Travel Guide

The tour programs of Ravina include the most important and interesting sightseeings of Armenia. In order to have a better understanding of the places we are going to visit, have a look in our compact travel guide. All the important facts and numbers are included here.


Churches and Cathedrals

Mother Cathedral Echmiadzin
- Echmiadzin is the spiritual center of the Armenian Apostolic Church. It is also the seat of the Catholicos who is the head of the Church. We can consider Echmiadzin to be the first official church in Armenia (301 AD) as well as the first official Christian Church in the World as Armenia was the first nation to adopt Christianity as its state religion. When visiting Echmiadzin, you will get the chance to understand the spiritual traditions of the Armenians. Many people attend the Sunday mass in order to hear the spiritual music performed by the Church choir. Beside the Mother Cathedral, several other interesting sites are situated there, such as the baptizing church, publishing house, a seminary, the Echmiadzin treasury and small museum.

St. Hripsime Church (618 AD) - St. Hripsime Church is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Besides being an important Christian site, it is also very much valued for its explicit architecture. Special techniques are used in order to make the church earthquake resistant. At this site it is believed that the Roman maiden Hripsime was tortured and killed. Later on a small chapel was built dedicated to the Saint. In the 7th century it was decided to build a vast church which is seen when entering the city of Echmiadzin.      

Talin Cathedral - The Talin Cathedral is situated in the northern part of Talin town. Historical chronicles do not contain any records of the church construction. Having analyzed architectural and artistic features of the church building the historians concluded that it dated from the second half of the VII century. Although in ruins now, it still reflects a slight different architectural style than the Armenians were used to at that time. The Cathedral was damaged during the last volcanic eruption of Mt. Ararat in 1840 when a sever earthquake hit the area.

Ruins of Zvartnots Cathedral (7th century) - Although now in ruins, Zvartnots still reflects the glorious days it once had. Some atypical architectural solutions were used when building the church. Instead of the traditional rectangular or square churches they made it circular. Being richly ornamented was also quite unusual in relation with the other more
modest churches. Unfortunately Zvartnots did not stand long. After several attacks by the Arabs and an heavy earthquake the glorious church was ruined and was only unearthed a 1000 years later. This site is a perfect place for archeology lovers where they get the chance to stroll around and examine pieces not only from the 7th century, but also much earlier excavations.

Church of Aruch - According to wall inscriptions on the east wall, the church was built near the end of the 7th century. Now partly in ruins, it is architecturally one of the most important Armenian churches of the Middle Ages and also one of the largest. The church is now standing on a deserted area and houses a special and mystical atmosphere. In the area one can find also other interesting stones to examine. This peaceful place give you the opportunity to fantasize about the ancient glory of Armenia.

Karmravor Church - A small and cozy church from the 7th century located in the small town of Ashtarak, still stands true to its purpose. Till today it is considered to be an important pilgrimage site for the inhabitants of Ashtarak. The name Karmravor, which is translated as "Reddish", comes from the rooftop covered with red tiles. It stands atop a canyon giving a splendid view over the area. It would be a pity to miss this cozy church when travelling in this region.    

St. Ghazanchetsots Church (Shushi) - The unique church was built in the 19th century with white limestone. Churches of this colour are quite rare in Armenia. Usually you can find churches in the colours grey, red/apricot or yellow/beige. People with a good insight can immediately guess that the church has lots of resemblances with the Mother Cathedral. For some years this church was not used for its purpose. It served as a granary, garage and munition storehouse. It is a true miracle that the church got its true value back and serves know as an important spiritual center in the region.    



Khor Virap Monastery
- Khor Virap is considered to be one of the most important pilgrimage sites for the Armenians. This is the place where Gregory the Illuminator, the spiritual leader from the
4th century, was imprisoned for 13 years in a dungeon. The dungeon can be visited by visitors who can bear some adventure, as the stairs leading to the deep pit is steep and long. Later on in the 17th century a church was built at this place in honor of the first Christian spiritual leader of the Armenians. Another very good reason to visit Khor Virap is for having the best views of Mt. Ararat. With clear weather one can make the best pictures of the Biblical mountain.

Tatev Monastery - Abandoned during the Soviet period, now Tatev Monastery undergoes a true revival! With the help of many donations the Tatev Revival Project was initiated several years ago which included the renovation of the monastery, the making of the world’s longest ropeway leading to Tatev and the opening of many modern facilities. So don't miss the chance to enjoy the breathtaking views from the world's longest cable car bringing you to the mystical 10th-17th century Monastery of Tatev. Here you will understand how it was to live in a monastery, as the complex includes an oil mill, refectory, monk cells, kitchen and many other interesting edifices.

