Pagan Armenia – Road.Travel

Pagan Armenia

Road Trip Route. Visit excavations of ancient Armenian capitals., See the temple in Garni., Visit Areni cave., Taste local cuisine..

Armenia was once a great power and part of the ancient kingdom of Urartu! On this route you have the opportunity to see what remains of the former greatness of the ancient civilizations that inhabited these places, to be transported back to the times of the cuneiform tablets and to feel the wind of the past.

History and Culture, Families with Kids. From: Yerevan

Olga Ratia. Travel Expert.

Travel Itinerary and Road Trip Route

Day 1: Erebuni and the surrounding area!

Today will be dedicated to Yerevan and its surroundings. You will see the ancient city of Erebuni, from which the current capital city was formed, as well as visit several other cities and a museum. And see Yerevan from the observation platform!

Zvartnots International Airport (EVN) (Զվարթնոց միջազգային օդանավակայան)

Let's fly to Armenia, take the car and go forward to adventures and amazing historical discoveries!

Erebuni Historical and Archaeological Museum-Reserve | Էրեբունի պատմահնագիտական արգելոց-թանգարան

The first thing worth seeing are the ruins of Erebuni. The city was founded by Argishti I, King of Urartu, in 782 BC as a stronghold for the Urartians in the Ararat Valley. It is located on the Arin-Berd Hill (Aryan Hill, yes). There is a museum nearby that you can also visit.

Matenadaran (Մատենադարան)

Be sure to visit this museum. There are many ancient Armenian manuscripts that will tell you a lot about the local people and their history!

Tapastan

Local wine and lots of goodies! A hearty and beautiful lunch in this cozy and colorful place will be remembered.

Teishebaini

The next excavation in Yerevan is the town of Teishebaini on Karmir Blur hill. It is the capital and the last stronghold of Urartian statehood in the period of decline of Urartu, it was founded in the VII century BC by King Rusa II. The city is named after the Urartian god of thunder and war.

Shengavit Settlement

Shengavit settlement is an ancient settlement, one of the most important archaeological monuments of the Early Bronze Age in Armenia. The settlement existed in the 4th-2nd millennia BC.

Top of the Cascade

While walking around Yerevan be sure to come here to have a look at the city from the height. You will get both beautiful, but also quite specific views of the city and the mountains.

Anteb (Ayntap)

It's time to grab a bite to eat. There are a lot of cozy restaurants in town. I recommend this one. It's cozy and very tasty.

Day 2: A mausoleum and a fortress!

On this day, apart from excavations, you will visit the mausoleum of once ruling Areshkid dynasty and medieval fortress Amberd! This day will not be so busy in terms of travelling, but you will not miss anything and will learn a lot about the area on the slope of Mount Aragats.

Jazzeve

If it's morning, it's coffee. If it's coffee, it's jazz! Have a good morning and let's get adventurous!

Shamiram Excavation

Shamiram in Armenian means "Semiramida". It is not clear who first gave this exotic name to the village. Present-day inhabitants of Shamiram are descendants of fire-worshipping Kurds who fled here in 1917 from Turkey where they were persecuted. But people undoubtedly have settled here more than once, and the mighty walls of the ancient fortress rising not far from the village probably made such a strong impression on local shepherds that they attributed its construction to the legendary queen already in the Middle Ages.

Amberd Fortress

The medieval fortress of Amberd is located in the Aragatsotn Region, on the southern slope of Armenia's highest peak, Mount Aragats. Scholars are divided as to when the fortress was founded. There is historical information that the castle and a part of fortress walls were built in VII century.

Arashkid Mausoleum

In the village there is a structure from the IV century - the tomb of Armenian kings. The remains of the Armenian kings were taken away from the Persians trying to take them to Persia, believing that this would add glory to them, and were reburied in the village of Akhtsk. For this purpose the sepulchre was constructed. This construction is dated 359 - 360. The tomb is illuminated only by the light penetrating through the door aperture. On the stone pillars of the entrance are preserved bas-reliefs of hunting scenes. According to the legend to the left of the entrance the remains of the pagan kings of Arshakids dynasty were buried and to the right, near the bas-relief with the cross the remains of the kings who adopted Christianity were buried. The sarcophagi are decorated with bas-reliefs of the IV century. On the right Christian sarcophagus there is a warrior with a spear hitting a wild boar. The scene of the fights between the person and a wild boar symbolizes war between Armenia and Persia as the wild boar was represented on the seal of the Persian king. The Christian temple constructed in IV century was closely adjoined to a tomb. Its ruins have remained up to now. The remains of lateral walls, an altar, columns are preserved.

Ashtaraki dzor

Stop by this cozy spot to grab a bite to eat and enjoy the atmosphere, then head out for an overnight stay. On your way don't miss any opportunity to enjoy the local scenery. Armenia is a very beautiful country!

Day 3: Necropolis, capitals and stone statues.

Today you will visit a rather famous and vast necropolis, as well as visit another capital city of Armenia! And see not only the excavations, but also the stone statues scattered over many areas of this country.

Agarak

Stock up on food and let's go on another excavation! The settlements here are considered to be older than the Egyptian pyramids, and you should certainly take a look at them! Agarak, rich in layered cultures (the oldest layer dates back to the early Bronze Age), is full of riddles, the answers to which are unlikely to be found, but this makes the place all the more appealing.

Nerkin Naver

Here in Ashtarak is a famous necropolis. The excavation of the royal tombs is considered to be one of the first Aryan tombs in the world to be unearthed.

