Armenia

Armenia is a well of science and history. Spoilt by culture, it is also spoiled by nature with lakes, plains and mountains

 

What, who do you think of when the name Armenia is dropped? Genocide? Aznavour, Manoukian? What a pity! This country has deep roots,  thousands of years old churches and history. It is high time to give Armenia back the image it deserves and to discover its splendour.

Բարև, իմ անունը Քրիստինա է, ես ֆրանսիացի եմ, հաճելի է հանդիպել ձեզ: Hi Arménia!

Barev, im anuny K’ristina e, yes fransiats’i yem, hacheli e handipel dzez

Armenians were great travellers before they became refugees. They travelled the world and flourished on other continents

 

Armenia is not the only country to have suffered in history, it is (sadly) true. It would be wrong to think that Armenia’s fame is only due to the tragedy of genocide. Recognition of the massacres and knowledge of history were important, but Armenia was not a sad country full of corpses. Here people sing and dance, eat, drink good wine and celebrate.

So Armenia, apart from the great Charles (Aznavour of course!), doesn’t have any famous people?


Armenia is not a flat country. The geography atlas is very clear on this point, 76% of the country is between 1,000 and 2,500 meters


Armenia, it goes up and down, the landscapes are magnificent and the mountains majestic. Ararat’s little brother, Mount Aragatz, is 4095m high. Don’t miss the picture, it is as beautiful as the french Mont Blanc.

This land is a paradise for travellers wearing trekkingshoes and adventurers of all kinds with or without tents.

To visit Armenia is to have the chance to discover a country rich in nature and greenery

 

In Armenia there are trails dedicated to fauna and flora. These trails have been known to botanists, photographers and ornithologists for years. It is one of the most beautiful ways to discover Armenia because these bird and flower trails pass through very beautiful landscapes.
Lake Sevan stands out as one of the largest high-altitude lakes in the world. The lake, as pretty as it is, does not attract crowds eager for seaside tourism. The lake is located at almost 2000 m high, so, it’s can be pretty cold there. It is not exactly a destination for the regulars of the French Riviera, and that’s a good thing. The lake is known for its legendary beauty, surrounded by mountains and forests and for its calm.

The History of Armenia is written with a capital letter

 

Armenia was not born yesterday. It is the guardian of a thousand-year-old history. It was renowned for centuries for housing science and culture in its monasteries. Armenia is one of the oldest countries in the world. It also stands out for having been the first to recognize itself as a Christian in the year 301. To the delight of learned travelers, repeated wars and invasions have not destroyed the culture. It remains in the fabulous churches, temples, engraved stones and of course in the hearts of Armenians.

In Armenia, the churches are both modest and powerful, even agnostics will be touched by the beauty of the place

 

The country is not touristy and sometimes one wonders what is going wrong on in the minds of travellers. Perhaps it is due to its Christian reputation which induces the idea that there are only churches to see there? In any case, when it comes to churches, Armenia is there. Religious buildings are not of a pretentious and grandiloquent size. On the contrary. Maybe that’s why the intensity there is so high.

One of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard in a church is in Etchmiadzin, 20 km from Yerevan. The size of the church is not impressive, but the acoustics are absolutely perfect. You can sit on the bench outside and hear the music as if you were next to the choir. The voices are of uncomparable clarity and depth, a real moment of grace. You don’t have to be religious to experience the beauty of these moments, with the added bonus of a beautiful church.

The price of beauty is disputed between Geghard and Kor Virap. In addition to the beautiful architecture, the way to get there is a beautiful adventure through the countryside and the mountains.     

In Armenia, the past is also told. Maybe this is the right place to set the record straight…

 

You don’t have to go to Armenia to find out that a terrible genocide took place here. But between learning and understanding, there is sometimes a big gap. In Yerevan, you can go to Tsitsernakaberd where the memorial stands. It is possible to visit it alone or with a guide, and it is free. This is a very good thing because the story is much more complex than what is told in a history-geography book. After that, free to the traveller to make his own opinion since even today, this part of the history is still contested, sometimes by the greatest leaders of this world…

If the traveller has no interest in nature, mountains or culture, it doesn’t matter. In Armenia, there are plenty of Armenians to meet

 

Armenians welcome visitors with warmth. Tourist numbers are not the economic engine of the country, that’s for sure, and that’s also a good thing. This timid attendance is conducive to exchanges of a touching sincerity. Kindness and benevolence dominate. 

Armenians are not clowns: it takes a little time to create a warm contact

 

An oppressed people if ever there was one, Armenians are not accustomed to expressing joy or smiling at first sight. The difficult economic situation does not help: Armenians are divided into two categories: the very rich and the very poor. Many of them are struggling to get out of poverty.
Travellers, be sure that behind the closed faces there is sharing and interest. Sometimes a smile is enough to break the ice. Armenians who have a more or less direct relationship with tourism will put a lot of energy into making sure that everything goes well for their visitors. 

The best will be with those you meet along the way, often far from the city. A super old driver who walks super slow but drives an antique Lada like Alain Prost (who is also of Armenian origin), a family on a walk, foolish students, or crazy brass bands to follow in the streets of Yerevan on Armenia’s national day.

Շնորհակալ եմ, հրաժեշտ, շուտով կտեսնվենք:

Shnorhakal yem, hrazhesht, shutov ktesnvenk’

Armenie

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Next trip: what’s about visiting Georgia?

You have to know it, Georgia is the cradle of wine… they have more than 100 cheeses. This small country offers cultural visits and magnificent landscapes.