Usually overlooked for the more popular destination of Georgia, Armenia is a must add to your bucket list. A landlocked country bordering Georgia, Turkey, Azerbaijan, and Iran, it is a nation steeped in history, tragedy, culture, and ancient sights, surrounded by stunning landscape, friendly locals, and delicious food.
Here are the top 5 reasons to visit Armenia:
We cannot talk about Armenia without learning about its ancient history. Despite a turbulent past, including a genocide still not recognized by most countries in the world (to find out more please check this BBC article) and a devastating earthquake in 1988, its people are extremely proud of the country’s history. Armenia and its people have also been the first to adopt Christianity as a state religion back in 301, a fact that is reflected in the country’s architecture and the magnificent temples, monasteries, and cathedrals.
Make sure to make a stop at some of its most famous sites: Geghard, Tatev, Sevanavank, and Etchmiadzin Cathedral.
Also known as a symbol of the homeland for all Armenians, Mount Ararat is the Biblical mount where Noah’s ark stopped after the flood. Part of the natural landscape of the capital Yerevan, Armenians have such a special relationship with this mountain that its climb is considered a pilgrimage to the holy place. For the best view, make sure to climb to the top of the Cascade or the observation area in Victory Park.
Located at an altitude of 1900 meters above sea level, Lake Sevan is one of the highest freshwater lakes in the world, so high that sometimes it feels like the water is about to touch the sky. Also known as the ‘Armenian Sea’, the lake is the largest in the Caucasus. The best time to visit the lake is during the summer, to catch a break from the heat. As the lake is surrounded by mountains you can spend your day sitting by its shore and notice how the water changes color every hour from azure to navy blue.
Do not be surprised if during your stay in Armenia you will find yourself sitting at the table of an Armenian family, sharing food and stories. The kindness and hospitality of the locals is something everyone always mentions when coming back from the country. It is not a coincidence that Armenian have an old saying ‘a guest is a gift from God’.
Armenians are very passionate about their food and their cuisine is an explosion of flavors thanks to the big variety of spices used in their cooking and the freshness of their produce. If you are a lover of kebab make sure to taste Khorovats, the Armenian take on the dish, a truly national dish found in homes, restaurants, and truck stops across the country. Manti is another must-try, those delicious dumplings baked dumplings are simply delicious and perfect to share as a family. For something sweeter try a little Gata, sweet bread-like cake, perfect to accompany Armenian strong coffee.
A stop in the capital is a must. The old pink city, one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world, whose history dates back to 2,800 years ago.
The city has a European vibe with Russian influence to it with sidewalk cafes, wide boulevards, and Soviet-era buildings.
If you are visiting between May and October, make sure to stop by Republic Square and enjoy the musical fountains, a colorful spectacle accompanied by classical, national, and modern music.
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