One of main reasons to visit Armenia is to see Armenian Brands.
Ararat (5165 meter) is the highest mountain of Armenian highland. It was a part of Armenia until the Armenian Genocide in 1915 when Ottoman Turkey took over that section of Armenia . The Bible says that Noah’s ark landed on the mountains of Ararat after the great flood. Dr. Friedrich Parrot, with the help of Armenian writer Khachatur Abovian, was the first explorer in modern times to reach the summit of Mount Ararat. Ararat is the national symbol of the Republic of Armenia, being featured in the center of its coat of arms; In Armenian mythology Mt. Ararat is the home of the Gods. Armenian people praised the holy mountain of Ararat in their paintings, songs and movies.
The apricot has been the symbol of nationality and victory for Armenians for many centuries. The apricot or Prunus armeniaca has been cultivated for so long in Armenia that it is considered to have originated from the area. Seeds from the ancient apricot, harvested for at least 6,000 years, have been discovered in the Shengavit and Garni Temple archaeological excavations in Armenia. The apricot was imported into Europe by Lucullus, a Roman general after the 1st century B.C. Because of its origin the fruit was known as “Prunus armeniaca” which means “Armenian plum”. In the Middle Ages, Armenian kings and participated in the battles wearing apricot-colored ornaments called Tsirani. One of the three colors of the tricolor Armenian flag is also the color of the apricot.
The ripe apricot has a tender and smooth skin like a newborn baby’s cheek and smells of the sun. The meat of the apricot is spongy but not sticky. Slowly melting, it covers the lips, the tongue, the palate, and even the teeth and tenderly slips down the throat filling everything with the soft sweetness
of young honey with an amazing apricot aroma. There is a big difference between the Armenian apricot and an apricot which has been imported from any country over the world. The color of the Armenian apricot is neither yellow nor orange. It is the unique color with the special name “Tsiranaguyn”, which means “apricot’s” color. Apricot festival in Armenia begins in July during the harvest in every year. From different villages and towns, people bring apricots in straw baskets, dried apricots from their own gardens, alcoholic beverages made of apricots to Yerevan, and many other foods and drinks made from the richest apricots. People cheer on their cleverness and treat others to their homemade food. This is a national trait treating others and being happy when others like the food. For one whole day the Armenian land, its waters and the fruit are being praised and celebrated.
The History of brandy making in Armenia dates back to 1887, when the Yerevan Brandy Company was founded by a first guild merchant Nerses Tairyan, who began distilling brandy at the winery he had found earlier inside the former fortress of Yerevan. The destillation of brandy spirit was done using classical French technology. In 1899, a famous Russian company ”N.L. Shustov and sons”, purchased the Yerevan Brandy Company. Armenian brandy became the preferable beveage served at the Russian Court. At the international exhibition in Paris in 1900, after a blind tasting it got the Grand- Prix and the legal right to be called “cognac”, not brandy. Winston Churchill was known to be a great admirer of the Armenian cognac. He was so impressed with the Armenian brandy Dvin given to him by Joseph Stalin that he asked for several cases of it to be sent to him each year. Reportedly 400 bottles of Dvin were shipped to Churchill annually. This brandy was named in honor of the ancient capital Dvin, and was first produced in 1943. Agatha Christie and Frank Sinatra loved Armenian brandy too.
All stages of producing the brandy take place in Armenia starting from picking up the grapes and endling with bottling. The stages are: grapes, grape juice, fermentation, white wine, brandy spirits, ageing, blending and bottling. Only local grape varieties, such as Voskehat, Garan Dmak, Kangun and others are used in the production.The blending process has its distinctive features, and one of them is that instead of using distilled water as in classical French production, spring water is used. It runs through filters and goes through bacteriological tests before blending .Right after blending, the brandy is chilled and then it runs through filters for the second time to make sure that all sediments have been removed. As for ageing, the brandy spirits are aged exclusively in barrels made from Caucasian oak. Many famous world leaders and celebrities, such us Russian president Vladimir Putin and Russia’s prime-minister Dmitry Medvedev, Poland’s current president Bronislav Komorowski, 16th president of Lebanon Michel Suleiman, legendary rock band Deep Purple, Geogre Benson,Peter Gabriel, Emir Kusturica and many other’s have their own perosnal barrels of armenian brandy that are kept in the company.
The tour is a good chance to get to know the Armenian brandies closer and to take a look at brandy production from inside and taste it.
The art of the Armenian carpet and rug weaving has its roots in ancient times. Armenians are earliest known weavers of oriental rugs. It is also theorized that the word ”carpet”, which Europeans used to refer to oriental rugs, is ferived from Armenian word ”karpert”, meaning woven cloth.
Armenian rugs were status symbols that were placed on the floor or hung on the wall to create an ambiance within the home, palace, or church. Dining on rugs was customary among Armenians. The numerous kings, empereros, caliphs, sultans and princes that presided over the Armenians prized these beautiful Armenian rugs and often demanded them as part of an early ”tax” along with mules, falcons and salt- fish.Woven with gold or silver threads, were placed on the thrones and at the feet of Armenian royality.
