I was not very interested in Armenia but flying to Tbilisi was much more expensive than to Yerevan so why not ALSO Armenia? The group’s meeting point was a nice hotel in Yerevan. We all were very tired and the first day was spent most of the time sleeping by the swimming pool. The following day we took a shared van to Georgia where we were going to spend most of our holidays. After two weeks traveling in Georgia, now it was time to go back to Yerevan.
In Tbilisi we found a small guided tour Tbilisi – Yerevan by van with some stops during the trip. It was a very interesting tour because it was the only way for us to visit Sanahin and Haghpat Monasteries, very difficult to reach without your own transportation. Our guide, a young Armenian girl, was very proud of her country and told us very interesting things about Armenia’s history, culture and traditions. I think that it was her enthusiasm what made me want to discover Armenia later.
Sanahin and Haghpat Monasteries are perched on the top of Debed Canyon, one in front of the other. Built between Xth and XIIth centuries, they were important centres of learning.
Haghpat, my favourite one, was dedicated to the Holy Cross. The main church has a very impressive space with a central dome resting on four massive pillars in the side walls. Outside the church, one can see beautiful khatchkars (stone crosses beautifully carved) erected for the salvation of the soul of either a living or a deceased person).
Sanahin is the oldest monastery in the region. Actually its name means “older than that one” referring to its neighbour opposite. This monastery was renowned for its school of illustrators and calligraphers. I found particularly interesting its medieval school-gallery, where students sat on benches on either side of the corridor. Sadly, Soviets damaged Armenian churches badly and most of its frescoes were whiten. Nowadays only the stone walls remain.
During this guided trip we visited other spots and we also shared a barbecue with locals for lunch time. It was an interesting introduction to Armenia and I strongly recommend this tour to all those people who want to travel between these two capital cities, in any direction. In the afternoon, when we reached Yerevan, I was eager to discover what Armenia has to offer.
My Tips :
- Envoy Hostel organizes these Tbilisi – Yerevan tours. It takes 11 hours (instead of 5 hours if you travel directly with no stops) visiting some sights en route. This tour is done once a week leaving Tbilisi on Saturday and Yerevan on Friday. You don’t need to be guest of the hostel. Book in advance.
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Quirky explorer with a preference for lesser-known sights, I am continuously looking for new ideas and tips to help you plan your dream World Tour!