From Noah till nowadays

Length: 13 days/12 nights
Start and end point: Yerevan
Best season: June - the end of September

 

 

Armenia: Eastern outpost of Christianity and the world’s first Christian nation

 

One of our most exciting tours gives you the opportunity to discover religious Armenia with all its dioceses from very early ages successively up to present days. The excursion combines visits to breathtaking holy places, including the most important sites of Armenia, with active participation in various interesting events and meetings with prominent Armenians. You will have the opportunity to travel with other people who are interested in religion have the help of our  knowledgeable guides, specially educated and experienced in Christian pilgrimages and inter-church relations. Alongside with regular tourism and visits to pilgrimage destinations, you will also be given the opportunity to participate in the events and prayers. A separate day for walking pilgrimage is also designed in this tour package, which can be changed / discussed upon the request.

 

DAY 1. Noah’s Mount Ararat

Our pilgrimages start with a greeting and prayer. Today, you will get to know the country through its historical city Yerevan - the capital of Armenia. In the Matenadaran manuscript museum, the history will come alive through manuscripts, which have been preserved through innumerable invasions and wars. You can enjoy spectacular views of Yerevan during a stroll through Victory Park above the city. The most thrilling place to see is Khor -Virap, the birthplace of Armenian Christianity. It is a deep pit under a quaint church, with Mt. Ararat looming in the background, where St. Gregory the Illuminator was entombed for 14 years for preaching Christianity at the end of the 3rd century. Today, you can descend into the pit that has turned into a sacred chamber and feel the power of faith and the presence of God.

 

DAY 2. Descent of the Only Begotten

Son of God

After the morning  prayer, we will set out for St. Hripsime Church, where the virgin Hripsime, a 3rd century follower of Christ was martyred. The church has her shrine and the relics of her spiritual sisters. St. Gayane is the name of the mother superior on the place of whose martyrdom another church was erected. After lunch, we will move to the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin - the spiritual and administrative centre of the Armenian Apostolic Church for more than 1700 years. Here we will see the innumerable treasures and relics at the Mother Cathedral Museum and the Residence of the Patriarch of All Armenians. Meeting with clergy will be arranged.

We will also see the architectural masterpiece of the ruins of Zvartnots Cathedral (translated as “Place of Angels”), where once a glorious cathedral stood, built in the 7th century. After dinner, we will most likely enjoy the company of an interesting guest speaker.

 

DAY 3. 36 Soldiers - a Gift of God

The day will begin with a pilgrimage to the shrine of the Armenian alphabet on the outskirts of Yerevan. We will see a famous church in Oshakan on the grave of St. Mesrop Mashtots. The 36 beautiful letters, known also as the “36 God-given soldiers”, have protected Armenia and its Church through all the tribulations of history. A lecture or meeting will be held at Dpratun, a renovated conference centre next to the church. Visits or walks to other small churches and chapels are also possible in Oshakan. Lunch nearby a medieval bridge will set the mysterious tone of the day.

After lunch, three charming churches will be waiting for us:  Tsiranavor, Karmravor and Spitakavor.  They are all devoted to the Holy Mother of God.

 

DAY 4. Holy Spear’s  RESTING PLACE

Exploring the marvelous complex of Geghard (one of the renowned pilgrimage destinations of Armenia included in the UNESCO World Heritage List) is sure to be a memorable day. It is here that the Holy Lance with which our Lord was wounded was kept for 5 centuries. The complex is amazingly and intricately carved into a cave. The visit stimulates all your senses. The other miracles to see, hear and feel are the healing water spring inside the church, the angel-like echoes of singing in the chambers, and the soft light filtering through the architectural details. Geghard is an inspirational place for meditation and prayer!

After a picnic lunch near the Azat  River, we will travel to Garni village to visit some old churches and the classical ancient temple above the breathtaking Garni gorge. On the way back to Yerevan, the parish of Jrvezh, a small village near Yerevan, will host us. There, we will enjoy discussions, interesting stories, films, singing and a traditional dinner.

 

DAY 5. Blessing from THE All Saviour  Khachkar

Today we will view the fantastic monasteries in the area of Alaverdi, namely Odzun, Sanahin and Haghpat. To get to Odzun, we will have a breathtaking upward tour to the mountain top where one of the finest Armenian cupola’d basilicas (6th c.) lies. Then, the tour will take continue towards the 10th century architectural embodiments, the complexes of Sanahin and Haghpat (both of which are inscribed into the UNESCO World Heritage List). The complexes are rich in khachkars. The one that stands out is the miraculous Amenaprkich Khachkar in Haghpat. Before enjoying dinner in Vanadzor (one of Armenia’s largest cites) we will most likely be hosted by children of a benevolent project  called Zangakatun.  A possible meeting with an official from the Diocese of Gougark will conclude the day.