Sevanavanq Monastery - The combination of nature and culture can be realized by visiting the breathtaking Lake Sevan with its  beautiful monastery Sevanavanq from the 9th century standing on a peninsula. The legends connected to the lake, the peninsula and the monastery are thrilling and brings you back to a world of imagination. From atop the hill where the churches are standing, one can have a perfect view over one of the largest and highest fresh water lakes of the world. After a long stroll in the area, eating local fish will certainly add the flavor of your impressions in this area. 

Noravanq Monastery - Although the translation of "Noravanq" speaks of a "New Monastery", the monastery by now stands already for more than 700 years. The monastery can be approached by a narrow canyon with the most outstanding rock formations. On top of a hill the monastery complex is beautifully seen as if mending with the surrounding nature. The monastery is attractive for several reasons: It is architecturally unique and breathtaking, many explicit cross-stones are found here and several interesting reliefs made by the master Momik, can be seen here. Do you want to see the carving of God made in the 14th century? Then you certainly don't want to miss this sightseeing.

Geghard Monastery - The 13th century Geghard Monastery is not an ordinary complex of churches. Hidden under firm rocks just next to the main church, several cave churches can be found. It took about hundred years to complete the cave churches which required a true master craft. Take a flash light and start exploring all the wall carvings found in the cave churches. It is more fun when trying to decode the hidden messages behind them. Geghard Monastery is certainly one of the most favored places of the Armenians. With good chance you might get the opportunity to see a baptizing or wedding ceremony taking place here. Geghard Monastery is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

Sanahin Monastery - Sanahin Monastery stands on a high plateau near the town of Alaverdi in the northern part of
Armenia. The oldest part of the monastery dates to the 10th century. In the following centuries the monastic complex got bigger and bigger. Nowadays it gives you an idea of how the monastic life was during the Middle Ages. Situated near the borders of Georgia, it also got influenced by the neighboring art forms. If you visit Sanahin, then you cannot miss a visit to Haghpat as well, as they are not far from each other.

Haghpat Monastery - Again standing high up on the edge of a canyon, Haghpat Monastery firmly dominates this part of the Debed river valley. This UNESCO World Heritage Site again gives you the opportunity to understand the monastic life of the 10th - 13th centuries, as you can visit the refectory and bakery there. The making of the monastery was initiated by the Armenian Queen Khosrovanush. Note that many monasteries and churches were built with the donations of queens and wives of nobleman proving how involved Armenian women were in their religion. 

Goshavanq Monastery - Just when it seems impossible to encounter a monastery passing several rivers and narrow roads, Goshavanq pop ups amidst the small village of Gosh. The monastery is named after Mkhitar Gosh, who was the first scholar introducing the Codex book in the 13the century. He worked and educated students in this beautifully located monastery. His tombstone is also found here. Today a statue stands in front of the monastery honoring one of the greatest scholars in Armenian history. Goshavanq also houses one of the remarkable cross-stones of Armenia (13th century). 

Kecharis Monastery - Are you visiting Tsaghkadzor for skiing or hiking in the Summer? Then we certainly advise you to visit the beautiful monastery complex of Kecharis. The 11th-13th century monastery had once been a well-known educational center in the Middle Ages. The nicely ordered complex has also some interesting artifacts behind its wall. The true explorers can walk around and find beautiful cross-stones hidden in every corner of Kecharis.

Saghmosavanq - When making the monasteries the Armenian architects and donors probably have done their utmost best to find the perfect locations. Saghmosavanq Monastery as well stands at a very beautiful place, just a few meters away from a deep canyon. The monastery was built in the 13th century by a family of nobles. They built it as a gratitude to God for freeing them from the Seljuk Turk invasion. Interesting fresco's, inscriptions and carvings can be found in Saghmosavanq Monastery. 

Gandzasar Monastery -  "Gandzasar" means treasure mountain or hilltop treasure in Armenian. Hidden on the top of the hill, this 10th-13th century monastery will certainly thrill your imagination. In order to visit Gandzasar, you will have to go the Nagorno Karabagh. This mountainous region has lots of treasures hidden in its forests, so a visit is certainly advised. The complex is protected by high walls.




Selim Caravanserai - Would you like to explore the life of the merchants of the Silk Road period, then we certainly advise you to visit the best preserved caravanserai (14th century) in the region testifying the huge role of Armenia during the times of the Silk Road. The caravanserai was the perfect place for rest for the traveling merchants. Their horses or camels with their trading ware were all housed in the Selim Caravanserai, so the merchants could have rest without worrying if his products would be stolen. The road leading to the caravanserai is truly breathtaking.

