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Stunning Armenia, a fascinating glimpse into Noah’s land

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#161 Yervant1


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Posted 06 December 2021 - 08:50 AM


GUM Market is a vast indoor space where different vendors sell dried fruits, sujukh, basturma, aromatic herbs, fresh fruits-vegetables, fresh meat, fish and ingredients for Armenian khash.

The GUM Market Armenia takes its name from the Russian abbreviation for ‘Main Universal Store’, the title given to the main department stores in former Soviet Union cities.

The store is broken down into different departments. The dried and candied goods, the butcher shop and fishmongers, the fruits and veggies, the spices, the clothing, and the oddities. The front part of the GUM Market Armenia is devoted to dried and candied fruits, nuts, spices and our all-time favorite Armenian snack, sujukh. They also love calling this ‘Armenian Snickers’. It’s a treat made of walnuts that have been dipped in grape jelly. They make for excellent edible Armenian souvenirs to bring home.


The National Gallery is the largest art gallery in Armenia, and one of the most outstanding among the countries of the former union. The collection of the National Gallery now has a total of about 26,000 items of fine and applied arts; it is represented in 56 exhibition halls. The museum’s collection includes canvases of Armenian, European, Russian artists, as well as works of decorative and applied art.

The collection of Armenian art includes masterpieces by Ivan Aivazovsky, Martiros Saryan, Arshile Gorky, and Jean Jansem. The European collection includes works by Rubens, Rodin, van Goyen, Jacob Jordan and Rousseau.



74666163_2468785626575780_32499955853101I would typically give you a few options for hotels, but it would do you a disservice. I’ve been to Armenia before and stayed at fine establishments, but nothing can compare to the Grand Hotel Yerevan.

It is an elegant and modern hotel for travelers, sightseers, and those who are ready for an unforgettable experience. The charm of the 1928 neoclassical building that houses the hotel is timeless. The luxury hotel is in the center of Yerevan. Due to its prime location, Grand Hotel represents the embodiment of modern and ancient Armenian history and culture. Despite being an exceptional hotel and ideally located in the heart of town, their rates are very reasonable.

Open-Air-Swimming-Pool-scaled.jpgGrand Hotel Yerevan is an elegant and refined hotel with a long and storied history. Its excellent location, within a short walking distance from Yerevan’s central Republic Square, makes it possible to fully enjoy the city and reach all the main attractions of the capital. The spacious and comfortable rooms, the inner yard bar, the rooftop pool with panoramic view, and the spa create a luxurious experience with relaxing accommodations.

Grand Hotel Yerevan is only a 15-minute drive (12 km) from the Zvartnots International Airport. It is within easy walking distance to the Theatre of Opera and Ballet, the National Gallery, the Republic Square, and Cascade, a monumental travertine stairway decorated with the sculptures of the most prominent contemporary artists. Northern Avenue, the famous pedestrian street replete with bars and elegant boutiques, is just nearby.

Senior-Suite-1-scaled.jpgThe “smorgasbord” breakfast in the Nairi by Grand Hotel Yerevan offers a wide range of sweet and salty dishes. Fine cocktails are accompanied by live music in the Winter Garden Bar, which is open 24/7. So, prepare yourself to enjoy their excellent service, high-quality food, and fresh design.

The hotel’s spa center offers you a wide range of beauty procedures and massages with carefully chosen Armenian products. In the open-air rooftop pool, fitness center, or sauna bath. The private open-air pool (seasonal), situated on the hotel’s roof, is a perfect place for relaxation. Here you can enjoy the sunny Yerevan while lounging in comfortable deckchairs, having a cocktail, and trying delectable hot and cold dishes from the bar. This magical place with a beautiful and picturesque view of Yerevan is ideally suited for romantic dinners, private events, and cocktail parties.

The hotel’s spa center offers you a wide range of beauty procedures and massages with carefully chosen Armenian products. In the open-air rooftop pool, fitness center, or sauna bath.

The luxurious rooms of Grand Hotel Yerevan, with their stylish furniture and attention to the smallest detail, provide you with all the services necessary to have an unforgettable trip. The staff is incredibly professional, friendly, and the service is top-notch. If you are planning a trip to Armenia, look no further than the Grand Hotel Yerevan.




