EPIC

summer school in Armenia

Armenia

Armenia's population is 3.3 million, the largest city and the capital is Yerevan (1.5 million inhabitants). The territory of modern Armenia is 29.8 thousand square kilometers situated in the north-east of the Armenian Highland. It is known as historical Armenia and has been historic homeland of Armenian people who are considered one of the most ancient nations in the world.

Armenian relief is predominantly mountainous. Nearly 90 percent of the country is at an altitude of 1,000 to 3,000m above sea level. The highest point of modern Armenia is Mount Aragats - 4090m. The river network of the country is dense, especially in mountainous areas, however, it consists of mainly mountain rivers with no navigation. There are several high mountain lakes in Armenia. The largest of one is Lake Sevan.

Armenia offers much more than churches and monasteries. It was depicted on many maps as a powerful state of the ancient world. The first of them was the Babylonian clay tablet – the oldest map known to humanity.  In Armenia you can still find traces of ancient civilization: settlements and fortresses of the mighty Urartu kingdom, Erebuni and Karmir Blur on the foundations of which the modern capital Yerevan stands. Yerevan traces its history back more than 2700 years. It is worth mentioning Metsamor which is located on Ararat plain, where even 5000 years ago a big metallurgical centre and an observatory existed. The 7500-year-old observatory of Karahunge, located in the south of Armenia, was dedicated to the main god “Ar” and was an important center of pagan religion, outdating similar Stone Henge by at least two thousand years. Not far from there, hidden in the mountains, you can find thousands of rock carvings created by ancient people, dating from the 6th - 2nd millennium B.C.

Summer in Armenia

The climate of the Ararat valley can be characterized as extremely continental with hot summers and cool winters. Summer is the most booming time for the country, as a lot of tourist and Armenians who live abroad visit Armenia during that period. A lot of cool events and festivals take place during summer holidays. One of them is Vardavar – the day when people splash water on each other. The meaning of this is to clear body from different diseases and have fun.

What to see in Armenia

Yerevan

Yerevan is the capital and the largest city in Armenia. You should start exploring Armenia from Yerevan. The Republic Square is an amazing place for visiting, there are singing and dancing fountains here. Another amazing place is the Cascade which is a giant stairway, with Cafesjian Museum of Art inside. Here you can admire a lot of wonderful statues of modern art and listen to live jazz music on Fridays. Vernissage - open air flea market is worth visiting too, here you would be able to buy souvenirs and ornaments for your beloved ones. Yerevan is known as the city of cafes. Streets of  Yerevan are full of life and the city is not sleeping all day and all night.

Sevan Lake

Sevan (66 km north-east of Yerevan) is one of the most popular towns in Armenia because of the stunning Lake Sevan. The lake is especially popular in summer among both locals and tourists. At 1,900m, Lake Sevan is considered to be one of the highest lakes in the world and sometimes it seems as if the azure waters are about to touch the sky. Because of Its beauty the lake is called "the pearl of Armenian nature". Here you can have a barbeque, ride cruise, yacht or catamaran or simply relax and enjoy the amazing scenery. Sevan is also known for its fish “ishxan” (Armenian trout), so once in Sevan don’t miss the opportunity to order delicious fish dishes at one of the local cafés or restaurants.

Byurakan Astrophysical Observatory

Byurakan Astrophysical Observatory(BAO) was founded in 1946 on the initiatives of academician Victor Ambartsumian, who was the first director of the observatory. It is located on the picturesque southern slope of the mountain Aragatz. At the observatory five observational instruments are installed, the larger ones are 2.6 m Cassegrain telescope and 1m Schmidt telescope. Besides doing scientific research, the observatory also fulfils informative activities and organizes excursions and lectures for amateurs.

Noravank Monastery

The Noravank monastery was built in 13th century over the gorge of the Arpa River out of amazing sheer red cliffs. It is truly a treasure of Armenian religious art. Here are the most beautiful cross stones of one of the famous masters - Momik. The most unique church here is the two-store church Astvatsatsin with a chapel on the second floor connected to the first floor through narrow staircases console. The complex also includes the Priory Church of St. John the Baptist, the chapel of St. Gregory the Illuminator. In the 13th - 14th centuries the Monastery became the seat of the bishops of the province of Syunik, one of the major religious, cultural and educational centers of Armenia.

