The Southern Caucasus: A Journey Through Azerbaijan, Nakhichevan, Georgia, Armenia & Nagorno-Karabakh 2018
|Tour Dates||30 Jun 2018 - 29 Jul 2018 (30 days)|
|Tour Price (Per Person)||Price to be announced|
|Spaces Available||Spaces available|
An all-encompassing and highly original tour through the Southern Caucasus, visiting in depth Azerbaijan, Nakhichevan, Georgia, Armenia & Nagorno-Karabakh and exploring all eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites throughout this magnetic region know for its ancient cultures, historical sites and stunning mountain landscapes. We will leave virtually no stone unturned and see nearly everything over four weeks.
- Full services of an Out of Bounds Tours leader with bi-lingual local guides and drivers.
- All meals from arrival until departure.
- Drinking water provided.
- All transport within the itinerary, including round-trip flights to/from Nakhichevan.
- All accommodations.
- All entrance fees, sightseeing, excursions and activities as per the itinerary.
|Tour Fact Sheet|
|Max Group Size||12 with 1 Out of Bounds leader and local guides and drivers|
Day 1: Baku, Azerbaijan
Arrive in Baku and be met at the airport and transferred to the hotel. Depending on the time of arrival, there may be a chance to explore the busy city of Baku. Overnight in Baku.
Day 2: Baku
After breakfast, we will start our tour of Baku, which is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site for its historical core. We will first visit Martyrs’ Lane, also known as “Shehidler Khiyabany”, dedicated to those killed by the Soviet Army during Black January and later to those killed in Nagorno-Karabakh War, from where we will have a great panoramic view of Baku.
Next, we will stroll around ‘new’ Baku exploring the architecture of XIX- XX centuries: Nizami Street, Fountain Square, Monument to Nizami Ganjavi, and Rasulzade Street. Later we will pay a visit to the The National Museum of Azerbaijan History, the Italian Renaissance-style building is immense and takes up an entire city block and is the largest museum in the country.
Then we will head to the old part of the city – Icheri Sheher – where we will visit Maiden Tower, which was built in the 12th century as part of the walled city, and the Palace of the Shirvanshahs that contains the main building of the palace, Divanhane, the burial-vaults, the shah’s mosque with a minaret, Seyid Yahya Bakuvi’s mausoleum, a portal in the east, Murad’s gate, a reservoir and the remnants of a bath house — both the Maidan Tower and the Palace of the Shirvanshahs form a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Later we will stop by the lively market square with numerous art studios and souvenirs stalls and will end our sightseeing for the day with a stop at the Azerbaijan Carpet Museum, which has the largest collection of Azerbaijani carpets in the world and displays carpets and rug items of various weaving techniques and materials.. Overnight in Baku.
Day 3: Baku, Gobustan & Surakhany
Today we will visit the area of the Greater Baku and Absheron Peninsula. First, we will head to Gobustan National Park, part of the Gobustan Rock Art Cultural Landscape (UNESCO), and visit the Petroglyphs Museum and explore petroglyphs dating back to 10,000 BC.
From there it is off to mud volcanoes in the Gobustan Reserve, home to almost half of world’s mud volcanoes. Later we will drive to Ateshgah (temple of fire worshippers), located in Surakhany village. Zoroastrians from India traveled thousands of kilometers to Ateshgah to worship the fire coming out of the earth. Finally, we will make our way to Yanardag Mountain, which has had natural gas burning for several thousand years. Overnight in Baku.
Day 4: Baku, Khinalug & Quba
After an early breakfast, we will depart northwest of Baku, driving through Red Village (Krasnaya Sloboda), the biggest settlement of Mountain Jews in Azerbaijan, to visit one of most ancient settlements in the country – Khinalug (210 km, 3-4 hours driving). The road to this settlement heads through the picturesque mountain pass at an altitude of 2,000 meters and we will enjoy breathtaking views of the landscape. The people of this community have been continuously living in Khinalug for more than 5,000 years.
Later we will make our scenic drive back to Baku via a stop in Quba to visit Sakina-Khanum Mosque, a medieval bath Hammam, and carpet workshop. Overnight in Baku.
Day 5: Nakhchivan (Flight)
We will transfer to the Baku airport for a morning flight to Nakhchivan. On arrival, we will be met by our local guides and transferred to our hotel to drop luggage before starting exploring the autonomous republic. Throughout the day, we will be visiting the Prophet Noah’s Tomb, Momina Khatun Monument, Khan’s House, Gadim Gala (Old Fortress), Yusif Ibn Kuseyir Tomb, Alinja Fortress. Overnight in Nakhchivan.