Top 10 attractions in Yerevan barely scratches the surface of what this ancient city has to offer. There is a good reason why Armenia is major tourist destination for people interested in history, religion, archeology, adventure travel, a well as for foodies, wine connoisseurs, and music lovers.


#162 Yervant1


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Posted 15 December 2021 - 08:40 AM

January-February, 2022


“Armenian creativity, culture, and survival”

A museum reflects an ancient civilization and the modern global diaspora.




The impressive two-tiered modern interior of the Armenian Museum of America

Photograph courtesy of the Armenian Museum of America


IN 1207 an elderly scribe in the Armenian kingdom of Cilicia completed the Garabed Gospel. Although blinded by the 11-year undertaking, he completed the 250 inked, goat-skin pages, with decorative marginalia, at a monastery near what is now southern Turkey and gave it to a priest. For the next 700 years, the manuscript was passed down through that family lineage of priests, serving as a sacred object, according to the Armenian Museum of America, in Watertown, Massachusetts, where the volume is now on display. “If one became sick, one would ask the family for ‘the blessing of the book’ to cure their disease. A supplicant would rub a piece of bread or a rag on the Gospel Book,” a museum plaque explains. “If the bread was eaten by the afflicted, or the rag was worn against their body, it was thought to cure the disease.”

1207 Garabed Gospel
Photograph courtesy of the Armenian Museum of America

It is the museum’s oldest book, says executive director Jason Sohigian, A.L.M. ’11, and survived the looting and destruction of other texts, art, cultural objects, and whole villages by the invading Turks over the years. The museum’s collection of more than 25,000 objects elucidates some 3,000 years of Armenian history and culture, from the early days of Christianity (Armenians were the first to accept Christianity as a state religion) to the contemporary global diaspora. That includes 5,000 ancient and medieval coins and pre-Christian pottery and metalwork, along with liturgical manuscripts and objects, rugs, lacework, embroidery, and artifacts from the World War I-era genocide. More contemporary are the museum’s series of famous portraits by Yousuf Karsh, underground works from the Soviet era (donated by Norton Townshend Dodge, Ph.D. ’60) and, surprisingly, a handful of oil paintings by the American pathologist, and pioneering right-to-die with dignity proponent, Jack Kevorkian, whose mother escaped the genocide.

“Many of the objects in our collection and on display are survivors of history,” says Sohigian. “Armenians have inhabited those lands for thousands of years, and our cultural heritage has been under threat especially in recent centuries. Our museum is unique in that it preserves and displays many of these artifacts that tell the story of Armenian resilience, creativity, culture, and survival over millennia on the territory known as the Armenian Highland.”

Bronze belt with protective symbols
Photograph courtesy of the Armenian Museum of America

That mission, of bridging gaps between ancient and modern identities, “is not easy or unproblematic, as we know,” says Tufts professor of art and architecture, Christina Maranci, Dadian and Oztemel chair in Armenian art and architectural history, and an academic adviser to the museum. “It is best, in my view, to let the objects speak for themselves,” she says. “The Garabed Gospels…does this well: its colophon records its initial production by the scribe Garabed, successive owners and users over generations, indeed centuries, as well as its vandalization during the Genocide.”

The museum’s “extraordinary collection,” she adds, is both under-researched and under-studied, but is instrumental in chronicling and bearing witness to rich aspects of world history. She highlights the late fifteenth-century hymnal illuminated by Karapet of Berkri, a famous medieval artist and scribe from the Vaspurakan region (the cradle of Armenian civilization, now within the borders of Turkey and Iran), and an eighteenth-century altar curtain made from wooden block prints for a church of Saint George in Mardin as “testifying to circulation of objects across the Armenian communities in the Ottoman Empire.” A priest’s cope (shurchar), made in Surabaya for a wealthy Armenian trading family, as one of her students discovered during a research seminar, “combines traditional Indonesian batik fabric with an Armenian inscription, speaking eloquently to the dynamics of cultural exchange in the early modern world, and the role of Armenians within it.”

The museum's Watertown Square façade
Photograph courtesy of the Armenian Museum of America

 Scholarly value aside, the museum is a powerful experience for visitors, no matter how familiar they are with Armenian culture and history. It’s a testament not only to the layered ancient world, but to a peoples’ resilient drive to survive and flourish despite historic genocide and other forms of destruction. The local effort to find and preserve elements of this heritage began in 1971 when a small group of Armenian Americans first gathered contributed items in the basement of the First Armenian Church in Belmont, Massachusetts.

