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Stunning Armenia, a fascinating glimpse into Noah’s land

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#1 Yervant1


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Posted 16 October 2014 - 08:12 AM


Stunning Armenia, a fascinating glimpse into Noah’s land (one of two parts)

Wednesday, October 15, 2014


CHURCH DEDICATED TO ST. MARY with stunning views behind.

WRITING about my recent trip to Armenia is not going to be easy – there are just too many great experiences to note down!

Friends and family were wondering what got into our heads when we decided to go there. Where and what is there to do? And why of all places Armenia? You’ll soon see why. Armenia is honestly one of the most gorgeous countries I’ve been to.

Brief background


Armenia is right smack in the middle of four other nations: Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Iran. It’s made up of mostly landmass and is not bordered by any seas. It is a dominantly Christian country and was the first in the world to adopt Christianity as their state religion. It is also one of the oldest countries in the world. It is known as Noah’s land, for in the bible it is said that his ark came to rest on Mt. Ararat:

In the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, the ark rested upon the mountains of Ararat. (Genesis 8:5)

The sights

The moment we landed in Yerevan, we immediately saw a rather faint, but rather clear outline of Mt. Ararat. We also saw it from above, while on the plane, and it got us so excited to see the famed mountain of Noah on the very first day.

Yerevan is such a beautiful city. It had a very European feel, is clean, modern but with touches of culture and architecture from another era. Our hotel was located at Republic Square. At night, the scene transformed. Imagine the sight with fountains, lit up buildings and Andrea Bocelli’s Time to Say Goodbye playing in the background. It was gorgeous! The city is also called the rose colored capital because most of its buildings are built in a pink shade of “tuf” stone.

We spent the majority of the trip in Yerevan and would just drive out every day to visit the sights. The Armenian countryside is very pleasant and each drive always yielded different views.

One fun thing we did while on one of our drives out to the tourist sites was to stop by the road and pick up some obsidian. There is so much of it in the country!

The monasteries

A lot of the sights that we went to were monasteries. I’ll have to say I was pretty much blown away almost every time I visited a new one. Each one had a more fantastic location than the last. There were dramatic backdrops like gorges, valleys and mountains, while locations were usually in the middle of nowhere.

One of the first ones we visited were the churches that were overlooking Lake Sevan. This lake is the largest body of water in Armenia and is situated pretty high above sea level at 1,900 meters.

The next was the Khor Virap monastery. This was supposed to be where you could get the best views of Mt. Ararat and its snowy peaks, but it was covered with fog on the day that we went. There were some vendors selling doves, which you could release in the direction of Mt. Ararat. Sounded like another one of those tourist traps, but of course, one of my sisters still bought one. Why not though, right? When else can you say you released a dove out into a biblical mountain? It was still a fun and funny experience (She had to carry the bird up lots of steps and it would not stop twitching!).

Khor Virap also had St. Gregory the Illuminator’s underground pit. St. Gregory is the country’s patron saint and is credited for converting Armenia from paganism to Christianity.

The next monastery, Noravank, was my favorite. The mountains surrounding it were all red rock and jagged stones.

A visit to Geghard Monastery, which is carved from a single rock, was a must. It had really amazing acoustics, that when one person sings, it sounds like a whole choir! We also went to Sanahin and Haghpat monasteries, both of which are Unesco World Heritage Sites. Saghmosavank Monastery is a monastery that is perched at the edge of the precipitous gorge of the Kasakh river. Celyn Sala



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Posted 16 October 2014 - 08:31 PM

Nice! Very nice!

#3 Yervant1


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Posted 23 October 2014 - 10:19 AM


Sun Star, The Philippines
Oct 22 2014

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

BESIDES monasteries, there is still plenty to see in Armenia.

In Yerevan, we visited the Erebuni Fortress (Erebuni is the old name
of Yerevan), the Matenadaran Library, which has one of the richest
depositories of manuscripts and books in the world.

Another main attraction was the Yerevan Cascade. It is a giant
staircase that houses the biggest collection of modern art in Armenia.

There are escalators that take you to the top, and at every level,
there are fountains and pieces of modern art.


One important site that we visited was the Genocide Memorial. It
commemorated the horrible event that took place in 1915. We also
visited Ashtarak, the Alphabet Park which had the Armenian letters
in giant blocks. The only non-Christian temple we visited was Garni,
a rare pagan temple in Armenia. It reminded me so much of the Acropolis
in Greece.


The food in Armenia was absolutely delicious! It is very similar to
middle-eastern cuisine, but in my own opinion, it has a milder and
well-curated taste palate. Every meal typically started with some
lavash (their bread which is similar to a tortilla), fresh herbs like
coriander and dill and their local cheese. The herbs were always fresh
and the three together tasted so good. We actually saw lavash being
made in one of our meal stops - some make it in a tandoori pit. A few
of our meals were in houses of Armenians, and were the most pleasant
ones I've ever had. The whole vibe of being outdoors with cool and
crisp air, good food, and drinking homemade wine from a jug was just
too good for words. Staples in their dishes are meats like lamb,
chicken and pork. They also have several dishes that used bulgur
instead of rice, although rice pilafs were present in some meals. One
typical Armenian dish is dolma - ground up meat that is stuffed in
grape leaves and served with a yoghurt garlic sauce. So delicious!

We visited Areni, a region that made wine. I really loved that they
also made wine from other fruits. There was blackberry (my personal
favorite), pomegranate and even cherry wine.

I really hope that people reading this article will want to go and
visit. I would recommend getting a private tour - we had the nicest
and most patient guide and I think it was way easier to get around
the place if you're with a local.

My family and I have all agreed that Armenia is definitely one of
the best countries we visited. I feel like it's a country that is so
underappreciated! It is beautiful, with the most delicious food and
a really rich history. You can also sense the Armenian pride and see
how they love their country so much. Armenians who live and even grew
up abroad never forget their roots. Some of the very rich ones even
send back money to the country, not to their families, but to build
public roads and bridges. They give back and help their country,
and I find that really heartwarming.

I hope more people will want to experience this amazing country! I
already want to plan my next trip back!--Celyn Sala

Part 1 can be read at


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#4 Yervant1


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Posted 07 November 2014 - 11:19 AM


The National, UAE
Nov 6 2014

Ann Marie McQueen
November 6, 2014

There are two things that you should know before visiting Yerevan:
don't ask for a Turkish coffee or about Kim Kardashian.

No one is very impressed with the reality-show star, or the rest of
her attention-seeking family, no matter how much they proudly proclaim
their Armenian roots. And Armenians have their own, slightly lighter
yet just as delicious version of the silty brew, called soorj, so
there's no reason to insult anyone by bringing up an ever-present
and painful subject in such an insensitive -manner.

Any visit to this capital or its environs will be steeped in the
unpleasant and enduring memory of the genocide at the hands of the
Turks circa the First World War, which included the loss of more than
a million people, as well as top intellectuals and creative minds,
and launched a vast and dedicated diaspora from those who fled the

At the moment, it seems all of Yerevan is gearing up for the 100th
anniversary of this heartache next April, when an expanded and
refurbished Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute will open and a crush
of visitors are expected for a series of ceremonies marking the loss -
which, as you will hear repeatedly upon visiting, Turkey has yet to
officially acknowledge.

The Armenian capital is one of the oldest continuously inhabited
cities in the world, originally a fortress dating back to the eighth
century. It's rich in history and a monument to survival, at the heart
of a land consistently fought over through the centuries and variously
subjected to harsh and violent Turkish, -Persian and Russian rule.

All that is barely perceptible today, with Yerevan's many public
spaces and parks teeming with life, creating the sort of quirky,
accessible and walkable urban space that true travellers will love.

