I took several day trips out of Yerevan, and visited a wide range of interesting spots on the western side of the country.

Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin is the the governing body of the Armenian Apostolic Church. According to most scholars it was the first cathedral built in ancient Armenia, and is often considered the oldest cathedral in the world.

Saint Hripsime Church.

Zvartnots Cathedral, now in ruins, was built from 643-652.

The gas tank is inside the trunk (boot) of the car. I’ve never seen that before!

Here is my chain smoking, road raging, yet incredibly good hearted taxi driver, who I hired for the day to take me to some of the out of town sites.

The most sacred of mountains to the Armenians: Mount Ararat. Even though it is central to Armenian identity, and plays a huge role in history and culture, the peak itself is actually located in Turkey. Legend has it, Noah landed his Arc on the peak.

Khor Virap church.

Noravank Monastery is perched a top a hill among stunning canyons. Many of the churches were built on high points to protect against invaders.

Wine tasting with my day tour group.

Armenians, Italians and Swiss. A good combination!

Amberd Fortress, 10th century. The name translates to "fortress in the clouds" in Armenian.

Vahramashen Church, right next to the fortress, overlooks a beautiful backdrop.

Lake Kali is near one of the four peaks of Mount Aragats, which is the tallest mountain in Armenia. It was wild to see snow up there (3900 meters /12,795 feet high) while it was 104F/40C degrees down in Yerevan.

Armenian Alphabet Monument: These are giant stone letters dedicated to Mesrop Mashtots, who was the founder of the Armenian alphabet. An alphabet was highly needed to translate the bible for the newly Christian kingdom in the year 405.

Mesrop Mashtots.

There’s the letter A for me!

Saghmosavank is a 13th century monastic complex. The view around it is stunning.

Here is the precipitous and breathtaking Kasagh Gorge.

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All photos are © Arthur Erberber.
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