Armenia Travel Guide, Small Country Big on Character

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Just like the title says, Armenia is a relatively small country, with a land surface of 29,743 square kilometers and a population of just 3 million as per UN’s estimate in 2016. However, even if Armenia is a small nation by any metrics, its character is unique and its history very troubled, especially in the 20th century when its current neighbor basically committed genocide against 1.5 million Armenians, its own citizens basically, as at the time Armenia was incorporated into the Ottoman Empire.

Today the relations between the two countries are still edgy, as Turkish governments never apologized for that holocaust avant la lettre and they did not even recognize that it happened.

A visit to Armenia will please history and architecture aficionados, as this tiny country is filled with medieval treasures. The Armenian people are warm and welcoming, and meeting them is usually accompanied by a serving of traditional brandy. The Armenian countryside is very beautiful and even if tourists are seldom spotted, one may wonder why.

The Fountain On A Central Square

Armenia is a country with a very serious legacy historically speaking. Armenia became Christian in AD 301, being one of the oldest Christian nations in the world, as Armenians themselves proudly affirm if one asks. When it comes to visitor itineraries, religion still plays the part, as you’ll be able to engage in well organized tours and savor hundreds of years old monasteries which are scattered all over the Lori region. Also, you must pay a visit to the extraordinary Museum of Ancient Manuscripts.

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Since Armenia managed to liberate itself from the USSR empire/The Soviet Union the country rediscovered its traditions and actually embraced them while moving on. The main city and capital is Yerevan and much of the country’s progress is focused here.

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Yerevan is Armenia’s hub of progressive thought and cultural activity and on clear days you can admire Mount Ararat across the border. You know, Mount Ararat, arguably the largest single mass mountain the world. Also, scientist believe that here they will find the remains of Noah’s Ark.

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Yerevan is also a place bursting with cultural activity, boasting its large scale development projects and a lively arts scene. Considering the country’s shady history, Armenia has a huge diaspora population and a great number of Armenian Americans returned to their homeland after the Soviet Union collapsed, bringing back a lot of wealth into the country as a logical result.

Armenia has a superior culture, a proud people with deep and interesting passions, which range from playing chess, the game of kings to sipping cognac. Armenian people  never feel ashamed to engage in patriotism and religion, yet they’re pretty secular, as they perfected a cafe culture and boast an awesome cuisine. Armenian food is a real treat and while visiting here, expect to gain a few pounds. You’ll definitely enjoy the mounds of vegetables from organic gardens nearby together with lots of grilled meats.

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Traveling anywhere in Armenia will be a delight for your senses. Highlights include the charming little city of Goris and the ancient mountain resort  of Dilijan, a little town set amid lush pine forests. Here you can go hiking using the walking trails nearby which ascend to mountain lakes.

Or, you can go visit Debed Canyon, home of UNESCO protected monasteries of Sanahin and Haghpat. There’s a vast number of various cultural sites to be admired in Armenia, including the Yerevan library, the National Gallery or the State Museum of Armenian History in Yerevan, all of which are harboring the country’s impressive collection of ancient manuscripts and historic artifacts.

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While in Armenia, don’t forget to sample some of the country’s best brandies, which were Winston Churchill’s favorite (read Dvin and Ararat brandy). If you’re a born again hard explorer, Armenia’s limestone caverns in Vayots Dzor are pretty dazzling to say the least, while near Goris you can explore a number of man made cave homes carved into the city’s hillsides hundreds of years ago.

Forty three miles east of the capital Yerevan there’s Lake Sevan, the largest in the Caucasus, which is world famous for its crystal clear waters where you can fish a delicious salmon trout. Horse riding and hiking through the country’s spectacular countryside would make for a once in a lifetime experience, over the ancient roads through timeless villages or through mountain passes.

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