Tatev Monastery and “Wings of Tatev” aerial tramway

To reach the Monastery of Tatev - the largest center of religion, culture, science and education of medieval Armenia, one should use the longest cable car in the world ‘Wings of Tatev’’ entered the Guinness book as the longest reversible one in the world (5 752 meters).The monastery was founded in 839. The monastery was named Tatev (give wings), because the architect, who built it asked from the Holy Spirit to give him wings to fly. Today the monastery compound consists of three churches: the Blessed Virgin, the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, and St. Gregory. The monastery is situated on a rocky plateau above the picturesque gorge of the dizzying flow of the river Vorotan.

Garni Basalt Symphony

In the Kotayk region of Armenia, there is a beautiful canyon called Garni that’s famous for its unique basalt columns. As a result of geological processes, the stunning natural symmetrical columns were formed and these days, they’re aptly called “the symphony of stones”. Indeed, if you look at the canyon from afar, many of the cliffs resemble a giant organ!

How to get to Armenia

Travel to Armenia by Airplane

Armenia has one of the best and modern international airports in the region. Yerevan Airport was the most modern airport of the former Soviet Union. However, by that time this airport was designed to serve a limited number of passengers, mainly from the Soviet republics, but not from other countries. Therefore, after Armenia's independence the Armenian Government signed a concession contract with a foreign investor of Armenian origin to enlarge and renovate the Yerevan Airport. And now Armenia has a modern and secure International Airport recognized and appreciated by international community and the air companies.

Armenia has two major passenger airports in Capital Yerevan and Gyumri city, both administered by ARMENIA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT company. Armenia's main airport is in 12 km from Capital Yerevan. The airport has a transit zone and provides permission for visiting the city. The airport handles all type of commercial aircrafts.

Yerevan Airport is connected with more than 50 cities of Europe, Russia, Asia and Africa. Cities having direct and connected flights to Yerevan are:

Paris Mineralnye vody Kiev Voronezh
Vienna Tehran Ekatirinburg Tbilisi
Athens Moscow Saint-Petersburg Aktau
Barcelona Kransnodar Dubai Beirut
Warsaw Samara TelAviv Istanbul
Sochi Rostov Novosibirsk
Sharjah Doha Minsk
Air France Air Company Scat UTAIR Air Arabia Mahanair
Austrian Airlines Atlasjet Middle East Airlines Asseman Airline
Armenia Air Company Siberia airlines Lot Polish Airlines Ural Airlines
Aeroflot Russian Airlines Vim Avia Aegean Airlines Qatar Airlines
Ukraine Airlines Flydubai Belavia
Travel to Armenia by Train

Trains going to Armenia are from Georgia only. There are two passenger trains available: Tbilisi-Yerevan for round year (duration is about 10 hours) and Batumi Yerevan for summer season (duration is about 15 hours).Ticket prices are quite reasonable: starting from some USD 25-30. Train conditions and service do not meet European standards, but are pretty acceptable for easy going travelers. The trains are clean and secure.The one, who decides to go to Georgia first, can easily travel to Armenia by train.

Travel to Armenia by Car

It is quite easy to travel to Armenia by car. There are two international entry roads to Armenia: from Georgia and one from Iran. If you don't have your own car you can rent one or take a car with ա driver to travel to Armenia. Border procedures are not heavy in Armenia, so you can easily enter Armenia on your own car or a rented one. Travelling to Armenia by car will be more costly than by train or by bus, but it will be much comfortable and also will give you flexibility on your way to Armenia.

Travel to Armenia by Bus

Every day many big tour buses travel to Armenia from both Georgia and Iran. Most of these buses belong to or are managed by travel companies. They provide organized tours, transportation and other services for tourists visiting Caucasus, including Armenia.

