7 Immersive Cultural Experiences in Armenia

16/04/2024

Armenia is a fascinating and culturally rich country nestled in the Caucasus Mountains. Parts of the country have been under various rules over the centuries, meaning the Armenian culture has many different influences. For travellers to this beautiful country, there are many historical reminders of the past and plenty of immersive experiences to take part in.

We explore some of the unique things you can do and see in Armenia. If you’d like to travel to Armenia, here are some great ideas to get you started.

Visiting Lake Sevan

Lake Sevan is the world’s second-largest alpine lake and the largest body of water in the entire Caucasus region. Sitting at an altitude of 1,900m above sea level in the Gegharkunik Province, its surface measures 5,000 km2. It is often called “The Emerald of Armenia”. Not only do you get to take in the stunning vistas of the lake and surrounding wilderness, but nearby is the Sevanavank Monastery. It’s located on Lake Sevan’s only peninsula and was once used as a tactical shelter for Armenian kings.

Travelling to the nearby Noratus Village, you’ll also get to visit the famous Noratus Cemetery. Also known as the ‘Forest of Khachkars’, after the 900 different Khachkars in the cemetery. Khachkars, or Armenian cross-stones, are carved memorials with a cross and other ornate designs. Such is the level of craftsmanship, khachkars are now on the UNESCO list of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Scenic views of Lake Sevan
Scenic views of Lake Sevan

Karahunj – Armenia’s Stonehenge

Sometimes called Carahunge, Zorats Karer or the traditional name of Karahunj, this immense rock structure is also commonly called Armenia’s Stonehenge. Bearing some similarities to Stonehenge in England, there are several theories about what Karahunj is.

The upright stones have several holes in them, creating noise as the wind passes through, which is a spectacular thing to witness in the right conditions. Overall, there are 223 stones making up Karahunj, most of them in a circular formation with long rows extending to the north and south. As for what Karahunj is, some possibilities are an ancient astronomical observatory, ruins of a wall, or a burial site. Regardless of its origins, Karahunj is a must-see when you visit Armenia.

Karahunj is a prehistoric site referred to as the Armenian Stonehenge
Karahunj is a prehistoric site referred to as the Armenian Stonehenge

Armenian pork BBQ masterclass

If you’re looking for culinary delights in Armenia, plenty can be found. From Asrishta, a local pasta dish, to traditional Armenian flatbread, you can learn traditional cooking methods as you travel Armenia. One of the more popular dishes in Armenia is pork BBQ, and in the town of Ijevan, you can learn how to make it the traditional way.

You can get a masterclass in cooking Khorovats, which involves wrapping the pork in lavash (Armenian bread). Depending on the season, this dish might be served with a selection of tomatoes, eggplants or other local produce. At the Berkiri Gastro Yard in Ijevan, you can become a pro at making this delectable Armenian dish for yourself!

Wine Making in Vayots Dzor

The Vayots Dzor region of Armenia is known as the agricultural centre of Armenia, with the land being inhabited and farmed since the Bronze Age. It also doubles as one of the country’s most popular winemaking regions. Many local producers still use ancient winemaking techniques, and you’ll be able to learn all about it on a tour of the region. Naturally, you’ll want to try a drop or two for yourself, and there are plenty of wineries to get you started.

Vayots Dzor is home to busy wineries and stunning vineyards
Vayots Dzor is home to busy wineries and stunning vineyards

Duduk performances and Garni Temple

About 30km east of Armenia’s capital, Yerevan, is the Garni Temple, built in the first century. Originally a temple to the sun god, Mihr, it was later converted into a summer house for royalty. The building collapsed following an earthquake in 1679, but was refurbished in the mid-20th century. Today, it is a magnificent tourist attraction and a shrine for Hetanism, a type of Armenian neopaganism.

At the temple, you can enjoy the enchanting sounds of a local Duduk performer. This woodwind instrument and the music it creates also appear on UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage due to its uniqueness and cultural significance. Thanks to the design of the temple, the Duduk music reverberates in a peculiar, divine echo through the chambers. When you visit Armenia, don’t miss your chance to hear this traditional Armenian instrument in the most holy of places.

Ready to immerse yourself in Armenian culture?

Here at Crooked Compass, we offer our guests something that your standard holidays don’t. We’re about exploring the less-inhabited regions of the world and finding the beauty that lies in all corners of the globe. Whether you’re interested in the delights of Armenian cuisine, the stunning landscapes or historical architecture, Armenia is packed with fascinating experiences. If you’re ready to get off the beaten track and immerse yourself in life-changing moments, we’d love to help you experience Armenian culture. Contact our team of travel experts for more information today.