Armenia – a landlocked country in Western Asia (Caucasus region), sharing its borders with Turkey, Georgia, Iran and Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan and Armenia are bitter rivals disputing their territory since the 1980’s. Their current war is in the Nagorno-Karabakh border area. All of Azerbaijan’s borders are closed to land travel.
We had been using a tourist map that showed areas of Armenia denoting treasured historical and fascinating places to see.
On our drive to Goris our non-English speaking driver pointed out large amounts of dirt bunkers and with his hands mimicked holding a rifle and made a shooting sound and said Azerbaijan. Upon searching the internet we realized that we were 100 miles from the conflict area. Click here to read about it.
*click on photos to enlarge
We’ve since learned that our passage to Azerbaijan is going to be tenuous once they see Armenian stamps in our passports. It is understood that we’ll get in but will have to prove we weren’t in this disputed region.
Back to the fun stuff – wowza. The capital city of Yerevan is like a European city with stunning architecture, walking friendly, fabulous sidewalk cafes, parks and decorative fountains galore (most of which were being turned on the day before we left). It felt very family oriented with parks offering rides and games for children. Don’t get me wrong old USSR is present but the European charm shines beyond it.
The small Russian Lada cars are commonplace and reminded me of an old times. Like the old American cars in Havana.
It was fascinating to learn that it was here in 301 AD when Gregory the Illuminator converted paganism into Christianity making it the first state to adopt Christianity as their religion. It was a beautiful but tragic story leading to Gregory being thrown into a pit at Khor Virap for 13 years (I climbed down a long narrow ladder 197’ deep, inside the church, to witness this deep dungeon) only to be removed to save the king from utter madness and change the course of history. The story reads better than fiction and I encourage you to click on this link to read about it.
There are stories after stories about Jesus, martyrs, Saints, war, genocide. The churches (Monasteries) are plentiful, grand and magnificent.
Geghard Monastery (the Monastery of the Spear) is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Carved out of the rocks and allegedly where Jude (Thaddeus) brought and stored the spear that wounded Jesus.
The countryside is stunning. We’re so lucky to be here when’s it’s green.
- In the country gas lines are run in pipes above ground.
- Pulpulka drinking fountains bubble fresh drinking water 24/7 (Armenia is known to have the freshest, clean and natural drinking water).
- The soil is rocky and lacking trees.
- They having a thriving wine industry. In 2008 wine pots were discovered in a cave dating back some 6,100 years making this the oldest known winery.
- Small cow herds roam the country and are watched by shepherds.
- Women (mostly younger) worn oversized blazer. Perhaps it’s back in season?
- They believe they escaped COVID by drinking vodka!
Lavash made the old traditional way in the countryside and newer more automated way elsewhere.
It was all enchanting and captivating! Highly recommended.