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An update from Evaneos

Best places to visit in Armenia

Armenia, a country of volcanic light, with its basalt mountains, its lakes, canyons, waterfalls, ancient churches and colourful culture, holds many different attractions. All but an island, perched on the heights of Lesser Caucasus, it boasts an incredible heritage, suited to the history of the first country to have adopted Christianity, at the beginning of the Fourth Century.

Travelling through Armenia from top to bottom, you'll discover picturesque gorges and places filled with incredible spirituality. Remote monasteries, whether still occupied or in ruins, tell the stories of the first hermits. At Geghard, Sanahin or Noravank, the ancient Armenians built their temples in harmony with the mountainous countryside, using a plain but elegant style of architecture which reaches its pinnacle with Etchmiadzin, the Armenian Vatican. This country also offers magnificent civil architectural ruins: the forts of Smbat and Amberd or the Selim caravan are all sights worth seeing.

Then there's the environment itself: the volcanic summit of Mont Aragats, the lakes of Sevan, Akna or Kari, the basalt canyon of the Azat river, the verdant mountains of Vayots Dzor: all beautiful places where you can revel in the wide open spaces, from rocky, moon-like plateaus to the temperate forests. And let's not forget the snowy peaks of Mont Ararat, towering over the Erevan plain...

As for Erevan, the lively capital, it distills Armenia down to its essence, with its cafe and restaurant culture, where you can sample the delicious cuisine; its sense of hospitality; its friendliness; its very Oriental music; its traditions and museums, where you can appreciate the creativity of the Armenian artists... At once Western and Eastern, Christian and post-Soviet, Armenia is a civilisation fully worth exploring in its own right, with its contrasts and contradictions.

Nicolas Landru
You'll be impressed by Akhtala, a magnificent monastery in the north of the country with high walls and incredible murals.
The ruin of the Amberd Fortress is 2300 m above sea level; it is a symbolic monument perched on top of a stony setting and at the foot of Mount Aragats. Just next to the Vahramashen church (11th century) is another architectural and scenic gem.
Ananuri, a highlight of the Georgian Military Road, is a symbolic place for the country. This ecclesiastical fortress which dominates over Lake Jinvali is incredibly photogenic.
The Azat River Canyon forms one of Armenia's most distinctive landscapes. At the heart of the volcanic Geghama Mountains with their basalt cliffs, it is home to two of the country's major attractions - Garni and Gueghard. It is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The fortress of Smbat, or "Smbataberd" as it is also known, is one of the most impressive natural/historical sites in Vayots Dzor, with its picturesque ruins strewn across a peak at the heart of a splendid massif, breathtaking views, etc.
Gueghard is one of the most incredible sites in Armenia. This isolated monastery, in a cave-dwelling area, is the throne at the foot of the basaltic cliffs of the Azat Valley, in the heart of the Geghama mountains. It's a treasure of mediaeval Armenian architecture.
Goshavank, a superb example of a 12th century construction, is located in the village of Gosh.
A classified UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Haghpat Monastery is without doubt one of the most beautiful in the country.
Saint Hripsimé is one of the churches in Etchmiadzine, the "Vatican" of Armenia. Part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is one of the most important, most ancient, and most architecturally beautiful churches in the country.
Lake Kari, Qari Lich in Armenian, is the biggest lake in the Aragats range, the roof of Armenia. Pleasantly located south of Mount Aragats, it is a great scenic beauty, and accessible by car.
Lake Akna, Aknalich in Armenian, is a very beautiful volcanic mountain lake whose water is vivid blue. At the heart of the Gegham massif which separates Kotayk from Geharkunik, accessible at the end of a trek, it is a small jewel of nature at the foot of mount Azhdahak.
Sanahin monastery, presiding over Debed Canyon, is one of the most beautiful in Armenia. Fantastic architecture, picturesque scenes, spiritual breeze: Sanahin has all of the best that Armenia has to offer. It is classed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Mount Aragats, a volcano complex located around fifty kilometres from the capital, Yerevan, contains the highest peak in the country.
The town of Noraduz lies close to the shores of Lake Sevan and is famous mainly for its incredible old cemetery.
A monastery situated in east of the country, Noravank is magnificent, thanks to its architecture and setting.
Siuated by the Debed Gorge, at about 1,000m above the river, the town of Odzoun is famous for its 5th - 7th Century monastery.
Saghmosavank is located at the northern end of the Kasagh River gorges and is probably the most beautiful monastery in the whole region.
A remote Armenian monastery, at the top of a stony valley in the Lesser Caucasus, an ecclesiastic architectural jewel on the side of the mountain, seemingly at the world's end, with mind-blowing panoramic views: the Armenian recipe works well at Spitakavor!
Situated in an isolated mountainous region, the Selim caravanserai (AKA Orbelian caravanserai) is one of the best preserved in the world.
Situated in northeast Armenia, Tavush is the greenest region in a country with a reputedly rocky terrain. Mountainous, lush and boasting a landscape nicknamed the 'Swiss Armenia', Tavush and its magnificent monasteries make it a choice destination.
Tsakhats Kar is a beautiful lost monastery, hanging on to the mountain, above the Yeghegis Valley, in the superb Vayots Dzor region. A fine and elegant basalt church, a peaceful atmosphere, splendid views: an exciting place!
A trip to Tsitsernakaberd is a must during a visit to Yerevan. The Armenian Genocide Museum is the best place to go if you want to understand the country and its culture. A modern, sombre building, people come to leave tributes and pray.
Vayots Dzor has a lot of selling points. Being a sparsely populated region of Armenia, it's mountainous, rural and unscarred by industry. With its jagged, bare reliefs, its hot, sunny climate and its rich cultural heritage, it epitomises the beauty of Armenia.
This superb monastery in the very beautiful Vorotan Valley is one of Syunik's main historic monuments. Sitting with pride of place in its elevated position at the heart of a bare mountain landscape, it is both a magnificent architectural achievement and a quite stunning site.
Yeghegis is one of the most delightful towns of the Vayots Dzor. It extends in to the picturesque Yeghegis valley, verdant and surrounded by barren mountains. The beautiful surrounding landscape abounds with easily accessible historical sites.
Lake Sevan is one of the world's largest high-altitude lakes and is very popular amongst the Armenians themselves as a summer holiday spot.
Tatev is a monastic complex dating from the Middle Ages that sits on the edge of a precipice in southeast Armenia. Back in the Middle Ages, the monastery hosted what was one of the most prestigious universities of its time.
Yereven, the capital of Armenia, is steeped in history and culture. It's a town you must visit during your trip to Armenia.
Often referred to as 'Armenian Switzerland', Dilidjan is small, charming town with stone houses and lush forests. 
Khor Virap is an Armenian monastery against the backdrop of Mount Ararat.