Christian Armenia Tour

Yerevan, Etchmiadzin, Tsaghkadzor, Geghard, Garni

The Christian Armenia Tour rolls Christmas, religious tourism and a ski vacation into an irresistible winter package. Experience the magic of Christmas in Yerevan. Glide down the snow-clad slopes of Tsaghkadzor Ski Resort. Tour the world’s first official church at Etchmiadzin, UNESCO-recognized Geghard Monastery, ancient Armenian capital at Khor-Virap Monastery and more as you learn the religious history of this ancient land.
Armenia became the first nation to adopt Christianity in 301 AD, and since then Orthodox traditions and an education based on Christian morality have defined the culture. Christmas in Armenia is celebrated on January 5th- 6th, the perfect time for tourists fascinated by the country’s religious atmosphere to visit cathedrals, monasteries, temples and churches at Etchmiadzin, Zvartnots, Garni, Geghard and Yerevan.

Arrive in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia. You will be met by our driver for drop-off at the hotel, where check-in begins at noon. After a rest, your guide and driver will meet you at the hotel for a private city tour to the following sights:

  • Matenadaran, also known as the Mesrop Mashtots Institute of Ancient Manuscripts, which holds nearly half of the world’s 30,000 Armenian manuscripts, including original texts and early 5th-6th century writings, plus over 400,000 scientific texts in multiple other languages.
  • Cascade Complex, whose 500 steps serve as a modern city symbol and house the Cafesjian Center for the Arts.
  • Holy Mother of God Katoghike Church (13th century), one of the city’s oldest churches which is famous for the historic engravings on its walls and for its mysterious disappearance from the public eye on two occasions.
  • Republic Square, a famous plaza in the heart of Yerevan filled with fountains and lined with early 20th-century government buildings. During Christmas, the square is decorated with a giant tree and festive décor.
  • Saint Gregory The Illuminator Cathedral (2001), the world’s largest Armenian Apostolic cathedral, which sits atop a hill and consists of three churches, a bell tower and dozens of arches.
  • Tsitsernakaberd (1967), the Armenian Genocide Memorial Complex on Tsitsernakaberd Hill which is dedicated to the victims of the massacres of the early 20th century.
Transfer back to the hotel. Overnight at the hotel in Yerevan.
Meals provided: none

In the morning, your guide and driver will pick you up from your hotel in Yerevan to drive to the city of Vagharshapat, commonly known as Etchmiadzin (20km, 30min). Upon arrival, discover the following sights:

  • Zvartnots Cathedral (643AD), ruins of a 49-meter-tall, three-tiered pyramidal church with unusually beautiful carvings and perfect form. Built by Catholicos Nerses III, it collapsed in an earthquake in 930 A.D.
  • Zvartnots Historical-Cultural Museum-Reserve, which contains artifacts unearthed on the territory and a replica of the original Zvartnots Cathedral.
  • Saint Hripsime Church (7th century), one of the oldest houses of worship in Armenia which has served as a blueprint for numerous other churches in the country.
  • Saint Gayane Church (7th century), built in memory of a nun’s tragic martyrdom, the cathedral’s original design has been preserved to this day.
  • Etchmiadzin Cathedral (301AD), the world’s first official Christian church and the main cathedral of the Armenian Apostolic Church, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Participate in Holy Mass, admire the architecture and view manuscripts and religious treasures in the small museum.

Continue driving to Khor-Virap in southeast Armenia, passing through green pastures on the way.

  • Discover Khor-Virap Monastery (dates vary), located near Mt. Ararat in Artashat (Artaxata), ancient capital of Armenia. Originally a royal dungeon, the site now also includes a beautiful monastery, chapel and monks’ cells.
Drive to Tsaghkadzor (100km, 1hr 40min), where you can spend the evening soaking in the fresh forest air and mountain scenery. Overnight at the hotel.
Meals provided: breakfast
After breakfast, explore your surroundings with a short walk.
Visit Kecharis Monastery (11th-13th centuries), whose construction began under Armenian Prince Pahlavuni and lasted for two centuries. The complex served as a major religious center of Armenia and was restored in the 20th century.
Enjoy a full day of leisure and winter entertainment at Tsaghkadzor Ski Resort, where you can rent a snowboard, skis and even an instructor.
Overnight at the hotel in Tsaghkadzor.
Meals provided: breakfast

After breakfast, you’ll have a free morning at the resort to continue skiing.
Drive to Geghard (85km, 1hr 40min), where you’ll tour the following:

  • Geghard Monastery (a.k.a. Ayrivank Monastery, 4th century), a UNESCO Site in the Upper Azat Valley famous for its stone veneers, bas-reliefs and stunning scenery. Explore its tombs and tunnels and see the spear believed to have pierced Christ's body (‘geghard’ means 'spear' in Armenian).
  • Garni Temple (1st century AD), ancient Temple of the Sun dedicated to Mithra and built by King Tiridates. Admire the huge basalt slabs as you explore this Hellenistic structure, which strongly mirrors the architecture of the Greco-Roman Empire.
  • Garni Fortress (3rd-2nd centuries BC), a once-powerful fort and the summer residence of Armenian kings, it is perched atop a plateau overlooking the Azat River from a height of 300 meters.
  • Mashtots Hayrapet Church (12th century), a small chapel located in Garni village, it was built to replace a pagan temple and is noted for its cross-stone khachkars and pre-Christian carvings.
Depart Garni and drive to Yerevan (30km, 45min). Overnight at the hotel in Yerevan.
Meals provided: breakfast
Enjoy free time in the morning for souvenir shopping. You may walk though Vernisaj Market, the largest souvenir bazaar in Yerevan which holds some of the finest examples of Armenian folk art, a large selection of unique jewelry and exclusive handicrafts.
Check out of the hotel by noon for transfer to Yerevan International Airport. End of Christian Armenia Tour.
Meals provided: breakfast

Good to Know: We can arrange this tour on any dates you wish between December-March.

  • Private, local guide;
  • Entrance fees to the sights as per itinerary;
  • Accommodation in a double/twin room in a 3-star hotel with breakfast (4 nights);
  • Mineral water (1 liter per person per day);
  • Transportation throughout the tour.
  • International flight tickets before and after the tour;
  • Hotel charges for additional services;
  • All ski-related expenses (lifts fee, ski equipment rental, ski instructor services, etc.);
  • Lunches and dinners;
  • Personal travel insurance;
  • All other charges and services not mentioned under Inclusions;
  • Tips are not included but are appreciated.

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