Day 6: Nakhchivan
This morning we continue our Nakhchivan tour with a visit to Garabaghlar village to see XII century mausoleum of Garabaglar, located in Garabaglar village. In the village, there are ruins of small mausoleums scattered over ancient sepulchral fields and the fortifications with towers. Once there were 10,000 houses, 70 mosques and tombs, 40 of them with minarets.
Continue to Duzdag Salt Mines Hospital – one of the unique health resorts in the world, which is used for natural medical treatment of asthma and bronchitis. Return to Nakhchivan and visit Ashabu–Kahf Caves, the History Museum, and Carpets Museum. Overnight in Nakhchivan.
Day 7: Baku (Flight)
After breakfast at our hotel, we will be transferred to the local airport for our short afternoon return flight to Baku. On arrival, we will check into our hotel and will have the evening at leisure. We can spend our last evening in the capital of Azerbaijan by relaxing and sipping tea from tulip-shaped glasses in traditional tea houses. Overnight in Baku.
Day 8: Sheki via Maraza, Shamakha & Lahic
In the morning, we will depart Baku and drive to Sheki. On the way, we will stop and visit the Diri Baba Mausoleum in Maraza village before continuing to Shamakha to see the historic Juma Mosque, Yeddi Gumbez Mausoleum, and the Shirvan Shah’s family graveyard.
Next, it is over to the Girdimanchay River Canyon to visit Lahic, a 5th-century place rich in its historic and architectural values. Lahic is most famous for its magnificent ancient mosques and bathhouses. Overnight in Sheki.
Day 9: Telavi via Sheki, Kvareli & Gremi
We will venture out today to explore around Sheki and visit the medieval fortress, the Palace of Sheki Khans, a local History Museum, a handicrafts workshop, mosque-madrassah, and local bazaar. We then head towards border with Georgia (115 km, 2 hrs). After border formalities, we will meet our Georgian guides and start exploring the eastern part of Georgia, famous for its viticulture and winemaking traditions.
We will pass through the beautiful landscapes of vineyards and wine-producing villages. First stop will be at unique wine cellar, Khareba, located in the tunnel carved out of rock. Originally built for military purposes, today the tunnel is used to store Kakheti’s finest wines. We will tour the facility and sample its tasty wine. Next, we will head on to Gremi architectural complex, a 16th-century royal residence and the capital of Kakheti Kingdom. Finally, we will then reach Telavi, the administrative center of Kakheti region, where we can enjoy a short drive around the town. Overnight in Telavi.
Day 10: Sighnaghi via Napareuli & Tsinandali
After breakfast, we will continue exploring the Kakheti region and Alazani Valley. Our first stop after leaving Telavi is a private winery “Twins Wine Cellar” in Napareuli village. The premises of the winery include a vast vineyard, museum of traditional Georgian winemaking in qvevri, and facilities for various workshops. We can try for ourselves baking Georgian bread puri, and cooking the national dessert, churchkhela. Later we can taste five different wines produced at Twins Winery.
Continuing, we will make a stop in Tsinandali, the residence of Dukes of Georgia, with its beautiful English garden, museum, and the wine cellar that belonged to Prince Chavchavadze, a 19th-century public figure and poet.
Later we will drive to the beautifully-situated town of Sighnaghi, making a visit en-route at the Bodbe Convent, which according to legend is a burial place of St. Nino, who converted Georgia to Christianity in the 4th-century. Continue to Sighnaghi, the city of love and the Royal Town, one of the crossroads of the Great Silk Road surrounded by defensive walls with 23 towers. Overnight in Sighnaghi.
Day 11: Tbilisi via David Gareji
In the morning, we head towards Tbilisi, where on the way we will visit some local markets and see the semi-desert of Gareja. We then arrive in David Gareja and will explore the Lavra Cave Monastery, founded in the 6th-century. The Lavra Monastery is an inhabited complex of caves with a courtyard, church and other buildings. Continue walking up to Udabno (takes around 1.5-2 hrs) where we can have some rest and enjoy the view to Azerbaijan from the Georgian side.
Udabno is famous for its wall paintings dating from the end of the 12th century. Thousand-year-old frescoes at Udabno depict such scenes from the Bible like “The Last Supper” and “The Exaltation of the Cross”. After some rest, we will walk down another scenic path and then drive to Tbilisi, where we will have the rest of the late afternoon at leisure to stroll this magnetic town. Overnight in Tbilisi.
