Day 1: Yerevan – Echmiadzin-Zvartnots- Yerevan
Arrival in Zvartnots airport. The mother cathedral of Etchmiadzin is mere 20 km from Yerevan. Echmiadzin Cathedral is one of the oldest standing churches in Christendom. It was built in 303 AD over a pagan fire altar. Drive back to Yerevan on the way visiting the ruins of Zvartnots temple – the pearl of the 7th c. architecture (inscribed in UNESCO World Heritage list). Visit legendary Armenian Brandy Factory (1887). Winston Churchill was offered Armenian brandy by Joseph Stalin at the Yalta Conference and was so impressed that asked for several cases of it to be shipped to him each year. Overnight in Yerevan.
Day 2 : Yerevan-GarniTemple-Geghard- Sevan.
Departure to Garni Temple which was built which was built in the first century A.D. Opportunity to have lunch at a local house in Garni where you will have opportunity to watch Armenian national bread “lavash” baking and barbeque making process in the underground stove called “tonir”. Northeast of Garni there is a magnificent monument of medieval Armenian architecture – Geghard Monastery inscribed in UNESCO World Heritage list. Geghard is another incredible ancient Armenian monastery, partly carved out of a mountain. The next station is the Lake Sevan.
Overnight in Sevan.
Day 3: Sevan-Yerevan
Brekfast in hotel. Return to Yerevan. Yerevan City tour.
Day 4:Yerevan-Khor -Virap monastery-Noravank monastery- Tatev monastery
Sightseeing tour to Khor-Virap monastery the importance of which is connected with Gregory the Illuminator, who introduced Christianity to Armenia. It is a wonderful masterpiece situated on top of a hill and a pilgrimage place where every year a lot of tourists and native people visit. It looks like a castle where everybody has the hint to sit and dream while admiring the beauty of the church. The highlight is the best view to the biblical Mt. Ararat. Continue tour to Noravank monastery – religious and cultural center of 13th c. It is situated in a narrow gorge which is known for its tall, sheer, brick-red cliffs, directly across from the monastery. The beauty of this monastery is appreciated by thousands of visitors not only because of its’ architecture and history, but also for its harmony with surrounding fabulous nature. Drive to Syunik region. Continue to explore a monastic complex of Tatev (Cultural Heritage Site by UNESCO) which is an architectural masterpiece dating from the 10th century and is often called a monastery built on the edge of nothing. On the way to this monastery there is a strange natural bridge called the Devil’s Bridge. The journey takes about 7 hours and is a totally absorbing and unique experience. Overnight in Goris.
Day 5:Goris- Meghri-Armenian-Iran border.
Drive to Meghri (Syunik region) cross Iran-Armenian border. Border formalities: bus and guide change. On the way visiting beautiful monastery of St. Stephen, isolated among the hills (XIII c.). Visit the medieval castle and church (XVI-XVIII century). Drive to the historical town of Jolfa, located near the Aras River. Jolfa served as a stronghold for Christian Armenians to have a rich and unique culture. Drive to the city of Marand. Overnight in Marand.
Day 6: Garah Kelissa-Tabriz
Breakfast at the hotel. Drive to north-west through the ruins of the citadel at the time of Urartu. Visit Garah Kelissa and one of the most famous monuments in Iran and Christian pilgrimage site: Armenian Church St. Thaddeus (IV-XIII c. proposed as World Heritage by UNESCO), the largest and most beautiful Armenian church in Iran. Drive to Tabriz. Overnight at the hotel in Tabriz.
Day 7: Tabriz-Kandovan-Tabriz
Start tour with visiting Tabriz, ancient Persian capital. Visit the Friday Mosque and the Blue Mosque destroyed several times by earthquakes) and is regarded as the masterpiece of decoration enameled in Iran. Visit Municipality building, the remains of the citadel of Alishah (Arg-e-Tabriz), the old bazaar and Chehel Dokhtar Bridge, then walk to the Rose Garden of the Golie Island. Continue tour to the troglodyte village of Kandovan, a traditional village with its houses built in the rock that will remind you Cappadocia in Turkey. Drive back to Tabriz. Overnight in Tabriz.
Day 8:Tabriz- Takht-e Soleiman-Zanjan
Drive to the archaeological site of Takht-e Soleiman (Throne of Solomon) classified as World Heritage Site by UNESCO. It is one of archaeological highlights in western Iran. It is located at 2500 m altitude. The fortress dates from the time Sasanian III c. AD and is linked to the cult Mazdean. Here one can find remains of palaces, warehouses and the Temple of Fire. Visit also Zandan e-Soleiman, prison of Salomon with the depth of 60m. Tour around Zanja: the capital of cutlery, visit Knives factory, a very original historical monument. Visit the Jame Mosque, the House of Zolfaghari. Continue discovering the lively Bazaar, one of the largest bazaars of Iran at the time of Qadjar. Overnight in Qadjar.
Start the tour to Sultanieh to visit the Mausoleum of Oldjaïtou, which has one of the biggest domes in the world (UNESCO world heritage). Sultanieh was once the capital of Mongolian Ilkhan. Continue tour to Qazvin, a major transit center since ancient times, visit the Friday Mosque, the mausoleum of Hussein and Chazdeh House Aminiha. Drive to Tehran. Overnight in Tehran.