(En) Easter in Armenia & Georgia

(En) 12 days / 11 nights

1

(En) Day 1 (April 18): Arrival in Yerevan – Transfer to the hotel – Yerevan -/-/-

(En) Arrival at the Yerevan airport. Meeting with guide and driver.
Transfer to the hotel. Accommodation. Free time.
Overnight in the hotel in Yerevan.

2

(En) Day 2 (April 19): Yerevan city tour / Echmiadzin / Zvartnots / Yerevan B/-/D

(En) Yerevan. Breakfast in the hotel.
After breakfast you are going to have unforgettable overall city tour in Yerevan. Yerevan is the capital and largest city of Armenia, and one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities. Situated along the Hrazdan River, Yerevan is the administrative, cultural, and industrial centre of the country. It has been the capital of Republic of Armenia (1st Armenian Republic) since 1918, the thirteenth in the history of Armenia, and the seventh located in or around the Ararat plain. The history of Yerevan dates back to the 8th century BC, with the founding of the fortress of Erebuni in 782 BC by king Argishti I at the western extreme of the Ararat plain. Erebuni was “designed as a great administrative and religious centre, a fully royal capital. In 2018 Yerevan celebrated its 2800th anniversary.
Yerevan was named the 2012 World Book Capital by UNESCO. Yerevan is an associate member of Euro cities.

(En) Heading to Armavir province.
Visit to Echmiadzin – the spiritual centre of the Armenian Apostolic Church and the residence of the Catholicos of All Armenians. Visit the Mother Cathedral of Holy Echmiadzin – one of the most ancient and most beautiful examples of Christian architecture. It was founded to commemorate the proclamation of Christianity as the national religion of Armenia. The original building was completed in 303 AD. The Echmiadzin Cathedral is the seat of the throne of the Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians. Since 2000, it is a UNESCO world heritage site.

(En) On the way back to Yerevan you will visit Zvartnots temple (means “celestial angels”) 7th century wonderful architectural masterpiece. The remnants of Zvartnots, even in ruins, are a majestic sight. These sights are listed among the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The site has been the focus of worship from pre-Christian times. Excavations also uncovered Urartian temple foundations, a sacrificial alter and a large cuneiform stone celebrating the construction of a large canal system during the reign of King Russa II. The canal system, connecting to the Hrazdan River, is still in use.
Arrival in Yerevan.

(En) Welcome dinner in typical Armenian restaurant with Armenian folk music and dance.

Overnight in the hotel in Yerevan.

(En)

  • Optional

– In Echmiadzin, in Machanents cultural tourism centre dolma making master-class may be organized. Dolma is ground meat, beef, lamb or whatever you like, mixed with rice and herbs of your choice and wrapped in grape leaves. You may even cook it in vegetables, like in peppers or tomatoes.
The price for the event is 95 EUR per group.

– Coming back to Yerevan you may visit History Museum or National Gallery.

3

(En) Day 3 (April 20): Yerevan/ Saghmosavank / Amberd / Armenian Alphabet Monument / Byurakan / Yerevan B/L/D

(En) Yerevan. Breakfast in the hotel.
Drive to Aragatsotn region where Mount Aragats is located. This is the highest peak of Armenia (4090 m). Visit to Saghmosavank – 13th century monastic complex. Saghmosavank is situated atop the precipitous gorge carved by the Kasakh river. Its silhouettes dominate the adjacent villages and rise sharply against the background of the mountains crowned by Mount Aragats.

(En) Here at an altitude of 2300 m above sea level the fortress Amberd is situated (8th c). Amberd is one of the rare witnesses of Armenian military architecture of the Middle Ages. During the walk to the fortress you can enjoy the scenery of colorful alpine meadows and mountain.

