3. From Yerevan: Lake Sevan and Dilijan Full-Day Tour
Spend a day enjoying the stunning natural scenery and ancient monasteries of north-western Armenia. Check out a volcanic lake surrounded by mountains, admire the majestic lake-front Sevanavank Monastery, and see how nature blends with the architecture of the Haghartsin Monastery. Learn the stories of these historic places in English, Russian, and, depending on availability, in Armenian. The first stop is Sevan Lake, which at 1,900-meters above sea level is one of the world's greatest high-altitude freshwater lakes. The lake is of volcanic origin and is surrounded by mountains of 3,000 meters and higher. Admire the beautiful landscape and the crystal waters as well as the medieval church complex built on the peninsula in 874. The next stop is Sevanavank Monastery, which was built on the peninsula in 874 by the order of King Ashot Bagratuni's daughter, Princess Mariam. The silhouette of the church against the background of the turquoise lake and blue sky is sure to impress. Continue to Dilijan, a city on the banks of the Aghstev River surrounded by mountains and forests. Dilijan has the fame of a health resort as its warm sun, fresh air, and natural spas have a great healing influence on people. Take a break to have lunch at a cozy nearby restaurant before continuing to Goshavank Monastery, founded by the famous medieval scientist Mkhitar Gosh. The complex consists of several religious and secular buildings. Make sure to stop and admire the khachkar (Armenian cross-stone) situated in front of the basilica. One of the most famous Armenian symbols, this khachkar was carved by the skillful master Poghos in 1291. The last stop is Haghartsin Monastery, situated in the woodlands of the Tavush Region. Founded in the 10th-11th centuries, it consists of St. Grigor, St. Astvatsatsin (Holy Mother of God), and St. Stepanos churches. The huge oak tree, which is almost the same age as the monastery, completes the whole scene and is a great example of architecture blending with nature over the years. The monastery has been recently renovated by the donation of Sheikh Dr. Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qassimi, the Ruler of Sharjah, who was impressed by the monastery when visiting it. After a day full of exploring, return to the meeting point in an air-conditioned van.