The state has long been home to the nation’s second-largest Armenian American population, with about 30,000 residents of Armenian heritage living primarily in Boston, Worcester, and Watertown. Los Angeles is home to 205,000 residents of Armenian descent (Cherilyn Sarkisian, better known as Cher, and the Kardashian clan among them), but has no museum. The Watertown institution’s founders eventually bought a former bank building, a brutalist structure designed by Ben Thompson, of The Architects’ Collaborative, in Cambridge, stored valuable items in existing vaults, and began opening exhibits to the public in 1991, the same year Armenia declared independence from the Soviet Union.

 Preservation of materials connected to Armenia is a continuing effort, Sohigian notes. In September 2020, the museum took a stand against the “resumption of war” and the threats against Armenian culture in the Artsakh region, expressing “solidarity with colleagues in the scholarly and cultural heritage community around the world, who are calling attention to the threat of cultural genocide and ethnic cleansing in Artsakh.” The 44-day war in that region, also known by its Russian name Nagorno Karabakh, began on September 27, 2020, and was led by the Republic of Azerbaijan with Turkey’s military support and Syrian jihadist mercenaries. The war was halted by a trilateral agreement, and Russian peacekeeping troops currently occupy the region, although remaining Armenians face a precarious future.

Artfully painted NFL cleats on display bear iconic Armenian imagery.
Photograph courtesy of the Armenian Museum of America

Joining the effort to draw attention and aid to the political crisis, the museum spotlights, near the entrance, an artful pair of #PeaceForArmenians cleats. Donated for the NFL’s “My Cleats, My Cause” program by the New England Patriots’ director of football/head coach administration Berj Najarian, an Armenian American, the cleats are painted with Armenian iconic imagery by Massachusetts artist Joe Ventura, and were auctioned off to support the Armenia Fund. They were bought and donated by museum president Michele Kolligian and vice president Bob Khederian. Nearly all of the items have been gifts, notably from Paul and Vicki Bedoukian.

Clothing recovered from a genocide victim in the Syrian desert
Photograph courtesy of the Armenian Museum of America

Among the most stirring objects are in the exhibit about the Armenian Genocide of 1915-1916. During this period, Armenians living in the multi-ethnic Ottoman Empire were subjected to arrest and deportation, and otherwise systematically annihilated through massacres, starvation, exposure, and illness. Many were forced to walk to desert regions where they died along the way. The events were finally publicly recognized as genocide by President Joe Biden last year. “The global diaspora was the result of the Armenian Genocide, and the survivors of that generation went on to thrive and prosper,” Sohigian says. “This is a source of pride for us, and we are honored to tell this story to the world.”

Walls depict maps and photographs interspersed with an extensive chronology of both the historic context for the genocide, and the events themselves. But artifacts convey the human toll. “This is an outfit worn by a child victim of the 1915 genocide,” Sohigian says during a museum visit. “And this eighteenth-century Bible was found buried in the Syrian desert, Der Zor,” where deportees died. There are also human bone fragments, a metal collar used as an instrument of torture, handwritten letters, and a folk art crafted by survivors.

The first wave of Armenians to Massachusetts grew out of the spread of American Protestant missionary schools across Anatolia, according to the genocideeducation.org project, but then worsening economic conditions, violence, and forced conscription into the Ottoman army led to a second wave in the 1890s. “The most important destination…was Watertown, where the new Hood Rubber factory opened its doors in 1896. Coinciding with the exodus of Armenians from the 1890s massacres, a direct pipeline developed between the Armenian provinces and east Watertown.” Thousands more arrived in flight from the 1915 genocide such that by 1930 more than 3,500 Armenians lived in Watertown—nearly 10 percent of the population. The community still thrives today, with churches, grocers, a cutural center, and a school.

