Armenia or Hayastan as the locals call the country,
- the oldest Christian country in the world for more than 1700 years - has a rich cultural heritage with hundreds of medieval churches and monasteries, beautiful landscapes with forests, plateaus and snow-capped mountains
and a very active present. Find out more about the land at the foot of the biblical Mount Ararat here.
The small country surprises its guests with a large variety of natural treasures and cultural sites. At the crossroads of East and West, the Armenian people are one of the oldest ethnic groups in the world and have a long, turbulent history. Many historically significant sights and religious sites can still be visited today. Embedded in the varied landscape of Armenia, travelers can enjoy some unforgettable views over forested mountain slopes, blue-green lakes or sandy steppes.
The land at the foot of Mount Ararat
Today's Republic of Armenia consists of only part of ancient Armenia, which stretched from south of the Lesser Caucasus through the highlands of Armenia to the mountains of Tavros. With an area of 29,800 km², its national territory is about the same size as the federal state of Brandenburg. In the east, the landlocked country borders with Azerbaijan, in the southwest with the Azerbaijani exclave of Nakhichevan, interrupted by a 35 km long common border with Iran. Western and northern neighboring countries are Turkey and Georgia.
Armenian folklore preserves some myths about the origin of the Armenian people. One of them tells about the hero Hayk, whose name is like that of the Armenians, and about the fact that the Armenians called themselves "Armenians" and called their country "Hayk" or "Hayastan" (Armenia). The 5th-century historian Movses Khorenatsi also describes in some detail the exploits of Aram, whose fame spread far beyond the borders of his country. The neighboring peoples called these people "Armenians" or "Armenians" after him. The archeology of Armenia counts to the prehistory of the Ašelyan area, about 500,000 years ago, when people went through life hunting and gathering and in search of pastures followed their flocks. The first period of prosperity among the inhabitants of the Armenian highlands was in the 3rd century BC. These people were counted among the ancient Armenians who discovered bronze and the wheel and who grew grapes. The first written memoirs about the Armenian inhabitants are the hieroglyphs of the kingdom, written in 1388-1347 BC. in Asia Minor. The earliest found inscription concerning Armenian land was dated 1114 BC. engraved by the Assyrians describing the unification of the kings from the central region of Armenia, also called the "Nairi people".
One of the most important events in Armenian history was the elevation of Christianity to the state religion. With the introduction of the new religion, Armenia established its unique Christian way of life and thus became a part of the western world. Saint Gregory the Illuminator baptized Trdat III. as a Christian who proclaimed Christianity as the state religion in 301. Thus, Armenia became the first country to officially recognize Christianity as a state religion.
This is the proclamation of Constantine the Emperor, 12 years before the Charter of Milan: through this tolerance of the Christian inhabitants of the Roman Empire was proclaimed.
Later, the series of saints was added: Gregory the Illuminator, who was elected as the first catholicos of the new Armenian national church. For the scattered Armenian people, the creation of the Armenian alphabet in 405 became a special factor. The scientist and cleric Mesrop Mashtots created the Armenian alphabet with 36 letters (3 letters were added later), which makes Armenia very special compared to the surrounding countries from a linguistic and spiritual point of view. The alphabet, in which many special consonants are present, has remained unchanged for 1600 years.
Armenia is often referred to as an open-air museum. On the entire territory of Armenia, tourists will find about 4000 historical monuments covering world history of different epochs, from prehistoric to Hellenistic times, and from early Christian times to the Middle Ages. There are more than 40 art museums and galleries in Yerevan alone. Perhaps you too will visit the land at the foot of Ararat.
The land at the foot of Mount Ararat
Today's Republic of Armenia consists of only part of ancient Armenia, stretching from south of the Lesser Caucasus, through the Armenian Highlands to the mountains of Tavros. With an area of 29,800 km², its national territory is about the same size as the federal state of Brandenburg. In the east, the landlocked country borders with Azerbaijan, in the southwest with the Azerbaijani exclave of Nakhichevan, interrupted by a 35 km long common border with Iran. Western and northern neighboring countries are Turkey and Georgia.
