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Popular sites Armenia and Georgia


The heathen temple of Garni is the only surviving monument of the Hellenistic period in Armenia. the temple is dedicated to the God of the sun Mithra and was built in the 2nd half of the 1st c A.D. during the reign of king Trdat I. The temple was collapsed during the earthquake of 1679. It was restored in the 1970s, using the surviving fragments and carving the missing ones anew. The temple is built of basalt stone. The walls of the shrine and the 24 columns of the portico rest on a podium. The facade and the rear have 6 columns each, while the flanks have 8 each. The portal has wide stairs leading up to it. The heathen temple is on the territory of the fortress of Garni. The territory of the fortress, that was used as the Summer residence of Armenian royalty, included the palace, the royal bath – house, the garrison barracks and other structures that did not survive.




Geghard – According to the information of Armenian historians as early as in the 4th c there already was a monastery called Ayrivank (the cave monastery) in this inaccessible corner of the Azat ravine. Later the monastery was renamed Geghard which meant “spear”. According to lore the monasterywas the depositary of one of the relics of the Armenian Apostolic church: the spear that one of the roman guards had used to pierce the rib of crucified Christ. The monastic complex was built in the 13th c and comprises the principal church Katoghike built in 1215 by the Zakarians princes and two tiers of churches carved inside the rock built at the end of the 13th c by prince Proshian who bought it from Zakarians and the living quarters with auxiliary structures.



Sevan Tour

Sevan is a beautiful lake, a pearl of Armenia. It is amongst the biggest mountain lakes of the world. (2000 m above sea level). There are many historical and architectural monuments in Sevan.
The monastery of Sevan (9th c). It is on the present day Sevan peninsula. The congregation settled on the island at the end of the 8th century and undertook the construction of a monastery. Three churches were built but only two of them have survived: the church of St.Arakelots and the church of St. Astvatsatsin. Both were built in 874 following the cross-shaped pattern.
Noradouz- it is a big cemetery and is widely known thanks to its great numbers of khachkars mostly of the 13th to 17th cc. Many of these khachkars are set on special foundations.
Among other monuments of Sevan the following should be noted: the monastery of Hayrivank (9-12th cc) on the shore of Sevan, the churches of St. Hovhannes, St. Karapet and St. Astvatsatsin (19th c).



The main attraction of Echmiadzin city is a monastery of St. Echmiadzin The cathedral is the oldest Christian church in Armenia. Its building began in the 4th c immediately upon the adoption of Christianity. According to a church legend, the site of the Cathedral was indicated to Gregory the Illuminator in a relevation. During the centuries that passed the Cathedral was rebuilt many times. The interior of the Cathedral was decorated by Hovnatanyans. In the 2nd half of the 19th can annex was attached to the Cathedral from the east, which housed the Museum of Echmiadzin. The museum premises eventually became to crammed for the numerous relics as well as gifts given by the believers from many countries of the world. In the 80s a special building was erected next to the residence of the Catholicos, named after the famous benefactor Alex Manoukian and his spouse. The museum preserves highly praised ritual utensils, crosses, staffs, jewellery, painting etc.


The magnificent church of St. Hripsime was built in 618 by Catholicos Komitas on the site of the legendary martyrdom of virgin Hripsime that had fled to Armenia from Rome with her friends. The relics of St.Hripsime are contained in a tomb under the church .
The St. Hripsime church stands out by its stern and monumental forms, solemn and monolithic, in its rightfully considered one of the masterworks of Armenian architecture.


Five kilometers towards Yerevan from Echmiadzin there are the ruins of Zvartnots.
The temple was built in the 7th c by Catholicos Nerses III Shinarar. The temple was collapsed from an earth-quake in the 10th c. The temple was a tree tiered central – domed structure that astounded with its magnificence. According to the opinion of European specialists the temple of Zvartnots may be ranked with greatest monuments of ancient architecture.

Haghartsin Monastery

Monastery of Haghartsin is 18km north of the town of Dilijan in the canyon of Hagartsin river. It is built in picturesque location, concealed in a forest. The Monastery was founded in the south when the St. Grigor church was built. The cross-formed church had sidescapels in all far corners and states out as a white spot against the background of the forest. The principal church is S. Astvatsatsin was built in 1281 by the domed hall pattern. Another church St. Stepanos was built in 1244. The main attraction of the monastery is the refectory that has two halls. The monastery is one of the leading cultural center of medieval Armenia.


Goshavank was founded on the right bank of the Getik river in 1188 by the famous Armenian scholar, jurist and fabulist M. Gosh. The Monastery includes the churches of St. Astvatsatsin, St. Grigor, St. G. Lousavorich, a scriptorium and a school of 13th c. Many beautiful khachkars have been presented in Goshavank. Historical sources make the existence of a university and seminary in this Monastery where many manuscripts were created and preserved.