Atlazlama embroidered cover
Photograph courtesy of the Armenian Museum of America

The museum owns hundreds of beautifully hand-woven rugs, several of which are on display, along with traditional apparel and examples of fine needlework. Visitors will see a velvet wedding dress with gold-lace embellishments and a woven belt typical of the women’s clothing of Erzurum, a once-thriving Armenian city that’s now part of eastern Anatolia, Turkey. Embroidered textiles from Marash, in Cilicia, now southeastern Turkey, feature interlaced stitching depicting architectural and natural motifs. There’s also white lacework, liturgical clothing and objects, like the 1813 Hmayil, an illustrated scroll featuring prayers and quotes to help ward off dangers and sickness, and musical instruments. Among them is the indigenous Armenian duduk, an ancient double reed woodwind piece made from apricot wood. Striving to connect this rich past of ancient kingdoms and global migration to the present, the museum typically hosts art classes and year-round in-person activities featuring Armenian food, music, dance, and scholarly talks on its huge, skylighted third floor. Planning is under way for 2022 programs; check the website calendar at armenianmuseum.org for details.

Within that event space, look for the two galleries of striking contemporary art. Dissident Collection of Armenian Art features a painting by the well-regarded Sarkis Hamalbashian, and about 10 works produced in Soviet-era Armenia. They were donated by the foundation for the economist and collector Norton Townshend Dodge, who first traveled to the Soviet Union in 1955, ostensibly as part of his Harvard dissertation, and eventually, covertly, amassed one of the largest collections of Soviet art outside of the Soviet Union. (His activities are narrated in John McPhee’s 1994 The Ransom of Russian Art.)

Green Room (2005), by Sarkis Hamalbashian
Photograph courtesy of the Armenian Museum of America

Hanging in the adjacent gallery are the graphic, surrealist Kevorkian works. In addition to his active support of physician-assisted suicide (for which he was convicted of second-degree murder in 1999 and served eight years in prison), Kevorkian was also a jazz musician, composer, linguist, and painter. Of the art displayed, most salient, and framed using human blood, is 1915 Genocide 1945. Kevorkian’s own explanatory label reads, in part: “No collective human action can match the depravity of race murder. To call it bestial would be unfairly lowering the beast…Any such attempt (including this painting) would never convey the real meaning of unlimited murder for the purposes of national extinction, beginning with the American Indians.”

This winter, the museum adds to these contemporary galleries a multimedia exhibit anchored by its recently acquired Armenian cross-stone, known as a khachkar. The object reflects a medieval art form unique to Armenia, and was carved in 2018 by sculptor Bogdan Hovhannisyan for the Smithsonian Institute’s Folklife Festival. “It’s a connection between a modern artist and a tradition; if you go to Armenia now, you will see artists carving these crosses in their workshops,” Sohigian says. “And all these things, the monuments, artifacts, relics, art, are actively being destroyed by Turkey and Azerbaijan now.”

The cross-stone, like the Garabed Gospel painstakingly created in the thirteenth century, stands to preserve cultural history and the collective experience of a displaced, dispersed people. Although the manuscript was seized by authorities when older members of the extended Der Garabedian family, which held the Holy Book for 39 generations, were killed during the genocide, a surviving relative paid a ransom for its return. In 1927, he gave it to a nephew who had emigrated to America, and his surviving daughter, Julia Der Garabedian, entrusted it to the museum. “If we agree that cultural heritage is a human right,” Christina Maranci says, “then we should respect, protect and learn from those communities whose cultures have faced destruction.”  


#163 Yervant1


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Posted 17 December 2021 - 09:13 AM

Public Radio of Armenia
Dec 16 2021
World Travel Awards: Armenia named World’s Leading Heritage Destination 2021
December 16, 2021, 15:39

Wings of Tatev was recognized as the winner of the 28th World Travel Awards in the “World’s Leading Cable Car Ride 2021” category, and Armenia is the winner in the “World’s Leading Heritage Destination 2021” category.

Given the gradual recovery in global tourism following the outbreak of the Covid-19 epidemic, receiving the top tourism award this year is more important and valuable for Armenia than ever before.

Wings of Tatev is the longest (5752 m)reversible aerial cable car in the world, and has served more than 1 million visitors in 11 years. Thanks to this world-class award, Wings of Tatev can record new achievements, as well as successfully continue its work on raising awareness about Armenia and Tatev in the international tourism market.

“This achievement has once again proved the fact that Tatev Monastery and Wings of Tatev are one of the main and significant tourist destinations for Armenia and the region, and Wings of Tatev cable car meets the highest international standards,” said Vahe Baghdasaryan, Director of Wings of Tatev.

Halidzor, Armenia – July 02, 2017: The tram of “Wings of Tatev” cableway between Halidzor and Tatev monastery on blue sky background. Longest non-stop double track cable car in a world at this moment

World Travel Awards was established in 1993 to acknowledge, reward, and celebrate excellence across all key sectors of the travel, tourism, and hospitality industries.

