Georgia and Armenia

DAY 1 MADRID – ISTANBUL – TIBLISI Meeting in Madrid-Barajas Airport to leave on a regular flight for Istanbul. Arrival in Istanbul and connection to the flight to Tiblisi. Night on board.

DAY 2 TIBLISI Arrival in Tiblisi and meeting with the guide in the airport. Transfer to the hotel. Accommodation and Lodging. Late breakfast. In the morning, we will begin the excursion of Tbilisi. The capital has a long and fascinating history. It was founded in 6th century by King Vajtang Gorgasali. Due to is fountains of mineral water, the city rapidly became on of the most important cities in the Caucasus. In 12th century Tbilisi was the most powerful political, economic and cultural center in Central Asia. Due to the Silk Road that passed through Georgia, the city was the bridge between Europe and Asia. We will begin with the tour of the Pantheon of Mount “Mtatsminda”. This place is dedicated to the most influential people in Georgian society: writers, poets, etc. From the Mount there is a beautiful view of the city: the Narikala Fortress from the 4th century, the woodent houses with the decorated balconies, the sulfur baths, frequented by writers, poets, composers and even the kings throughout the centuries. Lunch in a Tbilisi restaurant. The historic center of the city is impressive due to the mixture of cultures. Here mosques, synagogues, Amenian and Catholic churches coexist with the Georgian churches in extraordinary harmony. We will visit the sulfur baths, the Meteji Church from the 12th century and the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity. Later we will visit the Museum of Archaeology and History, where the Vani Treasury is conserved. Later we will take a walk through the narrow streets in the old part of the city where we find carpet and souvenir stores. We will also visit the Cathedral of Sioni from the 11th century. Later we will have Free time to stroll through Rustaveli Avenue, the main avenue of Tbilisi. Dinner in a Tbilisi restaurant. Transfer to the hotel. Lodging.

DAY 3 TIBLISI – SADAKHLO – (ARMENIA) – HAGHPAT – DZORAGET Breakfast and tranfer to Sadakhlo, border between Georgia and Armenia. Border procedures and entrance in Armenia. We will visit the Haghpat Monastery (from the 10th to the 13th centuries) declared World Heritage by UNESCO. We will continue on to Sanahin, birthplace of the Mikoyan brothers. One of them, Artm Mikoyan was the constructor of airplanes and one of the “fathers” of the MiG, (Supersonic aircraft). In this city there is also a monastic complex similar to that of Haghpat with numerous “jachkares”, stones with elaborate carvings represeting a cross, and tombs of Orthodox bishops. Last we will visit the Mikoyan Museum, where we will see a MiG aircraft. Continuation to the region of Alaverdi. Lunch and departure for Dzoraget. Dinner in the hotel with typical Armenian food. Lodging.

DAY 4 DZORAGET – DILIJAN – LAKE SEVAN Breakfast. Departure for the spa city of Dilijan known as the small Switzerland becuase of its rich and abrupt vegetation. We will see the Monastery of Goshavank and the Cathedral of Haghartsin from the 11th and 12th centuries after Christ. We will continue with the tour of the historic center of the city where now there is an Ethnographic Center. We will take a short walk through the minority communities of the Molokans, (in Russian “milk drinkers”): they are a Christian sect that evolved from the “Spiritual Christianity”, Russian peasants who refused to obey the Russian Orthodox Church, starting in the 15th century. They called themselves “the true spiritual Christians” and they were sent to Armenia at the beginning of the 19th century and and up to now they maintain more or less the same life style and their religious beliefs. Currently there only 2 or 3 villages populated by the Molokan in Armenia and somre more in the rest of the world. Lunch in restaurant. Departure for Sevan Lake, the second largest alpine lake in the world situated a 2,000 mts above sea level with an extension of 1,256 km2 and a maximum depth of 82 mts. Twenty-eight rivers and springs flow toward it. We will see the Monastery of Sevanavank, very near the city of Sevan constructed on a island that stopped being one upon being united as a peninsula to the coast with the descent of the water. Transfer to the hotel. We will take a boat ride on the lake in a medieval boat. Return to the hotel. Dinner and lodging.

DAY 5 LAKE SEVAN – SELIM – STONEHENGE – GORIS Breakfast temprano. Departure for Goris via Selim, between the regions of Vayots Dzor and Gegharkunik, on the road of the Silk Route where we will visit the Selim Caravanserai from the 14th century. It is a place where the merchant caravans rested on the Silk Route and one of the best preserved. Lunch in restaurant. Continuation to Goris stopping in Karahunj, where there is an ancient observatory called the Armenian Stonehenge. Constructed more than 6.000 years ago, Karahunj was a place of cultural and commercial activity until the adoption of Christianity by Armenia. Arrival in Goris and transfer to the hotel. Dinner and lodging.