Khor Virap 

The monastery of Khor Virap is situated on the hill and is one of the sanctuaries of the Armenian Apostolic church and a pilgrimage site. According to church lore this is the location of the municipal jail of the capital of Armenia Artashat, where upon the orders of king Trdat III, they threw Gregory the Illuminator who was accused of professing Christianity. Gregory spent there 13 years.
In 642 Catholicos Nerses III built a chapel over the jail. The monastery also includes the church of St.Astvatsatsin built in the end of the 17th c, fragments of the wall that once surrounded the monastery, the refectory, the cells of the monks. A most magnificent view of mount Ararat opens from the hilltop of the monastery.


The monastery of Noravank is one of the most splendid monuments of medieval Armenia. It is 122 km away from Yerevan. Noravank is built in as inaccessible location amongst stunning nature. In the beginning of 1980s, on adequate road was built leaded to Noravank along a tributary of the Arpa River. The monastery is overhanging the gorge of the river. Between the 12th and 14th centuries the Noravank monastery was the cathedral of the bishops of Syunik. The oldest structure of the monastery the church of St. Karapet (9-10 c) has not survived. The principal church is also called St. Karapet, it was built in the 13th c. The church had an atrium, which was rebuilt by the famous architect at sculptor Momik. The atrium is decorated with bas-relifs on religious themes: Mother of god and others. Momik also built the 2-storeyed church St. Astvatsatsin stunning in its perfection and richness of decoration.


The monastery of Sanahin was founded in the 10th c in a village by the same name, and is presently within city limits of Alaverdi. The oldest in the Monastery is the church of St. Astvatsatsin, dated by 951. The monastery expanded in the course of several subsequent centuries, new buildings were added on. These include the church of Amenaprkich, the chapel of St. Grigor, the Academy of Grigor Magistros, the scriptorium between the churches of St. Astvatsatsin and Amenaprkich. The scriptorium of the Sanahin monastery was the biggest medieval structure of its type.


The monastery of Haghpat was founded in 976 during the reign of king Ashot III Bagratouni. The oldest structure of the Monastery is the church of St. Nshan. It is of the domed hall type and was consecrated in 991.The monastic complex also includes: a small domed church of St.Grigor, the chapel of St.Astvatsatsin, the scriptorium, the refectory which is outside of the monastery limits.


Amberd fortress and castle (10-13th cc) was the familial estate of the Pahlavouni princes. It is one of the few feudal castles of Armenia that has been more or less preserved to our days. The location for its has been selected quite skillfully, the builders took advantage of the mountainous terrain and put the fortress on a cape surrounded on three sides by ravines.
Fragments of the water supply system of the castle, as well as the baths and the secret passage to the canyon are preserved. In 1206 a cross-domed type church was built on the territory of the fortress. It was commissioned by the famous Armenian warlord Vahram Pahlavouni and is one of the most beautiful churches of its type in Armenia.


The monastery of Hovhanavank is in the village of Hovhanavan. The monastic complex includes a single-nave church of the 5th c, the oldest in the monastery and the principal church of St. Karapet of the cross-domed type built in 1216. The church is richly decorated with vegetative ornaments, it has a bas-relief with the depiction of Christ on a throne.


Ashtarak has many historical and architectural monuments. The most famous among them is the church of Karmravor (7th c). It is of the cross-domed type, fragments of the murals have been preserved in the interior. The shingled roof is well-preserved.

Tatev Monastery

Tatev monastery is 316km away from Yerevan. The most prominent historical architectural monument of the Syunik is the monastery of Tatev.
The monastery was founded in the 9th c. on the site of an ancient shrine. The oldest structure of the monastery is the church St. Poghos-Petros (895-906) of the domed basilica type. South of this church a vaulted church was built in 1285 St. Griror.
The visitors shall pay attention to an interesting monument: the rocking stele Ganaran in the courtyard of the monastery (15m). The university of Tatev operated in the monastery between 1390 – 1453, famous scholars and theologies worked there.Tatev was a major educational center in medieval Armenia.


Noradouz- it is a big cemetery and is widely known thanks to its great numbers of khachkars mostly of the 13th to 17th cc. Many of these khachkars are set on special foundations.
Among other monuments of Sevan the following should be noted: the monastery of Hayrivank (9-12th cc) on the shore of Sevan, the churches of St. Hovhannes, St. Karapet and St. Astvatsatsin (19th c).


The cathedral of Aruch is among the most celebrated monuments of Armenian architecture in the middle Ages. According to manuscripts and wall inscriptions, the building was constructed during the years 670 to 680 by Prince Grigor Mamikonian, governor of Armenia. The cathedral, which had survived in a rather ruined state, has been partially restored. ???????


