, that he decided to take the architect to Constantinople with him to build a similar building there. Unfortunately, the architect got sick on the way and died. According to the legend, it is here that Gregory the Illuminator met with king of Armenia Tirdates III and converted him to Christianity, thus making Armenia the first country in the world to adopt Christianity as a state religion. So, later on, this cathedral was dedicated to Gregory the Illuminator, as his relics were buried here after he passed away. There are actually two hypotheses about the origin of its name. According to the first one the name comes from the word “zvartun” which meant an angel. So, the temple was dedicated to the angels. According to the second version, the name originated from the pre-Christian word “zvartonk”; “zvartonk”, which  is the name of the spirit who was awakening the dead. Unfortunately the temple survived only about 320 years, till the 10th century. Actually, there is no clear evidence on how the temple fell and the reasons for that. Yet there are two possible options. According to the first, a disastrous earthquake was the reason of the fall of Zvartnots. Also, during the excavations in the 20th century great fire traces have been found, which might be the signal that someone wanted to destroy the Cathedral. Second version claims that Arab invasions caused the cathedral to fall. This option suggests that Arabs took out the main cornerstone of the temple and it collapsed not being able to stand its own heaviness.

Explore one of the masterpieces of Nagorno Karabakh: "Hunot Canyon" with our professional team. It's a great canyon with amazing nature, old ruins and wild caves. It starts from the eastern slope of Artsakh mountain range and flows into the river Kura. The arched stone bridge of Hunot was built in 1720 and till now it is the best way for crossing the river. This bridge, located in the ruins of Hunot village, once was the most important means of connection between Shushi and Varanda. The spring starts from the inside of the canyon and flows down the mossy rock forming a beautiful waterfall, with an umbrella-shaped cavern. The mossy umbrella waterfall is located on the bank of the river Karkar. You should pass through the ruins of Hunot village and then cross the medieval bridge to reach the waterfall from Shushi’s side. Huge rocks of Hunot canyon rise above this natural wonder giving it an unreal beauty.

Khor Virap is one of the most scenic monasteries in all of Armenia. Located about 45 minutes outside of Yerevan, Khor Virap is perhaps best known for its stunning backdrop of Mount Ararat, historically part of Armenia but later annexed by Turkey. Due to its location nearby the (closed) Turkish border, Khor Virap has one of the best views you can get of Mount Ararat within Armenia.

Khor Virap means “deep dungeon” and according to legend, Saint Gregory the Illuminator was imprisoned here in the 3rd century for 13 years. Khor Virap, one of the most scenic monasteries in all of Armenia. Located about 45 minutes outside of Yerevan, Khor Virap is perhaps best known for its stunning backdrop of Mount Ararat, historically part of Armenia but later annexed by Turkey. Due to its location nearby the (closed) Turkish border, Khor Virap has one of the best views you can get of Mount Ararat within Armenia.

Khor Virap means “deep dungeon” and according to legend, Saint Gregory the Illuminator was imprisoned here in the 3rd century for 13 years. It is one of the most visited pilgrimage sites in Armenia.

For those interested in human history, there is no better place in Armenia than the Areni caves.

Home one of the oldest known wineries in the world, the earliest known leather shoe, one of the oldest surviving brains, and a 6,000-year-old straw skirt (talk about well-made clothing), this cave complex offers a fascinating look into the lives of people during the Bronze Age. Digging began in 2007 and continues to this day.

The caves are best visited from Yeghegnadzor and are best combined with visiting the nearby Noravank Monastery.

The Silk Road, the legendary route from Europe to the far, Far East (and back), is scattered with caravanserais. As the name itself clearly explains, these buildings were meant to operate as shelters for the long caravans of men and animals carrying goods along that wild and harsh path.

One of the most fascinating, especially due to the astonishing environs, is indeed the Orbelian’s at Vardenyats – aka Selim – Pass in the Armenian Caucasus, at 2410 meters high. This basalt stone building dates back to the early XIV century when the Orbelians were still a powerful caste in the Mongolian Empire.