** David Gareji is a 2-3 km long quite intensive hike (lasting 1.5 to 2hrs). This can be opted out of and we can arrange something different for those not up to it. **
Day 12: Tbilisi
Today we will explore the fascinating and vibrant city of Tbilisi. We will start with a visit to the Holy Trinity Cathedral, one of the largest Orthodox cathedrals in the world, before continuing to the Metekhi church and monument to Vakhtang Gorgasali, the legendary founder of Tbilisi. Next, we will take the cable car to Narikala Fortress to enjoy the breathtaking panoramic views of the city, and then walk down to the district of Sulphur to see the bath houses, passing by the only mosque in Tbilisi. Stroll through the Sharden area full of narrow streets with cosy cafés, wine tasting bars, souvenir shops, and stunning architecture of the past.
Later we will visit the Sioni Cathedral, Anchiskhati Basilica, and the clock tower of the famous Rezo Gabriadze Theatre. Then we will cross the Bridge of Peace to Rike Park and head to the Open Air Museum of Ethnography, a miniature model of Georgia. In the evening, we visit a local restaurant to taste dishes of traditional Georgian cuisine and enjoy folklore show. Overnight in Tbilisi.
Day 13: Kazbegi via Mtskheta & Jvari
After breakfast, we will drive to Mtskheta, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the oldest towns in the country and the cultural and religious center of Georgia. Mtskheta was the capital of the Eastern Georgian Kingdom of Iberia from the third century BC. Visit Jvari Church, a true architectural masterpiece of the early Medieval period overlooking the confluence of Aragvi and Mtkvari Rivers from the top of the hill, and Svetitskhoveli, the main cathedral of Mtskheta and a sacred place where the robe of Christ is being kept.
Continue driving on Georgian Military Highway passing through the highest point of it at 2379 meters above sea level. En-route, we will make a stop to see the mineral water springs flowing down from a hilltop.
Arrive at Kazbegi, a small town with the views of Mt. Kazbek (or Mkinvari), which at 5033 meters is the seventh highest peak in the Caucasus Mountains. From here we will visit Gergeti Holy Trinity Church, located at an altitude of 2170 meters, and enjoy stunning views to Mt Kazbegi. Overnight in Kazbegi.
Day 14: Kutasi via Ananuri & Gori
This morning we will drive to Kutaisi, where en route we will stop at the Ananuri complex, a former residence of Argveti Dukes. The impressive complex features churches and towers dating back to the XVI-XVII cc and is located overlooking the Jinvali Reservoir. Lunch and a wine tasting will be at a local family winery.
Next, we will continue to Gori where we will pay a visit to the Stalin Museum. The museum includes more than 60,000 artifacts, the tiny house where Stalin was born, and impressive bulletproof train Stalin used to travel to Yalta and Potsdam. Finally, we will reach the city of Kutaisi and overnight.
Day 15: Svaneti Region & Mestia
We venture out today to explore the Svaneti Region. First, we will drive up to the Enguri Gorge where the first inhabitants, mainly gold prospectors, settled in ancient times. It was here that most of Colchis gold were obtained. For centuries the Svan ethnic group evolved there, cut off from the outside world by the high and inaccessible mountains, and their culture has since preserved almost intact. In earlier centuries, Svaneti was a recognized part of the Kingdom of Colchis.
We will then take a tour of Mestia, including visits to the National Museum, Svan original house “machubi” and tower “koshki”. Dinner and overnight in Mestia.
Day 16: Mestia & Ushguli
An early breakfast at the hotel before out morning drive to the village of Ushguli, part of the Upper Svaneti UNESCO World Heritage Site, with its Middle Age fortification, surrounded by the 5,000-meter giants of the Caucasus Mountain Range. We will explore Ushguli, walking along its twisty streets and feel the breath of the past, secret rituals, legends and myths. Later we will visit the 12th-century La Maria Church complex, which is on a rise at the edge of the settlement and provides one of the best views of Mt. Shkhara. In the evening return to Mestia. Overnight in Mestia.
Day 17: Kutaisi via Zugdidi
Today we will drive across the beautiful northwest and central Georgian countryside on our way back to Kutaisi, stopping en route to stroll the quaint town of Zugdidi and visit the fabulous Dadiani Palaces History and Architectural Museum, considered to be one of the most eminent palaces in Caucasus. We will then arrive in Kutaisi for dinner and will have the evening free to stroll this ancient and bustling city. Overnight in Kutaisi.