(En) Located near the village of Artashavan, close to the highway, in Armenia, stands 39 giant carved Armenian letters dedicated to the language its speakers take pride in. The Armenian alphabet is more than 1,600 years old and it’s still used today in its original form. It was devised by Saint Mesrop Mashtots, an Armenian linguist and ecclesiastical leader, in 405 CE in order to make the Bible accessible to Armenians and spread Christianity.

(En) After your excursion you will head to Byurakan village to celebrate Holy Saturday of Armenian Easter. Coming to Byurakan, in Tonatsuyts house you will participate in master-class on how to make traditional Armenian Easter dishes, then have a lunch. The event will be followed by Armenian national dances and songs. The Easter atmosphere will be proliferated upon everyone.

(En) After your lunch you will dye eggs. Many years ago, when there was no food dye, Armenians used to dye eggs with red onion shells. All you need to do is to put a lot of red onion shells in boiling water, then carefully place the eggs in the bowl and cook it. The result will be nicely cooked red eggs. This dying method is still alive today. The majority of Armenians dye Easter eggs just like this, even though they may also have eggs dyed with food coloring. The more colorful the table, the better.

(En) In the evening of Saturday prior to Easter, the holy light is fired which people take home. The main aim is to get a candle of the holy light home to bring Easter blessings to the household. Special Easter liturgy will be held in St. Hovhannes church. The St.Hovhanes church was built in the first quarter of 10c. At the late mid-century the vault and entries were re-constructed, then double walls from the north and the west were built. In 19th c. the church still had the chapels from both sides, where religious ceremonies took place, but in 1841 after re-building the vault of the church, the ceremonies were held there. In 18th c. the Catholicos Hakob Djughaetsi made Byurakan the property of St. Echmiadzin. And in 1874 Catholicos Gevorg IV made it the patriarch’s residence.

(En) Coming back to Tonatsuyts house you will have an Easter dinner. In your dinner you will have symbolic and typical Armenian Easter dishes (rice, greens, fish), as well as Armenian Easter bread: chorek. It’s essentially a sweet Brioche Bun. Chorek is a rather sweet puff bread. It’s not an everyday dish but is made once a year during Armenian Easter. There is an interesting tradition of cracking eggs during Easter. Each person sitting at the table takes one egg, then chooses a player to crack each other’s eggs. The one whose egg cracks loses.
Drive back to Yerevan. Overnight in the hotel.

4

(En) Day 4 (April 21): Yerevan / Khor Virap / Noravank / Areni / Yerevan B/L/-

(En) Yerevan. Breakfast in the hotel.
Today’s excursion will take you to Ararat region. Here Khor Virap monastery (meaning “deep pit” or “deep well”) is located. The monastery was host to a theological seminary and was the residence of Armenian Catholicos. Khor Virap’s notability as a monastery and pilgrimage site is attributed to the fact that Saint Gregory the Illuminator has been imprisoned here for 13 years. A chapel was initially built in 642 AD at the site of Kirat Virap by Nerses III the Builder as a mark of veneration to Saint Gregory. Over the centuries, it was repeatedly rebuilt. In 1662, the larger chapel known as “St. Astvatsatsin” (Holy Mother of God) was built around the ruins of the old chapel. Now, regular Church services are held in this church. Khor Virap Monastery continues to be a holy site of the Armenian Apostolic Church and an important pilgrimage location. The walled, religious complex also stands before the snowcapped flanks of Mount Ararat, offering a spectacular view of the mountain and cutting a striking silhouette in and of itself.

(En) Noravank (meaning “New Monastery” in Armenian) is a 13th century Armenian monastery, spiritual centre of Orbelyan princes’ dynasty. The monastery is best known for its two-storey Surp Astvatsatsin (Holy Mother of God, Burtelashen) church, which grants access to the second floor by way of a narrow stone-made staircase jutting out from the face of building.

(En) After exploring the sight you will drive to Vayots Dzor province. Have lunch in national restaurant near Noravank monastery. Here you will also have an opportunity to watch the process of baking Armenian bread – lavash (inscribed in UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity).