Aruch Caravanserai - All over Armenia various caravanserai's were standing in order to house the merchants trading silk and other kinds of precious ware for several days. The merchants and the caravanserai's were all part of the great Silk Road. The Aruch Caravanserai is one of the many caravanserai's in Armenia. This 13th century partly ruined caravanserai gives you an idea of how merchants lodged during the times of the Silk Route.


Cities and Villages 


Areni village - Areni is a small village amidst the mountains and is famous for its indigenous wine Areni. Most of the table wines in Armenia are made of the delicious Areni type of grapes. Almost everyone in this village cultivates grapes and make their own home-made wine. There also exist several wine factories in this village which gives you the possibility to taste some wine made in Areni. 

Old Khndzoresk - Old Khndzoresk an ancient town with cave habitats. From ancient times until the 1950's people have been living in this extraordinary place. It has been one of the biggest villages in the 19th century in this region and had a developed infrastructure notwithstanding the fact people were living in this caves. Old Khndzoresk is a haven for hikers, where one can walk and admire the caves and the surrounding nature. There exists also a modern swinging bridge in this area which adds more to the adventure for the visitors.  

Old Dilijan - Dilijan has always been an attractive town as it is situated amidst forested mountains. The local flora also seems to be good for the health as many respiratory diseases can be cured here. During the Middle Ages Dilijan formed a stop for the merchants of the Silk Route. There existed a caravanserai were the merchants could have a rest after a long time travel. The ancient part of Dilijan has been restored, giving the chance to visitors to have an idea of where and how the merchants stayed. 

Gyumri City - Gyumri is the second largest city of Armenia with extraordinary architecture. Before Yerevan became the capital city of Armenia in 1918, Gyumri formed the cultural center for the Armenians. Unfortunately, the earthquake of 1988 caused lots of damage to the city. Till today the traces of this huge disaster can still be felt in the city. Anyway, the city center which has been renovated, gives you an idea of the splendor this northern city of Armenia once had.

Jermuk city - Jermuk means warmth in Armenian. Although the area itself is not warm, but the mineral waters under the ground certainly are. Jermuk has numerous mineral water sources with different temperatures. After many studies of the mineral compositions during the Soviet times, Jermuk was designated as a health resort. Many spa's and sanatoria were built during the Soviet era which welcomed patients from Soviet Republics. Nowadays it continues to be a health resort and other projects are being initiated to make this place more attractive.

Tsaghkadzor city - Tsaghkadzor is a nice small town on the hill of the mountain where people can enjoy hiking in the summers and skiing in the winters. The modern facilities, high-tech ski lifts and well organized ski slopes will make visitors enjoy their winter vacation. During summer time visitors can again make use of the ski lifts in order to admire the surrounding landscapes.

Stepanakert City Tour - Stepanakert is the capital city of Nagorno Karabagh. The city population comprises about 53,000 people. After the Nagorno Karabagh war the city has undergone a true revival and offers many modern and well-equipped hotels for the visitors. Located quite favorable, form this city visitors can go to the various sightseeings of Nagorno Karabagh and come back for the overnight.

Goris and Sisian - Goris and Sisian are two extraordinary towns of Syunik Region. Sisian is situated off the main road and is built mainly during the Soviet period. Goris, on the other hand, is an older city, which was designed in the 19th century by a German architect. The old part of Goris or Old Goris is believed to be inhabited for thousands of years. There even exists records that in the 8th century BC this place was inhabited with people. The best part of these two towns are of course the people! They are very hospitable and kind and will treat you with their home made mulberry vodka. 


Around Yerevan


Republic Square -
The Republic Square forms the heart of Yerevan. It seems as if the whole city was built around this huge square. In the middle of the square lays a big stone carpet with Armenian motifs. Around the square stand important buildings, such as the Government building, several ministries and the National History Museum. The Republic Square by night is also very attractive; a colorful fountain show awaits you with Armenian and foreign music.   

Opera House - The Opera House was designed by Alexander Tamanyan and won the Grand Prix in 1931 in Paris for its architectural design. Enjoy the many ballets, concerts and opera's that are held in this intriguing building. Around the Opera House stand many cafe's, which give you the opportunity to have a coffee after an impressive performance.

Cafesjian Open Air Museum - The Cafesjian Open Air Museum or the Cascade is the center of contemporary art. Under and on top of the giant stairways called the Cascade all the items of contemporary art are exhibited. People can freely walk around and study the many famous artifacts standing there.