While making my way through the tree-lined downtown neighbourhood of
Kentron one morning, I pass small parks full of people out enjoying
the sunshine, getting the feeling from all the warm greetings I
witness that everyone seems to be running into old friends. When the
famous Armenian poet and singer-songwriter Ruben Hakhverdyan stops
to say hello to a street musician playing some mellow blues on his
electric guitar, it becomes apparent why there's little tolerance
for Kardashian-style attention-seeking in these parts. Although
Hakhverdyan, who's a stocky singer with a gravelly voice, is revered
by Armenians, no one paid him any mind. When I later see him perform
in a mesmerising show at the funky underground club Calumet, located
at Pushkin 56, he's equally unassuming.

Elsewhere, stark, Soviet-style cinder-block apartments stand beside
small wonders, such as the tiny medieval Holy Mother of God Kathoghike
church dating back to the 13th century that somehow survived Ottoman
rule. Keeping one's eyes open is constantly rewarding: whether it's
spotting a gorgeous mural of Edgar Allen Poe painted in an alley off
a main street or some stuffed roosters announcing a restaurant below
street level.

Even better, Yerevan has been mostly unspoilt by western consumerism.

I spy just one KFC, no giant Zara or Nike stores and nary a Starbucks
(although several cafes do proudly proclaim serving their brews,
the first sign that the American behemoth is on its way). Instead,
the tree-lined streets feature charming little outdoor coffee shops
and stalls selling beautifully stacked roses.

The city is so compact, it's possible to stroll around to many of the
main attractions, and it's easy to hop into one of the reasonably
priced metered taxis if your feet get sore or you need to go a
little farther.

Much of the neoclassical architecture in Yerevan is the work of the
St Petersburg-born Alexander Tamanyan, who spent a decade designing
and modernising the city after Armenia gained its independence in 1918.

While his work and legacy permeate much of the core, the most dramatic
and unusual evidence has to be the Cascade, which is essentially a
giant staircase and garden linking the city's cultural centre up a
mountain to the northern, residential neighbourhood of Monument.

Tamanyan's vision, however, proceeded in fits and starts that continue
to this day. The project was largely abandoned until the 1970s, when
much of the staircase was constructed, then left again for decades. It
appears to have been renewed, because near the top of the mountain
there's a giant construction pit where work has been recently under
way. It's utterly worthwhile, however, even while breathless from the
climb, to keep walking around the pit to the left for several minutes.

The trip is not for the tall, ugly monument to the Soviet Union at
the top, but to turn around and gaze at the city spread out down below.

Lucky visitors, on a clear day, will get a glimpse of the majestic
Mount Ararat, once such a vital part of Armenia, but for decades now
just out of reach in Turkey.

The trip down can be made via an escalator inside the mountain, which
houses the Cafesjian Centre for the Arts, a gallery where most of the
work is from the private collection of the late Gerard Cafesjian,
a United States-born member of the -Armenian diaspora. Even if you
don't have time to stop and see the exhibits, take the escalator down
to street level. It's free, and you can glimpse some truly eclectic
pieces, including a giant tube of lipstick and a silver-plated car.

A lovely place to visit during the evening is Republic Square, another
Tamanyan project and a buzzing public space, where the post office
is beautifully illuminated and each night the fountains feature a
two-hour musical show. Swan Lake, so named for its proximity to the
Tamanyan-designed opera-and-ballet house, is another gathering area
nearby, notable for the flamboyant statue of the Armenian composer
Arno Babajanyan. In the winter, the lake becomes an ice rink.

Eating in Yerevan is faintly exotic but mostly familiar, because
of Arab and Turkish influences. Lavash, a thin bread, is a staple,
while Armenians favour bulghur over rice. Our guide explains that a
very special ritual meal for Armenians is khash, in which the belly
and leg of cow are boiled all night in garlic and water; lavash is
added to the mix and the entire thing is consumed with chasers at 7am,
before everyone goes to sleep. It's worth a visit to a local market
to marvel at rows of plump, enticing dried apricots, peaches, berries,
figs and dates. The most peculiar to an outsider, but a common sight,
are long strands of walnuts wrapped in a glutinous sheath made from
grapes. The vendors are generous with their free samples, so watch out:
it's easy to get excited and -overindulge.

The Matenadaran, or the Institute of Ancient Manuscripts, is marked
at the entrance by a sculpture of Mesrop Mashtots, who is revered
for creating the sophisticated Armenian alphabet. It houses 22,000
documents and books dating back centuries - many that have been
restored and others that have become petrified over time. The largest,
at 604 pages and weighing 28 kilograms, is in two pieces because
it was torn in half and carried to safety by two women during the
genocide. Among the smallest is a tiny calendar dating back to 1436.

The pieces are safe beneath glass display cases centuries later, still
bound by glue made from garlic juice, while rich browns and brilliant
reds, inks made from walnut and cochineal insects, remain unfaded.

There's still time to plan a trip to this quirky, unspoilt cosmopolitan
capital before snow falls, when the air is more crisp than cold. Though
it's less than a three-hour flight from Sharjah, this ancient city
feels a world away from the UAE.


#5 Yervant1


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Posted 07 November 2014 - 11:19 AM


Epoch Times, NY
Nov 6 2014

By Tomasz Lisowski, Adventurous Travels

The region of Caucasus is not large if the area is taken into
consideration. However, it is extremely rich in culture and history
which is concentrated in this relatively small piece of land. Besides
Georgia, Armenia is an excellent proof to demonstrate it. Although so
close to each other, (journey from Tbilisi in Georgia to Yerevan in
Armenia takes only a few hours) those two countries are completely
dissimilar. They have distinctly different languages with their own
alphabets dating back to antiquity. So, if you like the ancient times
and history, this is one of the reasons why you should visit Armenia.

Khor Virap Monastery

Khor Virap Monastery (Tomasz Lisowski, Adventurous Travels)

Khor Virap Monastery lies at the foot of Mount Ararat, the famous
mountain, where Noah's Ark is believed to have landed after the
biblical flood. This location provides stunning views over the valley
and the mountain itself with the all year round snow-covered peak.

The monastery can be easily accessed from Yerevan, it's only a short
drive (30km) away. It's beauty lies in the symmetrical cruciform
design, typical to that region, and the pinkish color of stone used
to built it.

Initially, a temple had been erected on the site in the seventh
century, and then it had been rebuilt several times until the
seventeenth century when it became what it is today. It's the most
popular pilgrimage site in Armenia because its history is connected
with Gregory the Illuminator who introduced the Christian Faith in
Armenia. Hence Armenia became the first country on Earth that had
Christianity as the official religion.

Gregory was placed in the dungeon of Kvor Virap for thirteen years
by the king who hadn't approved his attempts to convert the country
to Christianity. However, he survived, supposedly with the help of
a widow who had been throwing food into the dungeon. Then, after
the king got ill, Gregory was called out of the pit (thanks to the
dream of the king's sister that Gregory is still alive and may help)
and healed the king.

Another interesting place in the area, just beside the hill where Khor
Virap is situated, is the Armenian cemetery dating back to the fourth
century. It is in use up to this day, and one can easily notice the
difference between the styles of old and new gravestones. The old
ones are basically huge rectangular stone blocks, the new ones have
the whole picture of the deceased person engraved on them, sometimes
with the details that describe their life, like a machine gun or a car.

Etchmiadzin Cathedral

Etchmiadzin Cathedral (Tomasz Lisowski, Adventurous Travels)

Etchmiadzin Cathedral is also located near the city of Yerevan. It
was constructed in the fourth century by Gregory the Illuminator. The
legend has it that he had seen Jesus in his dream, hitting the ground
with a golden hammer exactly where the cathedral was was supposed to
be built. The name Etchmiadzin can be roughly translated to 'The place
where God descended". The cathedral is the oldest state-built church
in the world. There are many precious manuscripts and other artifacts
inside this temple, among which, the spear that was allegedly used
to stab Jesus' heart.