“The participation and victory of Armenia in such a world-class award ceremony in both nominations make the country more recognizable in international markets. It is necessary to use such opportunities and strengthen Armenia’s position as a world’s leading heritage destination and a leading cable car ride through continuous marketing campaigns,” said Gayane Ayvazyan, Public Relations Expert of the Tourism Committee of the RA Ministry of Economy.

The collaboration with World Travel Awards was launched by the Tourism and Urbanism (TUF) Charitable Foundation in June 2021. A cooperation agreement was signed to develop the capacity of specialists in the field of tourism and tourism infrastructure in Armenia.

As part of the cooperation, TUF Foundation organized a visit of Graham Cooke, the Founder and the Director of the World Travel Awards, to Armenia. In the course of the tour, Mr. Cooke visited the most spectacular and attractive touristic sites in Armenia. He got acquainted with Armenian culture, history, traditions, and national cuisine.

World Travel Awards announces 2021 World winners

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#164 Yervant1


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Posted 06 January 2022 - 09:31 AM

The Travel
Jan 5 2022
Traveling In Armenia? Consider These Awesome Backpacker Hostels

From the oldest hostel in the country to one that's award-winning, backpacking through Armenia just got a lot more exciting (and affordable).


Welcome to Armenia! добро пожаловать в армению! բարի գալուստ Հայաստան! Armenia is a stunning and welcoming little former Post-Soviet country in the Caucasus region neighbored by Georgia (the country), Turkey, Azerbaijan, and Iran. It is a great destination for backpackers looking for a road less traveled and there is much to see and explore in this stunning alpine country.

Many backpackers and other travelers fall in love with this charming country and its many impressive monasteries perched in the most impossible of places. Armenia's cuisine is in itself enough to make the country worth visiting.

What To Expect Backpacking In Armenia

Armenia traces its origins to ancient states and kingdoms that have existed for thousands of years. The first Armenian state of Urartu was established in 860 BC and the Kingdom of Armenia was the first nation to adopt Christianity as its official religion (officially in 301 AD). The modern state of Armenia became independent with the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

  • Religion: Armenia is Majority Orthodox And Was the First To Convert To Christianity
  • Yerevan: Capital and Largest City
  • Visa: Not Required for Western Countries
  • An Ancient Country: Counting Precursor States, Armenia Is Older Than Rome

Today Armenia is an ancient land with many ancient sites (including old Roman sites) and delicious cuisine.

Armenia has several great hostels (and some not so great). Here are some of the best - these hostels can be much more than just accommodation. They can help the plan one's trip and give any advice one may need.

  • Alphabet: Armenia Has Their Own Unique Alphabet - "Welcome to Armenia" Goes Like բարի գալուստ Հայաստան!

Some of Armenia's (and neighboring Georgia's) top attractions are their ancient and beautiful monasteries. Some of the ones one should not miss out on are:

  • Tatev Monastery: A 9th-century Monastery Situated In an Eye-Watering Setting
  • Khor Virab Monastery: Also A Pilgrimage Site With Breath-taking Views Of Mount Ararat - where Noah's Ark Is Fabled To Rest
  • Sevanavank Monastery: A Stunning Monastery Over Looking The Massive Lake Sevan

The best time to come is in the summer months but other seasons have a charm of their own as well.

Kantar Hostel

Kantar Hostel is one of the oldest hostels in Yerevan and enjoys a prime location. It is a stone's through from Republic Square - the heart of the city. It is only a short walk from the Parliament of Armenia and the National Museum.

  • Oldest: Kantar Hostel is One of The First Hostels to Open In Yerevan

Kantar caters to a full range of backpackers as well as normal holidaymakers not backpacking. Kantar Hostel is a hybrid hostel having a hotel section and a hostel section. Travelers looking for private accommodation can get the best of both worlds - the hostel vibe and the privacy and comfort of a hotel.

Dorm rooms are available with the option of a 4-bed dorm or an 8-bed dorm (with balconies).

