It often happens that tourists have limited time and there is no opportunity to organize long tours throughout Armenia. And I really want to go outside of Yerevan and admire the beautiful landscapes and ancient temples. And so the question arises where to go from Yerevan for a few hours?
We would like to share with you a short list of attractions that require several hours to visit. All of the places below are close to Yerevan and can be easily reached in less than an hour.
Echmiadzin is a religious center, the city where the main Cathedral of Armenia and the residence of the Catholicos of all Armenians are located. One of the popular places in Armenia. Both pilgrims and ordinary tourists come here. The cathedral is one of the oldest Christian churches in the world and is also included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. It is located just 20 km from Yerevan on the way to Zvartnots airport. Therefore, before transfer to the airport, if you have a few hours of free time, you can safely plan a visit to Etchmiadzin before that. In addition to the main cathedral in Etchmiadzin, there are also the most beautiful churches of Saints Hripsime, Gayane and Shoghakat.
Temple of Zvartnots
And after visiting Etchmiadzin, you can also make a stop at the ruins of the Zvartnots temple. The once iconic temple was destroyed many years ago by a massive earthquake. But the ruins of the temple leave a strong impression on the guests. Here you can visit the museum with historical finds, admire the magnificent architecture and take beautiful photos of the ruins of the temple against the backdrop of the biblical Mount Ararat. And in the first half of April, the alley to the temple is decorated with apricot blossoms, which makes the view even more beautiful.
Khor Virap Monastery is located 40 km from Yerevan. Here, according to legend, the Armenian king Trdat III for 14 years imprisoned in the underground prison of St. Gregory the Illuminator before accepting Christianity in Armenia. But this place is famous not only for the monastery, but also for the fact that this is the closest point in Armenia from where you can see Ararat. And the temple against the backdrop of Ararat is one of the most popular visiting cards of Armenia.
28 km from Yerevan in the valley of the Azat River, near the village of Garni, which is widely spread along the gorge of the Azat River, there is an archaeological complex united by the common name Garni. Temple of Garni, the only surviving monument in the territory of Armenia, belonging to the era of paganism and Hellenism. But choosing a trip to Garni, your acquaintance will not be limited only to the pagan temple. After a short walk along the gorge of the Azat River, you will see a unique natural monument – the Symphony of Stones. These are rocks that consist of huge basalt pillars hanging above the ground at a height of about 50 meters. Their special shape in the form of hexagons and vertical arrangement are very reminiscent of organ pipes. Where does this name come from.
Usually a trip to Garni is not complete without a visit to the Geghard monastery complex. The name of the monastery complex comes from the spear of Longinus, which was used to pierce the body of Jesus Christ on the Cross, and, allegedly, was brought to Armenia by the Apostle Thaddeus, among many other relics. Now the spear is exhibited in the treasury of Etchmiadzin. The monastery is located on the slope of an almost closed amphitheater of sheer cliffs, crashing into the blue of the sky, surrounded by harsh and majestic nature. Some temples of the monastery complex are completely hollowed out inside the rocks.
Arch of Charents
The road to Garni and Geghard cannot be imagined without a stop at the Arch of Charents. After all, it offers a bewitching view of Mount Ararat with its beauty. The monument is named after the great Armenian poet and great patriot Yeghishe Charents. His words – “Peaks, grayer than Ararat, go around the world – there are no similar ones …” are engraved on the arc of the arch. The arch is a very popular place among photographers, who can be seen here at dawn and at sunset – the best time to get colorful photos of Ararat.
But if you go towards Garni not in a sedan or minivan, but in an off-road vehicle, then you can get to the Azat reservoir by driving down a dirt road. The reservoir was built on the Azat River and is surrounded by the most beautiful “Martian” landscapes of the Yeranos Mountains. A place of unique beauty definitely deserves your attention. Hunters for beautiful shots, do not forget to take your camera with you. Views of the reservoir against the backdrop of the Yeranos Mountains and Mount Ararat will definitely take their rightful place among your photo collection.
Underground temple of grandfather Levon
On the outskirts of Yerevan, in the village of Arinj, master Levon built an amazing underground temple in the basement of his own house. It all started with digging an ordinary cellar for storing potatoes, and ended with the 23-year work of master Levon, who dug a unique cave 21 meters deep in stone with numerous underground passages, spiral staircases and rooms.
Mount Aragats is the highest point in modern Armenia. Its height is 4090 meters. Aragats has 4 peaks, between which there is a volcanic crater, the depth of which is 350m. The highest is the northern peak – 4090 m, followed by the western one – 4007 m, the eastern one – 3916 m and the southern one – 3879 m. You can get to Aragats in just over an hour. If you do not have time or cannot climb Aragats, do not be discouraged on the slopes of the mountain there are many interesting and beautiful points. And one of the popular is a small
Lake Kari, which in Armenian means lake of stone, is located at an altitude of 3300m. The lake can be reached by car. The hiking route to the top usually starts from the lake. You can walk along the slopes of Aragats, breathe in the gray mountain air, and enjoy the most beautiful views that open from here.
And not reaching a little to Lake Kari, at an altitude of 2300 meters, there is a real fortress. Amberd is a historical complex consisting of a fortress-castle of the 7th century and a church of the 11th century. It is assumed that the castle was founded by the princes of Kamsarakan, then the castle passed into the possession of the Armenian commander Vahram Pahlavuni.
But if you leave Yerevan in an SUV, you can get to the highest mountainous waterfall in Armenia – Gegharot. It is located on the river of the same name, flowing along the slopes of the Aragats River at an altitude of more than 3000 m above sea level. Some researchers believe that Gegharot is the highest waterfall in the Caucasus. You can look at the waterfall only in positive temperatures, in winter it freezes, and the slopes of Aragats become difficult to climb.
Gorge of the river Kasakh
Another of the most picturesque places in Armenia is the gorge of the Kasakh River. Just 30-35 km from Yerevan, not far from each other, there are 2 monasteries Hovhanavank and Saghmosavank, standing on the edge of the gorge. They are located 5 km from each other and are connected to each other along a path that runs along the bottom of the gorge. On this path you can get from one monastery to another in an hour and a half. The best time for this is spring and early summer, when the valley is covered with blooming gardens and alpine flowers. On the opposite side, through the terraces of the canyon, you will see the highest waterfall in Armenia, the 70-meter Kasakh waterfall. On the walls of the gorge you can see a lot of rock grottoes and entrances to small caves. This is an amazing place with a beautiful canyon panorama.
No wonder they say that Armenia is an open-air museum. Here at every step you can find places that impress with their beauty and uniqueness.
Our experts will help you choose excursions in Armenia for every taste.