Zvartnots Cathedral

Ruins of Zvartnots Cathedral (Tomasz Lisowski, Adventurous Travels)

Zvartnots Cathedral is the third one that is situated very close to the
two other temples I have mentioned above. You can easily visit these
three sites in one day. The Cathedral had been built in the fourth
century and stood for around three hundred years before it collapsed
in the tenth century. The reason why this happened is still unknown,
most likely it was destroyed by an earthquake. Other sources claim
it was an Arab invasion.

What was the design of the temple is also not one hundred percent sure,
although the excavations that started as late as the twentieth century
revealed its most probable original shape. In contrast to other temples
from that period, Zvartnots didn't have the cruciform structure and
small side towers, but it was round with three levels one on top of
each other. Partly reconstructed, the ruins give the glimpse of its
one-time grandeur and the extraordinary talent of its builders.

Garni Temple

Garni Temple (Tomasz Lisowski, Adventurous Travels)

Garni temple is also located close to Yerevan, 30km (19 miles) to
the southeast. It is exceptional in the sense that it is the only
roman-style temple in Armenia. It dates back to the first century AD
but the remains indicate that some parts of the fortifications can
come from as early as the third century BC. On the site, there are
also: a church, cemetery, royal palace (all destroyed) and the ruins
of a bath complex. Fire was lit underneath the baths and the hot air
circulated through the canals warming the water inside, even in winter.

There's one interesting fact: on the floor of the bath, there is a
mosaic with the inscription in Greek: "We worked for free", implying
that the people who had built it didn't receive any payment.

The actual temple had been destroyed by an earthquake in the
seventeenth century but the archaeologists managed to find enough
remains to rebuilt it to what it was previously. Most of the stone
blocks in the temple today are original.

What makes Garni even more worth visiting is the nearby scenery,
which is absolutely breathtaking. Surrounded by canyons and gorges,
it really must have been the perfect place for the royal family that
once lived there.

Geghard Monastery

Geghard Monastery (Tomasz Lisowski, Adventurous Travels)

While all the temples described here are without any doubt the works
of art, this monastery is exceptionally surprising by the fact that
most of the main chapel was not build, but literally carved into
the wall of a cliff. You can notice that in the pictures from the
inside of the chapel where there are no building blocks but just
one smooth surface. This site had been established by Gregory the
Illuminator in the fourth century but the main church was built in
the thirteenth century.

As in other such places (Machu Picchu, pyramids, etc.), it's hard
to believe that people, so long ago, without electricity or modern
machinery were able to build such an astonishing construction in a
very difficult to access area. Walking from chamber to chamber, and
most of them are carved into a stone wall, gives the great feeling of
mysticism. The name, "Geghard", means "the monastery of the spear"
because the spear that had stabbed Jesus' side was reputedly stored
here. Now it is displayed in the museum of Etchmiadzin Cathedral. This
place is definitely a must see in Armenia. You will be amazed.


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#6 MosJan


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Posted 07 November 2014 - 06:25 PM

nice find....  but  Armenia  is  not  nor has ever been Noah’s land... Noah  walked on our land, Noahs offsprings might of settled  on our  land  but it has never been Noha's lad..

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#7 Yervant1


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Posted 29 November 2014 - 10:48 AM


All Voices
Nov 28 2014

Anne Sewell
Nov 28, 2014

Armenia is one of three Transcaucasian countries located in the area
known as the Caucasus, a strip of mountainous land between the Caspian
and Black Seas. The Caucasus is a region made up of three different
countries, all speaking their own languages and located right on the
cultural border of Europe and Asia.

All of Armenia is contained within the South Caucasus, with beautiful
and often snow-capped mountain views all around. A land-locked country
with stunning scenery, Armenia still has a touch of the previous
Soviet occupation. However, nowadays Armenia strives for its own
identity with modern, yet historic, interesting cities.

A visit to Armenia must always include the cosmopolitan capital
city, Yerevan. The city has almost a Mediterranean feel, including a
fascinating cafe culture. However, the shopping and dining experiences
in this city are unlike any other.

Weekends in Yerevan always include a fascinating flea market with
many beautiful items on sale including handmade carpets and rugs,
art, handmade jewelry and beautiful obsidian chess sets.

There is much history on offer, with several fascinating monasteries,
churches and temples, all nestled within the spectacular surrounding
landscape. Just outside of town, the Tatev Monastery is worth a visit.

The photo above shows the capital city of Yerevan with snow-capped
Mount Ararat making a stunning backdrop. According to the Bible,
this is the peak on which Noah's Ark is said to have landed during
the great flood. Another beautiful image shows Mount Ararat with Khor
Virap Monastery in the foreground.

Armenia's cuisine is a mix of traditional dishes, sometimes influenced
by the outside world, and consists of traditional crops and farm
animals raised in the area. Fish, meat and vegetable dishes are
usually stuffed, frothed or pureed and the staple food is lamb,
bread and eggplant. Whereas the surrounding Caucasian countries of
Georgia and Azerbaijan prefer maize and rice, Armenians tend to go
for cracked wheat in their dishes.

Armenia's climate tends to be continental with dry and sunny summers
from June to around mid-September. Spring tends to be short and autumn
can be quite long, with beautiful and colorful foliage. Winters,
however, are cold with a lot of snow. Skiers can enjoy the winter
sports skiing on the hills of Tsakhkadzor, around thirty minutes'
drive from Yerevan.


#8 Yervant1


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Posted 15 December 2014 - 11:53 AM


News | 15.12.14 | 12:42

CNN has taken a glimpse into the life of modern-day Armenia as part
of its latest On the Road series broadcast over the weekend.

A documentary presented on CNN International on Saturday attempted
to explore Armenia from different aspects, including the innovative
brainpower of its young people, the nation's love of chess, the
difficult history of Armenians and their traditions.

Yerevan's Tumo Center for Creative Technologies is featured as one
of the great learning environments for young Armenians facilitating
the nation's innovation drive. The CNN crew also visited the Chess
Academy in the Armenian capital where parents were witnessing their
kids "matching wits" in a competition, emphasizing the fact that
chess is included in school curricula in Armenia.

The authors of the documentary took trips to the monastery in Geghard
and the country's only surviving pagan temple in Garni as part of
their quest for the spirit of Armenia, emphasizing that Armenia was
first to adopt Christianity as its official religion back in 301 AD.

They also tasted traditional Armenian khash with a young political

Emphasizing the fact that Armenia is home to only 3 out of some
10 million Armenians who live in the world today, the documentary
showcases the Birthright Armenia experience of several young Diaspora
Armenians visiting their historical homeland as part of the program.

When showing Tsitsernakaberd in Yerevan the authors of the documentary
emphasize that it is a memorial to the Armenian Genocide in which 1.5
million Christian Armenians were massacred in Ottoman Turkey. Footage
of the Tatik-Papik ("We Are Our Mountains") statue, one of the most
recognizable symbols of Nagorno-Karabakh, also appears in the film
for a moment.


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#9 Yervant1


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Posted 24 January 2015 - 01:51 PM




EuroNews, EU
Jan 23 2015

22/01 14:58 CET

My name is Jan and I come from Slovakia. Before coming to Armenia,
I had just obtained my Bachelor's degree in Psychology in my home
country. So I decided to take a break from my studies and change from
learning to doing something more practical and getting some more real
experiences. I love travelling and meeting different cultures.

Therefore, volunteering through EVS (European Voluntary Service)
at KASA Swiss Humanitarian Foundation seemed to be a great opportunity.

Since I came to Armenia, many people have asked me why I chose Armenia
for my volunteering service and to be honest, it was because I knew
almost nothing about Armenia. I considered it a good opportunity
to explore a place which was unfamiliar to me. I started collecting
information about Armenia, its culture, traditions, and got really
interested in the country. And there were two very important factors
(for me) that helped me to make up my mind; firstly, hiking is possible
almost everywhere, and hitch-hiking is "strawberry raspberry" (jahoda
malina - a Slovak expression for describing something as an easy). So
doing something helpful for the Armenian society while volunteering
and having a good time in the region - all while engaging in my
beloved hobbies seemed to be a good choice.