(En) Drive to village Areni. Here the most ancient winery in the world Areni-1 is located. This winery had been discovered as a result of excavations done in 2007-2008.

Drive back to Yerevan. Overnight in the hotel.

5

(En) Day 5 (April 22): Yerevan / Matenadaran / Garni / Geghard / Yerevan / Ararat Cognac Factory B/L/-

(En) Yerevan. Breakfast in the hotel.
After breakfast you will visit Matenadaran – the rarest manuscript museum. Here about 18,000 manuscripts are kept, which are included in UNESCO World Heritage list.

(En) Drive to Kotayk region. Today you are going to visit Geghard Monastery, which is cut into the rock (13th c); and Garni – the only type of pagan temple across the Caucasus and the former Soviet Union (2nd half of 1st c AD). Geghard is one of the most famous medieval monasteries in Armenia. The complex of medieval buildings is set into a landscape of great natural beauty, surrounded by towering cliffs at the entrance to the Azat river valley. According to the legend, the monastery housed the spear which had wounded Christ on the Cross and from which comes its present name, Geghardavank (the Monastery of the Spear). Allegedly it was brought there by the Apostle Thaddeus, first recorded in a document of 1250. The church with its surrounding structures is included in the UNESCO World Cultural heritage List.

(En) Visit open-air museum of Garni pagan temple. It is the only surviving monument of the Hellenistic period in Armenia. The temple is dedicated to the God of the sun Mithra and was built in the 2nd half of the 1st c AD during the reign of king Tiridates I. The temple was completely destroyed during the earthquake of 1679. It was restored in the 1970s, using the surviving fragments and carving the missing ones renewed. The territory of the fortress that was used as a summer residence of Armenian royalty included the palace, the royal bath – house, the garrison barracks and other structures that did not survive. Garni pagan temple has unique design and is the only type of temple across the Caucasus and the former Soviet Union.
After exploring sights you will have lunch in local peasant’s house in Garni village.

(En) Driving back to Yerevan you will visit Ararat Cognac factory. You will participate in the tour to Yerevan Brandy Company, producer of the brand ARARAT, where you will
• visit the museum of the factory, get acquainted with the legends of ARARAT brandies, learn the 120 years old history of Armenian brandy production, know who have drunk Armenian brandy, see the oldest Armenian barrels and the medals which decorate the ARARAT legend.
• walk around the ageing cellar and see how the brandy spirits are preserved, know who have nominal barrels and enjoy the delicate aroma of the cellar.
• have pleasant and memorable time in the tasting hall enjoying the delicious brandies.

(En)  

  • Optional

 – In the porch of the monastery Geghard may be organized chorus singing of spiritual songs. The porch has a unique acoustic under which the sounds of choral singing vibrate in the ears.
The price for the event is 130 EUR per group.

6

Day 6 (April 23): Yerevan / Sevan (Sevanavank) / Tsaghkunq / Dilijan (Haghartsin) /Dilijan B/L/-

(En) After breakfast you will head to Gegharkunik region.
Here you will visit Sevan Lake, the “blue-eyed beauty” of Armenia. Being one of the biggest highland freshwater lakes in the world it is 1900 m above sea level. The tour will continue along the coast of Lake Sevan to the peninsula. After rising to the peninsula, you will see the monastery of Sevanavank (IX cent.). An amazing view to the lake and surrounding beauties opens from the hill. The monastery of Sevan (Sevanavank), which stands on what was once an island of the same name, can be dated to the 9th-10th centuries. For several hundred years, as an important spiritual centre, housing many monks, it has been visited by thousands of pilgrims from all parts of Armenia.

(En) Moving to the neighboring village of Tsaghkunq, where an authentic and colorful home restaurant is located you will have lunch in the restaurant. Yummy! By the way, the chef of the restaurant is a member of an association for the preservation of Armenian culinary traditions.

