Hi everyone, I’m from Armenia – a small but very beautiful country in South Caucasus.
Ok, now this should be more than just some advice on what to do when coming to Armenia. I have to give you as much information as possible. So I just divided my Kit into categories to make it easier to read and find information needed. If you have any questions feel free to ask. To know more about Armenia, read my blog, it is updated every week. Basic Information
Full name: The Republic of Armenia
How we call our country: Hayastan
Territory: 30000 sq.km
Population: 3,5 million
Religion: Christian – Armenian Apostolic Church (Armenia was the first in the world to adopt Christianity as a state religion, 301A.D.)
Official Language: Armenian
Languages spoken: Russian, English, in some places French as well
Currency: Armenian DramWhere to stay?
Surely the capital – Yerevan. One of the advantages of Armenia is that Yerevan is situated in reachable distances from all the places in Armenia. So you can take an excursion or a tour for one day, and manage to go there, see the place and in the evening come back to Yerevan to enjoy the nightlife.Hotels or B&B?
I would recommend you hotels, they are more comfortable.Where to book?
To book the hotels I suggest using this website: http://www.visavistour.com
– it's the easiest and the cheapest way to find accommodation. And not only – they do fantastic tours throughout the country and Yerevan both for groups and individuals.Where to exchange money?
I wouldn't suggest changing a big sum in the Airport. While walking in the city, you'll notice a lot of exchange points with better exchange rate.About Armenia
Armenia is one of the most ancient countries
in the world. The capital
itself – Yerevan
– is founded in 782b.c. by king Argishti the Second. Every September – October we celebrate the birthday of our city – at the moment it is 2790 years old.
However it’s impossible to say it looks ancient. New modern buildings, business centers, offices, cafes, restaurants and at the same time – tiny beautiful streets with full of trees, parks, small houses, churches built in the medieval times – all this together makes a wonderful colour, a union of old and new.
Armenia has a lot of descriptions and “nicknames”.
Some people call it a “Holy Land”
as the saint mountain Ararat where Noah's ark landed, is situated here, and as Bible says Noah and his family settled here, on Armenian land.
Armenia is considered as one of the world's centers of Christian World
. Especially mother cathedral Edjmiadzin – the residence of Surb Katoghikos - the head of Armenian Apostolic Church.
There are some churches in this town, a gimnasium, and a museum. In this museum there are a lot of interesting thing to view, but the most thrilling one is the spear with which Jesus Christ was killed on the Cross so that he won't suffer long. It is a holy destination for all the Christian people around the world. As mentioned, Armenia was the first country in the world to adopt Christianity as a state religion. There is a wonderful legend connected with it, about which I'll write in my blog further.
Armenia is also called a “museum under the sky”
– on its territory there are more then 4000 architectural monuments – among them a pagan temple saved from old times, thousands of Christian churches, city fortress, old castles and much more. You can also find hundreds of thousands crosstones, which are also great manifestation of Armenian art and culture. Besides, it has one of the world’s biggest collections of ancient manuscripts dating from the 5th century – all of them are kept in an institute of Matenadaran, where an exhibition with the most precious exhibits is always open for tourists. To completely feel the history of Armenia, you can go to the Armenian History Museum, located in the heart of Yerevan city – the Republic Square. Art
Art is the inalienable part of Armenian lifestyle.
If you are interested in painting and sculpture
, you are welcome to our National Gallery, which has a rich collection of famous painters, and also to our great painters' and sculptors' house-museums. Among them the most interestings are Saryan's, Parajanov's, Qochar's, Isahakyan's and Tumanyan's house-museums. There are also a lot of galleries and exhibitions in Yerevan.
Armenia is also famous for it's handmade carpets
If you'd like to purchase some interesting paintings or handmade carpets
, I suggest you to have a walk through our painting and souvenir market called Vernisaj, or to connect one of the tourism agencies who provides such service, which is much safer if you are willing to buy a real good-quality product. I know higher mentioned Vis-a-vis tour travel agency (www.visavistour.com
) is providing such service.
In sphere of music
I should say that the best to do here is to go to music clubs and to visit open-air concerts. There are a lot of music clubs
here, different kinds of music – rock, alternative, jazz, classic... The best are however the jazz clubs, as Armenian jazz school is very good. The most famous, although a little bit expensive is Malkhaz's Jazz Club. It is a place where you can here pure jazz music on the highest level. The other popular music clubs are Poplavok, Avant-Guard Folk Music Club, which are also very good with lower prices.
: here pass several international film festivals. The most known is The Golden Appricot, which is hold every summer. Films are displayed from all over the world – Canada, USA, France, Italy, Spain, Russia, Turkey, Romania, Japan and of course Armenia. Here the website of this festival: www.gaiff.am
During the year «days of ... films» are orgonized. Like there are «Week of English films», «Days of German cinema» etc.
The other description for Armenia is «the artists' inspiration»
. This is because of: a) the historical «breath» of Armenia;
the wonderful nature different but in all its ways gorgeous during all the seasons; and c) for its national colour and people. Sports
Armenia has a well-known ski resort
. So if you like to ski or practice other winter sports, you’re welcome here. The town named Tsakhkadzor is a famous ski-resort in this region. You go up to the mountains (2500 meters above sea level) on a ropeway. There are 5 stations of the ropeway to the way up to the mountains.
You can also practice skating
in Yerevan. In winter you can enjoy the open-air skating-rink, while the rink in the closed building of Hamalir works all year round!Relaxing at Lake Sevan.