I didn't have any specific expectations or illusions about Armenia. I
just wanted to be somehow surprised after arriving in Yerevan. But
actually, I was not surprised, or at least not at the beginning. I
could say that I was surprised by the fact that I wasn't surprised! Of
course, the architecture is different, the people look different, but
Yerevan is a modern city inhabited with people who have modern habits.

After a period of observation, the differences became more clear
to me. That is the moment when you see the real value of visiting a
foreign country.

The Marshrutka minibus (a form of public transport) was one of my most
interesting discoveries here in Armenia. I have heard some Armenians
complaining about the behaviour of their compatriots on board, but my
Marshrutka Experience (which I'll refer to from now on as M.E.) says
NO to this! Let me explain...

ME No.1

On a marshrutka you always pay after ride. And the first thought I had:
how is it possible that they don't just run away?!

ME No.2

Young people always offer their seat for elderly people. Actually,
to be honest, in Slovakia you can also find young people who offer
their seat to elderly people, but often the latter feel offended by
the fact that they are perceived to be old.

ME No.3

Random people act as cashiers on the marshrutkas. Try giving 100 AMD
(the fee for 1 ride on public transport in the Armenian currency)
to random people in Europe and the money would never reach the driver.

ME No.4

The sitting passengers on a marshrutka often carry the handbags, cases,
and computers of standing passengers who are completely unfamiliar
to them. If I imagine offering to help carry somebody's bag in my
country, they would think I had other intentions...

I understand that this experience is not really an objective way to
judge Armenian society, but my impression is that Armenian people
are very respectful to each other. They are also proud, confident,
loud...very loud =) but always with respect.

Apart from discovering Armenia through my Marshrutka Experience,
I have learnt a lot while volunteering for the "Young Citizens of
Armenia" project. This project aims to introduce the idea of active
citizenship to the young local people while giving them a neutral
platform to reflect on their own role as an active citizen of Armenia.

The project has a number of activities that aim to contribute to the
goal of the project, including discussions clubs where I am actively
involved. I am also co-animating its English club while preparing and
leading discussions on different civil society development topics,
including the environment, governance, and so on. This is a great
opportunity to learn about Armenian civil society and to encourage
the young people attending the discussion club to develop their own
understanding and approach to the notion of active citizenship in an
atmosphere with a plurality of opinions. I am also really happy for
this opportunity to get first-hand experience and knowledge about
Armenia while meeting and communicating with a number of people with
diverse backgrounds that are visiting our club.

And now, I am left with a 6-month countdown to my departure day
from Armenia and I will use this period to further explore this
unique country, its people, places and many other things I haven't
discovered yet.


#10 Yervant1


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Posted 29 March 2015 - 08:23 AM

Boston Globe, MA
March 28 2015

At home in Armenia

By Juliet Pennington
Globe correspondent March 28, 2015

In the Monument area of Yerevan, the hammered copper figure of Mother
Armenia, her pedestal a military museum.

YEREVAN -- "What the heck?" shouted my son as he ducked and tucked his
cellphone under his shirt to shield it from the large gush of water
that had been hurled into our car's front passenger window.

On the sidewalk a few feet away were three boys with short dark hair
and large brown eyes. They could barely hold the plastic buckets they
had just emptied because they were laughing so hard and jumping around
in victory.

Continue reading below

One of the boys, who looked to be about 10, shouted "Ayo!" ("Yes!")
with great enthusiasm, as the other two darted off to refill their

We had been in Armenia for a week, and though we were becoming
familiar with the cultural differences, we were not aware of the
annual holiday known as Vardavar, held 14 weeks after Easter and
during which young people douse unsuspecting strangers with water.

Vardavar was one of many surprises in our nearly two weeks in the
Republic of Armenia, located in the South Caucasus region of Eurasia.

Continue reading it below

In Armenia, orphans make music with us

Many of the kids are starved for attention and affection, so just
spending time together meant so much to them -- and to us.

Given my Armenian ancestry, I was eager to learn more the country,
which has overcome many obstacles, including the genocide during World
War I in which 1.5 million people were killed by Turkish forces under
the Ottoman Empire. April 24 is commemorated as Genocide Remembrance
Day and many Armenian-Americans, including from the Boston area, will
be making the pilgrimage to commemorate it.

"We're getting many calls from people who want to know about things
like flights, is a Visa necessary [yes, but travelers can get them
when they land at Zvartnots International Airport in the capital,
Yerevan ], safety, lodging, and those types of things," said Venera
Matevosian, a consultant with Village Travel in Brookline. "The best
advice I can give is to book your trip as soon as possible if you plan
on going next month."

Then, once the trip is planned, "go experience a country like no
other. . . . Not only is it beautiful, but you can stay there for
months and still have things to do for everyone -- adults and
children," she added. "And you will not believe how friendly the
people are."

Given the number of dinner invitations we got from complete strangers,
and the willingness of people to not just point us in the right
direction but to walk us where we wanted to go, I could not agree

Visitors to this ancient mountainous country, the first to adopt
Christianity and proclaim it as a state religion -- in 301 AD -- feel as
though they are traveling back in time.

There are no direct flights from the United States to Armenia, but
several airlines have connections in major European cities, including
Paris, Kiev, Moscow, and Vienna, with direct flights to Yerevan. We
flew from Paris to Yerevan on Air France in less than five hours.

Juliet Pennington for The Boston Globe

A 125-foot-long swinging bridge connects two banks of the village of Khndzoresk.

There are a variety of lodging options, but we decided to stay
downtown, at the Marriott in Republic Square. It turned out to be a
great choice, as our room was clean and spacious and the staff
friendly and helpful. We stayed on one of the two executive floors,
which meant we had access to the executive suite, where we could
always grab a quick snack or a cold or hot drink, and we spent many
evenings on the lounge's sizable balcony, mingling with other guests,
viewing the fountains in the square, and even getting a front-row seat
to a protest demonstration. It was peaceful, attended by about 200
people in opposition to energy cost increases. Such an event would
have been unheard of just 25 years ago, when Armenia was under Soviet

The hotel was just 15 minutes from the airport and within walking
distance of art galleries, museums, concert venues, cafes, and
restaurants that feature traditional and contemporary Armenian cuisine
-- as well as a variety of others that serve international fare. Five
minutes from the hotel was one of my favorite places, Vernissage, a
huge outdoor market where artisans sell handmade wooden nardi
(backgammon) boards, musical instruments, clothing, rugs, and
paintings. The prices are reasonable -- especially given the dollar's
strength against the Armenian dram ($1 equals 479 AMD) -- and while
vendors want to make a sale, they're not overly aggressive.

Many of the paintings, wood carvings, and other items sold at
Vernissage depict historic Mount Ararat, where the Bible says Noah's
Ark landed after the flood. The snow-capped peak looms majestically,
and while it is in Turkey (it was taken from Armenia during the
genocide), many still consider it Armenia's Mount Ararat.

There is much more to see and do in Yerevan, a city of about 1.2
million. Getting around is easy and inexpensive. Small buses and vans
called "marshrutni" travel more than 100 different routes throughout
the city and cost less than 20 cents per trip. Taxi rides to just
about anywhere in the city cost less than $2.

Juliet Pennington for The Boston Globe

The eternal flame at the Grave of the Unknown Soldier.

The imposing Mother Armenia statue, a hammered copper figure whose
large pedestal doubles as a small military museum, looks over the
city. Visitors can walk up the Cascade, a giant stairway that links
downtown's Kentron district with what is known as the Monument area.
Here, visitors will find not only the Mother Armenia statue and the
eternal flame at the Grave of the Unknown Soldier, but also Victory
Park. While several sections of the park could use some sprucing up,
it is a great place to spend an afternoon.