Day 18: Kutaisi, Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park & Akhaltsikhe
This morning we will finish our visit of Kutaisi, the capital of the Kingdom of Colchis. According to legend, Kutaisi was the final destination of the Jason and Argonauts in their journey to Colchis and the residence of King Aeëtes. Today, Kutaisi is the second biggest city in Georgia and administrative center of Imereti province. Our exploration of the city starts by visiting Bagrati Cathedral (XI c.), a UNESCO World Heritage Site located on Ukimerion Hill.
Our next stop will be at XII c. Gelati Academy, built by King David the Builder. For a long time, the academy has been one of the main cultural and intellectual centers in Georgia. Depart Kutaisi and drive to Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park, which provides 11 hiking trails, with some of them allowing us to experience the real mountain forest in just a couple of hours. Finally, we will drive to Akhaltsikhe and overnight.
Day 19: Akhaltsikhe & Vardzia
In the morning, we will visit the old stone Rabati Fortress, the main attraction of the Akhaltsikhe and located on the small hill on the shores of the Potskhovi River. Its name comes from Arabic meaning “fortified place”. Next, we will make a short stop at the beautifully-situated Khertvisi Fortress, one of the oldest fortresses in Georgia and was functional throughout the Georgian feudal period and was first build in the 2nd century BC.
We then arrive at the stunning cave monastery of Vardzia, which were erected in the 12-13 centuries during the rule of George III and his daughter of Tamara for the purpose of the southern boundaries of Georgia protection. Vardzia is not just a set of random rooms cut in rocks. It is a multi-storied complex with streets, tunnels and stairs leading to monasteries, temples, fortresses, baths, libraries, and dwelling houses. Overnight in Vardzia.
Day 20: Dzoraget via Paravani Lake & Sadakhlo/Bagratashen
Today we will depart the fantastic country of Georgia and head for the Armenian border, driving through the magnificent scenery around a beautiful mountain road along the volcanic lake, Paravani (2,073 meters). We will arrive at Sadakhlo-Bagratashen border point in the early afternoon and continue into Armenia to Dzoraget. On arrival, we will enjoy a delicious Armenian meal and have the evening at leisure. Overnight in Dzoraget.
Day 21: Sevan via Haghpat, Sanaghin, Dilijan & Sevanavank
After breakfast, we will head into the Lori region, visiting the Haghpat and Sanahin architectural monuments (10th-13th centuries), truly considered to be the jewels of medieval Armenian architecture preserved by UNESCO and included in the World Heritage list. Both were founded by Queen Khosrovanush around 976.
After that informative visit, we will drive to Dilijan and we visit the Haghartsin Monastery (11th c.), one of the most beautiful monuments of medieval architecture. There is an ancient nut tree nearby (said to be 1000 years old), shading fine viewpoint of various remains of graves with typical Armenian ornaments, including “royal” graves of the Bagratuni family. There is a belief that one can have his dreams come true by passing through a huge hole right in the famous tree. In Dilijan, we will also visit the Old Dilijan Complex. Old Dilijan’s Esayan Museum recreates a typical 19th century Dilijan home, from household textiles to handcrafted musical instruments common to the region. While there, we will have the opportunity to visit a pottery and master classes.
After lunch, we will continue to Lake Sevan (1900m above sea level), that enters recorded history with the Urartians, and visit Sevanavank Monastery. According to an inscription in one of the churches, the monastery of Sevanavank was founded in 874 by Princess Mariam, the daughter of Ashot I. Overnight in Sevan.
Day 22: Jermuk via Noratus, Selim Pass & Yeghegis
We will start our day visiting Noratus, a historical village in the Gegharkunik province of Armenia, near the town of Gavar. It is famous for the Noradus Cemetery, 90 km north of Yerevan. Noradus is one of the most famous assemblages of cross-stone (khachkars) in Armenia. We will spend time admiring this unusual resting place.
Next we will continue to Selim Caravansarai, which lies below the road just before the summit on the south side of Selim Pass, and splendid relic of the days when an international trade route connected Vayots Dzor to the Sevan basin and points of the north. It is the best-preserved caravansarai in Armenia. Selim is built of basalt blocks, with a cavernous central hall for animals separated from the two vaulted side aisles by rows of stone mangers. Pressing on, will drive towards the village of Yeghegis and visit an ancient Jewish Cemetery from the 13th century. Later, on arrival in Jermuk, we will have a short tour around the town, which is named after the hot springs (up to 65 C), and a source of the famous fizzy water. There is a picturesque waterfall, interesting walks and the possibility of a cure of most human ailments at one of the many sanatoriums. Overnight in Jermuk.