One of the places of interests in Armenia is Lake Sevan. It is a popular and loved destination in summer. Here you can have a swim, enjoying the hot summer day in a good company and with a gorgeous view at the water surrounded by mountains at with a medieval church by your side. You can also practice some water sports, like driving a canoe.
Ah yes, about the weather, seasons, nature and holidays.
An interesting point is also the weather here. Every season is different. We have a very hot summer, a cool spring, a wonderfully warm autumn, and a very cold winter.Summer
– it is usually very hot in summer, so during the day you can go to the Waterworld or to Lake Sevan to have a swim, and in the evening get out to downtown and enjoy cafés, restaurants, bars, diskos, karaokes, open-air concerts, long promenades and just have fun. And by all means enjoy the fruits and vegetables of summer!!! Especially our apricots, peaches, apples, figs and different berries: strawberry, blackberry, raspberries, currants (red and white), bilberries and the famous “tut» also in two colors – white and black.
There are a few holdays in summer – International Children's Day (1 June), Vardevor (everybody's pouring water at each other). La Fête de la Musique is a new holiday it is celebrated already the 3rd year! It's very fun, this is a day for free concerts. All the country is full with melody that day. Especially it is good to be in Yerevan – you are walking through the town and as you pass different parts of it you listen to totally different music – in one place they perform rock, in other – jazz, in the third – classic, the 4th – Armenian, 5th – French Chanson... and so on!Winter
– as I said Tsakhkadzor is a famous ski resort, so the best thing to do in winter is to stay a week there and practice skiing, snowboarding and other winter sports. There are also competitions held every year. Also try skating in an open rink near Opera house.
By all means try eating Khash – our national soup. There is a special way to eat it, so it'd e better if you have someone next to you who knows how to eat it)))
Among holdays – New Year (December 31-January 1) and Christmas (January 6th), Old New Year(January 12-13) (I know it sounds strange). So actually we are celebrating New Year and Christmas until about 20th of January. Then we celebrate Armenia's Army day (28th January). After which comes Surb Sarkis (February 14th) which is Armenian variant for St. Valentine. Then comes Trndez (February 13th), includes jumping through the fire (don't be afraid it's fun). Spring
– Spring in Armenia is time for flowers, green, blossom, happiness, joy, kindness and holidays! There are plenty of holidays in Spring – Tsakhkazard (Sunday before Easter), (means “decorated with flowers”), Easter, Women’s Day (8 March), The Day of Beauty and Mothers’ Day (7 April), Workers’ Day(1 May), Victory Day (9 May), First Republic Day (28 May), May’s Victories’ Day, Last Bell (children graduate from high-school).
However, in this happy period we have an awful date, on which we remember those indescribable.. I don't know how to call it.. well, actions made by the Ottoman Empire leaders and their army in 1915 we all wished they hadn't made... This is the saddest day during all the year in Armenia, 24th of April. Everybody remembers their family, their family history, how they lost people, how somebody survived and ran away, how they didn't meet their family and died in despair, how they realized they have a family somewhere far and even didn't know about it for dozens of years... This day every Armenian goes to a place called «Tsitsernakaberd» to pay tribute to all the victims of the Great Genocide.Autumn
– Autumn is a very beautiful part of the year. Especially September and October. It is called «Golden Autumn» (in Armenian «Voske Ashun» if you wish) =) In this time of the year the nature is wonderful. The trees change into warm colours – yellow, red, brown, some of them remain green. So you feel like you're in a fairy tale. When you leave Yerevan for the country, and pass by wide valleys and see those beautiful colors – at that very moment you understand why it is called Golden Autumn. Parallel with this the weather is amazingly warm!
Among the holidays – School Day (1 September children go to school after summer holidays), Teachers' Day, Yerevan-Erebuni (Yerevan's birthday) and the most important one - Independence Day (September 21)!Final tips for staying here and getting around:Best means of transport?
If you want my advice – on foot. It is not a long distance from one point to another, besides while walking you may notice something magnificent, who knows?
If you don't, then a comfortable way of transport is taxi – you can catch one from the street. It is not expensive at all, a drive in the centre from point A to B will cost you just 600 drams, if not less. It is something about 1,5$.Where to eat?
In any cafe or restaurant you like! All of them have very delicious cuisine, and everything is very tasty, no matter you choose Armenian cuisine, Italian, Chinese or whatever! Bon appétit!Should I leave tips to the waiters?
Sometimes it is included in the bill, but mostly, people leave them 300-500 drams.Where to shop?
For clothing you should just have a walk through Abovyan Street, best shops are located here.What should I try?
Our special bread – «lavash»
Khash – (it is eaten only and only in winter)
Fruits and Vegetables
Barbeque – called «Xorovats»
Kebabs – especially Crab Kebab, you can find it in any restaurant near Lake Sevan
Fish dishes – again Lake Sevan
Dolma – meet in grape leaves
Also try our ice-creams - they're tasty too))Some expressions:
Hello – Barev dzez!
How are you? – Vonts eq?
Well – Lav
Bad – Vat
Thank you – Shnorakalutyun but they often say «Merci»
You're welcome – Khndrem
Can you help me? – Karogh ek indz ognel?
Where is...? – Vortegh e...?
Opera house – Opera (just the same) =)
Cinema – Kinotatron
Museum – Tangaran
Street – Poghoc
Avenue – Poghota
Good bye! – Tstesutyun!
Good night! – Bari gisher!