Yerevan is walkable and kid-friendly. In addition to the kiddie rides
and boat rentals on the lake at Victory Park, there are fountains,
oversize musical instrument statues near the Opera House, museums
galore (the Geological Museum is a favorite, with its huge restored
skeleton of a primordial elephant), and dudukes -- traditional woodwind
instruments -- for all ages sold in just about every shop.

Tsitsernakaberd Park is home to the Armenian Genocide Victims'
Memorial Complex, which includes rows of memorial trees donated by
foreign dignitaries, a museum, and a monument built in 1965 to
commemorate the 50th anniversary of the genocide. There are 12
imposing pylons (representing the 12 main provinces where Armenians
were massacred between 1915-1923) that surround an eternal flame,
around which visitors gather to pay their respects, often leaving
flowers. Each year on April 24, thousands gather at the site and march
in remembrance of those who perished.

There are plenty of tour companies in Yerevan that offer excursions
that range from three-hour jaunts to multiday trips. We tried Hyur
tour company (www.hyurservice.com) and and wound up using it for all
of our tours. Not only were prices reasonable (one guided tour that
went to four sites of interest, lasted 13 hours, and included lunch at
a restaurant, a wine and cheese tasting at a winery, snacks along the
way, and a tram ride, cost $37 per person), but also the guides were
friendly, knowledgeable, and English-speaking. The air-conditioned
minibuses had large windows for sightseeing.

Venturing outside of Yerevan, whether to the shores of Lake Sevan or
to the cave dwellings at Khndzoresk in the country's southern region,
I was continually reminded of how steeped in history and tradition
Armenia is.

Juliet Pennington for The Boston Globe

The exterior of the Grave of the Unknown Soldier.

Some highlights included Geghard Monestary, a World Heritage Site that
is a classic example of Armenian medieval architecture, with
breathtaking natural surroundings; the Temple of Garni, a
reconstructed symbol of pre-Christian Armenia set amid the striking
Garni Gorge; and Khor Virap Monestary, where St. Gregory the
Illuminator, Armenia's patron saint, was imprisoned for 13 years
before curing King Tiridates III of a deadly disease. Noravank, which
means "New Monastery" in Armenian, is anything but, as it is more than
seven centuries old and has some of the most beautiful khachkars
(ornate crosses carved in stone) flanking its altars. With the gorge
below and the steep red rocks towering behind the monastery, it is a
shutterbug's dream.

The Tatev Monastery is an impressive ninth-century landmark that
stands on the edge of Vorotan Canyon. Visitors can take a cable ride
(Wings of Tatev opened in 2010 and was declared the world's "longest
nonstop double track cable car" by Guinness World Records) from Tatev
to Halidzor Village. And a visit to the cave dwellings (inhabited well
into the 20th century) at Old Khndzoresk is surreal, walking among
caves dug into the sloping hillsides. Crossing the gorge from the new
Khndzoresk to the cave dwellings on the hill is not for the faint of
heart; visitors must cross a 125-foot-long suspension bridge that
wobbles considerably with each step.

A final memorable destination is Etchmiadzin Cathedral, home to the
Armenian Apostolic Church. The original church was built in the early
fourth century, when Armenia adopted Christianity, and while it has
undergone many transformations, it is still a captivating site and a
testament to the country's faith and perseverance. The Sunday morning
service has a regal feel to it, and the music is mesmerizing, so much
so that one doesn't have to be religious to be moved.

I left Etchmiadzin feeling a deep connection to Armenia and my
ancestry. Having barely skimmed its surface, I also felt a strong
resolve to return soon to explore more of this beautiful country and
its rich, inspiring history.

Juliet Pennington can be reached at writeonjuliet@comcast.net.
View photos at http://www.bostonglo...3mI/story.html#

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#11 Yervant1


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Posted 06 May 2015 - 09:01 AM


14:12, 05 May 2015
Siranush Ghazanchyan

France 5 TV has shot a film about Armenia. The film presents the
country's picturesque landscape and rich culture.

A camera fixed on a drone has flown above different settlements of
Armenia and has caught exceptional shots for the film.



Edited by Yervant1, 06 May 2015 - 09:02 AM.

#12 Yervant1


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Posted 13 May 2015 - 03:22 PM


18:15, 13 May 2015
Siranush Ghazanchyan

Armenia could be the Switzerland of the Caucuses, a tranquil alpine
retreat enclosed by Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, and Turkey, the
Departures Magazine writes.

The heart of this, the first country to adopt Christianity, lies in
its monastic tradition. Of more than three thousand monasteries none
is more appealing or more remote than Noravank, sited at the head of
a pass in the southern mountains.

A handful of monks convene for the sacred liturgy, afterwards welcoming
the few guests under the watchful eyes of a pair of boot eagles
circling above. Leopard, lynx and porcupine live hereabouts, and the
monastery even has its own 'holy bear' residing in a nearby cave, drawn
by the odour of sanctity - or possibly the monastic recycling bin.

"Enjoy a lunch of barbecued chicken and plum wine in a carpeted cave
restaurant lower down the pass, an indication of growing visitor
numbers. With much of the Middle East in flames adventurous travellers
are beginning to divert to Armenia, so rich in folklore, topography
and cultural treasure," the Magazine suggests.

Departures is a Luxury Magazine, covering travel, shopping, fashion,
design, arts and culture.



#13 Yervant1


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Posted 27 May 2015 - 08:58 AM


18:08, May 26, 2015

Edik Baghdasaryan, David Banuchyan

Pedro Zorikian, who moved to Armenia from Los Angeles, never thought
he'd be working with the earth in the homeland. At first, he wanted
to start a small enterprise and he brought some experimental materials
with him. After dealing with Armenian customs officials Pedro changed
his mind.

A friend advised him to invest in agriculture. Pedro immediately
decided to buy a piece of this rocky land. He says that soil spring
up. Pedro, who knew nothing about farming, set about starting a garden
some 90 kilometers from Yerevan in the Armavir village of Bagaran
close to the border with Turkey. He started to learn how to farm. He
attended classes, read books, met with local farmers and vintners,
and studied the experience of other countries. On the way to his land
he talks about his fruit trees - apples, walnuts - and his grapevines.

An economist by profession, Pedro has now become an agronomist. He's
making a study of trees and tells me the different benefits of his
land for growing grapes. He's convinced that in Armenia the prospects
for developing agriculture and tourism in tandem exist. Pedro tells me
that once he starts producing his own wine, a section of the vineyard
will be turned into a taste testing center for tourists.



#14 Yervant1


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Posted 29 May 2015 - 01:57 PM


May 29, 2015 17:35

Founder of hospital clownery, doctor and clown Patch Adams armed with
laughter and committed to his Love Revolution mission spent almost 10
days in Armenia. Along with his group of clowns he visited orphanages
and children's hospitals in Yerevan, Gyumri, Vanadzor and Dilijan,
delivered lectures at Yerevan Mkhitar Heratsi State Medical University
and American University of Armenia (AUA).

In his interview to Mediamax, Patch Adams summed up his tour in
Armenia, told about his mission in here and shared his impressions.

- You first learned about Armenia from post stamps. How did you
picture the Armenia depicted on the stamps and how did it prove to
be in reality?

- It's true, I used to collect stamps. My father was an officer in
the United States Army and we did not have much money, so these post
stamps were the window through which we were darting a glance at the
entire world and getting acquainted with it. The history of a country,
its art, nature and name are imprinted on those stamps, and with a
map you can easily find it. I was collecting stamps when I was 9 or 10.

Today I am 70. So you cannot compare it - it is the same as to hear
about a kiss and compare it with a real one. Those are two different
things. The stamps taught me where Armenia is located. Later on,
I acquired books on Armenian Genocide. I knew there are Armenians
and there is also William Saroyan, who you call Armenian, and who I
call American.