Armenian folklore preserves some myths about the origin of the Armenian people. One of them tells about the hero Hayk, whose name is like that of the Armenians, and the fact that the Armenians called themselves "Armenians" and called their country "Hayk" or "Hayastan" (Armenia). The 5th-century historian Movses Khorenatsi described in some detail the exploits of Aram, whose fame spread far beyond the borders of his country. The neighboring peoples called these people "Armenians" or "Armenians" after him. The archeology of Armenia counts towards the prehistory of the Ašelyan area, around 500,000 years ago, when people went about life hunting and gathering and following their herds in search of pasture. The first period of prosperity among the inhabitants of the Armenian highlands was in the 3rd century BC. These people were counted among the ancient Armenians who discovered bronze and the wheel and who grew grapes. The first written memoirs about the Armenian inhabitants are the hieroglyphs of the kingdom, written in 1388-1347 BC. in Asia Minor. The earliest found inscription concerning Armenian land was dated 1114 BC. engraved by the Assyrians, describing the union of the kings of the central region of Armenia, also called the "Nairi people".
One of the most important events in Armenian history was the elevation of Christianity to the state religion. With the introduction of the new religion, Armenia established its unique Christian way of life and thus became a part of the western world. “Saint Gregory the Illuminator” baptized Trdat III. as a Christian who proclaimed Christianity as the state religion in 301. Thus, Armenia became the first country to officially recognize Christianity as a state religion.
This is the proclamation of Constantine the Emperor, 12 years before the Charter of Milan: through this tolerance of the Christian inhabitants of the Roman Empire was proclaimed.
Later, the line of Saints Gregory the Illuminator was added, who was elected the first catholicos of the new Armenian national church. For the scattered Armenian people, the creation of the Armenian alphabet in 405 became a special factor. The scientist and cleric Mesrop Mashtots created the Armenian alphabet with 36 letters (3 letters were added later), which makes Armenia very special compared to the surrounding countries from a linguistic and spiritual point of view. The alphabet, in which many special consonants are present, has remained unchanged for 1,600 years.
Armenia is often referred to as an open-air museum. On the entire territory of Armenia, tourists will find about 4,000 historical monuments covering world histories of different epochs, from prehistoric to Hellenistic times and from early Christian times to the Middle Ages. There are more than 40 art museums and galleries in Yerevan alone. Perhaps you too will visit the land at the foot of Ararat.
The story in key words
Armenia is a young republic with a history that goes back thousands of years. We have prepared keywords and short texts for you and invite you to gain insight into the rich history of the country from Urartu to today's Republic of Armenia.
Armenia is a mountainous country in southern Transcaucasia and lies at the crossroads of Europe and Asia. Today Armenia occupies an area of 29,743 km². It borders Georgia to the north, Iran to the south, Azerbaijan to the east and Turkey to the west.
About half of Armenia is mountainous and dry, a third is taken up by pasture and arable land. 10 % of the country consists of national parks and state protected areas. Most of the country is more than 1,000 m above sea level, and the highest elevation is Mount Aragaz, the highest peak of which is 4,096 meters.
Located in the eastern part of Armenia, Lake Sevan is one of the highest lakes in the world.
Armenia is a small country, its land area is about as big as that of Belgium or the federal state of Brandenburg. But on this small patch of earth a kaleidoscope of different climatic zones with snow-capped mountain peaks, fertile fields, dense forests, turquoise lakes, dry steppes, desolate semi-deserts, green alpine valleys and sun-bleached vast stony plateaus - fields of stone.
The mountain country of Armenia is famous for two seasons in particular: the “eternal spring”, with wildflowers well into August, covering the mountain slopes and high valleys with blooming carpets, and the “eternal winter” with snow-capped peaks. This long winter, especially in the north, in Tsaghkadzor, allows for a wonderfully reliable ski season from November to April, which characterizes the seasons in Armenia.
In contrast, spring in the Ararat plain begins early: in March, irises, tulips and irises bloom. They love the dampness of spring rain. Thanks to this, the wildflower bloom here reaches its peak in early summer. And when the continental summer heat hits Yerevan at the end of June, it remains breezy and only moderately hot in most mountain regions.
Autumn is the most beautiful season in Armenia. Fresh fruit and vegetables are offered at the market and in shops, there are grapes, pomegranates, blackberries, quinces, nuts and pumpkins. September and October are pleasant months. The days are warm and the nights are cool.
