One day tour to the west from Yerevan
What can tourists do in Armenia, if they are mainly based in Yerevan and would like to see nearby areas as well? Here are some suggestions on which route you can choose to travel outside of Yerevan and return for a sleep at your place in the Armenian capital.
Going west from the capital you will find two destinations that were added by UNESCO to the world heritage list in 2000.
One really needs to go to Echmiadzin city to understand the Armenian soul. It is a half-hour car drive from Yerevan. Echmiadzin is something like Vatican, or the spiritual centre of the Armenian Apostolic Church. You can admire two important religious artifacts here: a piece of wood from Noah’s Ark (which is said to have come to rest on nearby Ararat) and a piece of the lance used by a Roman soldier to stab Jesus’ side as he was hung from the Cross. Etchmiadzin Cathedral is the Mother Church of the Armenian Apostolic Church. The Cathedral is the first church building in Armenia and is considered the oldest cathedral in the world. The Cathedral is open to visitors every day from at 7:00 – 20:00 pm.
Also, if you go on a Sunday, you will get the chance to see an Armenian service in action. On holidays and special occasions, they sometimes start the service at 10:30am, otherwise it usually starts at 11:00am. The interesting thing is that weddings are not permitted to be organized in this area, though baptism and funeral ceremonies can be arranged.
Continuing your way and reaching the edge of the town of Echmiadzin, you will appear in the second destination- Zvartnots Cathedral area. At the time of its construction it was one of the biggest cathedrals in the country and there was an idea that it was built to suppress Echmiatsin Cathedral by its grandeur. The breath of history soars at this place, which dates back to 7th century. In 10th century, Zvartnots was nearly fully destroyed and remained buried until its remains were uncovered at the start of the 20th Century. Nowadays, visitors mostly see ruins of Zvartnots Cathedral rather the entire picture itself and this draws even more mystery and interest around this place.
Continue your way for another 25 km to the west from Yerevan and you will reach Memorial Complex of Sardarapat Battle. The entrance of the area is flanked by huge winged oxen made of red tuff. A flight of steps leads to a square from which a 26-meter- high bell tower is rising. The monument symbolizes the Armenian victory over an invading Turkish army in 1918.
Arriving at this destination will shift the mood from spiritual to more military, but still all those spots are worth visiting as they help to understand some peculiarities of Armenian nation based on their past.
So, at Sardarapat area left before that huge monument, there is a driveway which skirts the monument ridge and reaches the tourist pavilion and the highly attractive Sardarapat museum. The central hall of first floor illustrates commemorative material from the battle. There are other galleries presenting archaeological materials from Neolithic to Medieval periods and implements for various traditional handicrafts. Also, upstairs visitors can find carpets and embroidery, modern Armenian decorative ceramics, and jewelry. Yes, the exhibition is quite comprehensive. That’s why sometimes you can hear the name “Sardarapat Ethnographic Museum” along with “Sardarapat Battle Museum”. Don’t be confused and just visit the place and suggest your title.