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Armenia / Georgia – 11 nights

Day1 – Departure from …Arrival to Yerevan.

Day2 – YEREVAN/MATENADARAN/CASCADE/GENOCIDE MUSEUM

Yerevan, one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities, once sat at the crossroads of several important trade routes, solidifying its importance in the region. The city was redesigned in the early 1900’s, when lovely parks and squares were added to the historic part. Begin in Victory Park, situated on a hill north of the city, where you will see the towering statue of Mother Armenia up close. Enjoy panoramic views of Yerevan from the top, including Mount Ararat (where Noah’s Ark landed according to the Bible). The next stop is Matenadaran museum, which houses a unique collection of ancient manuscripts covering such lofty topics as philosophy, law, mathematics ,medicine and geography.
Continue to Cascade , a long stairway alongside multiple levels of fountains with it’s amazing sculptures square of world famous artists as Botero, Chadwick, Flanagan, the Republic Square with it magnificent buildings enhanced by singing fountains, via Northern Avenue, an ambitious project of independent Armenia to Freedom Square and Opera House.
Your visit includes also Genocide Memorial and Museum.
Finish tour by visit flea market named Vernissage open on weekend only. Large open air market for handmade souvenirs, carpets, silver and jewelry.

Overnight in Yerevan.

Day3 – GARNI/GEGHARD/PARAJANOV MUSEUM

Garni temple is the only pagan temple in a territory of Armenia built in 1st C AD by the Armenian King Trdat the First. It is dedicated to God of Sun Mithras.The Garni temple lies about 32KM East of Yerevan and the complex hosts a number of buildings including a royal palace, Roman bath and a church. Destroyed by an earthquake in 1679, the Garni Temple was reconstructed in the 1970’s and is now made up of both original and replacement masonry. In Garni village participation to the preparation of Armenin bread ,,Lavash,, in a special oven Tonir and degustation of traditional organic food.
Geghard( UNESCO world heritage site in Armenia) is incredible medieval Armenian monastery, partly carved out of a mountain. Though the monastery has been around since before the 4th century, the main cathedral was built in 1215. The existing ensemble dates back to the 12th—13th centuries, the time of the flourishing of national culture, especially architecture.
Upon arrival to Yerevan visit – Sergey Parajanov Museum, which is one of the most interesting museums in Armenia. Sergei Parajanov is an Armenian film director of the soviet period. His films were rarely watched, but always admired and often regarded as one of the most important movies of the 20th century.

Overnight in Yerevan.

Day4 – KHOR VIRAP/NORAVANK/ARENI CAVERN

Khor Virab has its special place in the history of Armenia and adoption of Christianity as a state religion in 301. The name Khor Virap means a Deep Dungeon, where Gregory was imprisoned by King Trdat for 13 years and survived, proving the real God and true religion.
The next stop is at the monastery Noravank (9-14c), the masterpiece of master Momik.
Recently excavated very well preserved Copper Age settlement Bird’s Cavern uncovers the secret s of 6000 years old wine production in Armenia. The site boasts incredible items excavated in 2008-2010,among which is the world’s oldest shoe 5,500 years old. Explore the unique cavern’s ritual and burial halls.

Overnight in Yerevan.

Day5 – ECHMIADZIN/HRIPSIME/ZVARTNOTS/BRANDY FACTORY,,ARARAT,,

Echmiadzin translates literally “the place” where the Only Begotten Son of God descended. According to tradition, St. Gregory the illuminator saw a vision of the Only Begotten descended from heaven and with a golden hammer stroke the ground where the Cathedral was to be located. Echmiadzin is also The See of the Armenian Apostolic Church and residence for its head, the Catholicos.
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. Five kilometers towards Yerevan from Echmiadzin there are the ruins of Zvartnots.
Next visit to the “Ararat Brandy Factory ” with the degustation of 2 types of cognac.
Overnight in Yerevan.

Day6 – AMBERD FORTRESS/SAGHMOSAVANK/HOVHANAVANK

On your route to Amberd fortress(7-10cc) you will see the camps of Yezidi nomads grazing their cattle in the pastures. 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. This tour includes a visit to typical Armenian villages famous for their monasteries Saghmosavank and Hovhanavank 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.

Overnight in Yerevan.

Day7 – DILIJAN/HAGHARTSIN/HAGHPAT/TBILISI

Known as Armenian Switzerland, Dilijan attracts visitors with lash forests, fertile meadows, rushing river Aghstev, stunning and quiet nature Stroll through the picturesque old quarter, particularly Sharambeyan street and its pottery, carpentry and other artisan shops. And taking another 18km drive through forest road find out the hidden treasure- 13th c Haghartsin monastery.
Explore the World Heritage UNESCO site Haghpat monastery 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.
Arrival to Armenian Georgian border Bagratashen
Border formalities.Cross the border ,meet your Georgian guide and driver

Overnight in Tbilisi .

