Territory

Wonders of Armenia

Khor Virap monastery and Ararat mountain, Armenia
Khor Virap monastery and Ararat mountain / Andrew Behesnilian, / CC BY-SA 3.0

WorldBlue  Highlights

In spite of its small size, Armenia has quite a few surprising landmarks. Highlights of this country are:

  • Some of the oldest churches and Christian monasteries in the world. The oldest state built cathedrals and churches are found in Armenia – this was the first country to adopt Christianity in 301 AD and soon after were built the first large churches, basing on older construction and art traditions. The first and most important is Etchmiadzin Cathedral, originally built in 303 AD, rebuilt in 480 AD.
  • Archaeological heritage, mainly – cyclopean fortresses, mysterious megaliths and cliff carvings. Most of the world was primitive when in Armenia were domesticated animals and cultivated plants, used metals and writing. Here is found the oldest winery in the world (more than 6,000 years!) and the oldest shoe in the world. Rather many archaeological landmarks have unclear meaning – we don’t know why these were built (Ujan gates) and even – how it was possible to make them (e.g. "Ladder to the sky").

Map with the described wonders

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WorldViolet Top 25 wonders of Armenia

Geological wonders

Jermuk falls

Vayots Dzor

68 m tall waterfall of thermal, mineral rich water. Water is sliding down along travertine formations.

Archaeological wonders

Garni temple

Kotayk

Hellenistic temple in the prehistoric Garni fortress. Temple most likely was built in the 1st century AD by Tiridates I of Armenia. Reconstructed in 1969 – 1975.

Garni Temple, Armenia
Oshakan Tukh Manuk shrine

Aragatsotn

One of the shrines of the popular cult of Tukh Manuk that united Christianity and paganic beliefs. Now in ruins.

Vishap of Aragats

Aragatsotn

Approximately 3 m tall standing stone that was erected in Neolithic Age, some 5,000 years ago. According to legends, this is a guardian of Kari lake.

Vishap of Aragats, Armenia
Dvin

Ararat

Location of early capital of Armenia, built by Khosrov III in 335 AD. City had up to 100,000 inhabitants, gradually declined after the earthquake in 893 AD. Contains ruins of a church from the 4th century.

Ughtasar petroglyphs (Ukhtasar)

Syunik

Rocks with numerous prehistoric engravings – goats, deer, mouflons, horses. Created in the 5th – 4th century BC and the 3rd – 2nd century BC, but the oldest could be from the 6th millenia BC.

Karahunj (Zorats Karer)

Syunik

Megalithic necropolis from the 3rd – 2nd millenia BC (?). Contains a ring of upright stones. Some 223 stone tombs are here, from the Middle Bronze Age to Iron Age. Many stones have holes in them and there is a hypothesis that these holes were used in ancient astronomy.

One side of Karahunj stone circle, with the central stone cyst seen in the left side, Armenia

Architecture wonders

Tatev Monastery

Syunik

This monastery was established in the 9th century and is located on the rim of the canyon, in the site of the former pagan cult site. In the 14th – 15th century here operated Tatev university. Sts. Paul and Peter Cathedral was built between 895 and 906 AD, ornamented with murals in 930. Monastery has also a pendulous column (Gavazan Siun) that warns about earthquakes.

Geghard Monastery

Kotayk

A unique structure, it is partially carved into an adjacent cliff and richly ornamented. It was founded in the 4th century.

Geghard Monastery, Armenia
Etchmiadzin Cathedral

Armavir

Centre of Armenian Apostolic Church. Initially built in 303 AD, rebuilt in 480, beautiful stone carvings.

Etchmiadzin Cathedral, Armenia
Khndzoresk cave settlement and Stone pyramids of Gori (Old Goris)

Syunik

Ancient village in river canyon. In the cliffs have been formed numerous artificial caves – houses that were inhabited until the 1950s. Each of apartments has door, window, oven. Doors are some 4 – 5 m above the ground.

Sevanavank

Gegharkunik

Monastery at the shores of Sevan (originally – on island), established in 874 AD. Best preserved are two churches – some of most picturesque Armenian churches with Lake Sevan as a magnificent backdrop.

Matenadaran

Yerevan

One of the largest collections of medieval manuscripts in the world, mostly in Armenian language. Collection has almost 17,000 manuscripts and a huge number of other documents.

Haghpat Monastery

Lori

This monastery was established in the 10th century and contains unique architecture and art values – including some of the best and intricate stone carvings. One of the oldest buildings here is St. Nishan church, originally built in 966 – 967, later extended and rebuilt.

Goshavank Monastery

Tavush

An old monastery, established in the 12th – 13th century. Consists of a group of beautiful churches and other buildings. A special value of monastery is a collection of some of the most intricate stone carvings in the world – several outstanding khachkars, including the famous Needlework khachkar from 1291, created by Poghos.

Saint Gayane Church

Armavir

Very old church, built in 630 AD and little changed since then.

Sanahin Monastery

Lori

Very old monastery, established in the 10th century. The old buildings are adorned with intricate stone carvings.

Zvartnots Cathedral

Armavir

Ruins of cathedral that was built in 641 – 653 AD. According to some reconstructions this building initially had a bold design – it was three floors high rotunda.

Noravank Monastery

Vayots Dzor

Group of architecturally interesting buildings, built mostly in the 13th century. Especially interesting is the Surp Astvatsatsin (Holy Mother of God) church with outer stairway leading to the second floor.

Khor Virap monastery

Ararat

Very old monastery, chapel first built here in 642 AD. Important historical site close to Ararat mountain (now in Turkey).

Saint Hripsime Church

Armavir

One of oldest churches in Armenia, built in 395 – 618 AD. This important monument of architecture to some extent defined the traditional Armenian architecture. This church was constructed over prehistoric cult site.

Harichavank Monastery

Shirak

A beautiful historical monastery, established in the site of prehistoric hillfort in the 7th century AD or earlier. The main building is the impressive Church of the Holy Mother of God from 1201 with interesting architectural details.

Haghartsin Monastery

Tavush

Small monastery, built in forested mountain valley in the 10th – 14th century. Contains St. Astvatsatsin church, built in 1281. Renovated.

Amberd fortress

Aragatsotn

Impressive mountaintop fortress, built in the 7th century AD. Located in the site of Stone Age settlement. Abandoned in 1236.

Gandzasar monastery

Yukhari-Karabakh

This Armenian monastery developed in the 13th century. Now, this is an extensive complex of old buildings behind protection walls. Church (Gandzasar Cathedral of St. John the Baptist) was built in 1216 – 1238 and is one of the most prominent achievements in Armenian medieval architecture.

WorldYellow Recommended books

Historic Armenia After 100 Years: Ani, Kars and the Six Provinces of Western Armenia


In the groundbreaking new book HISTORIC ARMENIA AFTER 100 YEARS, author Matthew Karanian celebrates the Armenia that has avoided destruction: its monuments, churches, and people– the hidden Armenians who have persevered in the face of persecution.

Armenia and Karabakh: The Stone Garden Travel Guide


This is the only travel book on Armenia that is truly an “insider’s guide.” This is because its author Matthew Karanian, and its photographer Robert Kurkjian, have each lived, worked, and traveled throughout the region for nearly two decades. They spent year after year researching and updating this edition. As a result of their time spent, all of the travel research in this book is original, and when the book recommends a site or suggests a travel route, it’s because the authors have actually been there and know what’s worth seeing and what’s worth avoiding.


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