  • Hybrid: It Is A Hybrid Hostel and Hotel
  • 4 Bed Dorm: $17.00 - Low Season; $19.00 - High Season
  • 8 Bed Dorm: From $15.00 - Low Season; $17.00 - High Season
  • Bunk Beds: Equipped with Power Sockets and A Reading Light

The hostel is clean and modern and offers superb complimentary breakfasts - a breakfast quality that is virtually unheard of for hostels. Tea and coffee are available 24/7. The kitchen is open for use for any travelers wishing to prepare their own meals.

  • Included: Breakfast, Free Towels, Lockers, Linen, WiFi
  • Breakfast: Complimentary Breakfasts are Exceptional by Hostel Standards
  • Check Out: 12.00 pm (A Generously Lake Check out)

Kantar has received Hostelworld's HOSCAR award in 2017 and 2018 and has been named the best hostel in the country. They boast an exceptional rating of 9.5 on Booking.com as well

  • Awards: Kantar Has Won Awards From Both Hostelworld and Booking.com

Kantar has a 24-hour reception and staffing fully proficient in English. They can arrange any excursion or private tour anywhere in Armenia.

In addition, they have a common area that doubles up as a workspace - complete with computers for use. If one is traveling and working, then one can complete all the work in comfort one the bench seating or the comfy beanbags.

Hostel Envoy

Hostel Envoy is more of a typical hostel. It also enjoys a great location and is a little cheaper. One does get what one pays for and the breakfast is not of the same standard and is available for a one-hour window in the morning instead of a 3.5-hour window.

  • 4 Bed Dorm: $10.00 - Low Season
  • 8 Bed Dorm: From $11.00 - Low Season
  • Breakfast: Complimentary (of More Typical Hostel Standard)

Hostel Envoy can also arrange one's tours, excursions, and provide a full range of ideas for what to see and explore while in Armenia. The staff here are also very friendly and accommodating and can arrange airport pick etc.

  • Check Out: 11.00 am
  • Location: Great Location

The common area in Hostel Envoy is downstairs in a basement where they have a large TV for their guests to enjoy.


#165 Yervant1


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Posted 06 January 2022 - 09:33 AM

Atlas Obscura
Jan 4 2022
At This Armenian Restaurant, the Ovens Are Satellite Dishes The “Sunny Meals” are made with sunshine.
Machanents director, Narine Muradyan, unveils trout cooked by the solar oven. ALL PHOTOS COURTESY OF DAVID EGUI


THE MENU OF THE CHEERFUL restaurant located inside the Machanents Center lists samples of Armenian cuisine: nettle soup, ailazan (a vegetable dish that they serve fried with Ararat brandy), Marash (lentils, chicken, onions, and lavash).

But it’s the Sunny Meals section that has become a hit with diners. After they choose from options such as beef, chicken, eggplants, or trout—which comes from the famous Lake Sevan—the order goes to the kitchen. But the chefs don’t fire up a stove or heat an oven. Instead, they head to the satellite dishes in the backyard, where each dish will be cooked by sunlight.

The Machanents cultural center is in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia. Its mission is to help young people in situations of social vulnerability; it’s the staffs’ and youths’ interest in creativity, the arts, and innovation that brought the satellite dishes to the backyard. Of varying diameters, they’re covered by hundreds of small rectangle mirrors.


When customers order one of the “sunny meals,” the cooks use a pan made of glass (to allow the sunlight to pass through) and place walnuts on the bottom and, on top, the meat or vegetables.

Instead of going to the oven, they fit the pan into a cradle held by two rotating metal arms connected to the center of the satellite dish. They adjust the angle to point the pan at the sun, and they wait. In minutes, the food is ready. On mild sunny days, it cooks in 20 minutes or less. During the hot Armenian summer, the temperature in the pan can reach up to 700º Celsius, so the preparation time ranges from three minutes to less than seven. (But there’s no cooking with the satellites on cloudy days.)


The satellite dish in action on a sunny day.

Armenian scientists Gregor Mnatsakanyan and Vahan Hamazaspyan originally created the satellite dishes with dreams of distributing them around the country. Hamazaspyan, a pioneer in the study of solar energy use, began developing the first prototypes in the 1980s, after the devastating Spitak earthquake. Satellite solar ovens, he hoped, would feed his countrymen affordably during hard times.

Hamazaspyan resumed his project in the following decade, amidst conflicts in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding territories. Both Armenia and Azerbaijan claim the border region, but due to the failure of mediation efforts, the region continues to see increased militarization and frequent cease-fire violations.