- It was your first time in Armenia. What impressions did Armenia
leave on you? What do you think of Armenian people?

- Armenia is a country of beautiful and loving people. Unlike many
tourists, I have hugged hundreds of Armenians. They all received me
with love and the elderly women were laughing with me loudly. I could
see kind and caring hearts at Armenian children's homes.

- How did you get to know Ruben Vardanyan and how did he suggest
visiting Armenia?

- 13 years ago, in Russia, I got to know a girl called Maria. She
was providing care for children in orphanages. She was very poor
when she started it, but she was strong enough to establish her own
organization, which in order to continue its existence, sells at
an auction the works and wares created by children. Last November
Ruben Vardanyan attended one of those auctions. He is not a timid
person and his type is very dear to me. He approached me and said:
"Patch, you have to come to Armenia." I knew who he was and I said:
"Take 25 clowns." And so he did.

Out of our 150 trips, only 10 have been covered by a single person.

It's easy with Ruben; he wants to share. I have never met such a
rich person who would be this willing to share without setting any
preconditions. I looked him in the eye and understood that we would
come to Armenia. His team had become a "grand mother" for us.

- What do children in Armenian orphanages and hospitals mostly need?

- Certain medical institutions had better financing than the rest. But
financing does not necessarily mean good staff. There were places where
I could see maternal love and care, and there were places that lacked
it. I wish the staff consisted of more women or men truly loving and
caring for children.

School age is the age at which children should learn to love. Cancer
killing the child is not the worst thing; the worst are the aggressive
boys running in the orphanage. The life of these children is terrible.

They are homeless children living in orphanages, deprived of their
mothers' love. The hardest and most difficult thing is this. How can
you make a child-loving person out of such a rough and tough kid? It's
very hard to do in orphanages, and it's something that occurs in
all countries. Being raised by loving parents guarantees your being a
loving person too, and being raised in a troublesome and abusive family
is who you will become in then end. And after all, being deprived of
care deeply affects all children, no matter they are rich or poor.

Every single child needs a loving family. A country where there
is a homeless child is a country in the system of which something
"has gone haywire." Unfortunately, such a country is hard to find. I
hope when they grow up they will follow a different direction. We all
need a home where we will be loved. The lack of a loving home is what
makes them violent.

I don't want men to beat women. I am pretty sure the majority of
perfect families lie on the shoulders of women. It's the miracle of
women - even if the father's not good enough, they still manage to
transform the family into a home full of love.

- Is your mission in Armenia accomplished or should we expect some

- This visit differed from many of our trips in that it was a
gift. In general, clowns themselves cover their expenses. I will be
surprised if Ruben does not find us again and invite to Armenia. He
has much love in him and deep inside his soul, he strives for a Love
Revolution. I am sure he will consider inviting us again. I know he
loved the idea that Armenia should become the first country that will
teach to love. I am sure this idea is "tinkling" in his mind.

Life is a mystery, and you never know to which side it will veer. A
slight idea of founding a clownery movement would sound unbelievable
to me back in 1971 when I started building my hospital. If someone
told me I would make at least one such tour, I would say "no, I must
build the hospital". It's already the 45th year I have been into this
and everything that happened was far from what I had imagined.

Building that hospital is still on my task list.

- What are you taking with you from Armenia?

- A dress for my granddaughter, five books and many memories. We had
photographers and cameraman during our visit and during my next trip to
any destination, I will show the work we did with patients and children
in Armenia just like I did in Armenia when showing movies recounting
our trips to other countries. The stories I take with me are diverse.

Every month I send 400-600 letters to people living in various corners
of the world. The letters I will send next month will include stories
from this trip as well. Just like the yarns in the carpet, so the
countries in the world are all attached to one other.

Marie Taryan talked to Patch Adams Photo: Mariam Loretsyan


#15 Yervant1


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Posted 30 May 2015 - 08:32 AM


Moscow Times, Russia
May 28 2015

By Justin Lifflander
May. 28 2015 17:08

YEREVAN -- One Russian philanthropist has just completed the trial
run of a unique investment vehicle: a bus filled with clowns.

Ruben Vardanyan, founder of investment bank Troika Dialog, sponsored
a visit to Armenia by clown doctor Patch Adams and 20 clowns from
around the world this past week. They were joined by Maria Yeliseyeva,
founder of Russian children's charity Maria's Children, who added 10
clown participants to the colorful delegation. Yeliseyeva introduced
Patch, with whom she has been working on clown trips in Russia for
the last 30 years, to Vardanyan at a charity event in November.

Vardanyan said he was motivated to invest in the visit by ideals he
shares with Patch and a desire to affect the long-term thinking of
average Armenians.

"I believe in love," Vardanyan said. "And I believe if people have a
positive attitude they can change everything. I like it that Armenians
who are not traveling abroad get to see other types of cultures and
attitudes. I think it's important ... to be successful, it's necessary
to be open minded."

The tour brought clowns from eight countries to 16 orphanages and
hospitals in Yerevan, Gyumri, Vanadzor and Dilijan. They made contact
with thousands of children of all types -- including those with Down
syndrome, cerebral palsy and autism -- as well as those whose parents
are either too poor to care for them or have gone abroad to seek work.

The clowning involved amateurs and professionals, who dressed in
garish clothing, behaved absurdly and showered children, parents and
health care workers with balloons, bubbles, music and gags. Patch
also lectured in Yerevan at the American University of Armenia,
and in Dilijan at the UWC College, which was founded by Vardanian
and his wife Veronika Zonabend.

Atypical Project

Typically philanthropic projects by are bigger and more tangible than a
bus full of clowns, and often have an element of self-sustainability:
He has funded infrastructure development in Dilijan, is a founder and
supporter of the Skolkovo business school in Moscow, and financed
the construction of a 6-kilometer cable car to the Tatev monastery
in Armenia. The clown trip created new challenges: cross cultural
and logistical, but is consistent with his reputation for favoring
investments with long-term results.

Vardanyan said that at first the country's elite was skeptical. "Many
people in Armenia told me, 'Don't bring Patch. Traditional Armenians
will feel very bad. How can we do this?' There was strong resistance
from some people saying it won't be possible," he said. "But my staff
and friends convinced me it was the right thing to do."

The staff handling the hyperactive visitors expressed no regrets, and
enjoyed learning a new idiomatic expression in English: herding cats.

Patch, who has been leading clown trips around the world for 40 years
while raising funds to build his dream hospital in the United States,
said he saw immediate results from the visit to Armenia.

"People are the same everywhere: mothers squeal with joy as we
entertain their sick children. Grandmothers squeal even louder,"
Patch said, adding that the interactions also helped parents and
staff improve their loving skills.

The clown trip started with a visit to the Genocide Memorial in
Yerevan. Vardanyan's grandfather was one of the 30,000 children left
without parents by the time the terror had ended in 1924 and was raised
in an orphanage run by American missionaries. Patch wept like a baby as
he stood in front of the eternal flame contemplating the suffering. For
contrast, he labeled the rest of the tour the "Love Memorial."

The Playmates

A man whose net worth Forbes says is approaching 1 billion dollars,
Vardanyan showed no inhibitions in donning a clown suit and joining
the effort to bring joy. And since this was the first international
clown tour to Armenia, Patch rolled out the big guns -- "playmates"
as he likes to call his inner circle of veteran clowns -- who have
done an average of 27 years each of clown globe-trotting with him.

Ginevra Sanguigno is based in Milan, Italy and had clowned in 12
countries before joining the Armenia tour. She said the speed at
which clowns and Armenians connected was faster than other countries
due to the natural sense of musical rhythm the people have.

