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  Amazing Armenia

Amazing Armenia

Published : Oct 29, 2016, 10:13 pm IST
Updated : Oct 29, 2016, 10:13 pm IST

An ancient kingdom that passed between empires until it finally gained independence from the Soviet Union, Armenia is a tiny landlocked country, sharing borders with Iran and Georgia.

Yerevan city
 Yerevan city

An ancient kingdom that passed between empires until it finally gained independence from the Soviet Union, Armenia is a tiny landlocked country, sharing borders with Iran and Georgia. Better known as the homeland of world famous celebrities like Cher and Andre Agassi, Armenia is worth the trip for travellers willing to explore it.

Armenia is the oldest Christian country in the world, dating back to 301 A.D. The country is dotted with beautiful monasteries belonging to the Armenian Apostolic Church. Absolutely stunning views of Mount Ararat, along with lakes and monasteries at strategic locations make every picture taken here look like a postcard.

Here are some top tourist picks: Yerevan The capital of Armenia is a great place to start with before exploring its other cities. The best part of Yerevan is the Grand Republic Square with its majestic archways and central musical fountains that dance and whirl at night. Also called the Pink City, the Square is built in Armenian pink stone. There are plenty of local side cafes to indulge in people-watching. The Square also has a spectacular view from the Cascade, which was built to celebrate the Soviet victory in the Second World War. In Yerevan, many people speak English and you can travel in marshrutkas or mini buses to make your experience special. Lake Sevan Many travellers visit Armenia because of this beautiful beach and natural lake, famous for water sports and dotted with ancient churches.

Khor Virap Monastery The Khor Virap monastery is where Noah is believed to have landed the Ark, and this 17th century church provides a spectacular view of Mount Ararat. The story goes that Saint Gregory was imprisoned in a pit for 13 years and he came out alive, resulting in the conversion of the king into Christianity. The Garni temple The Garni temple is the oldest and best preserved pagan temple in the world. This building played a role in establishing Armenia as a country, but many temples were destroyed with the rise of Islam and Christianity. The 2000 year old temple has some older structures around it, including some interesting mosaics with huge basalt columns.

Etchmiadzin Cathedral This is the oldest state built church in the world. Legend has it that Saint Gregory had a vision of Christ coming to the Earth. He struck the ground with a hammer and at that very moment, a huge cross arose. This convinced him that God intended him to build the church there. The Armenian Genocide Complex The Armenian genocide complex is a memorial with an eternal flame and a pillar pointing towards heaven. The Government of the Ottoman Empire ordered the destruction of Armenians in Anatolia, Eastern Turkey, in an organised extermination of the Armenian population. Women, children and the elderly were sent on death marches in February 1915 towards the Syrian Desert, where more than 2 million people died. Goris This charming town in the South is located on the way to Nagormo Karabakh. Set along a river, what really sets it apart are the breathtaking rock formations on the edges of Goris. At 850 metres, the ancient Tatev monastery is a must-see and you need to take a cable car to get there. From there, the scenery below is breathtakingly beautiful. Facts about Armenia Armenia is the first country in the world to adopt Christianity as its state religion. Armenia is the only nation in the world which is mono-ethnic, meaning 99 percent people living in Armenia are Armenians. The first church in the world, the holy Etchmiadzin Church, was built in Armenia. The entire country worships Mt Ararat, as it is believed that Noah’s Ark was found there. Lavash, the national flatbread, is listed in Unesco’s cultural heritage. Armenians make up the largest diaspora of the world.

Travel Tips: Location : Crossroads of Eastern Europe and Western Asia. Currency: Armenian Dram How to reach : Travel to Dubai from any metro city in India and fly Air Arabia or fly dubai into Yerevan. Tariffs are cheap. Official language : Armenian and Russian Visa for Indian citizens : Takes 3 to 4 days to process the visa, generally without any complications.

The writer is a travel enthusiast