[caption id="attachment_1564" align="alignleft" width="300"] Scenic views of Mount Ararat from Yerevan[/caption]
Armenia is a beautiful land and home to many biblical sites. Upon arriving at the nations' capital, Yerevan, the majestic snow-capped peaks of Mount Ararat are within sight. The view is mesmerizing, as you gaze upon the mountain where Noah's Ark came to rest.
As many came to the area to spread their faith, there were many cathedrals and monasteries established in the region surrounding Mount Ararat. The structures had beautifully crafted detail and roofs bearing resemblance to Mount Ararat, and this became a distinctive feature of all of these buildings.
[caption id="attachment_1563" align="alignright" width="300"] Echmiadzin Cathedral[/caption]
There is a fair amount of these cathedrals and monasteries just outside of Yerevan and are a must-see for those of you visiting for the first time. One of the most striking is the Echmiadzin Cathedral, otherwise known as the Mother Cathedral of Armenia, and is easily within reach, being just 20km outside the city limits. It was built as far back as AD303, and is claimed to be the world's oldest cathedral, and still stands after centuries.
Armenia is a former Soviet bloc nation, and although it is within the Caucasus region, it "dwells spiritually in the heart of many religiously minded folk, being the world's first Christian country."
During World War 1, the Armenian genocide took place, seeing the extermination of Armenians in the territory held by the Ottoman's at the time. As the war subsided, Armenia eventually gained independence in 1918, although our freedom was short-lived, and we became a part of the Soviet Union in 1922.
Yerevan serves as a gateway to the nation, and from being once a "sleepy settlement" has been transformed by the Soviets and today the cityscape is lovely, filled with cobblestoned streets, boulevards lined with trees, many paved squares which attract crowds, and green areas as well.
It has a slightly European feel to it, although there is still an "air of Soviet sprawl." The younger generation in Yerevan live a modern lifestyle and are envied by the older generation, with only a few of them longing for the life they lived in previous years.
[caption id="attachment_1565" align="alignleft" width="300"] Republic Square[/caption]
Republic Square is a popular meeting point, and is the heartbeat of the nation's capital, here the locals and tourists take pleasure in gorgeous displays of flowerbeds and fountains in the public areas, which are surrounded by many museums and galleries. In the evenings, it is a lively location for socializing, and enjoying some Armenian music at the restaurants and cafes.
If you're not feeling up to venturing outside of the city, there are numerous cathedrals to visit within Yerevan. One of the most significant to Armenians is that of the St Gregory Illuminator Cathedral. Although it is still a recently built structure, which was erected in 2001, it commemorates the 1700th year anniversary of Armenia as a Christian nation.
[caption id="attachment_1566" align="alignright" width="300"] View of Mount Ararat behind Khor Virap[/caption]
There are many Christian sites worth visiting, but one beautiful 800-year old Monastery, is now a World Heritage site, so do make a stop at Gerhard Monastery, for those of you who love intriguing, old buildings. Khor Virap is said to "leave a lasting impression" upon visitors, and with its view of Mount Ararat, you're in for some breathtaking scenery as well.