Back in 2011 I had the chance to work in Armenia for some weeks, providing some Agile coaching for the teams at Plexonic. Working in Yerevan is not actually what I’d normally consider “traveling Armenia”, but I certainly got to know both the country and its capital! It’s a great city with an amazing, vibrant feel! The short trips, my colleagues took me on, showed me how rich in variety Armenia is.
Armenia is an ancient country and actually the first state to adopt Christianity as state religion. Until now it’s a Christian bastion surrounded by mainly Muslim countries, which leads to tensions with its neighbors. Geographically located between Russia, Persian empires and the Ottoman Empire Armenia has been stateless for almost 600 years. Achieving independence in 1918, then part of Soviet Union 1922-1991, the present is Armenias longest period as a sovereign state.
It’s turbulent history lead to another mind-boggling fact:
Armenia has a relatively large diaspora (8 million by some estimates, greatly exceeding the 3 million population of Armenia itself) — Wikipedia
Traveling Armenia – Lake Sevan
Lake Sevan is a beauty! It’s gigantic – its surface area varies between 940m² and 1360m², which is about twice to three times the size of Lake Constance (Bodensee), Germany’s biggest lake. It’s on rank 116 in the list of the world’s biggest lakes. Even more special: It’s elevation. Whereas Lake Constance’s surface elevation is 395m, you’ll find Lake Sevan on 1905m!
Surrounded by amazing beaches, ancient monasteries and small, idyllic villages Sevan is a great day trip from Yerevan.
Hiking to Kirants Monastery
Kirants is an 8th century (!) monastery located in the middle of nowhere near the Azerbaijan border. Our guide on the bus there (before the 10km hike) mentioned that while we were driving through Tavush Province, we were probably being watched by Azerbaijan snipers… Yaaayyy!
The entire track to Kirants Monastery meanders along small streams and on muddy forest paths, so you really get a feel for being almost entirely alone, far away from any signs of civilization. Although being pretty much ruined, after some hours Kirants appears from the undergrowth and makes for quite a majestic sight!
While writing this post I actually got curious: Especially above hike made me think, Armenia was not very densely populated. Well: It isn’t, but it’s more densely populated than for example Ireland, Spain or Austria!
Still there is enough of unspoiled countryside left to spend time “off the beaten track” and to make traveling Armenia a unique experience!!!