Talin is one of the oldest settlements of Aragatsotn Marz. It is mentioned even in I-II cc events, as well as in the writings of medieval Armenian historians. Katoghike church is the most important of Talin’s historical-architectural monuments. The exact date of foundation is not known. From a number of existing manuscripts the oldest was dated 783.


The church of St. Hovhannes in the village of Mastara is among central-domed cruciform churches. In one of five epigraphic inscriptions at Mastara temple, Gregory Vanakan is mentioned as a builder, another one records the repair of the church in 891. Many points of view exist about the dating of the temple (V-VI, VI- VII cc). Some consider it to be built in VII c with the preserved remainders of still existing more ancient church. According to popular etymology, Mastara derives its name from Gregory the Illuminator, who brought back from Caesarea the relics of John the Baptist, one fragment of which he enshrined beneath the church site: Mas (a piece) Tara (I buried). The church was closed in 1935 and used as the collective farm storehouse until it was reopened in 1993.
Until the Soviet expansion of Armenia’s new capital of Yerevan, it was Gyumri, or Alexandropol as it was known as at the time that was the largest city of the republic. The older city architecture therefore is very nice.
Yerevan.The main square has a pair of churches, one standing, one a distinguished ruin awaiting reconstruction. There is a reputable European-style hotel, a well-reputed regional museum plus a city museum, the Russian Alexandropol fortress of 1834 on the W side of town, and probably more for the curious urban explorer, though Gyumri was battered in 1926 by a previous earthquake as well. Inside the city limits are several important archaeological sites. By the fortress is the Sev Ghul Chalcolithic through Iron Age settlement. Near the meat factory (by the train tracks) was excavated an Early Iron Age settlement/cemetery. Near the stadium, another Iron Age site had stone molds and a smelter for metal casting. In the NE part of Gyumri, on a hill in the area known as Vardbach, excavations revealed a Roman-period cemetery lying over a Bronze Age settlement. There is a medieval settlement with ruined 7th c. church that has been excavated in the Botanical Gardens. The city was site of a major Russian Army garrison and fortress since its conquest in 1804, a role it continues to play even today. The few thousand Russian troops still based in Armenia serve as a reminder that Russia would intervene militarily were Turkey to invade Armenia. Pending the unlikely event of an invasion, the Russian troops grow potatoes and find other ways to stay alive.
There is a very worthwhile city museum, with a good overview of the towns history, architecture, and cultural treasures.


Surp Amenaprkich Ghazanchetsots Cathedral also known as the Cathedral of Christ the Savior and the Shushi Cathedral is located in Shushi, Nagorno-Karabakh. It was built between 1868 and 1887 and has a facade of white limestone. In front of the west entrance is a freestanding three-story bell tower, constructed in 1858. Large statues of angels blowing trumpets stood at each corner of the bell tower’s second story. However, they were destroyed during the Nagorno-Karabakh War when Shushi was under Azeri control.The cathedral has seen a number of uses over the years. Its use as a functioning church ended after the Shusha pogrom of 1920. During the Soviet period period it was used as a granary, and then as a garage. During the Nagorno-Karabakh War, Azerbaijani forces used the cathedral as a GRAD munitions storehouse until May 1992, when Shushi was captured by Armenian forces. In the years after that capture the church was repaired and renovated. In 1998 it was re-consecrated as a church, and it is the main cathedral and headquarters of the Armenian Apostolic Church’s Diocese of Artsakh.


Gandzasar monastery is an Armenian monastery situated in the Martakert region of Nagorno-Karabakh. “Gandzasar” means treasure mountain or hilltop treasure in Armenian. The monastery holds relics believed to belong to St Zechariah, father of John the Baptist. Gandzasar was the residence of an Armenian Catholicos from about 1400 to 1816, and is now the seat of the Archbishop of Artsakh. The construction of Gandzasar began in 1216, under the patronage of the Armenian prince of Khachen, Hasan-Jalal Dawla, and it was completed in 1238 and consecrated on July 22, 1240.Although the monastery was damaged during an Azerbaijani bombing raid in 1991, in which the house of the Father Superior was destroyed, Gandzasar is actively functioning today as a monastery of the Armenian Apostolic Church.



Narikala Fortress

Narikala is an ancient fortress overlooking Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, and the Kura river. The fortress consists of two walled sections on a steep hill between the sulphur baths and the botanical gardens of Tbilisi. On the lower court there is the recently restored St Nicholas church.The fortress was established in the 4th century as Shuris-tsikhe (i.e., “Invidious Fort”). It was considerably expanded by the Umayyads in the 7th century and later, by king David the Builder (1089-1125). The Mongols renamed it “Narin Qala” (i.e., “Little Fortress”). Most of extant fortifications date from the 16th and 17th centuries. In 1827, parts of the fortress were damaged by an earthquake and demolished.