The types of the Armenian carpets and their development show that there came a transitional moment in the weaving technique – that of the rug making. The weaving of carpet, giving the possibility of creating a complex and diverse form of patterns and compositions, made the whole surface subject to vertical, long or short splits, which, on the one hand, loosened the toughness of the fabric, and, on the other, deprived the carpet of displaying any circles, or vertical lines or stripes. The tendency and efforts of avoiding these two short-comings led to the making of the rug and its weaving techniques. In the case of rug making, knots were added to the vertical wefts, the two ends of which were brought out on the visible side of the rug. In the case of cloth weaving, the patterns were needle-worked on the warp; thus the main difference between the weaving of floor-cloths, carpets and the rug was that the patterns of the rugs were exclusively created through the knots. Such rugs were later known as knot-rugs or knot-carpets.
Marco Polo and Herodotus are among the many observers and historians who recognized the beauty of Armenian rugs.They noted the rugs’ vivid red color which was derived from a dye made from an insect called “ordan” found in the Mount Ararat valley.
The Armenian and Greeks who lived intermingled among the Turcomans… weave the choicest and most beautiful carpets in the world.
Place in Yerevan called Vernissage is the biggest market for all kinds of Armenian artwork and souvenirs. You can find a wide variety of things here, including wood-works, pottery, jewelry (mainly silver), carpets, paintings, old coins, antique pieces etc. The majority of the sellers are those who made those things by themselves, which makes it even more interesting.
Armenia is the first country to adopt Christianity as its state religion in 301 AD. It is called Armenian Apostolic Church (Armenian: Hay Arakelakan Surb Ekeghetsi) due to the Apostles of Christ Bartholomew and Thaddeus. The Armenian Apostolic Church is one of the most ancient Christian communities; it is the oldest national church and an early center of Christianity. St. Gregory the Illuminator converted King Tiridates, who proclaimed Christianity the state religion of Armenia and after that Gregory became the first official head of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Armenians are very proud to be the first Christian nation in the world.
The Duduk (pronounced doo-dook) is considered the most ” Armenian” of all folk instruments bacause of its Armenian origins and its ability to honestly express the emotions of the Armenian people. In Armenian the instrument is called “Tsiranapogh” or “apricot pipe”. The Duduk is a cylindrical instrument made of apricote wood and in typically 28, 33, or 40 cmin length. It has 8 or 9 holes and 1 thumbhole which provide a range of one octave. The double reed, also known as ”ramish” or ”yegheg” in Armenian, is typically 9-14 cm. In lenght and is surrounded by a thin flexible wood binding that slides along the length of the reed. This binding is used for tuning the duduk as it controls the opening /closing of the reed. It grows plentifully along the Arax River in Armenia.
The duduk reflects the passion, celebration, and suffering of Armenia. The world famous composer Aram Khachatrian once said that duduk is the only instrument that made him cry. The sound of duduk is warm, soft, and has a slightly nasal timbre. The dynamics of the sound are controlled by adjusting the pressure of the lips on the reed and by covering the finger holes .The duduk is also typically accompanied with ”Dhol”, the double-sided Armenian drum. Dhol is knwon its upbeat Armenian dance rhythms. However, even when the duduk is playing songs of lament the gentle touch of the dhol provides a suitable background.
Armenian musicologists cite evidence of the duduk’s use as early as 1200 BC, though Western scholars suggest it is 1,500 years old. Variants of the duduk can be found in Armenia and the Caucasus. The history of the Armenian duduk music is dated to the reign of the Armenian king Tigran the Great, who reigned from 95–55 B.C. According to ethnomusicologist Dr. Jonathan McCollum, the instrument is depicted in numerous Armenian manuscripts of the Middle Age, and is “actually the only truly Armenian instrument that’s survived through history, and as such is a symbol of Armenian national identity. The most important quality of duduk is its ability to express the language dialectic and mood of the Armenian language, which is often the most challenging quality to a duduk player.
In the mountains of nowadays Armenia in the south part of Syunik Province close to town Goris, the first observatory Karahoonj was created (kar-means stone, hoonj-means voice, sound). It has a history of 7.500 years and scientists believe, that there is a tight connection between the observatory in Armenia and Stonehenge in Britain, since the latter is much younger (about 4000 years) and the name itself is similar to the Armenian name and the second half of the name (hange) does not really mean anything in English. Inside the complex there are 204 main stones. All of them are made of basalt. They rise between half a meters up to 3 meters tall, their bases are up to one and a half meters wide, and they weigh up to ten tons each. Of these main stones, 76 have apertures, 63 are stable, 16 declining, and 90 lying on their sides. 45 are damaged, especially the apertures. A nation would have to have an advanced society and culture to be able to produce a miracle such as the Karahoonj observatory, similar to Stonehenge, yet dating back some 8,000 years. According to the author, the arrangement of the rock observatory shows an understanding of the universe and the Armenian alphabet, even in those ancient times. Herouni pointed out the similarities of the words Stonehenge and Karahoonj. “Kar” in Armenian meaning stone, and hoonj meaning to sound, or ring and therefore the possibility that the “stone” and “henge” in Stonehenge come from the Armenian word Karahoonj.