Day 23: Goris via Karahunj, Tatev & Khndzoresk
After checking out from our hotel, we will head to Goris, visiting on the way Karahunj Ancient Observatory, which is considered to be more than 7500 years old; more ancient than its British analogy, Stonehenge. Next we will visit Tatev Monastery by the world’s longest non-stop reversible aerial ropeway named “Wings of Tatev”. The Tatev Monastery is a medieval architectural monument, having a University located on its territory. Tatev was considered to be the political and religious center of Syunik. It was founded in the 9th century, in place of a tabernacle well-known in ancient times. The strategically advantageous location on a cape formed by a deep river gorge with precipitous rocky slopes favored the construction of a mighty defense complex there.
Next, we will stop and see the Khndzoresk village. A historic cave village located on the steep slope of a gorge, it is comprised of both natural and man-made caves. People populated the area until the mid-20th century. Later on arrival into Goris and after dinner, we can try an Oghi, an Armenian spirit distilled from fruits or berries. Oghi is the generic Armenian word for vodka of all kinds. It is widely produced as moonshine from home-grown garden fruits all across Armenia, where it is served as a popular welcome drink to guests and is routinely drunk during meals. You can taste oghi from mulberry, cornelian cherry, apricots, plums, peach, etc. Overnight in Goris.
Day 24: Stepanakert (Nagorno-Karabakh) via Hadrut
Today we head to Nagorno-Karabakh, stopping first at Hadrut, the south-eastern part of the Karabakh. The most famous places of interest in Hadrut are: Gtchavank (13c.), the Palace of Dizak meliks – princes of Yeganyans (18-19cc.), the monastery of Okhty Drni. Gtchavank Monastery is one of the medieval political and spiritual centers of Artsakh. Known since the early Middle Ages, the monastery was destroyed during the period of the Arabian domination in 7c and was rebuilt in 13c by two brothers – bishops Ter-Sargis and Ter-Vrdanes. The Palace of Dizak Yeganyan is a two-storied palace with an interesting architectural complex that consists of living space, utility room and waiting room of melik Yegan. The palace-ensemble had been created gradually during the 20-30-s of 18c. The monastery of Okhty Drni (Seven doors) is situated not far from Gtchavank near the village of Mokhrenes on the picturesque slope of the mountain. According to legend, the monastery was built by the sister of seven brothers fallen in the fight with conquerors. The tradition is to light seven candles in the monastery in the memory of the seven dead brothers has continued to this day. The church is impressive not only because it’s one of the ancient places for public worship in Artsakh, but also because the main church is considered to be the only monument of that type on the territory of RMK. On the territory of the monastery there have remained khachkars (cross-stones), the most ancient of which dates back to the 10-12 cc. We will then head into the capital of Stepanakert for dinner and overnight.
Day 25: Stepanakert, Gandazasar, Askeran & Tigranakert
We will start our day visiting Gandzasar Monastery, perhaps the most famous architectural monument of Artsakh and the entire historical eastern side of Armenia. It is located near the village of Vank in the Mardakert district. The word “Gandzasar” is translated from Armenian as “Treasure-Mountain”. Before lunch, we can take part in a master class learning local pottery techniques.
Next, we will visit the Askeran Fortress, located in the town of Askeran on the banks of the Qarqar River. From here we will drive to Tigranakert, located in the province of Martakert. Tigranakert is a ruined Armenian city dating back to the Hellenistic period. It is one of several former cities in the Armenian plateau with the same name, named in honor of the Armenian king, Tigranes the Great (r. 95–55 B.C.). During dinner, we will have a master class in making traditional Zhengyalov Hats (Bread). Bread with “Zhengyal” is a flat bread with up to 30 types of wild herbs inside it. “Zhengyal” is a dialectic word translated as wild herbs. This traditional bread is baked with different types and quantities of herbs depending on the province where it is baked. However, the most unique source of the herbal ingredients is considered to be the forests of Artsakh. The main herbal ingredients used for are green onion, nettle, spinach, parsley, coriander, leaves of beetroot, etc. Overnight in Stepanakert.