Metekhi Temple

Metekhi temple (the 12 th century) standing close to the edge of the rocky bank of the Kura which was the fortress and the residence of Georgian tsars. Under the vaults of Metekhi temple the first Georgian martyr – St. Shushanik killed by her fire worshipper husband in the 5 th century AD was buried .Metekhi was first mentioned in the chronicles in the 13 th century. The temple was repeatedly destroyed and restored. It suffered the most during Mongol invasion after which the first restoration took place. In the 15 th century it was destroyed again by Persians. The Georgian tsars rebuilt the temple in the 16 th – 17 th centuries. The next restoration was in the mid-19 th century; back then all the surrounding fortifications were dismantled and replaced with the prison building.


Sioni Cathedral

The “Sioni” Cathedral of the Dormition is a Georgian Orthodox cathedral in Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia. Following a medieval Georgian tradition of naming churches after particular places in the Holy Land, the Sioni Cathedral bears the name of Mount Zion at Jerusalem. It is commonly known as the “Tbilisi Sioni” to distinguish it from several other churches across Georgia bearing the name Sioni.The Tbilisi Sioni Cathedral is situated in historic Sionis Kucha (Sioni Street) in downtown Tbilisi, with its eastern fa?ade fronting the right embankment of the Mtkvari River. It was initially built in the 6th-7th centuries. Since then, it has been destroyed by foreign invaders and reconstructed several times. The current church is based on a 13th-century version with some changes from the 17th to 19th centuries. The Sioni Cathedral was the main Georgian Orthodox Cathedral and the seat of Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia until the Holy Trinity Cathedral was consecrated in 2004.



Mtskheta  is an ancient town of extraordinary importance to the Georgian nation, located about 20km out of Tbilisi. It was the capital of the eastern Georgian kingdom of Iberia from the 3rd century BC to the 5th century AD. Mtskheta was the site of Georgia’s adoption of Christianity in 334 and remains the headquarters of the Georgian Orthodox Church. Mtskheta is of primary interest to any travelers interested in Georgian history or Orthodox Christianity.


Jvari Monastery  is a Georgian  Orthodox  Church  of the 6th century near Mtskheta, Mtskheta-Mtianeti region, eastern Georgia. The name is translated as the Monastery of the Cross
The present building, or “Great Church of Jvari”, was built between 586 and 605 by Ersimtavari Stepanoz I. The importance of Jvari complex increased over time and attracted many pilgrims. In the late Middle Ages, the complex was fortified by a stone wall and gate, remnants of which still survive. During the Soviet period, the structure was largely ignored, with access rendered difficult by tight security at a nearby military base. After the independence of Georgia, the building was restored to active religious use. Jvari was listed together with other monuments of Mtskheta in 1996 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Svetitskhoveli Cathedral

Svettskhoveli, known as the burial site of Christ’s mantle, has long been the principal Georgian church and remains one of the most venerated places of worship to this day. It presently functions as the seat of the archbishop of Mtskheta and Tbilisi, who is at the same time Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia.
The current cathedral was built in the 11th century by the Georgian architect Arsakisdze, though the site itself is even older dating back to the early 4th century and is surrounded by a number of legends associated primarily with the early Christian traditions.

Ninotsminda Church

Ninotsminda Cathedral is highly significant to the development of Georgian architecture, as it predates Jvari Monastery in Mtskheta, and served as a model for the development of the later tetraconch (four-apse) form. The site is ruins today, with only the eastern apse and a portion of the western wall remaining. Outlines of the foundations indicate that the church originally had an octagonal center, surrounded by corner niches. Historical records indicate that restoration work was undertaken in the 10th and 11th centuries, and also during 1671 and 1774. However, the cathedral collapsed during earthquakes in 1824 and 1848 and was not reconstructed.


Davit Gareja

Davit Gareja is a rock-hewn Georgian Orthodox monastery complex located in the Kakheti region of Eastern Georgia, on the half-desert slopes of Mount Gareja, some 60-70 km southeast of Georgia’s capital Tbilisi. The complex includes hundreds of cells, churches, chapels, refectories and living quarters hollowed out of the rock face.Part of the complex is also located in the Agstafa rayon of Azerbaijan. The area is also home to protected animal species and evidence of some of the oldest human habitations in the region.

Udabno Monastery

Udabno monastery is located on a ridge high above the first monastery, the Lavra. It is made up of caves cut into the rocks across more than 500m of the cliff face. More than fifty rock-cut chambers, including churches, chapels, cells and a refectory survive, although the fronts of many have collapsed over the centuries. Wall paintings from the ninth or tenth century to the thirteenth survive in eight of the churches and chapels and also in the monks’ refectory.

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