Khachkar or cross-stone is a memorial stone unique to Armenia. It is a free-standing, upright rectangular stone slab that is elaborately carved in a deep bass-relief on the side facing west. Cross–stones first appeared in the 9th century AD and were continuously produced until late in the 18th century, having reached their aesthetic peak as a form of stone carving in the 12th and 13th centuries, when all Armenian cultural life was flourishing. The cultural origins of khachkar lie in events of the 4th through 7th centuries, when Christianity was struggling to take hold in Armenia. Most early khachkars were erected for the salvation of the soul of either a living or a deceased person. Otherwise they were intended to commemorate a military victory, the construction of a church, or as a form of protection from natural disasters. About 40,000 khachkars survive today. Most of them are free standing, though those recording donations are usually built into monastery walls. Since 2010, khachkars, their symbolism and craftsmanship are inscribed in the UNESCO list of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
Lake Sevan is the largest alpine high mountain freshwater lake in the Caucasus region and in Armenian Highland, second highest lake in the world after Titicaca. Lake Sevan is in the central part of the Republic of Armenia in Gegharkunik Province, at an altitude of 1900metre above sea level. The total surface area of its catchment basin is about 5000 square km, the lake surface itself is 1200 square km, and the volume is 35.8 billion cubic meters. The lake is fed by 28 rivers in its catchment area, and only one, the Hrazdan River, flows out of the lake. Lake Sevan is the only large water body of Armenia and has an important role in the water balance of the whole South Caucasus as well as the northern regions of Iran and Turkey. It is the main strategic supply source of drinking water for Armenia and neighboring countries. Sevan has wonderful flora and fauna. Sevan trout (Armenian: Ishkhan) and Sevan beghlu are included in the Red Book of Armenia. Lake Sevan is truly one of the treasures of Armenia. Blue water and skies, majestic mountains surrounding create fantastic sunset. These are a few things that make Sevan a true wander of the world.
The 5,500 year old shoe, the oldest leather shoe in the world, was discovered by a team of international archaeologists. The leather shoe was found in a cave dubbed in Areni, Vayots Dzor province of Armenia, on the Iranian and Turkish borders. It was found by an Armenian PhD student Diana Zardaryan of the Institute of Archaeology, Armenia, in a pit that also included a broken pot and sheep’s horns. A perfectly preserved shoe is 1,000 years older than the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt and 400 years older than Stonehenge in the UK. Scientists are wondering what kept the shoe in such perfect condition that even its laces are intact. They found grass inside it but they are not sure whether it was used to keep the feet warm or maintain its shape. The authors are unsure whether it was worn by a man or a woman. The shoe is relatively small, corresponding to a UK women’s size 5 (European size 38; US size 7 women), but it could have been worn by a man of that period.
Oldest wine factory
Armenia referred to the Bible is as the cradle of wine-growing and wine production. Archaeological excavations at places of the historical settlements of Arin Berd, Karmir Blur, Teyshebani and Elar Darani testify the fact that the ancestors of the modern Armenians possessed a highly developed culture of wine-growing. Greek scholars of later epochs, including Herodotus, Xenophon and Strabon, wrote that the Armenians exported excellent wines in neighbouring states already 2500 years before, at least. Xenophone, in particular, stressed that Armenian wines where from excellent quality, well matured and existing in large varieties. Most impressive of all, however, was the discovery of the world’s oldest winery, dating back 6100 years. It was found during excavations of Areni-1 cave, in the Yeghegnadzor region of Armenia. The excavations were carried out by Boris Gasparyan of the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography of the National Academy of Sciences of Armenia and Ron Pinhasi from the University College Cork (Ireland), and were sponsored by the Gfoeller Foundation (USA) and University College Cork. In 2008 the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) also joined the project. Since then the excavations have been sponsored by UCLA and the National Geographic Society as well. The excavations of the winery were completed in 2010. This is considered to be the world’s oldest complete wine production facility ever discovered and the first historical evidence of wine making on an industrial scale ever founded.
On October 16, in 2010 Armenia became home to the longest aerial tramway in the world. The ropeway “Wings of Tatev” entered into the Guinness Book of Records. It is a 5.7 km (3.5 miles) cableway between Halidzor village and the Tatev monastery in the south of Armenia. The ropeway was built particularly for getting to one of the world’s unique medieval monuments – Tatev Monastery. The 9th century monastery of Tatev played a major role in the life of the region as its spiritual, cultural and scientific center. It is one of the most favorite tourist attraction places in Armenia and was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. Ropeway was built within 11 months, passes through a deep gorge of the River Vorotan and over hills covered with lush forests. Within about 11 minutes a tramway cabin takes passengers, 25 at a time, from the village of Halidzor to the magnificent Monastery Complex of Tatev. The highest point of the ropeway is 320 meters. Taking it is great fun, since you can enjoy fantastic aerial views of mountains and gorges and take pictures.