Where is Armenia on the Map? (Not Where You Think!)

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Where is Armenia on the map?

If you want to know where is Armenia, take the map of Europe. Yes, Armenia is in Europe, although at the very border with Asia. You can also find it on the 3,000 years old map of Anatolia, as it is the only remaining country from that map. 

A small country in the Caucasus Mountains, Armenia is rich in history and culture. It is the first country in the world which embraced Christianity. Armenians are united in spirit and traditions. You can find strong Armenian communities all over the world. 

Just to give you some examples of famous people with Armenian roots, think of Cher, Andre Agassi, Charles Aznavour, Alain Prost, and Garry Gasparov.

If you want to visit Armenia, and you should, consider all the history this land saw. From the Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and to the long Soviet domination, Armenia fought for national identity. This mountainous country resisted to wars and atrocities, with its unwavering faith. Armenian religion is why you can see here some of the oldest Orthodox churches and monasteries in the world.

After you figure out where is Armenia, the next thing you should consider is the language. Armenians speak the Armenian language, and many of them also speak Russian. Armenia has been in the the Soviet Union for 55 years (1936 – 1991). It’s not hard to understand why Western languages are not so popular here. 

But Armenians are friendly and welcoming, and even if you don’t understand their language they will still find a way to be helpful.

You have many things to learn and admire in a journey to Armenia. Beautiful traditions, beautiful people, tasty food, and a mountainous landscape to fill a photo album are just some of the stories you'll have to tell.

Best Time to Visit Armenia

Visit Armenia in the summer to get the best experience of hiking the beautiful countryside and uncovering the numerous monasteries.
Visit Armenia in the summer to get the best experience of hiking the beautiful countryside and uncovering the numerous monasteries.

Autumn in Armenia? Winter in Armenia? Well, any season can be the best time to visit Armenia. It depends on what you want to do. 

Armenia has a highland continental climate, with snowy, cold winters, and dry, hot summers. So, if you plan a ski holiday, you definitely have to choose winter.

Snow season in Armenia lasts from mid December until the end of February.

Eager to see as much as possible? Summer would be a much better choice, as it is an awesome time to visit cities and countryside, hike, and drive around the country.

Because summer can have temperatures around 40 ºC, you should consider the beginning or the ending of the summer (May 15th to June 15th or August 15th to September 15th).

But a journey to Armenia is much more than a fantastic landscape and historical sites. It's about people and the impressive Armenian culture. It's about embracing a spiritual tradition and admire old sanctuaries. It's about getting to know the food, the clothes, traditional music and dances, and about going home with stories. 

Here is a short list of Armenian festivals, which will give you a clue about where to look first:

Yerevan Wine Days

Yerevan Wine Days at night. Image Courtesy of Map Travel.
Image Courtesy of Map Travel.

You shouldn't miss the opportunity to taste some local wines. This dry land is perfect for wine.

Yerevan Wine Days take place in the Armenian capital, around May.

Wine and cheese producers come for all over the country to present their best products. It's a perfect moment to mingle among the locals.

Sheep Shearing Festival

Sheep Shearing Festival in Armenia. Image Courtesy of Gardman Tour.
Image Courtesy of Gardman Tour.

This is a very dynamic festival, held annually in Khot, around June.

Here you can see all sorts of competitions, traditional sports and games, music and dance, and even rope walking. It is designed to promote tourism in less known regions of Armenia.

Bread in the Mountains Festival

Armenian bread on the showcase on the Bread in the Mountains Festival. Image Courtesy of Gardman Tour.
Image Courtesy of Gardman Tour.

Dedicated to food and bread especially, Bread in the Mountains Festival is held annually in Yerevan, around June.

As bread is a holy food in this country, the festival gives you the opportunity to try unique recipes. Look for Lavash, Matnakash, Loshik, Qari Hac or Hrazdan, all special bread recipes. A feast of traditional food is always a good reason for a festival.

Vardavar Festival

Vardavar Festival is all about splashing people with water.

Do you need a reason to splash people with water? Armenians made a tradition from that. At Vardavar Festival people splash each other with water. They pour buckets of water from their balconies and get outside for a water battle. This festival is dedicated to the pagan goddess Astghik, the Goddess of Water, Beauty, Love, and Fertility. A very good reason for a huge party.

Vardavar Festival take place in Yerevan, 98 days after the Orthodox Easter.

Armenia has many festivals. You can try any of them, because they are fun and interesting. 