Drive to Tavush region, Dilijan town – a spa-town with favorable oxygen regimen, unique landscape features and curative mineral water.

(En) Visit to Haghartsin Monastery. It was built between the 10th and 13th centuries (in the 12th under Khachatur of Taron); much of it under the patronage of the Bagratuni Dynasty. St. Astvatsatsin Church in Haghartsin (1281) is the largest building and the dominant artistic feature. The sixteen-faced dome is decorated with arches, the bases of whose columns are connected by triangular ledges and spheres, with a band around the drum’s bottom. This adds to the optical height of the dome and creates the impression that its drum is weightless. The platband of the southern portal’s architrave is framed with rows of trefoils.
Drive to Dilijan. Overnight in the hotel in Dilijan.

7

Day 7 (April 24): Dilijan / Fioletovo / Sanahin / Qefilyan house / Tbilisi B/L/D

(En) Dilijan. Breakfast in the hotel.
We start the day with a visit to Filoletovo, a village where Molokans live. There will be organized tea drinking with Russian pies in one of local houses. Then you will have a walk around the village.

(En) Sanahin was chosen as UNESCO World Heritage Site because it represents the highest flowering of Armenian religious architecture, whose unique style developed from a blending of elements of Byzantine ecclesiastical architecture and the traditional vernacular architecture of the Caucasian region.

After your tour you will go to Qefilyan House in Haghpat to have lunch.
Transfer to Armenian-Georgian border. Continue to Tbilisi. Free time.
Welcome dinner in traditional Georgian restaurant with folk show.
Overnight in the hotel in Tbilisi.

8

Day 8 (April 25): Tbilisi B/-/D

(En) You will start your journey in Georgia with Tbilisi city tour at Metekhi church and monument to Vakhtang Gorgasali, the legendary founder of Tbilisi. Take a cable car to Narikala Fortress to enjoy breathtaking panoramic view of the city. Walk down to the district of Sulphur bath houses passing by the only mosque in Tbilisi. Stroll through the Sharden area full of narrow streets with cozy cafés, wine tasting bars, souvenir shops, and breathe in the living past. Have a lunch in Tbilisi. Visit Sioni Cathedral, Anchiskhati Basilica, and the clock tower of famous Rezo Gabriadze Theatre. Cross the Bridge of Piece to Rike Park. An excellent round-up to the city tour will be a visit to Open Air Museum of Ethnography, a miniature model of Georgia.
Dinner. Overnight in the hotel in Tbilisi.

9

Day 9 (April 26): Tbilisi – Mtskheta – Uplistskhe – Tbilisi B/-/D

(En) Tbilisi. Breakfast in the hotel.
After breakfast, drive to Mtskheta, one of the oldest towns 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.

(En) Take part in traditional Easter egg-painting master-class in Mtskheta local house. Unlike Armenian Easter Georgians die egg on Friday and it is called Good Friday.

(En) Drive to cave town Uplistsikhe dating back to Hellenistic Period and notable for unique combination of various styles of rock-cut cultures and the co-existence of pagan and Christian architecture.

Drive back to Tbilisi. Dinner. Overnight in the hotel.

(En) Tbilisi. Breakfast in the hotel.
After breakfast depart towards the Kakheti region of Georgia, the cradle of Georgian wine. Beautiful road lies through Gombori Pass. Our first stop will be in Telavi, the administrative and historic center of the region. Have a short walk through charming streets of old Telavi and have a photo stop at the monument to Erekli II.

10

Day 10 (April 27): Tbilisi– Telavi – Tsinandali – Napareuli – Tbilisi B/-/D

(En) Drive to Tsinandali, the residence of dukes of Georgia with beautiful English garden, a museum, and the wine cellar which belonged to prince Chavchavadze, 19th century public figure and poet.

(En) Drive to Tsinandali, the residence of dukes of Georgia with beautiful English garden, a museum, and the wine cellar which belonged to prince Chavchavadze, 19th century public figure and poet.

