Road sign, Tbilisi
sanctuaries of the Armenian Apostolic Church. According to lore this was the location of the municipal jail of the capital of Armenia Artashat, where Gregory the Illuminator, who was accused of professing Christianity, was imprisoned for 13 years.
In 642 Catholicos Nerses III built a chapel over the jail. The monastery includes the 17th-century church of St. Astvatsatsin, fragments of the wall that once surrounded the monastery, the refectory and cells of the monks. The hilltop affords a magnificent view of Mount Ararat.
The Bird’s Cavern excavation, above the Arpa River, is one of the rarest and best-preserved Copper Age monuments in the South Caucasus. It gives an idea of 5th- to 4th-millennium B.C. material culture, and confirms that Armenia has a winemaking tradition dating back 6,000 years. Among the most famous finds is the world’s oldest shoe, found in 2008. Visit and tasting at the wine factory in Areni.
The monastery of Noravank is one of the most splendid monuments of medieval Armenia, 122 km from Yerevan. It was built in a nearly inaccessible location amid stunning nature. In the early 1980s, a road was built along a tributary of the Arpa River. The monastery overhangs the river gorge. Between the 12th and 14th centuries the monastery was the cathedral of the bishops of Syunik. The principal church, St. Karapet, was built in the 13th century. This church and St. Astvatsatsin were rebuilt by the architect Momik and are richly decorated.
Overnight in Yerevan.
Day 11 – Tuesday
Echmiadzin – Zvartnots – Ararat Brandy Factory
Echmiadzin’s monastery is the oldest Christian church in Armenia, begun in the 4th century immediately upon the adoption of Christianity. According to church legend, the site was told to Gregory the Illuminator in a revelation. It has been rebuilt many times over the centuries. The interior was decorated by Hovnatanyans.
Five kilometers toward Yerevan from Echmiadzin are the ruins of Zvartnots. The temple was built in the 7th century by Catholicos Nerses III Shinarar. The temple, said to have astounded with its magnificence, collapsed from an earthquake in the 10th century. European specialists believe it may rank with greatest monuments of ancient architecture.
Visit and tasting at the Ararat Brandy Factory. Overnight in Yerevan.
Day 12 – Wednesday
In Armenian “Tsakhkadzor” means the Gorge of Flowers. The gorge, mountains, snow tops, rapid rivers and picturesque valleys are covered with a flower carpet. The region was inhabited from ancient times and its breathtaking beauty and curative air were already known in the 5th century. In the early Middle Ages the local woods were the favorite hunting ground of Arshakid dynasty rulers. In the 10th century the area was owned by Pakhlavunia dynasty and named Tsakhkadzor. Today Tsakhkadzor is a cozy city and ski resort. It is located in the picturesque Tsakhkunyats canyon amid virgin woods and alpine meadows, on Mount Tegenis’ gentle slope (height of 1,845 meters).
Day 13 – Thursday
Armenian Alphabet Square – Amberd Fortress – Hovhannavank monastery – Ashtarak city – Karmravor church
Amberd fortress and castle (10th-13th centuries) was the familial estate of the Pahlavouni princes. It is one of the few feudal castles of Armenia mostly preserved to our day. The builders took advantage of the mountainous terrain and put the fortress on a cape surrounded by ravines. Fragments of the water supply system of the castle, baths and secret passage to the canyon are preserved. In 1206 a cross-domed type church was built on the territory of the fortress.
Ashtarak has many historical and architectural monuments. The most famous is the cross-domed church of Karmravor, with its shingled roof. The monastery of Hovhannavank is richly decorated with vegetative ornaments and a bas-relief depicting Christ on a throne.
Day 14 – Friday
Geghard monastery – Garni temple
Historians believe that as early as the 4th century there was a monastery called Ayrivank (cave monastery) in this inaccessible corner of the Azat ravine. Later it was renamed Geghard (“spear”). According to lore it was the repository of a relic of the Armenian Apostolic Church: the spear the Roman guard used to pierce the side of Christ. The complex comprises the principal church built in 1215 by the Zakarian princes and two tiers of churches, living quarters and auxiliary structures carved inside the rock.
The heathen temple of Garni is the only surviving monument of the Hellenistic period in Armenia. The temple is dedicated to the sun god Mithra and was built in the 1st century during the reign of King Trdat I. The temple collapsed during the reign of King Trdat I. The temple collapsed during the earthquake of 1679. It was restored in the 1970s, using surviving fragments and carving new ones. The temple is built of basalt stone. The walls and the 24 columns of the portico rest on a
Day 1 – Saturday
Arrive in Baku, Azerbaijan, transfer to hotel, check in and overnight.
Day 2 – Sunday
Breakfast in hotel, city tour of Baku, three hours (includes lunch).
Visit to Shehidler Khiyabany (Memory Alley), panoramic view of city from Martyrs Lane. Ichari Shahar (Old Town) and fortress, Maiden Tower, Shirvan Shahs Palace and Caravansaray, medieval market square and handmade carpet workshop, dating from 9th to 17th centuries.
The Absheron Peninsula (25 km from city), an extension of the Caucasus Mountains, juts 35 miles into the Caspian Sea, the largest inland sea in the world. The wide plain contains vineyards, tea plantations, ravines and salt lakes and is frequently flooded.
