11 day regional tour to Armenia, Iran, Eastern Anatolia and Georgia
The regional tour starts early in the morning. We head to Goris, visiting Khor Virap (the place where Gregory the Illuminator was imprisoned for preaching Christianity, before curing King Trdat III of a disease. This caused the conversion of the king and Armenia into the first officially Christian nation in the world in the year 301), Noravank (once the residence of Syunik's bishops and, consequently. a major religious and, later, cultural center of Armenia), and Tatev Monastery(\(\(\( known as the bishopric seat of Syunik and played a significant role in the history of the region as a center of economic, political, spiritual and cultural activity) on a way. Overnight in Goris
After breakfast we head to Armenia-Iran border. After some 7 hours we are crossing the Nurduz border on Araks River. Passing by Jugha (it was a prosperous town between the 10th and 13th centuries, with a population that was almost entirely Armenian. For a time, Jugha was one of the most important settlements in medieval Armenia. During the 15th to the 17th centuries due to the role its Armenian merchants played in international trade: the caravans of those merchants travelled the ancient trade routes from Persia, the overall Middle East, South-East Asia, India, to Russia, theMediterranean, and North-West Europe), we visit St. Stepanos church built by St. Bartholomew one of the two apostles bringing Christianity to Armenia in the 1st century. The final destination for the day is Maku.
We start the day with another miracle of the Armenian sacred architecture Thaddeus Monastery. We might explore the Plain of Avarayr, where, there was a critical battle on May 26, 451 AD between the Armenian Army and Sassanid Persia, which affirmed Armenia's right to practice Christianity freely. Every summer thousands of pilgrimages spend a few days in this Monastery. We head to Tabriz for Overnight.
After breakfast we exploere Tabriz. (Thanks mainly to Kleiss’s surveys, we now know that Azerbaijan, in particular the western region, was densely populated by Urartians—something that would not have been believed twenty years ago). Now Tabris is the center of the Western Azerbaijan and the fourth largest city in Iran. Here we see St. Mariam church about which Marco Polo mentioned, then St. Sargischurch, the primacy of Armenian Church in Tabriz. We also visit the citadel of Tabriz (the symbol of city), Tabriz Bazaar, Kaboud mosque (15th century), El Goli Park, Tabriz museum. Overnight in Tabriz.
In the morning we explore Kandovan village exemplifying manmade cliff dwellings which are still inhabited after which we head to Lake Urmia - In medieval times it came to be known as Lake Kabuda from the word 'կապույտ' ("Kapuyt/Gabuyd") in Armenian. (It was the largest lake in the Middle East and the sixth largest saltwater lake on earth with a surface area of approximately 5,200 km², along with its once approximately 102 islands are protected as a national park by the Iranian Department of Environment) Overnight in Urmia.
After breakfast we head to Bazargan, Iranian –Turkish border. Si in some 7 hours we cross the border and arrive in Bayazet. The fortress of Bayazet is a must hike destination. The next stop is the slopes of Mount Ararat, driving until the 2500m and having a picnic on the slope of the sacred Mount will recharge you with the powerful energy to overtake the density of the tour. The next destination is the picturesque waterfall of Berkri on the way to the first capital of Armenia, Van. We arrive in Van in the evening check-in at the hotel, enjoy the variety of food for supper at the hotel restaurant.
Time to explore the Ancient Armenian History: Van Castle, where the mausoleums of Menua, Argishti and Rusa are situated, Mher’s Door, where, according to saga, Mher with his fiery horse must remain, until there are justice, honesty and peace in the world.,Varagavank (built in the end of 10th century), the most remarkable sacred construction in Vaspurakan, Akhtamar Island 10th century Armenian Church of the Holy Cross on the Island Akhtamar (a silent witness of the Artsruni family’s wealth and fame. It was built by architect Manvel from 915 to 921). Dinner is planned in “Akhtamar” restaurant on the shore of Lake Van. It is the only place where famous Van tarekh is served. Later in the program is rest, swim and leisure. Overnight at the same hotel.
After breakfast we head to Taron – Mush (about 220km). In Mush there are some must see sites St. Marine church and the Armenian cemetery, where Gevorg Chaush an Armenian Fedayeen in the Ottoman Empire is buried. We have dinner at the restaurant in the park of Mush and start off to Sulukh Bridge on the River Aratsani, and then to Erzrum. Here we explore Erzurum Castle, Armenian Church, Sanasaryan College. Have supper at the restaurant. The swimming pool in the hotel is at your service.
We start off to capital city Ani. On the way we stop at Tortum Waterfall and St. Gregory church. We arrive in Ani. A ruined medieval Armenian city, since 961 king Ashot III (953–77) had transferred the capital from Kars to Ani attained the peak of its power during the long reign of King Gagik I (989–1020). A small town remained within its walls at least until the middle of the seventeenth century, but the site was entirely abandoned by the middle of the eighteenth.
We leave for Kars. In 928 Kars was the 10th capital of Armenia. Climbing up to the fortress for a better panorama of the city is optional. This is going to be the farewell evening Western Armenia/Eastern Anatolia.
After breakfast we cross the Turkish Georgian border for Akhaltsikhe, where we see Armenian Church and Akhaltsikhe fortress. On the way we stop at Mtskheta. It is one of the oldest cities in Georgia. It was the capital of the Georgian Kingdom of Iberia during the 3rd century BC - 5th century AD. Here Georgians adopted Christianity in 317 and Mtskheta still remains the headquarters of the Georgian Orthodox and Apostolic Church. Borjomi. It is famous for its mineral water. The next stopover is in Borjomi mineral springs discovered more than thousand years ago. We arrive in Tbilisi and check-in at the hotel.
After breakfast we explore Tbilisi, Rustaveli Avenue, Havlabar, St. George church, visit the Pantheon, pay tribute to great Armenian literary and cultural figures (Raffi, Tumanyan, G. Sundukyan, K; Aghayan, Nar-Dos). Than we drive to the Georgian-Armenian border. On a way to Yerevan we visit Sevanavank . Late evening arrive to Yerevan.