8. Private Tour to Khor Virap, Garni, Geghard, & Lake Sevan
Although there are various historical landmarks in Armenia, the oldest and most well-known is probably the Biblical Mount Ararat. This tour promises spectacular views from the closest spot possible to the mountain. The Khor Virap monastery is located about an hour’s drive away from the capital of Yerevan, and offers an amazing view of Armenia’s defining symbol – the majestic Ararat. Khor Virap translates as “deep dungeon”, and was built on the place of the former royal prison, located on the historical site of Artashat. It was this very prison in which they kept Gregory the Illuminator, the first Armenian Catholic, for a whole 13 years. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that this place is one of the most sacred spots for Armenians around the world.
This tour will introduce you to the exotic Pagan history of Armenia, and show you the later development and spread of Christianity in the country. Garni Temple (77 A.D.) is the only standing heathen temple in the whole post-Soviet area. The temple stands on a high plateau overlooking the Azat River gorge. It is also home to the roman bath house with its mysterious mosaic, made out of 30,000 pieces of natural stones, as well as the ruins of the royal palace, dating back to 3rd Century A.D.
The monastic complex of Geghard is another historical site included in this private tour. The complex is a representation of 13th Century Armenia, which is considered to be the Golden Age of the country’s architecture. The most astonishing part is that this church is cut out right into the solid rock. Beautiful lake Sevan is situated close by, surrounded by a vast chain of mountains. After climbing a flight of stairs to the Sevan peninsula, enjoy an unforgettable panoramic view of the lake. At the top is a monastery, built by Princess Mariam to honor the life of her deceased husband in the 9th Century. Sevanavank is also home to one of the most beautiful Amenaprkich (all savior) Khachkars of Armenia, one of the 13 rarest crosstones depicting Jesus.