Ateshgyakh Fire-Worshippers’ Temple (UNESCO Heritage Site). The historical roots of the monument date back 2,000 years to when the ancient religion of Zoroastrianism first appeared in this region. Yanar Dag (Fire Mountain), an ancient and visually stunning fire that blazes continuously.
Day 3 – Monday
Depart for Sheki (5-hour tour). Visit Diri Baba mausoleum in Maraza village. Photo stops amid beautiful mountain scenery. Visit Basqal village to drink local medicinal mineral water Bado. Arrival in Shamakha to visit historical mosque Juma,Yeddi Gumbaz mausoleum (cemetery), graveyard of Shirvan Shahs. Arrival and overnight in Sheki.
Day 4 – Tuesday
Tours of Sheki and Sighnaghi. Visit medieval fortress, Sheki Khans’ palace, history museum, handicrafts workshop, panoramic view, mosque-madrassah. Drive to Lagodekhi border.
Your tour includes:
• Breakfast/lunch daily
• 14 nights’ 4-star hotel accommodation
• Comprehensive sightseeing
• English-speaking guides
• Ground transportation, transfers from/to airport on arrival and departure
Dates in 2018: TBA
About this tour
All rates are per person based on double occupancy.
Duration: 15 days – all tours begin and end on Saturday
Price per person (land only): $5,960
Single supplement: $999
Group rates: available by request. Group size is 10 persons minimum.
Private customized tours available by request.
Discounts available October through April.
Extensions to Moscow and elsewhere available.
We do not arrange air transportation, except for groups or by special request. Many major international airlines fly to Baku, Tbilisi and Yerevan.
Vayots Dzor Province, Armenia
The majestic mountain scenery, ancient monuments and dazzling cities of Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia.
Day 10 – Monday
Khor Virap – Bird’s Cavern – Areni wine factory – Noravank
Khor Virap monastery, a pilgrimage site, is situated on a hill and is one of the
Old Town, Tbilisi
• Ateshgyakh Fire-Worshippers’ Temple, historical sites and stunning mountain vistas of Azerbaijan.
• Tours of Georgia, “birthplace of winemaking,” monasteries and Tbilisi, where the ancient and the ultra-modern sit side by side.
• Mount Ararat, wine and brandy factories, ancient ruins, Armenia.
Day 5 – Wednesday
Sighnaghi – Bodbe – Tsinandali – Tbilisi
Today we will explore the most fertile and picturesque part of Georgia – Kakheti, which borders the Great Caucasus range from the north Alazani Valley, its summits more than 3,000 meters. This region is known as a birthplace of viticulture and winemaking. The rich land, burning sun and hard work have developed about 500 varieties of vine in Georgia.
Explore Sighnaghi fortified town, famous for wine and carpet making. Breathtaking views of Kizikhi area and unusual charm of Sighnaghi Royal Town, with its narrow streets and wooden balconies richly decorated with the lace of carved ornaments.
Visit to 9th-century Bodbe Nunnery, and Tsinandali Family Estate with summer home, garden and winery.
Day 6 – Thursday
Tbilisi sightseeing tour: Metechi Church (12th-13th centuries). Georgian Synagogue (1895-1903). We walk through cobbled streets to see typical old Georgian houses with curved wooden balconies. Sioni Cathedral (7th-19th centuries) and Anchiskhati Basilica (6th-18th centuries), oldest surviving church in Tbilisi.
Narikhala Fortress, the main citadel with wonderful views. Sulphur Baths, with a therapeutic nature having the constant temperature of 8-40 degrees C.
National Museum of Georgia and stroll along Rustaveli Avenue, with governmental, cultural and business buildings.
Day 7 – Friday
Tbilisi – Mtskheta – Gori – Uplistsikhe – Tbilisi
Morning drive to ancient capital of Mtskheta. UNESCO World Heritage sites: Jvari, 6th-century cross-shaped monastery atop a cliff; and Svetitskhoveli, 11th-century fortified cathedral where the Robe of Christ is buried.
Visit to Gori and Stalin’s Museum, the house where he was born and his personal railway carriage.
Visit Uplistsikhe (“Fortress of God”) rock-hewn town (1st millennium B.C.). Notable for unique styles of rock-cut cultures, co-existence of pagan and Christian architecture and ancient wine presses carved in stone.
Day 8 – Saturday
Tbilisi, Georgia-Armenia border pickup at Sadakhlo. Transfer to Yerevan.
Sanahin – Haghpat – Lake Sevan. Visit to Sanahin Monastery and Haghpat Monastery, UNESCO World Heritage sites. They stand on a high plateau and rise sharply against steep forested slopes, complemented by small churches, bridges and other monumental structures.
Sevan is among the biggest mountain lakes of the world (2,000 meters above sea level). Visit 9th-century monastery of Sevan. Overnight in Yerevan.
Day 9 – Sunday
Matenadaran Museum, Opera Square, Cascade, Republic Square, Northern Avenue, Central Market, Genocide Memorial and Museum.
Yerevan once sat at the crossroads of several important trade caravans thus solidifying its importance in the region. Modern Yerevan was redesigned in the early 20th century atop the old city, creating parks and squares that run through the center. Overnight in Yerevan.
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Covered Market, Yerevan
podium. The facade and rear have six columns each, while the flanks each have eight. The portal has wide stairs leading up to it. The heathen temple is on the territory of the fortress of Garni, which was used as the summer residence of Armenian royalty.
Day 15 – Saturday
Transfer to airport.
Maiden Tower, Baku