More festivals in Armenia:

  • Watermelon Festival (in Yerevan, around July)
  • Honey and Berry Festival (in Shamshadin Region, around August)
  • Beer Festival (in Yerevan, around August)
  • Barbecue Festival (in Akhtala, around August)
  • Harissa Festival (in Musaler, around September).

You'll have a full agenda for sure.

How to Get Around Armenia

Bus is a typical means of transportation in Armenia.
Bus is a typical means of transportation in Armenia.

You can get to Armenia by plane, but also by train, by car, and by bus from the neighboring countries.

Keep in mind that the borders with Turkey and Azerbaijan can be closed. Check the traveling conditions before you pack your bags.

Inside the country, you have many options too. Public transportation and taxis are very good for cities and even for traveling between cities. They are not expensive and many tourists use them. 

If you choose to travel by taxi, negotiate the fee because they usually don't have meters. Day tours are also available for tourists. They take you to the most popular places and the fees are very good. 

What to Do in Armenia

Armenia is full of breathtaking places like this monastery towered by the cliffs above.
Armenia is full of breathtaking places like this monastery towered by the cliffs above.

There are so many places to visit in Armenia and they offer a generous diversity. From modern cities to ancient churches, from hiking in the Caucasus Mountains to discovering the countryside and local traditions, Armenia is prepared for tourists. Actually, since 1990 tourism has been the most important industry in Armenia. 

Yerevan

Yerevan is the capital of Armenia, and you can even see the snowy peaks of Mount Aratat from the city centre.

Start your journey in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia. A city of contradictions, Yerevan will please any tourist. It has Soviet architecture and old colorful markets. Contradicting the Soviet heritage are the traditional tea houses and Western restaurants. It has taverns with vodka and barbecues and stylish wine bars. 

Add to that the view of the snowy peaks from the middle of the city and your journey will be complete. It would be a good idea to start your visit at the City Museum of Yerevan, to better understand this place. 

You can continue with Erebuni Fortress. It is a 3,000 years old fortress, one of the best preserved fortress from Urartian Period in Armenia. 

At Matenadaran you'll see a collection of Armenian manuscripts hosted by a building that can resist a nuclear attack. In terms of architecture, you have Belle Époque represented on Abovian Street and Covered Market, and Soviet period represented on Northern Avenue.

Yerevan has also parks and museums, a cognac factory, and beautiful churches. Katoghike is the oldest church in Yerevan, and it is built in pure Armenian style.

Tatev Monastery

Tatev Monastery overlooking the Vorotan Gorge, the deepest gorge in Armenia.

More impressive spiritual edifices can be admired in the mountains. Take the Tatev Monastery for example. It is situated on the edge of a basalt plateau and it was built in the IXth century. It was home for the most important Armenian university in the XIVth and XVth centuries. Tatev Monastery preserved Armenian culture through the centuries. Today, it is an UNESCO World Heritage Site, a touristic attraction, and a spiritual establishment. 

You can get there by car, on a steep and narrow mountainous road or flying with the Wings of Tatev. Wings of Tatev is the longest reversible aerial tramway. You'll fly over Vorotan gorge in a 12 minutes trip. 

Besides history, traditions, and a spiritual journey, Armenia has amazing landscapes to show you. The Caucasus Mountains are home for unique ecosystems. Either you are a fan of wildlife or you are looking for outstanding views, schedule some exploration time.

You can start planning with the following destinations:

Dilijan National Park

Haghartsin Monastery is located deep within the forests of the Dilijan National Park.

Situated in the North-Eastern part of Armenia, this 240 km2 park is known for its forests and mineral springs. Lake Parz is one of its attractions. 

As the entire country, cultural monuments are deeply interconnected with natural life.

Besides endless hiking routes, you can visit monuments like:

Sevan National Park

The grandiose Lake Sevan is located at 1,900 meters above sea level and is the largest body of water in the Caucasus area.

This natural park is protecting Lake Sevan, an unique ecosystem and the largest body of water in the Caucasus area

It is situated at 1,900 meters altitude and it is so vast that ancient Armenians considered it one of three grand seas. Lake Sedan has beaches and touristic resorts.

Mount Aragats

The majestic Mount Aragats in the distance.

Here is the highest point in Armenia, at more than 4,000 meters altitude. This four-peaked volcano mountain is the center of many legends and historical sites. 

Armenians consider it a sacred place. You can also find it in their paintings and literature, and also on a banknote.

