For many people, Armenia is unlikely to leap to thoughts when planning a vacation overseas.
The previous Soviet nation, sitting between Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan, is a comparatively new child on the block on the subject of tourism.
Now, in our post-pandemic period of journey, it’s positioning itself as an off the crushed monitor vacation spot. Guests are being inspired to look past the capital Yerevan and to discover its rural and mountainous areas.
“We’ve got a brand new tagline, ‘Armenia: The Hidden Monitor,’” Sisian Bighossian, head of Armenia’s Tourism Committee, tells Euronews Journey.
“We’ve got many hidden gems. We’ve got wonderful surroundings, we have now nice pristine landscapes for climbing, nature and journey tourism.
“However we need to be certain we’ll be capable of protect these as properly. If we have now overtourism, that’s one thing that’s going to doubtlessly jeopardise that.”
Head for the mountains and reside like an area
A part of Armenia’s ‘hidden monitor’ method is attractive guests to remain in one in all its many distant villages, sampling the hospitality of locals.
“Once I was younger, I went to large inns, all inclusive, laid by the pool. However in the present day I don’t prefer it. I like being in nature, the place there’s one thing to see, to go strolling slightly bit,” says Bianka Blom, a German vacationer on a highway journey in Armenia along with her household.
The Bloms have opted to remain on the Tegher Gastro Yard and Pottery Centre, round an hour’s drive from the capital Yerevan, within the village of Tegher within the Aragatsotn area.
It’s a part of a community of Gastro Yards, run by villagers, which intention to immerse guests in native tradition, heritage and gastronomy.
At Tegher, you possibly can strive your hand at pottery and creating stained glass, with the assistance of the pleasant, and proficient, Shushan household.
Additionally they present lodging, together with a handmade treehouse, and a restaurant, nestled in gardens that are filled with all types of creations and curiosities.
“It’s a particular place, it’s very attention-grabbing inside. They make a lot of little items which can be very cute and good,” says Bianka. “A resort just isn’t the identical. Right here is extra genuine. We prefer it.”
Serving to rural communities by way of tourism
Armenia’s ‘hidden monitor’ tourism seeks to fulfill rising needs for sluggish and genuine experiences post-pandemic.
But it surely’s additionally seen as key to unlocking the event of rural areas and communities on this small nation of three million individuals.
“It’s a possibility for the households and native people who find themselves working or can work within the tourism sector. It’s a wonderful alternative to create new jobs,” says Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary-Normal of the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), who lately visited Armenia.
“The federal government itself is investing so much in infrastructure, primarily in roads, to create accessibility to the brand new locations. There are many alternatives to develop the regional areas of the nation.”
Pattern wine and brandy from Armenia’s ‘sacred’ fruit
Armenia’s wine heritage can be discovered past the brilliant lights of Yerevan. Natives consider that Noah planted a grape vine on the foot of Mount Ararat after the Flood, so it’s one thing that’s sacred to them.
Head to the village of Arenia, in Vayots Dzor province, and you’ll go to the stays of what Armenians proudly say is the world’s oldest vineyard. Different nations within the area dispute this declare.
The Areni-1 vineyard was found in a cave advanced in 2007 by Armenian and Irish archaeologists and is known up to now again to 4100 BC.
A wine press, fermentation and storage vessels, withered grape vines and seeds have been among the many many objects discovered.
Grapes grown in Armenia these days are usually not solely used for wine, but additionally to provide brandy. Twelve varieties, from the agricultural fields of Ararat, go into making it.
Brandy is the signature drink of Armenia, Nina Azizyan, lead information on the Yerevan Ararat Brandy Wine Vodka Manufacturing facility, tells Euronews Journey.
The historic manufacturing facility, within the capital, produces 22 million bottles of brandy yearly and is legendary for its Noy model.
“It’s very smooth, it’s pure and throughout the mixing, we solely use spring water. Perhaps the distinctive style of this brandy is that.”
Take a tour and you’ll pattern a choice of brandies. Additionally, you will hear about how former British prime minister Winston Churchill apparently fell in love with them.
Make a non secular and religious connection
Going off the ‘hidden monitor’ in Armenia is about discovering extra of the nation’s wealthy non secular and religious heritage too.
Armenia is without doubt one of the earliest Christian civilisations, with its first church buildings mentioned to have been based within the fourth century.
“We’ve got 1000’s of church buildings and monasteries throughout Armenia. A whole lot of them are out within the areas as properly, which inspires individuals to go away the capital metropolis,” says Bighossian.
One of many nation’s most vital and distinctive non secular websites is the fascinating Geghard Monastery, which has UNESCO World Heritage standing.
Situated within the Higher Azat Valley, in Kotayk Province, it’s partially surrounded by cliffs and partially carved out of the adjoining mountain. It comprises a number of church buildings and tombs, relationship again from the fourth to thirteenth century.
Attending to and round Armenia
There are direct flights to Armenia from a handful of European nations, together with France, Germany and Poland. You may as well journey through hubs like Doha.
Highway infrastructure remains to be growing in Armenia, so you might want to plan your journeys and routes rigorously you probably have a automobile. Additionally it is fairly difficult to seek out locations off the crushed monitor.
Different choices embrace organised excursions and hiring a driver through your lodging.