"The Armenian national instrument, the duduk, which is said to mimic
the sound of a mother's voice that the fetus hears in the womb,
could be why they quickly responded to our efforts to make contact,"
Sanguigno said. "We accompanied our clowning with a variety of
instruments, including a West African drum, two accordions, a kazoo
and several harmonicas."

Cees Kranen, a tall man from Holland whose clown idiom wears an
aviator cap and drags a rubber chicken behind him wherever he goes,
said that to really maximize the value of the clown tour, the effort
has to be repeated.

"We are like a drop of joy that creates a ripple which can turn into a
tsunami of love, transforming loneliness and misfortune into something
beautiful," Kranen said. "But coming back again is key to making it
work. In Russia, where I have clowned for many years, the children in
the orphanages talk about our visits for six months after we leave,
then begin to build excitement in anticipation of our next visit six
months before it happens."


Vardanyan is convinced the seed has been sown.

"We went with the clowns to one orphanage and when the staff saw
what we were doing they said, 'OK, we could be doing this also,
once a month, being not serious, laughing, doing more for the kids,
making them relax,'" he said. "They realize it doesn't require a lot
of investment ...just being in a good mood and the willingness to
act a bit childish."

Zonabend, who is chairman of the board of UWC Dilijan College, saw
the same effect.

"Patch's visit to UWC Dilijan was very meaningful and had a huge
impact on the students," she said.

"Some plan to participate in clowning activities during the summer."

The extreme dedication of the clowns was typified by another Dutch
chicken-bearing clown, Marleen van Os. A health care worker at a
center for the disabled, van Os also volunteers in her free time to
help individuals with disabilities and spends much of her vacation
time on clown trips. When she does take time off from helping others
to go to a restaurant, for example, she says she inevitably winds up
sitting next to a table of children with Down syndrome.

"Trips like this one give me perspective, and I share that with my
colleagues back home," said van Os. "They complain about a lack of
funding and staff and I describe the difficult conditions in other
countries and that makes them more appreciative of what they have."

Yeliseyeva of Maria's Children decided to help the health care
workers in Armenia by including prominent child psychologist Alexander
Kolmanovsky in her Russian delegation. While the clowns were doing
their shtick with the children, he ran seminars for parents and
care givers to raise their understanding, share experiences and help
build confidence.

Immediate Returns, Too

Zhorik, a first-time clown in the Russian delegation, who was unable to
provide a last name because he doesn't have one, was mostly impressed
by the instantaneous return on investment.

"I spent a week dressed and behaving in a way I never would have
before," said Zhorik, "but my clown personality gave me the power to
instantly connect with adults and children. I'll savor the memory of
the smiles and laughter I created."

By the end of the trip, Vardanyan confirmed the broader effect of
the effort.

"Everybody received the clowns positively," he said. "It's been really
good for Armenians to see that adult people can behave differently."


#16 Yervant1


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Posted 08 June 2015 - 10:44 AM


12:22, 08 Jun 2015
Siranush Ghazanchyan

By Greg Keraghosian
Yahoo Travel

There's a certain irony in riding a five-year-old tramway to reach a
1,200-year-old monastery. Kind of like Snapchatting the Mona Lisa to
your friend. But that's what I did recently, and I couldn't be happier
that the technology now exists - it's made an Armenian historical
treasure more accessible to visitors, and as you reach the other side,
the shiny cable car to Tatev Monastery feels more like a time machine.

Perched dramatically on the edge of a rugged plateau that falls into
the Vorotan River Gorge in southeast Armenia, the monastery inspires
easy analogies to Game of Thrones. But unlike Winterfell, this place
actually lived those stories. Built as far back as 848 A.D., the
monastery near the village of Tatev has seen religious prominence,
economic influence, foreign invasions, massive earthquakes, an
important Medieval university, destruction, and restoration.

These days it's just a tourist site, but a magnificent tourist site
at that. You reach Tatev Monastery by taking the world's longest
reversible aerial tramway, which floats up to 1,050 feet above the
gorge. After that, for some real Instagram street cred, you'll want
to capture one of the best photo ops nobody knows about: looking
down at the monastery in all its glory as it seemingly teeters on
the cliff's edge.

Amazingly, my crew and I were the only visitors enjoying that view,
from a vista point that's a 1 kilometer hike away. On a sunny Saturday
afternoon in May, tourists stuck to striding around the monastery's
three churches and adjacent grounds. I had come here leading five
high-school-age members of my Tumo travel storytelling workshop in
the Armenian capital of Yerevan.

And while I was at least 20 years older than my companions, I was
probably the most impatient - like a restless kid who just wants to
cut past the line at Disneyland, I just wanted to find that shot of
Tatev Monastery, the one I'd been thinking about for days.

But we had to save that for last. First, we had to drive four hours
from Yerevan to reach the village of Halidzor. From there we had two
options to reach Tatev Monastery: drive 40 minutes through the deep
ravine with its narrow, switchback-laden roads, or simply float there
on Wings of Tatev, a 10-minute tramway ride away. The latter made more
sense for us considering our time constraints, though I would have
loved to take the scenic route, which includes a natural crossing
called the Devil's Bridge. (A more sensible base of operations for
a visit to Tatev would be from the town of Goris, under 20 miles away.)

Plus, at least you can say you rode something in the Guinness Book of
World Records. Wings of Tatev launched in October 2010 in an effort to
revive tourism in the region, and it cost an estimated $18 million to
build. The tramway extends 3 ½ miles, with the cable cars reaching
23 mph. These are hardly ziplining speeds and the ride is smooth,
though people who fear heights may tense up at times.


#17 Yervant1


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Posted 19 June 2015 - 08:38 AM



06/18/2015 15:27

The small country located in southwestern Asia, just a two-hour
non-stop flight from Tel Aviv - is so unique.

The ninth century Tatev Monastery. Today it holds a university..

(photo credit:MEITAL SHARABI)

Although the choice of world travel destinations may seem endless,
there actually aren't too many places Israelis haven't explored. And
it's pretty hard these days to find tourist spots where the natural
order hasn't been disturbed and people still live traditionally,
just as their great-grandparents did.

That's why Armenia - a small country located in southwestern Asia,
just a two-hour non-stop flight from Tel Aviv - is so unique.


#18 MosJan


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Posted 19 June 2015 - 05:32 PM

need to go back
..  soon ... need to recharge...

#19 Yervant1


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Posted 25 June 2015 - 08:56 AM


Cape Times (South Africa)
June 23, 2015 Tuesday

"Here's the best part," is what Aren Apikyan said as we suddenly
lurched, suspended mid-air. Tummy somersaulting, we swung backwards
and forwards 320m above a yawning valley sprinkled with villages
intertwined in a sinuous network|of tracks.

Surrounded by a panorama of snow-capped peaks of the Karabakh mountain
range, no wonder it's called the Wings of Tatev.

At 5 752m long, it features in the Guinness World Records as the
world's longest non-stop reversible aerial tramway. Carrying 25
passengers in one cabin,|it passes three towers, the highest at 60m,
the one we had just bumped over.

Located in the former Soviet republic, Armenia straddles Asia and
Europe. It has closed borders with neighbouring Turkey to the west
and Azerbaijan to the east, and open borders of Georgia to the north
and Iran to the south.

However, it's not the Wings of Tatev that is this compact, land-locked
country's claim to fame. Armenia was the first country in the world
to declare Christianity its official religion, more than 1 700 years
ago; now, despite thousands of years of earthquakes, renovation and
architectural tinkering, it's the place to explore the rich legacy of
ancient churches and monasteries. But you don't have to be religious
to enjoy them.

The general layout and design of these buildings is almost always
universal, but it's their position that takes the breath away.

Double-storey, constructed in dark stone or light, concealed in a
forest or perched on a cliff or dry canyon, some with conical roofs
inspired by Mount Ararat; each one has its own hallmark.