Transcaucasian Trail

Transcaucasian Trail will go through 20 national park and connect Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. Image Courtesy of National Geographic.
Image Courtesy of National Geographic.

This project is still in development, but parts of it are already done. It means two connected long-distance hiking trails going through Georgia and Azerbaijan in the North, and through Georgia and Armenia in the South.

With a 3,000 km length, it will cross more than 20 national parks. Armenia is definitely on a hiking wave.

Geghama Mountain

Geghama Mountain offers a rare opportunity to see an extinct volcano crater, with a crater lake! Where is Armenia, natural spectacles await!

Situated between Lake Sedan and Ararat Plain, Geghama Mountain offers a rare opportunity to see an extinct volcano crater. Instead of the powerful Azhdahak Volcano, you can see a round shape lake today.

If you are looking for even more adventure, Armenia is a good destination for paragliding. The country has optimal conditions, but also clubs and associations to help you start or develop this passion. 

Just imagine you'll see all that beauty from above!

What to Eat in Armenia

Where is Armenia, the traditional food is really special, and Armenians really love their bread!
Traditional food of Armenia is really special, and Armenians really love their bread!

As everything else in this country, Armenian cuisine also reflects the land where is Armenia. Bread is special, holy, and not missing from any meal. 

Armenians cook a lot with lamb, dried herbs, eggplant, nuts, and fruits. You should try pomegranate, apricots, or sour cherries, either raw or in pies. You should also try anything cooked on fire, because it's their traditional way of cooking and it's delicious. 

Try traditional foods while you are in Armenia. They aren't easy to cook and you won't find the same flavors anywhere.

Here are just some of the stuffed, baked, or fried foods you should try:

Lavash

Traditional bread baked in clay tandoor. Lavash is an unleavened type of bread, made from wheat flour and spring water.
Traditional bread baked in clay tandoor. Lavash is an unleavened type of bread, made from wheat flour and spring water.

Choreg

Choreg is a traditional Easter bread. It's sweet, light, and fluffy. 
Choreg is a traditional Easter bread. It's sweet, light, and fluffy. 

Khash and Manti Soups

You won't forget an Armenian soup. Khash is one of them, featuring 24h boiled beef or mutton legs. They also have soups with sour-milk, eggs, cow tails, apricots, mushrooms, and many other ingredients. If you like dumplings, try Manti, the Armenian dumpli
You won't forget an Armenian soup. Khash is one of them, featuring 24h boiled beef or mutton legs. They also have soups with sour-milk, eggs, cow tails, apricots, mushrooms, and many other ingredients. If you like dumplings, try Manti, the Armenian dumpli

Dolma Food

Dolma means stuffed and Armenians know how to make stuffed food. From cabbage leaves to fresh young grape leaves, Armenians know to spice the meat and roll it in vegetables. There is no special occasion for dolma food, so have a try.
Dolma means stuffed and Armenians know how to make stuffed food. From cabbage leaves to fresh young grape leaves, Armenians know to spice the meat and roll it in vegetables. There is no special occasion for dolma food, so have a try.

Boyrek

Boyrek is a pastry filled with cheese, perfect for breakfast or a snack
Boyrek is a pastry filled with cheese, perfect for breakfast or a snack

Khorovats

Khorovats is an Armenian meat kebab.
Khorovats is an Armenian meat kebab.

Harissa

Harissa is a sort of paste made of korkot and meat.
Harissa is a sort of paste made of korkot and meat.

The Caucasus area is known for producing wines. Armenia is one of the oldest wine producers in the world. They also produce cognac. If you don't drink alcohol, try mineral waters (there are many mineral water springs here) and Kefir (fermented milk with many health benefits).

Do you know where is Armenia now?

Where is Armenia, there is astounding nature and authentic culture that make it well worth a visit!
Where is Armenia, there is astounding nature and authentic culture that make it well worth a visit!

It surely pays off to find out where is Armenia. This small country is beautiful and welcoming. Armenians are proud of their country and tourism suits them like a glove. Hiking in the Caucasus Mountains is always a good idea. 

Besides the usual touristic attractions, Armenia has a spiritual strength which makes it strong and authentic. Respect their values and traditions. Your journey to Armenia will make you rich in a very profound way.

Interested in Caucasian countries? Check out where is Georgia on the map and why should you go there!

Monica Radulescu a freelance writer for aSabbatical.com
Travelling is a joy. It's a way to become a better and wiser person. Mountain paths and road trips are my favourites.