Armenia is the jewel and the mountainous heart of Caucasus, the purest example of an ancient, millennia-old civilization amidst stark mountain landscapes and remote canyons. Armenian people are the inseparable part of its culture and with a hospitability custom that goes far back into our history. As the saying goes “my house is not mine, it is the house of the one who opens its doors”. No wonder Armenia was recognized as the winner of the “Discovery of the Year 2013” Award of National Geographic Traveler (earlier this year, an editorial delegation from National Geographic Russia magazine visited Armenia for a press trip). The glory of Armenia also lies in its authentic cuisine which is just as colorful and sincere. Best food in Armenia is homemade: no restaurant can compete with the lavish attention and extraordinary dishes Armenians create in their kitchens. Geography has generously bestowed Armenia with rich, water resources flowing from high altitude mountain springs, high mountains and deep gorges, diverse flora and fauna, unique wildlife that gave rise to many songs and poems describing the nature’s harmony with centuries-old history and deeply spiritual culture of Armenian people. The majestic beauty of Armenia along with its cordial and safe atmosphere, amazing world heritage sites, hidden corners boasting with forgotten monasteries and wonderfully friendly culture makes this fairly small country a destination worth visiting.
Human beings have inhabited the Armenian Plateau and Caucasus Region since over 100,000 years ago. Little is known of them, however, drawings in caves and on rocks attest to their existence. The area, situated between some of the Old World’s major waterways, is generally considered the cradle of civilization. Additionally, the Bible records that Noah’s Ark came to rest on Historic Armenia’s Mt. Ararat, and there are many references of his descent from the mountain after the Great Flood. Archeological and historical facts point to the development of civilization in the region with the formation of the Urartu kingdom around 980 BC. Various Urartu rulers built capitals in the area, such as around Lake Van in the thirteenth century BC and that built by Argishti I in 782 BC, the ruins of which are preserved today in the Armenian capital of Yerevan. The first mention of Armenians in historical writings is found in inscriptions at Behistun, near the city of Kermanshah in modern-day Iran, which date to 600 BC.
The climate in Armenia is markedly continental. Summers are dry and sunny, lasting from June to mid-September. The temperature fluctuates between 22 and 36 °C (72 and 97 °F). However, the low humidity level mitigates the effect of high temperatures. Evening breezes blowing down the mountains provide a welcome refreshing and cooling effect. Springs are short, while autumns are long. Autumns are known for their vibrant and colorful foliage. Winters are quite cold with plenty of snow, with temperatures ranging between −10 and −5 °C (14 and 23 °F). Winter sports enthusiasts enjoy skiing down the hills of Tsakhkadzor, located thirty minutes outside Yerevan. Lake Sevan, nestled up in the Armenian highlands, is the second largest lake in the world relative to its altitude, at 1,900 metres (6,234 ft)
Armenia is landlocked in the South Caucasus. Located between the Black and Caspian Seas, the country is bordered on the north and east by Georgia and Azerbaijan, and on the south and west by Iran and Turkey. The terrain is mostly mountainous and flat, with fast flowing rivers and few forests but with many trees. The climate is highland continental: hot summers and cold winters. The land rises to 4,095 m above sea-level at Mount Aragats, and no point is below 400 m (along Debed River). Mount Ararat, one of the national symbols of Armenia, is the highest mountain in the region.
Health & Safety
Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation. If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 1-103 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment. Armenia is a safe country (even more safe than many western countries) and increasingly easy to travel to and around. People are very kind and helpful. In summer you will see handful of people spending their evening at open-area cafes or strolling till midnight as well as many children playing outdoors.
Armenia is an ethnically homogeneous country, where Armenian is the official language and is spoken as a first language by the overwhelming majority of its population. It is of interest to linguists for its distinctive phonological developments within the Indo-European family of languages. Armenian has its own unique script, the Armenian alphabet, invented in 405-406 AD by the ancient linguist and cleric Mesrop Mashtots. It has long literary history, with a fifth-century Bible translation as its oldest surviving text.
World Heritage Sites (UNESCO)
The following sites have been listed as world heritage by UNESCO:
• Monasteries of Haghpat and Sanahin, cultural
• Cathedral and Churches of Echmiadzin, cultural
• The Archaeological Site of Zvartnots, cultural
• Monastery of Geghard, cultural
• The Upper Azat Valley, natural