Armenia is a very interesting country of sharp contrasts and is a great place for off-the-beaten-track exploration. If the visits to museums, archeological sites broaden the mind, the atmosphere of ancient monasteries and candlelit churches is definitely food for the soul. This is a country where history is more linked to the stones, which whisper the legends of ancient times. Here you are warmly welcomed by the open-hearted locals wherever you go. The variety of homemade food and drinks is really worth tasting no matter deep in the countryside or in surprisingly attractive cities. Here’s our round up of the top 5 ancient attractions in Armenia that will make you plan an unforgettable journey to this ancient land!
Syunik province is full of ancient attractions, among which Armenian Stonehenge or as the Armenians call it Zorats Karer (Army Stones) is decidedly set apart for its historical value. Dating back to 7500 years, this site ignites the archaeological imagination of the visitors, for nothing else but the fact that it predates the Egyptian pyramids and the British Stonehenge.
2. Tatev Monastery
This monastery complex dates back to the 9th century and was initially built to house important relics and not long after it became a cultural and educational center for many brilliant minds. Being an iconic landmark, this monastery complex attracts many visitors not only for its historical past but also the long ropeway, which stretches over a head spinning gorge. Tatev monastery is indeed an interesting bit of history of medieval Armenia, set in a great location and the scenery around is breathtaking and worth exploring.
3. Sevsar Ancient Astronomical Observatory
Astrology occupied a central place at different stages of the history of the Armenian nation. As the Armenian Plateau is considered to be a cradle of civilization by many archeologists and historians, it’s not surprising that some crucial changes in the history of astrology, such as the birth of the zodiac, happened here.
A large meteor that explodes in the atmosphere is something known in modern science, but a picture rock piece depicting this phenomenon is found near the western slopes of mount Sevsar in Gegharkunik province. This ancient astronomical observatory dates back to the third millennia BC. It’s believed that these rock pieces used to be a single stellar map with the constellations known at that time.
4. Garni Gorge Basalt Columns
The Garni gorge is not very far from the capital Yerevan and is a must-see attraction alongside the 1st century Garni temple. This area has been inhabited since Neolithic times and is surrounded by cliff walls of basalt columns, which are now called “Symphony of the Stones” by the Armenians. These incredible rock formations were carved by the Goght River and used to be popular among rock climbers before this was banned by the government. What comes to the Hellenic influenced temple of Garni, it’s an iconic landmark and is the only pagan temple preserved after the Christian conversion.
5. Cave Dwellings in Old Khndzoresk
This is a wonderful destination for nature lovers, hikers and history buffs. The location is famous for natural and man-made caves, which were inhabited till the 1950s. The history of the cave city goes back over 1000 years. The caves have a very interesting construction due to the fact that the ceiling of one cave was a floor for the other and there were also secret passages linking the caves and known only to the dwellers. To get to Old Khndzoresk, you have to cross the rope bridge, which by the way was constructed without modern machinery.