As in most mountainous regions of the world, winters in Armenia are cold. It's snowing a lot in the country - perfect for winter sports. And time for Armenians to enjoy their autumn fruits in the form of jams, compotes and pickles….
Although it is located in the extreme east of Turkey and has not belonged to Armenia for a long time, Mount Ararat right on the border with 5,165 meters and its year-round snow-covered peak determines the landscape of Armenia from afar in many places. The volcano is already known from the Bible. According to Genesis, Noah settled here with his ark to await the great flood (Bible, Genesis 8:4). Traditionally, the year 301 is considered the date of the proclamation of Christianity as the state religion in Armenia. Before the adoption of Christianity, Armenia was predominantly a pagan country.
Lake Sevan and the Sevan Monastery
Lake Sevan National Park in northeastern Armenia is around 60 kilometers from the capital Yerevan and is often referred to as the "Pearl of Armenia". The body of water, which is up to 82 meters deep, covers an area of around 1,256 square kilometers and occupies around 5 % of the land area of Armenia. 28 springs and rivers flow into the lake, which is one of the highest lakes in the world at around 2,000 meters above sea level. Sevan Monastery, founded in 874 AD, is situated on a peninsula in the north of the lake. However, archaeological excavations in the region have unearthed fortresses, cemeteries and ruined buildings dating back to the early third millennium BC.
With the Dilijan, the Khosrov and Shikahogh, vacationers will find three more national parks in Armenia. Dilijan, also called "Armenian Switzerland", is a forested, hilly area in the Tavush region, which stretches to the Getik River. Located at the foot of the Gegham volcano in southeastern Yerevan, Khosrov has long been a favorite hunting ground for wealthy Armenians. More than 1,800 plant species ensure, among other things, constant growth in the local animal kingdom. Visitors can obtain information from a WWF information center at the entrance to the park. In the sultry south, near the Iranian border, there is also the Shikahogh nature reserve, which is dotted with forests.
churches and monasteries
The ancient monastery of Khor Virap in the Ararat region is set in stunning surroundings and offers an unforgettable view of the snow-capped mountain in the distance. According to legend, King Trdat III. Locking George the Illuminator in a cave for 13 years to break his Christian faith. Since the torture could not bend Gregory and he healed the king from an illness considered incurable, Trdat III. baptize themselves in 301 and decreed that the Armenians were the first people in history to adopt Christianity as the state religion. As one of the first Christian peoples in the world, the Armenians built numerous churches and monasteries over the centuries. Etchmiadzin Cathedral is one of the oldest churches in the Christian world. Built in 303 on the site of a pagan temple, it is considered the religious center of the Armenian people. According to legend, the site was chosen based on a vision in which Christ descended from heaven and struck the earth with a golden hammer. Today the site is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Tatev Monastery in the Syunik region was once an important cultural center and meeting place, housing philosophers, musicians, calligraphers and painters in addition to Armenian monks. In the Kotayk area, visitors can visit the 8th-century Geghard Monastery. It was carved into the rock of the surrounding hillside and originally housed the Christian relic of the "Holy Lance", after which the monastery was named. One of the most notable structures in Armenia is also the recently renovated Noravank Monastery. It lies embedded in the canyon of the same name and is surrounded by its bright red stones.
The true symbol of the Armenians are the thousands of stone crosses, the khachkars, spread all over the country. Mostly built near churches, they can also be found scattered in isolated areas of the countryside. Each one is unique, specially made by their builders to pray for the salvation of the soul, to celebrate the establishment of a church, or as a plea for protection, health, happiness or love. A field with around 900 khachkars can be found in Noraduz, west of Lake Sevan.
The pagan temple of Garni in the Kotayk area, around 30 kilometers from Yerevan, is evidence of the once widespread Hellenistic culture in Armenia. The temple from the 3rd century BC was once Surrounded by a fortress of moats and walls, it was a popular summer residence for the country's respective rulers. After the destruction by the Romans 59 AD King Trdata I ordered the fortress to be rebuilt and a sun temple added. Today's temple complex corresponds to how it looked around 2,000 years ago. Fans of antiquity can learn more about ancient Armenia at the numerous archaeological sites in the country. The ruins of Erebuni today form the foundation of the capital Yerevan and testify that the capital was already a center of Armenian life 3,000 years ago. Excavations have revealed parts of palaces and temples. Smaller finds can be seen in the Yerevan History Museum.
