Armenia and Georgia
Churches and Monasteries
Departing: Saturday 5 September 2020
Returning: Friday 18 September 2020
Duration: 14 days
For four centuries the two Christian kingdoms of the Caucasus, Armenia and Georgia, withstood the might of the Byzantine Empire and resisted the Ottoman sultan and the Safavid shah of Iran. Both Armenia and Georgia played important roles in trade and commerce between the Middle East and Central Europe from medieval times onwards, and similarities in Byzantine and Islamic architectural forms will provoke the eye.
The cathedral at Svetitskhoveli, built in the 11th century, is reputed to be the burial site of Christ’s mantle, whilst the Byzantine monasteries of Haghpat and Sanahin in the Tumanian region represent the highest flowering of Armenian religious architecture. We will visit Jvari Church, a masterpiece of the early medieval period, and the rock-hewn monastery of Geghard, encircled by towering cliffs at the entrance to the Azat Valley.
Our itinerary also includes visits to the splendid icons in the treasury of Tbilisi; Yerevan’s Matenadaran Institute, one of the world’s finest museums of ancient manuscripts; and Lake Sevan, amongst the continent’s largest – and most impressive – mountain lakes.
Georgia and Armenia are for the more adventurous traveller; we are confident that the beauty of the scenery, the fascination of the historical sites and the journey itself will more than compensate for any inconveniences that may be encountered en route. We will stay at the best available hotels in Yerevan, Dilijan, Dzoraget, Tbilisi and Kazbegi.
Please note that while we will endeavour to deliver the below itinerary in full, some details may be subject to change.
This tour will be led by Alex Koller, PhD, an expert in art history and architecture. Alex has lived and studied in Salzburg, Vienna and Cambridge. In addition to his interest in art history, Alex is a linguist, numbering German, French, Italian and Russian amongst his languages.
- Experience the Jvari Church, a masterpiece of the early medieval period
- Travel to Kazbegi, with the Holy Trinity Church at Gergeti, at the base of Mt Kazbek
- Discover the splendid icons in the treasury of Tbilisi
- Journey to Lake Sevan, amongst the continent's largest - and most impressive- mountain lakes
HISTORY AND ARCHITECTURE
ACTIVITY RATING: MEDIUM
This tour has a full itinerary with a number of hotel changes and a significant amount of travel by coach. A good level of fitness is required.
Day 1 - Depart London Heathrow 1150 on Aeroflot via Moscow.
Day 2 - Arrive Yerevan 0035. Transfer to National Hotel, Yerevan for five nights. Morning: panoramic coach tour of Yerevan (Republic Square, St Grigor Lusavorich Cathedral, Zoravor Church and Cascade complex). Afternoon: National Gallery of Armenia.
Day 3 - Morning visit to Matenadaran Institute of Ancient Manuscripts followed by an excursion to Mt Aragats: Karmravor Church in Ashtarak, monasteries of Saghmosavank and Hovhannavank. Afternoon drive up Mt Aragats to see Amberd Castle and Church.
Day 4 - Vagharshapat: ruined 7th-century Cathedral of Zvartnots, churches of St Hripsime, St Shoghakat and St Gayane. Afternoon: return to Yerevan via Genocide Memorial and Blue Mosque, and visit to History Museum. Free evening.
Day 5 - Morning: visits to the medieval monastery of Geghard and Garni archaeological site. Afternoon: Urartian fortress of Erebuni. Free evening.
Day 6 - Excursion to Khor Virap Monastery and 13th-century Noravank Monastery. Afternoon: continue to Lake Sevan via Selim Caravanserai, Hayravank Monastery and Sevanavank. Overnight stay at Best Western Plus Paradise Hotel, Dilijan.
Day 7 - Morning: visits to monasteries of Haghartsin and Goshavank. Continue to Odzun for visit to the basilica. Overnight at Qefilyan Hotel, Haghpat.
Day 8 - Debed Gorge: UNESCO World Heritage sites of Sanahin (with a visit to Mikoyan Museum) and Haghpat. Continue to Georgian border via Akhtala fortress and monastery. Cross border and transfer to Tbilisi for four nights at Courtyard by Marriott Tbilisi Hotel.
Day 9 - Tbilisi: old town, Holy Trinity Cathedral, medieval churches of Metekhi and Sioni, 4th-century Narikala Fortress, bath-houses, Tbilisi Museum of Fine Arts, Anchiskhati (basilica and tower).
Day 10 - Whole day excursion to Mtskheta (the ancient capital of Georgia): 11th-century Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, Samtavro Monastery, Gori town, Ateni Sioni and 7th-century Jvari Church. Free evening.
Day 11 - Transfer by 4x4s to Bolnisi Basilica and Dmanisi archaeological site. Continue to Betania, an exquisite medieval monastery with 13th-century frescoes (please note this visit requires a 40-minute walk each way).
Day 12 - Morning: State Museum of Georgia – Simon Janashia and National Gallery in Tbilisi. Transfer to Kazbegi via 9th-century Sioni Church for overnight at Rooms Hotel Kazbegi.
Day 13 - Morning: by 4x4s and coach to Gergeti Trinity Church on slopes of Mt Kazbeck. Optional walk down to Stepantsminda. Return to Tbilisi via Ananuri (16th-century fortress and church). Overnight in Tbilisi at Courtyard by Marriott Tbilisi Hotel.
Day 14 - Morning: optional walking tour of Tbilisi old streets. Depart Tbilisi 1725 on Turkish Airlines via Istanbul, arriving Heathrow 2225.
Price per person, flights included. Single supplement £740.
$5,114 - please note that this US Dollar price is based on the exchange rate in June 2019. Contact the operator for the most up-to-date price information.