Vishaps

These stone sculptures of antiquity should not be overlooked. But there is another place to visit nearby: Didikond Hill, which is called the Armenian Pompeii for a reason!

Agtamir

The ruins of a small fortress will meet you on your way to the next capitals. Don't pass by, take a look here.

Argishtikhinili

The site of one of Armenia's ancient capitals, a few kilometres further away, was once the site of this city. Wander around it for sure, before you start exploring the capital's walls.

Ancient Armavir

One of the capitals of Armenia was Armavir, but long before it appeared (in 776 B.C.), the city of Argishtikhinili stood on this site. Now only runes and endless fields remind of the mighty city, while at its heyday there were palaces and temples here. King Argishti I is considered to be the founder of the city. He issued an edict ordering the foundation of the city on this spot. Argishtikhinili was the biggest of Urartu cities and the major agricultural center of Ararat valley. It was from this city that the rulers controlled the economy. Pottery was well developed in the city; citizens manufactured tools, ovens and grain grinders. Farming was widely developed: wheat, barley, grapes and peas were grown. The city of Argishtikhinili had a rectangular shape, it stretches for 5 km in length and 2 km in width. In the west and east of the city there were stone citadels, and for protection from external enemies, it had fortress walls. Now only basalt foundations are left of them.

Aknashen

These excavations are significant in that the culture represented here is the earliest settled settlement in the Armenian Highland and contains evidence of the earliest producing farms in the region.

Mayrig

Very tasty, colorful and nourishing place! Perfect for a good dinner!

Day 4: Petroglyphs and a stone observatory!

The penultimate day of the trip covers quite a lot of territory. Today you will see beautiful mountains, petroglyphs, stone observatory and many other interesting things! You will also drink wine in the home winery.

Lavash.Restaurant (Լավաշ ռեստորան)

Great place for breakfast! Considered one of the best in the city! A must visit before such a busy day!

Zorac-Karer

Zorats Karer (stone army) or Karahunj (singing stones) is an ancient megalithic complex located on a mountain plateau at a height of 1770 meters above sea level. The complex consists of many large standing stones, some of which have round holes in their upper parts. And what beautiful views are all around!

Ukhtasar petroglyphs

The territory of Ukhtasar is home to a glacial lake formed in the crater of an extinct volcano that erupted during the Pleistocene. Ice floes float in the lake almost all year round, and the snow in its vicinity never melts completely. There are a huge number of petroglyphs depicting various subjects, space, myths and everyday life! Be sure to examine everything to the maximum!

Day 5: Capitals, caves and a cemetery.

Today is one of the most fulfilling days! You will see some of Armenia's largest cities, enter a unique cave, and visit Lake Sevan and a medieval cemetery located on its shores.

Areni Caves

There is a unique cave complex (at an altitude of about 1080 m above sea level) with many ancient finds. Several cultural layers have been discovered in the cave, including a complex of the Copper Stone Age (Eneolithic) with earthen structures dating back to 4200-3500 BC. The earliest cultural layer refers to the VI-V millennium BC, and the latest to the XII-XIV centuries.

Artashat

This ancient city has the second name "Armenian Carthage". It appeared thanks to the famous general Hannibal, who was forced to flee from Carthage and stayed for a while at the court of King Artashes. He liked the place so much that he advised the king to build his capital here. Artashat or Artaxata is translated as the joy of Artashes, the city appeared on the map in 176 BC. The capital settled on nine hills at the foot of Mount Ararat, the city was at the crossroads of trade routes, so it quickly became one of the prosperous cities of ancient Armenia. Now these nine hills are a pilgrimage site. Believers and tourists from all over the country visit the site daily as this is where Khor Virap Monastery is located. In ancient times there was a prison for the most dangerous criminals. The most famous prisoner of this prison was St. Gregory the Illuminator who preached Christianity. He was imprisoned by King Trdat III of Armenia. The prisoners were put into the pits, which were 6 meters deep and 4.5 meters wide. In one of such pits Grigor Illuminator was imprisoned for 13 years. Afterwards he became the Catholicos of All Armenians. After his release from prison in 301, Armenia became the first state-level Christian country.

Ancient Dvine

A large crafts and trade city, the capital of Armenia from the 5th to the 9th century. It was built by the king of Greater Armenia Khosrov III in 335. The name comes from Middle Persian and means "hill". Since the 4th century this was the residence of the Armenian kings of the Arshakid dynasty. After the liquidation of the Armenian kingdom in 428, Dvin became the residence of Persian and, since 702, Arab rulers of the region of Arminia, which includes, in addition to the Armenian lands, Kartli, Arran and Bab al-Abvab (Derbent). Having become the capital of the state, Dvin soon became one of the most populous cities in Asia and rivaled many cities of the world at that time in its wealth.

Garni Temple (Գառնու տաճար)

Garni museum complex is located on a small plateau above the Azat river gorge and includes the ruins of an ancient fortress, pre-Christian temple of god Mitra (the only one survived in Caucasus), royal bath and some palace buildings.

Noratus Cemetery

On the last day, before leaving or flying away, it is worth a trip here as well. To Lake Sevan. But there is a lot to see here, besides the lake. For instance, this medieval cemetery. The oldest cross stones in the cemetery are dated 10th century, by the way.

Indian Mehak Restaurant And Bar

Be sure to visit the best place in Yerevan with Indian food before you go home or on another route before you fly out!