The ancient village of Khndzoresk in the Syunik region sits lonely on a multi-level rocky plateau and offers an unparalleled view of the forests and mountains of Armenia. In the same region, the 7,000-year-old remains of the Ughtasar Fortress by Petroglyophians testify to Stone Age customs and culture. In the Armavir area near the city of Echmiadzin lie the ruins of Zvartnots. The architectural masterpiece was badly damaged during an earthquake in the 10th century and only rediscovered over a thousand years later.
The Stones of Zorats, Zorats Karer, were probably originally erected for astronomical purposes. Over 200 of the stones alone weigh over 50 tons and cover around 12,000 square meters near the town of Sisian. They date back to the second millennium BC.
The ruins of the Silk Road
During the Marco Polo era, Armenia was crossed by the Silk Road between Europe and China. Merchants, traders and explorers in particular used the route as a route. Many houses and caravanserais along the way offered overnight accommodation. The Selim Caravanserai in the mountains of Sulema, around 2,400 meters above sea level, was built in 1332 and is today one of the best preserved in the country. Ijevan, in the heart of the Tavush region, was and still is famous for its exceptional hospitality. As a center of craftsmanship, it is particularly well known for its carpets, which can now be found in many homes around the world.
Since ancient times, Armenians have preserved and developed their artistic traditions. In the various artistic disciplines such as Armenian life is expressed in various forms such as engraving, embroidery, jewellery, sculpture, architecture and music.
It is particularly expressive Armenian sacred architecture. the Armenian churches have their own style that has developed over many centuries. Many churches are decorated with beautiful frescoes, bas-reliefs and donor figures; many of them in amazing condition after such a long time...
Noteworthy are the bas-reliefs and frescoes from the 5th-9th centuries. Century and the "narthexes", the church vestibules (Gavit) from the 13th century.
A special kind of art are the Armenian manuscripts with beautiful miniatures. In antiquity and in the Middle Ages, the manuscripts were carefully guarded, they played a major role in the people's struggle against intellectual slavery and assimilation. More than 17,500 manuscripts are kept in the Matenadaran, the Museum of Old Armenian Manuscripts. the painting experienced its heyday in the 19th-20th Century and continued the traditions of fresco art of the 8th century. In the last two centuries Hovhannes Ayvazovski, Edgar Schahen, Hovsep Puschmann, Arshile Gorky, Carzou, Jansem, Minas Avetisyan, Martiros Saryan and others have found great international recognition. The works of these and other modern artists are in the picture galleries of Yerevan issued.
The peculiarity of Armenian music is that folk, profane and sacred melodies form a synthesis in it. Armenian folk music is played with a variety of unique instruments, most notably the duduk. This 2000 year old wind instrument is made of apricot wood. Duduk music is now famous all over the world and can even be heard in Hollywood films. The film composers use this music in such scenes related to the distant past and distant lands. The warm, melancholic tones of the Armenian duduk sound almost sacred in religious films like Mel Gibson's The Temptation of Jesus and The Passion of the Christ, the last of which was filmed in 2004. Duduk sound took a central place in the films "Gladiator", "Alexander", "The Chronicles of Narnia", "Syriana" and "Munich". It was above all the famous Armenian musician Djivan Gasparyan who brought this ancient instrument and its longing, eternal sound onto the world music stage.
"Characans" are liturgical songs that go back many centuries. 300 years have passed since the time of the minstrel (Aschugh) Sayat-Nova, but the minstrel lives on to this day. The favorite composer of Armenians, Aram Khachaturyan, was under the direct influence of Armenian folk music and the music of Sayat Nova. Khachaturyan wrote numerous classical works, including the ballets "Gayane" (which includes the famous saber dance) and "Spartacus". Modern Armenian composers often combine traditional Armenian music with contemporary elements, creating a whole new genre. This is how Armenian music renews itself and is still being interpreted and preserved by every new generation of musicians. The Armenian diaspora has also produced a number of highly talented, world-class musicians, such as chansonnier Charles Aznavour, Cher, the group System Of A Down.
the literature always played a crucial role in the preservation of cultural identity. Before the invention of Armenian letters legends and stories were either passed down orally or written down in foreign languages. The golden age of Armenian literature began with the introduction of the new Armenian script, its own alphabet, by the scholar Mesrop Maschtoz in 405. In the centuries-long struggle against foreign conquerors, the Armenian alphabet remained remarkably unchanged, and Armenian literature continues to flourish.
