Mrs. Nelli Malkhasyan is an old friend of mine, I’m always meeting with her at travel fairs and witnessed her efforts to promote her country, Armenia. I met her again during the World Travel Market (WTM) at the Armenia stand, and I asked her to introduce her country to the readers of eTurboNews.
“With my pleasure,” she said and invited me to visit Armenia on my own to be able to discover fully the hidden treasures of her homeland. She told me that Armenia has attracted travelers since ancient times. Caravans would travel across the territory of historical Armenia as it was an important part of the Great Silk Route. Many famous travelers, such as Jean Baptist Tavernier, Marco Polo, and others, have portrayed this country in their books depicting its picturesque landscape and the richness of its numerous cultural monuments, covering a wide range of the history of human civilization from Cyclopean fortresses to the times of Urartu and the Pagan era, with its towns built in Hellenistic style to early Christian churches and ecclesiastic universities homed by monasteries. Pages could be written on the long-aged history of Armenia!
Generally, tourists visiting Armenia are excited by its nature and amazed by the results of its “creative work” (pictorial landforms, rock sculptures, waterfalls, etc.) and wish to learn more about the roots of their formation. As a matter of fact, Armenia is one of those few countries that, though small in territory, is notable for its complexity and rich diversity of its geological structures. In a small area, one can observe various signs of active geological processes ever taking place on the Earth and continuing today.
Among all this diverse Armenian geology are objects that could be assigned to the rank of rarity, and often, unique natural geological monuments are to be found. The agro-biological diversity of wild relatives of plants – cultivated, medicinal, edible, wood, coloring, aromatic, fodder, and many others – including many endemic, relict, and rare species is surprising.
The people and races that have populated the Armenian highland, whose origin stretches into the unknown millennia of prehistory, have provided the human substance for its culture. Being at the crossroads of Asia and Europe, the country served as a bridge joining both, geographically as well as culturally, Iran and Indo-China with European civilization. Armenia synthesized the best traditions of the arts, music, and architecture from its neighbors and gave them a new interpretation that not only enriched its own cultural heritage but also influenced that of its neighbors. A visit to Armenia will help one to define a new interpretation of east-west cultural interactions.
Throughout Yerevan alone, there are more than 40 museums and galleries presenting fine arts. Yet the country as a whole is often referred to as an outdoor museum. It has over 4,000 historical monuments, which cover various periods of the country’s development from prehistoric to the Hellenistic era and from the early to medieval Christian era. The stone-carved crosses and cathedrals recall the European Renaissance. Comparisons and discoveries of the arts are a continual delight in this magical country.
Though distinctive national styles are clear, an Armenian national song can sound to a westerner as hauntingly oriental. In order to understand Armenian musical arts, please visit the House-Museum of the world-reknowned contemporary composer Aram Khachatouryan or go to the Philharmonic Hall, the Chamber Music Hall, or to the Opera and Ballet House while in Yerevan.
Armenia’s literary and artistic history is studied and exhibited in Matenadaran – the Institute of Ancient Manuscripts in Yerevan, which preserves a unique collection of 14,000 complete manuscripts, fragments, and miniatures (UNESCO World Heritage Site). The oldest parchment manuscript dates back to early 5th c. The majority of manuscripts are research works of ancient scholars on astrology, alchemy, geography, history, medicine, poetry, and the musical arts.
Mrs. Nellie is the general manager of the Princess Maneh Consultancy and Tourist Services – a full service incoming tour operator and DMC offering tailored packages to the most attractive sights and architectural monuments of Armenia.