The conflict led to an economic blockade: Turkey closed its eastern border with Armenia, and on the other side of the country, Azerbaijan closed its border, imposing restrictions and blocking Russian gas pipelines. This spurred a severe crisis of supplies and, of course, energy.

Despite the shortages, Hamazaspyan failed to win government support for distributing the satellite dishes. “From the elderly to children, it can be adjusted for a variety of uses and is very easy to handle,” he says. It’s both simple and affordable, he adds. Still, the government would need to invest in mass production to bring down the price tag from its current $200-600, and convince families to adapt to an oven that doesn’t work at nights or during cloudy days.

image.jpgThe entrance of Machanents House, in Ejmiatsin, Armenia.


That’s how the three satellite dishes arrived at the Machanents Center. The founder, Grigor Babakhanyan, thought it would highlight the work of the Armenian scientists and give the project a chance. And Armenia is known for its 2,700 sun hours of light a year.

“The main difference of using the satellite-reflection technique is that, in a regular oven, the heat comes from the outer surface to the middle,” explains director Narine Muradyan. “With the satellites, because the mirrors are designed to redirect the heat to the middle of the pan, the heat emanates from the center.”

The trout I ordered during my visit to Macchanents came to the table perfectly cooked: tender and juicy. “We have to make sure it’s as fresh as possible, from the catch of the day, so we can get all this juiciness,” Muradyan adds. She says that they once did a blind test with some customers. They cooked the same cut of beef in a gas oven and in the satellites. “Everyone preferred the second version,” she says. The layer of walnuts, restaurant cooks explain, add smoky notes to the food while also filtering the sun’s rays to aid in even cooking.

They cooked the same cut of beef in a gas oven and in the satellites. Everyone preferred the second version.

Using the sun for cooking is not unprecedented. Similar projects can be found from Nepal to Africa. In the Chilean village of Villaseca, the restaurant Entre Cordillera Restobar Solar serves its dishes using only the sun’s rays (no gas, electricity, or firewood). Their transparent boxes heat food like the inside of parked cars on hot days. In Oaxaca, Mexico, engineer Gregor Schäpersis is experimenting with solar cooking using solar reflectors in mezcal distilleries and tortilla bakeries.

But Hamazaspyan says it is solar cooking at home that could make a real difference in people’s lives. “Most governments around the world show little interest in using these clean and sustainable technologies and free energy properly,” he says with frustration.

image.jpgA cook supervise the cooking of trout in the satellite dish.


It means that projects like his have to be done as small initiatives, such as in the Machanents Center, and nonprofits try to distribute or fund solar ovens to poor families in developing countries, especially in poorly ventilated homes where cooking fires cause illness and poor health.

“The ultimate aim should be focused on helping people eat better, not just on companies and business,” he adds. The technology, Hamazaspyan says, is easy, safe, and affordable. And, after all, the sun shines for everyone.

#166 Yervant1


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Posted 10 January 2022 - 08:57 AM


My family visited Yerevan, Armenia on our latest trip and while I had my own suppositions about the city before I encountered it, I was so terribly wrong. Don’t sleep on Yerevan, Armenia. 


Lack of Expectation

For a travel writer, I failed my first objective before I even stepped off the plane in Armenia – I did nearly no research. I looked up the map for the capital city, but this was mostly just to find my hotel in Yerevan. Admittedly, I knew little to nothing of what to expect prior to my arrival.

What a wonderful surprise.

There was a state of growth, energy, and excitement, but a reflection on what came before as well. As a former state in the USSR, Russian elements remain in places, but Armenia is an altogether different place with its own identity. Lending some flavor from its northern neighbor, Georgia, a celebration of middle eastern neighbors Iran, Iraq, Syria, and to the west Turkey, all contribute to the aroma, style, and personality of the city and her people.

If I’m honest, I may have punted on the research of the city because I was there for work. My marketing agency opened an office there to support employees in the region. It was also at the end of a long trip filled with stops in Barcelona (we canceled this segment), Manchester (our former home for three years), and Athens (a place we hadn’t visited in more than a decade and a first for our seven-year-old daughter.)

But my lack of research made every delicious meal a delight.

The Caucuses

This was my first visit to – where again? Is it Europe? No. Is it Asia? I mean, not really. Can we say Eurasia? Sure, but that’s not really it either. The caucuses are such an interesting mix and Armenia is right in the middle of them. It’s a culture all its own.