Overnight in Alaverdi.

 

DAY 6. Walk and Pray

This is a pilgrimage day in its historical meaning – we will spend the day walking and praying during the climb to Makaravank,  10 -12 century church complex. From its commanding position, the panorama of the Aghstev River Valley and the flatlands of the Kour river basin open out in front of the observer. Further on in the day, we will be fulfilled with Bible Study (can be organized also by pilgrims), prayers, and singing influenced by the spiritual  environment. The spiritual hours will be domed in the service of vespers in the church. Dinner in Vanadzor. Return to Yerevan.

 

DAY 7. “God’s Eye Open” in Armenia

Moving to the Tavush region, the Monastery of Haghartsin, deep in the forests near Dilijan, is waiting to astonish us with its unique harmony of nature and architecture. Lake Sevan with its ever changing colors will provide us with the perfect environment to have lunch. On the peninsula of Lake Sevan, we will visit the Sevanavank Monastery. On the shore of Lake Sevan it is worth seeing Noraduz cemetery, “the forest” of  khachkars and Hayravanak Monastery of the late 9th century. Return to Yerevan.

 

DAY 8. Stone

We will create a day with a medieval atmosphere, where each of us can fancy ourselves as an ancient Armenian queen or king. The Fortress of Amberd will be the host. Constructed in the 10-12 centuries on the southern slopes of Mt. Aragats, it was the defense and the shelter for many noble families. To feel the power of the psalms and prayers, we will visit Saghmosavank Monastery . Built in the 13th century, the monastery stands on the western rim of the spectacular Kasakh River Gorge. The last site to discover today is Mughni. In the spirit of the day’s air of medieval times, we will move on to Ashtarak, where we will have a chance to visit the Horse Riding Club.

 

DAY 9. Freedom of Choice

This day is specially designed for you to chose either to relax, to meet people with whom you didn’t have the time or opportunity to meet, or to join us for another pilgrimage or event. You are also free to spend your time in cafes, restaurants or other recommended places that you can learn from your guides. Any suggestions are welcomed to design this day of freedom!

 

DAY 10. Power of Resurrection

Today we will visit Gyumri, Armenia’s “second city” and now best known for having experienced a disastrous earthquake in 1988. Yet the town has a lot to offer tourists. One of its treasures is the historic settlement Yereruyk, an impressive 5th century basilica in ruins with an Iron Age cemetery nearby.  Though roofless, it is one of the most architecturally important in Armenia. Next, we will explore Yotverk, a 17th century church which united believers in Soviet times as the only church that did not stop functioning under that regime. After lunch, we’ll travel to a gorge to see Marmarashen - one of Armenian’s most interesting and beautifully situated monasteries. A meeting with the parish of St. Hakob church (meeting with youth union and with a representative from Shirak Diocese) will complete the day.

 he experience in Gyumri will be rounded out by dinner in a traditional environment with local customs. Overnight in Gyumri.

 

DAY 11. Stone Embroidered Prayers

We start the day with prayers as usual. It will be the day of revealing the educational centers of Armenian Christian cultural heritage, namely Gladzor, once an important university with the churches of St. Stepanos (1273-1279), Varaga St. Nshan built in the 13th century, and a basilica of the 5th century. Numerous Khachkars witness a key role of faith in the science progress. After lunch, we will make the breath-taking drive through the rocks of Yeghegnadzor  Gorge, which leads us to Noravank (4-13 cc). Noravank is an architectural jewel perched atop the red cliffs, which stands out yet still blends in with the spectacular natural environment. It is the work of Momik, a famous Armenian khachkar sculptor. Mysterious stories as well as historical events once happened in this terrain are waiting for you. The dinner in Yerevan with the sounds of national instruments will sum up the day.

 

DAY 12. Practicing Christianity Today

This will be the last day in our pilgrimage program that shows you the living Christianity in today’s Armenia. The Church of Surb Errordutyun  resembles the once famous Zvartnots Cathedral. Here, we will meet our last guest lecture. The pilgrimage tour started and will finish by paying tribute to St. Gregory, by visiting the new Cathedral and bowing before the relics of this great Saint. After lunch, in the centre of Yerevan, we will visit another newly built church.

 

DAY 13. Departure


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