Regular passenger transportation services between Georgia and Armenia are mainly provided by mini buses and vans so called "marshrutkas". The mini buses departure/arrival points are the city bus stations. The tickets are not expensive: from Tbilisi about USD 20-35.

Regular bus service is functioning between Iran and Armenia. These modern buses start the journey from Tehran or Tabriz. The ticket price is about USD 50-60. Tickets are available in Iranian travel agencies.

Visa & More

Citizens of U.S.A, Brazil, Uruguay, Russia, U.A.E and most of the E.U countries are not required an entry visa to Armenia. 
List below.

The citizens of the following countries can obtain a visa only with an official invitation. List below. The citizens of the rest of the counties can obtain visa online - https://evisa.mfa.am/., at Armenian embassies abroad, or upon arrival at "Zvartnots” International Airport or other border-control points. Tourist visa for 21 days is issued upon submission of visa application form, photograph, original of the passport with validity period of minimum 4 months and visa fee of AMD 3000 (approx. USD 7). For further details, visit the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Armenia (www.mfa.am). Processing of visa in foreign countries through Armenian embassy usually takes 7 business days. Processing visa upon arrival to Armenia usually takes 15 minutes. 

Customs regulations

It is forbidden to import narcotics and firearms (with the exception of hunting equipment, falling under separate regulation). A special authorization is required for import and export of antiques, gems and art work. Import of currency is unlimited. However, export of currency worth of USD 10 000 or more is subject to additional documentation. It is permitted to import without customs duty: goods and items for personal use with total value of no more than USD 500 and weight of no more than 50 kg; goods shipped via international postal services with weight of no more than 20 kg and value of no more than USD 100. Limit for import of alcoholic beverages is 2 liters, and for cigarettes is 50 packs.

Safety

Armenia is one of the safest countries of CIS with a low crime rate. Tourists are safe to travel all over the country and walk in the streets of Yerevan at any time of the day and night. The only issue of concern is traffic - visitors are highly encouraged to pay close attention when crossing the streets, even at green lights.

Telephone connection

Sim cards for mobile phones can be easily purchased from the stores of any of the three operators of mobile connection: "Beeline Armenia”, "VivaCell-MTS” and "UCOM”. Mobile connection covers nearly the entire country, with exception of some canyons and mountains. One can also use calling cards that can be found in kiosks.

To call a landline phone in Armenia dial: 00+374+city code+phone number.

To call a mobile phone in Armenia dial: 00+374+code of mobile operator+phone number.

Important phone numbers

Fire department - 101

Police department - 102

Ambulance - 103

Gas department - 104

Information Service of Yerevan City Telephone Network - 109

Exact time - 110

Yerevan railway station - 184

Weather forecast - 186

"Zvartnots” International Airport - 187

Bus station "Central” - 565370

Bus station "Northern” - 621670

Address Bureau - 539670

Currency and Banking

National currency of Armenia is dram (AMD). Paper notes are issued in denominations of 1000, 5000, 10000, 20000, 50000, 100000. Coins are issued in denominations of 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500. For exchange rates you can visit the website of Central Bank of Armenia: www.cba.am. Credit cards are accepted in the majority of shops and hotels of Yerevan. Foreign bank notes can be easily exchanged at numerous exchange bureaus and banks in Yerevan and other cities of Armenia.

Embassies

Embassies and diplomatic missions of most of the countries of the world are located in Yerevan. For more details visit the official website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Armenia: www.mfa.am.

Language

Armenian is the state language of Armenia. Most of the population also speaks Russian. Younger generation knows English as well.

Time

Armenia standard time is 4 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT+4).

Postal services

Post offices offer a variety of services such as sending and receiving letters and packages, telephone calling within Armenia and abroad, money exchange, international and public pay phone calling cards. There are numerous post offices throughout Yerevan. Working hours are: 09:00-19:00.

Electricity

Standard voltage in Armenia is 220V. Electric outlets use European plugs with 2 round pins.

Internet

There are quite a few internet cafes in Yerevan. Average price per hour is 200-300 AMD (approx. USD 0.6-0.9).

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