Genocide Memorial - Located on top of the hill it gives you the history of the genocide of the Armenians. The Memorial was built in 1965 when the Armenians celebrated 50 years of the genocide. People can visit the memorial and put a flower next to the eternal flame in memory of all the deceased. There is also a museum at the complex, where many facts around this topic are collected and exhibited.

Victory Park - Are you searching for the best view of Yerevan, then we certainly advise you to take Victory Park. You will have here a splendid view over Yerevan and Mt Ararat in the background. The Victory Park is dedicated to the victory during World War II. A huge statue of Mother Armenia looks proudly over the city. You can have a stroll in the park, as well as have fun at the fair.

Matenadaran - 17.000 manuscripts from different centuries. Only 1% of all the books, is exhibited in the Matenadaran Museum. The many manuscripts will give you an idea of Armenian scripture, art and knowledge.

Vernisage - Want to buy a souvenir from Armenia, then we recommend you to visit the open air souvenir market Vernisage with the nicest hand-made souvenirs from Armenia. It is also a nice opportunity to get acquainted with the different types of art that are actual in Armenia. Silver works, wood carvings, carpets and many other things can be found here.


Other sightseeings


Zorats Karer/Carahunge - Zorats Karer or Carahunge is considered to be one of the mysterious places in Armenia. Many scientists, archaeologists and astrologists have executed several excavations and studies in order to understand why this extraordinary site with 224 stones standing was made for. Several theories suggest the site to have been an ancient astral observatory or a religious site. Until the scientist figure out, we can in the meantime make our own conclusions by visiting this special place.

Lake Sevan - Lake Sevan is one of the largest and highest fresh water lakes in the world (1900m). It is surrounded by high mountains and has many interesting sites around its basin. Unfortunately, the lake has been exposed to many experiments, leading to an ecological disaster years ago. Several projects have lead to the revival of this beautiful lake. There live different kinds of fish in Lake Sevan, which you taste during your visit here. Lake Sevan is certainly one of the most attractive spots in Armenia one cannot miss.

Garni temple - Garni temple is the only pagan temple in Armenia from 1st century AD. It served to the Royals at their Summer palace before Christianity was adopted. When Christianity became the state religion in Armenia in 301, all pagan temples were ruined except this small treasure due to the King's sister. It remained as an aesthetic value and was admired for its architecture only. Unfortunately, the temple was ruined by nature during an earthquake in the 17th century. The recovery of the temple was initiated during the Soviet period and now stands proudly welcoming its visitors.   

Armenian Alphabet Monument - About 30 km away from Yerevan, on the slopes of Mt. Aragats stands a modern monument with 39 letters made of the volcanic stone tufa dedicated to the Armenian alphabet. The monument was built on the occasion of celebrating 1600 years after the creation of the Armenian alphabet in 405 AD. The alphabet monument gives you a nice opportunity to learn the first letter of your name and make pictures with it.

Amberd Fortress - Amberd Fortress is made in the 7th century and is located on the slopes of Mt. Aragats at a height of 2,300 meters. Although now partly in ruins, the place gives you breathtaking views of the surrounding nature. Some other sites of interest, such as a  11th century church and a bath house are also found here. The fortress was ruined after an attack by the Mongols and lost its importance since then. 

Jermuk waterfall - In Jermuk city the small but very charming waterfall can be found. The place is not very obvious and you have to travel into the canyon in order to see the Tsolk waterfall. The waters of the waterfall flow into Arpa River, which is one of the longest rivers in Armenia. 

Mineral Water Gallery - In the town of Jermuk one can also find the Mineral Water Gallery. Here you can taste the mineral waters coming out of the ground with different temperature. The mineral compositions of the waters are abundant and can be used in order to treat different diseases. Therefore, many sanatoria and spa resorts were built here in order to give patients the possibility to have a treatment with the mineral waters of Jermuk.

Noratus - Noratus is the only place in the world where you can find so many stone crosses standing together. The stone crosses serve as the grave stones of the cemetery of Noratus which has been in use for centuries. The stone crosses or the khachkars date from the 9th century up to the 17th century. Besides the stone crosses, one can also find cradle stones with interesting carvings depicting the profession of the person buried. 

Apaga and Lastiver resort - Both resorts are located in Tavush region amidst the mountains. Apaga resort stand on the slope of the mountain and give you a breathtaking view over the area. This resort offers several adventurous activities, such as hiking, horse riding and climbing. Walking down you will reach Lastiver, another attractive resort where you can stay in tents. In short, these resorts are the perfect spots for the real nature lovers and adventurers.





The photos used in the website owned by Vigen Hakhverdyan, Hayk Melkonyan, David Davtyan, Viken Seropian and Marko Ukkola.