Some are challenging to reach, Tatev among them. Located in Armenia's
most beautiful region, Vayots Dzor (Gorge of Woes) in the south,
along a vital highway linking the country's capital of Yerevan,
to the Iranian border. The area has a history of ruinous earthquakes.

With hiking guide Hayk Melkonyan pointing to the corner of the valley,
we wondered whether an earthquake was behind the legend of Satan's
Bridge. Located on the road, it's halfway between the cable car and
Tatev village.

Hayk told the story about a young shepherd and a pretty girl. They
lived on either side of the Vorotan River Gorge, and saw each other
every morning. Eventually, the shepherd fell in love with the girl
and wanted to tell her, but he could not reach her because the raging
river divided them. So, he prayed to God, asking for his help in
meeting the girl, but God didn't listen.

Then the shepherd asked Satan for help, promising to give his soul
in return. Satan listened, connected two rocks over the raging river
so the shepherd could run across the "bridge".

However, he could not be with the girl because Satan took his soul.

The girl and the shepherd never met. Since that time, the local people
refer to the rocks as Satan's Bridge.

The story in the guidebook is not nearly as romantic. Legend goes
that centuries ago, villagers fleeing a rebel army were blocked by
the river. Before the invaders attacked, the people were saved when
a bridge was magically created by a massive falling rock.

In good weather it's a great place to swim, beneath the boulder,
walking from one rock pool to another, scrambling into caves in
between. But not today. May is when Armenia receives most of its rain,
but it's also the time when the countryside is carpeted with flowers.

And while thunder, lightning and hail stayed away, threatening nimbus
clouds pregnant with rain hung low overhead. For this reason hiking
was off the schedule, anyway it's more fun to get to Tatev Monastery
by cable car.

That morning, the hostel owner in nearby Goris described the Wings of
Tatev opening as an auspicious occasion. Held on October 16, 2010,
it was attended by the presidents of Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh,
the head Catholicos of the Armenian Apostolic Church, children from
local villages and musicians from Yerevan. Like today, it was cloudy
on top and, to make it worse, the cable car stopped midway with
passengers suspended for an hour.

Wings of Tatev project manager Aren Apikyan said this private public
partnership was built to develop tourism in the region. The plan is
to link isolated mountain villages to the main highway 23km away and
also to restore Tatev Monastery.

In the past, few tourists visited the monastery because it took long
to get there. It would have taken days to reach the isolated villages
along what was a dirt road. Now it takes 12 minutes by cable car.

Among these villages is Kashuni, the smallest in Armenia with only
six inhabitants. It wasn't always so small. A statue in the village
square commemorates 20 people who died in World War II. Prior to this,
the population was 50, today there is only one young man and five
elderly people. The man is a shepherd, and single. Aren said it's
unlikely that the village will survive because young women in the
area aren't interested in getting hitched to a shepherd.

Drawing closer to the mountain, the cable car docked at the
jaw-droppingly beautiful fairy-tale monastery.

Located in a bend of the Vorotan Canyon, it's built on a natural
rock fortress, a confection of arches, chapels, intricate carvings
and rock-hewn portraits. The best time to visit is early morning,
when eagles sore on thermals.

At its peak, about 600 monks lived and worked here. In 1931 it
was practically destroyed by an earthquake, rebuilt in the 1940s,
again in 1980, but the renovation is bad and it is the reason why
it has not achieved Unesco World Heritage status. Outside the main
gate there's an oil-press exhibit, an excellent display of seeds,
tools and ancient machinery used in the process of oil extraction.

But it was the sound of angels that drew us to the main church of
Surp Poghos-Petros (St Paul and St Peter).

A village choir, dressed in blue, their heads covered in white lacy
shawls, sang from hymn books. Outside, gathered beneath a tree in
the courtyard were children with daisies in their hair.

Tempted to take one of many hikes, instead I returned by the cable
car. This was a good plan as it started to rain.

Vayots Dzor is also known for its wine. That was our next plan.

Armenia is like an open-air museum, both in terms of the nature and
the treasury of art. There is a wide choice of restaurants, hotels
and bars - and although the outlying areas have infrequent public
transport, it's easy to make day trips from Yerevan or take a tour.


#20 Yervant1


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Posted 22 July 2015 - 08:48 AM


10:22 22/07/2015 Â" SOCIETY

Although small in size, Armenia boasts a big reputation: In 301,
it was the first nation to adopt Christianity as a state religion,
and many of its hundreds of churches and monasteries date back more
than 1,000 years. Commonly built in high, breathtaking locations
where they were less vulnerable to attacks, they stand as visual
reminders of the nation's religious heritage, Patricia Schultz -
author of travel guides - writes for Travel Weekly.

"Don't even try to decipher Armenia's unique Indo-European language,
spoken only by its 3 million inhabitants and some of the vast diaspora
of 7 million (or more) scattered across the globe. Its spikey and
impenetrable alphabet was introduced in the 5th century to translate
the Bible. Both religion and language are twin pillars of Armenia's
national identity," Schultz notes.

Looming large in the nation's present is its tragic past, the
inescapable account of the 1915 genocide when 1.5 million Armenians
died at the hands of the Ottoman government. The hilltop genocide
memorial with sweeping views of the million-strong city pays silent
tribute to a people and religion that have survived the millennia,
Schultz writes.

"Yerevan was not what I expected. In contrast to predeparture research
about historic massacres, a struggling economy and high unemployment
rates, the impression awaiting travelers today is one of a modernizing
capital and country of spectacular beauty, a helpful, friendly and
fun-loving people and warm hospitality," the author points.

Shultz writes about how she enjoyed the Armenian cuisine with delicious
dishes of fresh vegetables, a variety of yogurts and salty cheeses,
grape-leaf dolma and barbecue (pork is a favorite) with frequent toasts
made with local organic wines. Armenian brandy, loved by Churchill,
boasts a potency barely masked with the flavors of pomegranate,
apricot or cherry.

Schultz notes that nighttime in Yerevan is lively, and the entire
world takes to the streets and fills the outdoor cafes and shaded
squares. Young families with gelato-eating children join strolling
couples and small groups of bar-hopping friends. Everyone winds up at
the colored Bellagio-like dancing fountains in Republic Square that
infuse the city with a holiday air. Schultz highlights that the city
(and beyond) felt very safe.

To Schultz, one-of-a-kind highlights were the Etchmiadzin Cathedral,
the first built in Armenia and the oldest in the world. Begun in the
4th century, it is the headquarters of the Armenian Church. She also
saw Geghard Monastery, a remarkable complex of three interconnected
cave churches, also begun in the 4th century. In that same period, St.

Gregory the Illuminator, responsible for bringing Christianity to
Armenia, was imprisoned in a dank well for 13 years, and Khor Virap
monastery was built on that spot, against a breathtaking backdrop of
the snow-capped Mount Ararat.

That mountain, which dominates the skyline of Yerevan, serves as a
potent national symbol of Armenia. It lies just 28 miles away in what
is now Turkey. Called Mount Masis in the Book of Genesis, it is the
alleged resting place of Noah's ark, and Armenians pride themselves
on tracing their lineage back to that moment, the author writes.

Armenia has a surprisingly good road system, and exploring small
agricultural towns and remote corners appeared to be safe for solo
travelers. The author explored more monasteries and churches, visited
Silk Road caravanserais and ancient cemeteries, had lunch at a small
restaurant whose owner regularly wins national barbecue contests,
and tasted wine and brandy, all amid pristine forested mountains,
rocky gorges and rushing rivers.

Schultz also had a visit to the lovely Lake Sevan, one of the largest
and highest freshwater lakes in the world, and an idyllic overnight
stay in the nearby mountain town of Dilijan, before leaving Armenia.

Related: The Daily Beast: Every schoolboy in NKR knows that after
graduation he will go to defend his state

British Journal: Nagorno Karabakh populated with Armenians could
become the new wonder of world



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