Day 26: Yerevan via Shoushi, Noravanq, Areni & Khor Virap
We will spend the morning exploring more of Nagorno-Karabagh with a visit to Shoushi, the second biggest town in Karabakh. Here we will visit the Ghazanchetsots Cathedral, a massive structure with a frontage of white stone that dominates its surroundings. It’s also known as the Cathedral of Christ the Savior.
Continuing on, we will visit the famous 13th-century Complex of Noravank, situated on a ledge of a deep, winding gorge of a tributary of the Arpa River, near the village of Amaghu. Noravank ensemble stands amidst the bizarre-shaped precipitous red cliffs. Built in place of an ancient cloister, it grew in the reign of Princes Orbelian of Syunik. In the 13th-14th centuries, it became a residence of Syunik’s bishops and, consequently, a major religious and later cultural center of Armenia, closely connected with many of the local seats of learning, primarily with Gladzor’s famed university and library.
After lunch, we will then visit the ancient village of Areni and have a wine tasting. Starting from the 5th-century, Areni has been mentioned in historical sources by the name of Arpanial and in every record, a reference is made to the noble wine of Areni. Seeing the historical site of Khor Virap is stunning with its spectacular view of Mount Ararat. There are two deep stone cisterns there, one of which is said to be the pit where Gregory the Illuminator was imprisoned for 13 years by King Trdat III. Finally, we will arrive in the thriving capital of Armenia, Yerevan where we will have the rest of the evening at leisure and overnight.
Day 27: Yerevan
After breakfast, we will head out to discover one of the oldest cities of the world, Yerevan. We start our tour with a visit to Cascade Monument, which is also known as the Yerevan Cascade, was the main symbol of the city’s 2,780th anniversary, with the equivalent number of stairs built. The Mega-scale staircase is 500 meters high and 50 meters wide. A panoramic view from the monument opens up breathtaking city view with the Opera House, Mount Ararat, Swan Lake, Republic Square, and posh Northern Avenue around, which we will also walk by later. Our next stop is Matenadaran, famous for being one of the world’s richest banks of medieval manuscripts with more than 300,000 archive documents.
Later we will continue to the sobering Armenian Genocide Memorial Complex on the hill of Tsitsernakaberd. An excellent round-up of our city tour will be a visit to the Brandy Factory in Yerevan to taste the renowned Armenian cognac. It has been said that Noah planted the first vine in the abundant Ararat Valley; afterwards, winery was pioneered all over the country. We will enjoy a tasting of two types of Ararat brandies (Ararat 3 stars and Akhtamar, ten years old). The evening will be at leisure to re-explore the city at your own pace. Overnight in Yerevan.
Day 28: Yerevan, Temple of Garni & Geghard
This morning we will depart to the Temple of Garni, which has a different charm in each new season. The Greco-Roman-style temple was built around 77 AD under King Trdat I. This is the only architectural monument saved from the Hellenistic period. The Temple is dedicated to the God of Sun Mher and it collapsed from the earthquake in 1679 and was reconstructed in the 1970s. Later we head to Geghard, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a supremely beautiful architectural monument built in the 13th century. Finally, we will visit with the friendly villagers of the area before driving back to Yerevan. Overnight in Yerevan.
Day 29: Yerevan, Echmiadzin & Zvartnots
Our final full day of our Caucasus tour will start with us first visiting the ancient temple of St. Hripsime, one of the oldest surviving churches in Armenia and believed to be the first official Christian Church in the world. The church was erected by Catholicos Komitas atop the original mausoleum built by Catholicos Sahak the Great in 395 AD that contained the remains of the martyred Saint Hripsimé to whom the church was dedicated.
We will also be visiting the Etchmiadzin Cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the Mother Church of the Armenian Apostolic Church, and according to most scholars, it was the first cathedral (but not the first church) built in ancient Armenia and is considered the oldest cathedral in the world. The original church was built in the early 4th century — between 301 and 303 according to tradition — by Armenia’s patron saint Gregory the Illuminator, following the adoption of Christianity as a state religion by KingTiridates III.
On the back way to Yerevan, we will stop at the ruins of Zvartnots (7th century), which collapsed from the earthquake in the 10th century. In Yerevan, we will have tour and master classes in the Megerian Carpets factory. Visitors and guests are welcome to watch the production of the rugs which involve dyeing of the yarns by using vegetable dyes, weaving, shearing, and finishing. We will enjoy a traditional Armenian farewell dinner and overnight in Yerevan.
Day 30: Departure
After our final group breakfast, we will bid farewell to the amazing Caucasus after an unforgettable month around the region. Transfer to Yerevan airport for our onward connections.