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My Taste Of Armenia (Parts 1 & 2)

Armenia travel story.

Maria Lapuk is the spokeswoman for the Russian “Odnoklassniki” social network. It turned out that Masha liked our country so much that she agreed to make a special project for us and tell people who have never been here about Armenia.

Maria is writing about places which have become quite habitual for people living in Armenia- Garni, Geghard, Sevan. But she tells her story so warmly and finds so interesting angles that many from our editorial staff expressed a desire to visit these places again.

We believe that after reading Masha’s stories many will decide to discover Armenia for themselves again.

To make Masha’s stories more vivid we have chosen the pictures of Alexander Tyagny-Ryadno, a Russian photographer who visited Armenia on Mediamax’s invitation in 2006. Following this trip, an exhibition of his photographs entitled “Hot Armenia” was organized in “Drevo” Moscow Art Gallery in November 2006.

Here is the first part of our special project “To leave Armenia to return again”.

Project by
Story: Maria Lapuk – Specially for Mediamax
Photos: Alexander Tyagny-Ryadno

Part 1 and 2: To try and to feel Armenia

I’m visiting Armenia very often on various occasions. Everything began from a business trip at the time when I was working at one of the Russian mobile operators. As far as I was not very much interested in geography during my school years, I always thought that Armenia was a situated somewhere very far away. But it turned out that the 2,5-hour flight was not that long, and wonderful things begin to occur to me as soon as I get in the plane to Yerevan.

By the way, a few words about mountains: for me, Ararat has always been a mountain in Armenia. Imagine my disappointment when I learned that I won’t be able to make a tour to Ararat because it’s situated on the territory of Turkey. So ordered history, but many of my friends don’t believe it. For many Russians, Mount Ararat is the most Armenian mountain! And the view from Armenia of the snowy cap of Mount Ararat is also the most beautiful one!

So, deeply disappointed in the lack of a possibility to climb Mount Ararat and find the Noah’s Ark, you should go and see other attractions in Armenia. There is really a lot to see, to do, to try, to feel and finally to enjoy in Armenia.

For example, in winter you can go skiing and snowboarding; in august – swim in one of the world’s most high-mountain lakes, enjoy spa procedures, taste 100 mutton dishes, listen to true jazz, see the fantastic modern art, buy yourself a lot of ethnic jewelry, find ancient coins and other antique items for your collection and enjoy a breath-taking ride on the world’s longest ropeway. I have almost forgotten about the Armenian seagull  – you can find this beauty here, which can even appear in decorative makeup advertisements.

You can also learn everything about the world’s first country that adopted Christianity as national religion and understand how an alphabet can be used over 1500 years. This is it! You have a lot of things to do in Armenia during you next vacations.

Garni Pagan Temple

See more about Garni temple >

The necessary part of any tour is a visit to Garni, a heathen temple dated back to I B.C. , which is not only an architectural monument but is also an acoustic miracle. The singing inside the temple is heard even at the entrance, where you must stop and think that these stones are about two thousand years old, they stand there and serve their purpose.

The last time I was so deeply impressed was in Regensburg. There are gates there which were made of no “nail” over 1000 years ago and date back to Roman conquistadors.

Then you have to slowly walk to Garni, enjoy the impressions of an untouched corner of earth overlooking a vast plateau ten meters above the ground. When I saw it, I immediately thought I would like to have a house there, but I’m afraid there may be some problems with Wi-Fi.

Now a few words about the acoustics. People could do magic 2000 years ago – the sound not only intensifies here but also splits into thousand voices, then comes together somewhere above and falls down on the listeners. I wish I could listen to Italian piazza here. I think the singers wouldn’t believe their ears on such an amazing scene. After the stunning concert you should go to a precipice outside the temple and see how mathematically true nature can be. The walls of the precipice consist of regular hexagons stretching from the mountain river up to clouds.

This kind of phenomenon exists also in Scotland – the Giants’ Bridge. They say, once upon a time, thousands years ago there lived a kind giant in Ireland and an evil giant in Scotland, who always offended the Irish one. And once revenge and inability to swim forced one giant to build a bridge leading to the other. But at night the bridge was destroyed by a neighbor who decided to try it. Only the beginning of the bridge made of hexagonal basalt columns has survived to our days- the Giant’s Bridge, which is UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the wonders of nature… You can see such hexagonal wonders near Garni too. Nature is really regular and precise as the mathematics itself.

After an entertaining trip, you should visit a café overlooking the plateau on the right side of the entrance and enjoy a cup of coffee. This is also a mandatory program, otherwise the impressions will be completely wrong.

Geghard Monastery Complex

See more about Geghard >

This is the name of a monastery situated in the mountains and built in IV century. I will not go deep into history  as every guide will tell you about it. I would like to tell you about my impressions of what I have seen in Geghard.

The temple is in fact very heavy. I couldn’t understand this impression until someone told me that one of the lances that pierced the side of Jesus as he hung on the cross has been long kept in Geghard. And it is the only one of many artifacts dating back to I A.D. that have survived to our days. And such a wonderful place exists in Armenia!

Here, in Armenia, I understood that people living in this country are really great. My mom asked me to bring her green walnuts. In central Russia walnut trees are exotic. When I saw a woman selling walnuts I asked her where I could find the green ones. She was really surprised and asked me why I needed them. Then she went to a tree and gathered a whole bag for me and took no money as the walnuts were for a mom.

The other story is about hospitality, which is not merely a word in Armenia but a tradition. Once, it was a very hot day and we were driving on the highway. The trip was long and we had to leave early in the morning, so  we had no time to for breakfast. During the whole way we wanted a cup of coffee but all the cafes were closed at that time. We stopped in a small village. My friend went up to girls selling fruits and asked for a cup of coffee.

A few minutes later we were already sitting at a small table on the roadside with a nice tablecloth, fresh coffee, fruits and candies. I still don’t understand where it all came from on the roadside. This is the Armenian hospitality – not for money and not because it’s necessary. It is a simple hospitality! Such things still surprise me in Armenia.

Armenia Travel Story by Maria Lapuk Part 3, 4 >