The food was interesting and tasty. It borrows traditions from other regions and makes it something new, something original. Dumplings in the region have a feel of xiaolongbao (soup dumplings) and a similar approach but it would be news to Armenians that this dish might have been copied from China. The region has beautiful, stringy, salty cheese that sometimes graces the dumplings as well showing that rather than simply borrowing from China, they (dare I say?) improved the dish. Turkish pide gets its own alteration as Kachipuri which is more like a cracker pizza but with seasoned meat and often without cheese.




Streets and sidewalks harken modern European design with slabs of stone rather than concrete. Building construction appears soviet, as do the police uniforms. Across the Caspian sea, Khazakstan is going through turmoil. Turkey and Syria continue to face their own trouble and Iran is ever a point of contention as is Iraq to the south. After a recent war with neighboring Azerbaijan, a contested territory in the hills and mountains (Nagorno-Karabakh) is still contested to this day with Russian peacekeeping troops stationed in the area. Yet despite what others might consider potential cause for concern, we felt safe and comfortable in the city throughout our stay.

The Armenian people are proud of their culture and their city and for good reason. It was a wonderful introduction to the Caucuses for myself and my family.


Armenia, Colombia?

Recently, Spirit Airlines began flying to Armenia, Colombia – the coffee home of one of the most prolific coffee producers in the world. One could be forgiven for confusing Armenia, Colombia, with Armenia the country, if based solely on the number of coffee shops. It’s said that there is a coffee shop or kiosk every 100 meters in the city and that somehow seems like an underestimate. There are coffee shops next to coffee shops across from coffee shops and, thankfully, almost every one of them is amazing. I haven’t seen coffee kiosks out in public – break rooms, yes, sidewalks, no – in years. The ones we found around the city (though I did not opt to try them) were busy as well.

Matthew has reviewed great coffee in cities around the world, just search this blog. Despite discussing this destination in advance, he never mentioned this aspect and I am starting to wonder if there is a deeper reason why. Maybe my days on LiveAndLetsFly are coming to an end, much to the chagrin of a select group of commenters. Then again, maybe he was just busy.

Nevertheless, I have had great coffee all over the world. This might be the best city globally for coffee shops and if you’re an enthusiast, add it to your list.


Remnants of the Old, Signs of the New

Vestiges of rule under the Soviet Union remain but there is something different, new, and exciting developing in Armenia. A busy pedestrian mall (both above ground and underground) on Tashir Plaza reflect the past with a beautiful opera house at the end of the plaza. Friends of ours celebrated the opera and ballet which was showcasing the Nutcracker at the time; it seemed to be that classic view of a Russian state.



#167 Yervant1


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Posted 10 January 2022 - 09:05 AM


We happened to be in Yerevan for Armenian Christmas (different than Orthodox or Catholic/protestant dates) and this allowed us the opportunity to visit the oldest church in the city, in the oldest Christian country in the world.


The city show signs of new growth everywhere. We were based at Republic Square, a huge, traditional circle monolith filled with people and traffic and a reflection of the past. The History Museum of Armenia is at the center. But just blocks away we found modern restaurants and smart urban planning that mixes new construction with refurbishments.


The Armenian Genocide museum sits atop a hill over the city with beautiful views of Mount Aragats (Ararat), reflecting on a dark part of Armenia’s history but demonstrating progress (the US just recognized this genocide by the Turkish committed in 1915.) The Cafesjian Center for the Arts at the Cascade offers a mix of traditional Armenian artistry with new takes both indoors and outdoors. A towering statue of Alexander Tamanyan, the modern architect of Yerevan, leans over a drafting table at the Cascade’s base.


The Republic of Armenia and Yerevan state, in particular, are focused on the future without abandoning the past, creating an incredible medley for those who visit.


Yerevan was a wonderful surprise for myself and my family. Remnants of Armenia’s past remain, while progress forward is shaping the city for its residents. Our (read: my) lack of preparation for the trip added to the joy we found there and we look forward to many trips in the future. Reception from friends and family with news of our trip was frosty but that comes from the same ignorance I had prior to my visit – don’t sleep on Yerevan, Armenia; but if you do, there will be coffee waiting for you in the morning.

What do you think? Have you been to Yerevan, Armenia? How was your experience? What were your expectations? 


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