Day8 – Tbilisi /METEKHI/NARIKALA/SULPHUR BATHS/SIONI CATHEDRAL/STATE MUSEUM of GEORGIA

 

We start the city tour of Tbilisi with visits to the Old Town – the original settlement of Tbilisi with winding roads alleys and wooden balconies; Metekhi Church standing proudly above the river on a cliff-top; We take a cable car to the Narikala Fortress – impressive ruins located above the Old Town a landmark of the city and excellent for views of the swirling river Mtkvari (Kura) and the Old Town; Sulphur baths (Abanotubani) – according to legend responsible for giving the name to the city and for the king Vakhtang Gorgasali’s (5th c.) decision to move the capital from Mtskheta; Sioni Cathedral the beating-heart of Georgian Orthodoxy; Anchiskhati Church a yet more ancient style of Georgian church with a choir to match – if lucky we will witness a service at this church; Excursion to the State Museum of Georgia which houses an extraordinary collection of gold filigree work dating from the 6th century BC among other items of repoussé work and jewellery. Then we walk along Rustaveli Ave. – The main 1 500 meter-long artery of the city decked out with elegant Renaissance and neoclassical buildings. Here you find the city’s most important theatres and the Opera House. We end the day with visit to Sameba (Holy Trinity) Cathedral – Recently built magnificently dominating Cathedral of Georgian Orthodox Church.

Overnight in Tbilisi

Day9 – KAZBEGI/ANANURI

In the morning drive to Kazbegi. En-route visit Ananuri Fortress (16th – 17th cc). The one-time home of the tyrannical Aragvi dynasty it sits in a green valley overlooking the Aragvi Valley and Zhinvali Reservoir. After that, we continue drive on the sides of the dramatic Aragvi River Valley then we drive over the Jvari Pass (2395m) and down into Kazbegi (1700m). Arrive in Kazbegi. Surrounded by gigantic mountains, Kazbegi / Stepantsminda is a picturesque settlement overlooked by the biggest peak of all – Mount Kazbek (5047m) – one of the six 5000 metre peaks of the Caucasus. Walk up the nearby escarpment to the Sameba (Trinity) Church at Gergeti. This is the main attraction and is well worth the effort. It takes approximately 1.5 hours each way.
Fine views of the mountains can be seen from the church including the snow-capped mountains in the distance.
Note: Our bus will not be able to drive up to the church. There are local drivers with 4X4 vehicles in the main square of the town, if you prefer to take a car instead of a walk our guide can assist with hiring local cars for an ‘extra’ payable locally – about 70 GEL per vehicle (with max. 6 seats) equal to approx. US$ 40. Pre booking is not required.

Overnight in Tbilisi

Day10 – SIGNAGI-TSINANDALI

Today we drive to the centre of Georgia’s largest wine growing region, Kakheti. Before arriving in Signagi stop to see the Bodbe Monastery. Originally built in the 9th c. but significantly remodeled, especially in the 17th c., the monastery now functions as a convent and is one of the major pilgrimage sites in Georgia due to its association with St. Nino, the 4th-century Christian evangelist, whose relics are enshrined there. A short distance on is the fortified walled hill-town of Signagi. Weather permitting there are fine views of the Kakheti area and eastern Caucasus summits. It is an eclectic mix of old and new. The old section has narrow cobbled streets lined with typical houses complete with wooden balconies and shuttered windows.After that, we visit a local family for lunch to enjoy a traditional home-cooked meal, to sample Georgian home-made wines and to experience baking Georgian ‘Shoti’ (bread) and making ‘Churchkhela’ (sweet). Then we continue towards Tsinandali, excursion at the Tsinandali Estate – House-museum of Chavchavadze family. Return to Tbilisi.
Overnight in Tbilisi .

Day11 – GORI/UPTSLIKHE/MTSKHETA

This morning we drive to Gori. Today the town is mainly known as the birthplace of J. Stalin. Visit Stalin’s Museum in Gori. Excursion to Uplistsikhe (‘the Lord’s citadel’), a cave town hewn into the living rock, 8 kms south-east of Gori. The citadel dates back to the 7th century BC. It served as a strategic point on the ancient Silk Road from ancient times until the 15th century AD. It contains a large central hall for pagan rituals, living rooms and a 9th century church.On the way back to Tbilisi visit Mtskheta – the ancient capital of Georgia, which lies in a lush valley on the confluence of two rivers, the Aragvi and the Mtkvari. It was founded 2,000 BC and was the capital of the Georgian Kingdom of Iberia between 500 BC and 500 AD. Georgians adopted Christianity in the 4th c. and thereafter Georgians, Byzantines, Persians, Arabs and Mongols traded control of the territory until the Russian annexation in the 19th century. It is overlooked by the marvellously simple church of Jvari (6th c.), a perfect example of early Georgian Christian architecture. If time permits we also visit Svetitsikhoveli Cathedral (11th c.), Georgia’s largest remaining Cathedral and burial place of the Georgian kings, notably members of the Bagrationi family. It has an extraordinary interior combining paintings, frescoes and a domed chapel used for the Christmas service. They are both UNESCO sites.
Overnight in Tbilisi

Day12 – Transfer to the airport