(En) Final stop for today is a private Winery – Twins Wine Cellar in Napareuli village. The premises of the winery include vast vineyard, museum of traditional Georgian winemaking in qvevri, and facilities for various workshops. Try yourself at baking Shoti bread and making khinkali. An excellent round-up of the tour will be tasting three different wines produced at Twins Winery according to Georgian traditional technology of winemaking in qvevri. Return to Tbilisi.
Dinner. Overnight in the hotel.

11

Day 11 (April 28): Tbilisi – Ananuri – Kazbegi– Tbilisi B/-/D

(En) Tbilisi. Breakfast in the hotel.
Drive to Ananuri architectural complex, a former residence of Argveti Dukes. Complex featuring churches and towers dating back to the 16th – 17th centuries is beautifully overlooking Jinvali reservoir. Make a stop for lunch in Pasanauri to try one of the best Khinkali (boiled stuffed dumplings) in Georgia.

(En) After lunch, continue driving on Georgian Military Highway passing through the highest point of it at 2379 m above sea level. Arrive at Kazbegi, a small town with the views of Mount Kazbek (or Mkinvari) 5033 m, the seventh highest peak in the Caucasus Mountains. Hike up to Gergeti Holy Trinity Church located on altitude of 2170 m on 4×4 type vehicle to enjoy breathtaking views to the Mount Kazbegi.
Drive back to Tbilisi. Dinner. Overnight in the hotel.

12

Day 12 (April 29): Tbilisi / Departure B/-/-

(En) Tbilisi. Breakfast in the hotel. Free time.
Transfer to the Tbilisi Airport.

(En) 15 pax + 1 FOC

DBL / TWNSGL
Yerevan - Silachi 3* / Dilijan - Dilijan resort / Tbilisi - Astoria 3*1256 EUR1561 EUR
Yerevan - Diamond House 4* / Dilijan - Dilijan resort / Tbilisi - Laerton 4*1420 EUR1795 EUR

(En) 20 pax + 1 FOC

DBL / TWNSGL
Yerevan - Silachi 3* / Dilijan - Dilijan resort / Tbilisi - Astoria 3*1204 EUR1519 EUR
Yerevan - Diamond House 4* / Dilijan - Dilijan resort / Tbilisi - Laerton 4*1369 EUR1739 EUR

(En) 25 pax + 1 FOC

DBL / TWNSGL
Yerevan - Silachi 3* / Dilijan - Dilijan resort / Tbilisi - Astoria 3*1149 EUR1464 EUR
Yerevan - Diamond House 4* / Dilijan - Dilijan resort / Tbilisi - Laerton 4*1310 EUR1680 EUR

(En) Price includes:
• Transfers;
• Transportation by comfortable bus (A/C, toilet, DVD);
• Accommodation in DBL/TWN room in the hotels on BB basis;
• Professional English-speaking guide’s service;
• Entrance fees as per program;
• Lunch* 5;
• Dinner* 5;
• Dinner with folk show* 2;
• Master-class on making Easter dishes, national songs and dances (Day 3);
• Lavash baking in Noravank (Day 4);
• 2 types of Cognac tasting in Ararat Cognac Factory (Day 5);
• Tea drinking ceremony in Fioletovo (Day 7);
• 4×4 wheel drive to Gergety Holy Trinity Church in Kazbegi (Day 8);
• Egg-painting master-class (Day 9);
• Glass of wine in Tsinandali museum (Day 10);
• Wine-tasting in Napareuli winery (3 wines) (Day 10);
• Georgian Culinary Master-classes: Shoti bread & Khinkali in Napareuli (Day 10);
• Water 0.5l for excursion days.

Price excludes:
• Air ticket;
• Medical insurance;
• Personal expanses;
• Alcohol drinks.

Note:
• Some changes may appear in the program according to arrival/departure time and weather conditions.

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