Carpet making is a traditional art in the country. Of the Caucasus and Armenia in particular are considered by scholars and professionals to be the home of carpets. Armenians are proud of this heritage and continue this traditional branch. Here you will find many specialized shops offering old and new carpets. The art of knotting is not only limited to carpets, but is also used in the manufacture of clothes and bags as well as in design.
At art and flea markets in the open air, such as at the Yerevan "Vernissage", one can find small souvenir cross-stones (khachkar) made of wood. There are over 40,000 Armenian cross-stones across the country, but each one, like a snowflake, is unique. Making handmade clay pots is another traditional art in Armenia. Many clay objects are offered at the "Vernissage".
Armenian (proper designation "Hajeren") belongs to the Indo-European language family, but - like Greek or Albanian - has no close relatives in this language family.
The language history distinguishes the following forms of Armenian:
- Old Roman (also called Grabar): 5 to 11 centuries
- Middle Armenian: 11th to 17th centuries
- Neo-Armenian (also called Ashcharabar): since the 17th century Neo-Armenian has two historically and geographically conditioned forms: Eastern Armenian and Western Armenian, which differ mainly in pronunciation and vocabulary, and in part also in grammar. Today, Eastern Armenian is the official language of the Republic of Armenia and is also spoken by the Armenian language community in Iran. Western Armenian, originally spoken by the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, is now spoken in Turkey and scattered throughout the world, Middle East, Europe and USA as a result of the 1915 Armenian Genocide.
The Armenian language contains quite a lot of loan words from Greek and Iranian languages. Because of this fact, it has long been mistaken for an Iranian dialect. In the Soviet period, many words were also adopted from Russian. Since Armenia's independence, greater importance has been placed on the purity of the language and the language culture.
About 9 million people worldwide speak Armenian. At the moment, only about 3.2 million Armenians live in the Republic of Armenia. The Armenians have a very strong connection to their history, religion and language and maintain their mother tongue, regardless of which country in the world fate has brought them to.
The main guarantor of the survival of the Armenian language outside the Republic of Armenia is the family. It can be said that Armenian is spoken in practically every country in the world. The most important centers of the Armenian diaspora include the USA, Russia, France and the countries of the Middle East.
The Armenian script was created by the learned monk Mesrop Maschtoz in the early 5th century. The correctness and order of the sounds were taken from the Greek alphabet, but characters denoting sounds not found in Greek were reinvented by Mesrop Maschtoz. Originally there were 36 characters in the Armenian alphabet, three more letters were added in the early Middle Ages.
Armenian has an extensive case system (seven cases) but no gender distinction. Most of the old synthetic verb forms have been replaced by analytic constructions (with auxiliary verb). Armenian is a SPO language, i.e. the word order is usually subject – predicate – object, but it is flexible, e.g. B. to put special emphasis on a part of a sentence. The subjunctive only exists for the verb forms in the present and past tense. However, its function is different from that in German, in principle it is not used for indirect speech. (Alternative categories are therefore also optative (desired form) and desiderative). The indefinite article is not grammatically marked in Eastern Armenian; in Western Armenian, the noun is followed by “mə”.
Before Armenia adopted the Arabic numeral system, numbers were represented using letters. Only capital letters were used to represent the numbers. The 36 letters were in 4 rows of 9 each letters in order. The first row denoted the numbers 1 to 9, the second - 10 to 90, the third - 100 to 900 and the fourth - 1,000 to 9,000. The numbers 10,000 and 20,000 were denoted by the letters introduced in the Middle Ages (for the reproduction of the sounds "O" and "F").
German linguists occupy a prominent place in the study of the Armenian language. They investigated the origins of the Armenian script (V. Gardthausen), wrote grammars of Old Armenian (JH Petermann, M. Lauer), carried out comparative studies of Armenian (F. Bopp, JN Petermann, H. Hübschmann) and examined the position of Armenian in the group of Indo-European languages (H. Hübschmann, Fr. Müller).