If you follow this blog, you certainly know I’m in love with Armenia. I even bought an one-way ticket once. And here I’m, working, living and trying my best. It’s been three months already. As you might assume, I already have my routine. My paths and patterns. And not much time to go out of the capital and see the real beauty of the country. I adore Yerevan but it’s probably not the prettiest city you’ve ever visited. Also, I get an itchy feet really fast. This is how I felt last weeks. I was longing for nature and a bit of sightseeing. A bit of wandering. Not to forget getting lost, this is what I always do. And then…
Then I got really lucky! Well-known Yerevan-based tour provider, Hyur Service
offered me participation in their regular day trips. It wasn’t easy to make a decision and choose the tours I wanted to join. Hyur organizes excursions
to three different destinations every day. They could take you to basically all the important historical and cultural sights of Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh. The tours are carried out in air-conditioned, comfortable minibuses (comfortable even for someone suffering from motion sickness, checked). Also, there is always a nice guide to take care of you and tell you stories. The staff speaks English, Russian and Armenian, which means that they can easily communicate with 99% of tourists coming to Armenia. And, guess what, there are free sweets on the board!My first choice was a tour to Haghpat and Sanahin, two absolutely stunning monastery complexes in the Lori region in the north of Armenia. These gems of Armenian sacral architecture came from 10th century. Sanahin used to be a very important educational centre back then. If you are keen on medieval architecture of this part of the world you might see the Byzantine influences perfectly blended with the traditional vernacular building style of this region. The monasteries at both Haghpat and Sanahin were chosen as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. I think that a closer look at the pictures it’s all you need to know why. Just because they are masterpieces of Armenian religious architecture. We also need to remember how important Christianity was (and probably still is) for Armenian culture and identity. I don’t know how many times I was reminded about Armenia being the first country in the world adopting Christianity as a state religion. I stopped counting months ago.
Today Haghpat and Sanahin are empty. Monks and nuns don’t live there anymore. There are no prayers to be heard. Two big, remarkable monastery complexes, once alive, are left alone and abandoned now. There are some tourists craving for good pictures and a history lesson. Some old ladies trying to sell them souvenirs. Still, no crowds. And guess what, it feels great. It’s like a silent history course. You can feel it. You can smell it. Just don’t take home anything but pictures.
The location of our today’s monastery complexes should be mentioned as well. Lori region is absolutely stunning. Especially now. Just right now. The autumn in Lori region in Armenia is probably the most beautiful autumn I’ve ever encountered. It’s all about the totally amazing colors. Pictures will tell you more than a thousand words.
On our way back to Yerevan we stopped at Dsegh to visit home and museum of Hovhannes Tumanyan, a famous Armenian writer. Visitors may see private objects and materials illustrating the life of the artist. One more history lesson I appreciated. Armenia is so close from Europe and we know almost nothing about them while they know so much about us. This needs to be changed. Now. Who is with me?Last but not least, a little confession. As a self-diagnosed independent introvert I usually don’t take group tours. I liked this one a lot though. A nice surprise, isn’t it? I spent a fantastic day with cool people having many stories to tell and a very nice charming guide to pamper us. I think this is a good recommendation.
There are still two tours to blog about in upcoming days! Stay tuned!
I was lucky enough to be a guest of Hyur Service. All of the opinions are my own.