A bull and a winged animal, the family emblems, are depicted on high reliefs on the architrave of the front entry. Badly destroyed between XVI and XVII century, the caravanserai was restored during the Fifties. On the peaks, the panorama is breathtaking. The view from the narrow hairpin bends is nothing short of astonishing. The lavish highland steppe is a sea of velvety green.By contrast, the interiors of the caravanserai are somewhat mysterious and alienating. The long room where animals and people used to take refuge together from dangers and the unpleasant weather is cold, calm, and silent. The atmosphere is still, rarified. The utter darkness is interrupted by beams of light coming in from the oculi in the ceiling. As you get in, disorientation takes over you; but as soon as your eyes adjust to the dim light, a feeling of inner peace and serenity comes over. Orbelian’s caravanserai is an impressive spot from another period of time.

The Ughtasar Petroglyphs are located in the south of Armenia in the stunning Syunik Province near a town called Sisian.  You can locate incredible history all over Armenia, but these petroglyphs are especially remarkable and can be even seen engraved on jewelry, coffee mugs, and pottery.  The only bad thing about the petroglyphs is how difficult it is to actually reach them, but perhaps this has been important in keeping them preserved.

The petroglyphs are believed to date back to the Paleolithic era and were all carved into the rocks of an extinct volcano, giving them a dark tint.  There is still a lot of speculation and confusion about this site today and it is under a lot of research and investigative work to unearth more of its history.  The Ughtasar petroglyphs depict hunting scenes, animals, geometric shape, and even some zodiac signs.


As you might know, Armenia has its own alphabet. It was created by Mesrop Mashtots in the year 405 AD and it consists of 38 really beautiful letters. 1600 years later a monument commemorating the unique alphabet was made. Carved letters and the statue of Mesrop Mashtots now stand proudly in the middle of nowhere, on the side of the road north from Yerevan, connecting the capital with Vanadzor, Alaverdi, and Georgia. It is such a quirky place to visit, after all not every day you can see beautiful but giant letters strewn around on the field and nothing else around.

Harichavank known as one of the most famous monastic centers in Armenia and it was especially renowned for its school and scriptorium. Archaeological excavations of 1966 indicate that Harich was in existence during the 2nd century BC, and was one of the more well known fortress towns in Armenia. Over 800 years the monastery was repeatedly reconstructed. Damages inflicted on it were repaired and small annexes and chapels were added to it at various times. The largest of these date back to the second half of the 19th century after Harich was made the summer audience of the Katholikos of Echmiadzin in 1850.

The first church of St. Gregory was of the cross-winged dome type and dated back to the 7th century. The apse wings of the cross are semicircular inside and pentahedral outside, as in Mastara and Artik. The central part, square in the plan, is roofed by means of original pendentives with a tremendous 12-hedral cupola which imparts to the interior a majestic appearance.

The second, main, church of Astvatsatsin was built in 1201. It belongs to the type, widespread at the end of the 12th — the beginning of the 13th century, of outwardly rectangular and inwardly crosswinged domed buildings with two-storey annexes in all the four corners.

Byurakan Astrophysical Observatory(BAO) was founded in 1946 on the initiative of academician Victor Ambartsumian, who became the first director of the observatory. It is located on the picturesque southern slope of the mountain Aragatz. At the observatory five observational instruments are installed the larger ones being 2.6 m Cassegrain telescope and 1m Schmidt telescope. Scientific researches of the observatory are related mainly with the instability phenomena taking place in the Universe. Since 1946 numerous scientific meetings were held in Byurakan including four symposia and a colloquium of the IAU. 

The architectural ensemble of the observatory which consists of two - the functional part containing the telescope towers, administrative and laboratory buildings, conference hall, guest house, etc and the campus is designed by the famous Armenian architect Samvel Safarian. 

Besides the scientific research the observatory fulfils an informative activity as well organizing excursions and lectures for amateurs. 

Since 1998 the Byurakan Observatory bears the name of V.A. Ambartsumian.