DAY 6 GORIS – EXCURSION TO TATEV AND KHNDZORESK Breakfast. Departure for Tatev where we will visit the monumental complex of the Monastery of Tatev. We will go up in the longest cablecar register in the Guinness Book, called “wings of Tatev.” It opened the 16th of October in 2010 and it connects the Monastery with the center of the city. It is 5.7 km long and was constructed in the record time of 11 months. It passes through a deep gorge on the Vorotan River through hills covered with leafy woods. In about 12 minutes the cabelcar carries the passengers (25 people at a time) from the village of Halidzor to Tatev. The Monastery of Tatev from the 9th century play an important role in the life of the region as a center of spiritual and scientific culture. It is one of the most important and developed medieval centers of the Armenian Apostolic Church. The strategic location made the monastic complex almost inaccesible and well protected. Lunch. We will continue to Khndzoresk visiting the historic center of the city. Khndzoresk is near Goris. It is a place with a large number of caves. We will visita a series of artificial caves that now serve as stables. There are ruins of the ancient town where we find churches, tombs, large rock formations, springs and a new bridge that crosses the ravine. It rises 63 meters above the ground and weighs 14 tons connecting the two banks of the old Khndzoresk. Return to the hotel. Dinner and lodging.

DAY 7 GORIS – NOVARANK – ARENI – KHOR VIRAP – YEREVAN Breakfast. Departure for Yerevan. We will stop in the Monastery of Noravank or of Amaghu situated in a ravine of the rural community of Areni, near the city of Yeghegnadzor, in the region of Dzor Vayots. Noravank is built over a Church from the 9th-10th century. The complex was refounded in the 11th century but its origins date to the 13th to the 14th centuries to later become the Mausoleum of Orbelians. The main church of the monastery, Saint Karapet is preceded by a gavit. On the right side of the main church is the hermitage of Saint Gregory. The Church of the Saint Mother of God was added later to this grupo. Noravank was completely renovated in the 20th century. From 1996, the monastery and the Amaghu Valley are included on the list of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Lunch near Norvank. We will continue on to the Monastery of Khor Virap. The beauty of the territory of this region allows for the cultivation of grapevines. The viticulture in Armenia is one of the oldest in the world being the most represented element in Christian iconography. It is the result of the work of the vegetation, the sun and human work, and therefore wine continues to be a symbol of joy and happiness. We will visit a family wine cellar in Dzor Vayots with sampling of typical Armenian wine. Khor-Virap is a popular destination in Armenia, dominated by a splendid view of the biblical Mount Ararat. Arrival in Yerevan. Transfer to the hotel. Dinner in typical Armenian restaurant with live music. Return to the hotel. Lodging.

DAY 8 YEREVAN Breakfast. After breakfast tour through the city of Ereván. Tour of the highest point in the city from where we will see a panoramic tour of all of the city with its beauty and the main points of interest. Tour of the Matenadaran, scientific institute where they conserve the treasures of Armenian Science and valuable manuscripts from the 5th century, harboring approximately 14,000 ancient manuscripts, the largest collection in the world. Later we will visit The Cascade that is the center of Gafesjian Art where works of contemporary art from all of the world presenting the best of Armenian Culture is located. This center offers a wide variety of expositions, the majority of which come from the private extensive Cafesjian collection of contemporary art. Lunch. In the afternoon we will visit the National Museum of the History of Armenia, the Ethnography and Anthropology Museum, with the latter the most important in Armenia. Founded in 1919, it is situated on the Republic of Ereván Square, in the same building as the National Gallery of Armenia. Its archaeological, ethnographic, numismatic and documentary collections make up around 400,000 pieces. Tour of the Factory of Yerevan Brandy inagurated in the year 1887 where we will sample the different types of Armenian Brandy. Dinner in restaurant. Lodging.

DAY 9 YEREVAN – EXCURSION TO ECHMIADZIN – ZVARTNOTS – GARNI – GEGARD – TIBLISI Breakfast. Departure for Echmiadzin. City tour, including the main cathedral from the year 303 after Christ and declared World Heritage by UNESCO. We will visit the Museum of the Treasury of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Echmiadzin is the official residence of the Catholic Armenians. The Cathedral, built in the 4th century, is the first religious building of the Christian Church in the world. We will continue the Tour of the temple of Zvartnots from the 7th century after Christ. It is of singular architectonic value. Lunch. Afternoon tour of the Parajanov Museum, the most brillant representative of the modern art in Armenia. His style and breath are presented in the works that are found in this museum. His film, the color of the pomegranate, is known throughout the world. The spacious rooms of the museum invite the visitors to the inexplicable world of Parajanov. Departure for the region of Kotayk to visit the Temple declared UNESCO World Heritage Site. Vocal Concert in the Geghard Monastery. We will visit the pagan temple Garni from the 1st century after Christ with mosaics from Roman art. We will attend un duduk concert and we will get to know the Armenian customs. Around 7:00 P.M. we will go to typical Armenian rural house where we will have dinner and we will see how they make Lavash (Armenian bread), as well as the cooking process in the traditional underground oven called Tonir. Dinner will be a traditional barbeque with fresh marinated lamb or pork or chicken, potatoes and seasonal vegetables (peppers, eggplant, tomatoes) prepared in a Tonir. We will finish with a small glass of local vodka or grappa in the garden of this typical rural Armenian house. After dinner, around 9:30 P.M., we will head directly to the Airport of Tbilisi crossing the Armenian border.

DAY 10 TIBLISI – ISTANBUL – MADRID Arrival to the airport of Tiblisi to leave on the flight for Istanbul. Arrival in Istanbul and connection to the flight to Madrid. Arrival in Madrid and END OF TRIP