Armenia - The Hidden Land

Prices from £2,745


5 Oct 2020 - 13 Oct 2020
Duration: 8 nights
Ref: 20ARME
With: Dr William Taylor


Prices from £2,745
Single Supplement: £395
Deposit: £200

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The sheer span of Armenian history is difficult to comprehend. The land called Armenia appears next to Colchis and Parthia in ancient maps, was a Hellenistic vassal state, and later a province of Rome. It was fought over by Byzantines, Arabs, Mamelukes, and the Mongol Golden Horde. It suffered conquest and periodic slaughter by the empires of Persians, Russians, and, most notoriously, Ottomans. Yet, despite its precarious position surrounded by powerful and hostile neighbours, or perhaps because of it, Armenian culture has been uniquely independent: the Armenian language has its own script and their national religion for over 1700 years, The Armenian Apostolic Church. This Art Pursuits Abroad study tour will explore this land’s distinctiveness, as expressed in its extraordinary monastic architecture, which both complements and competes with the stony beauty of the natural landscape. Apart from Yerevan, the thirteenth Armenian capital and a city founded before Rome, we will also visit the turquoise Lake Sevan in the east and the foothills of Turkish occupied Ararat in the west.


"Sharing the delights of Armenia and Georgia with enthusiastic travellers through Art Pursuits will be a great pleasure for me. I have been travelling to both countries since 1990, and feel privileged to have been part of the huge changes which have happened in both countries since then. Both countries have a fierce national pride, strong Christian identities, and a love of life expressed through great food and wine, and extraordinary hospitality – all set within the dramatic backdrop of the Caucasus mountains. Working with the people of both countries for many years, it will also be a joy to share local friendships in the places we visit. This will be a captivating visit!"

William Taylor has travelled and lectured across the Middle East and Central Asia and has published books about these regions. As Chairman of the Anglican and Eastern Churches and vicar of St John’s church in Notting Hill, London, William has personal contacts in many monasteries and churches. He is a linguist and has worked in Jordan, Cairo and Turkey; his PhD focused on Orthodox Churches of the Ottoman Empire.

DAY 1:

Morning flight from London via Paris to Yerevan. Transfer by private coach to your four star hotel in Yerevan.

DAY 2:

Start a coach tour of Armenia’s capital Yerevan with a panoramic view from the monument to Mother Armenia. Continue to the huge Cathedral of St Gregory the Illuminator (d.331), a fascinating complex consecrated in 2001 and dedicated to the first official head of the Armenian Apostolic Church. At the giant stairway of the Cascade, begun under Soviet rule in the 1970s and still under construction, visit the Cafesjian Centre for the Arts with stunning modern glass and sculpture. In the afternoon, visit the Manuscript Museum, one of the world’s biggest depositories of ancient writings. Overnight in Yerevan.

DAY 3:

Coach excursion south of Yerevan through fertile fields to the plains at the foot of biblical Mount Ararat. According to tradition, it was here that Noah planted a vine after leaving the Ark. The monastery of Khor Virap is a major pilgrimage site, as St Gregory the Illuminator was held captive here for thirteen years before miraculously converting and baptising his tormentor, King Tiridates III. Continue to the remote monastery at Noravank, set in a narrow gorge of breathtaking natural beauty. The complex comprises two churches characterised by fine 14th century carvings. Overnight in Yerevan.

DAY 4:

Drive to Lake Sevan, one of the largest high-altitude lakes in the world. Sevanavank Monastery, originally situated on an island – turned into a peninsula following the partial draining of the lake in the Stalin era—is a royal foundation of 9th century origins. After lunch, through the forests of Dilijan National Park framed by the Lesser Caucasus mountains, continue to Goshavank Monastery with some of the most intricate, lacy ‘khachkars’ — Armenian cross-stones — in the country. First of two nights in Dzogaret.

DAY 5:

From Dzogaret explore Armenia’s north. The monastery at Haghpat in Debed canyon — a UNESCO World Heritage site – represents the highest flowering of Armenian religious architecture. Rare mediaeval frescoes can be found here as well as in the nearby Sanahin Monastery. Continue to Odzun whose umbrella-domed church dates from the fifth to seventh centuries. Overnight in Dzogaret.

DAY 6:

In the morning, visit Amberd fortress, a rare instance of Armenian mediaeval defence architecture, perched on a cliff surrounded by deep river gorges 2,300 metres above sea level. From there, return to Yerevan for some free time and independent visits. Overnight in Yerevan.

DAY 7:

A short distance from Yerevan lies Echmiadzin, Armenia’s religious heart. Visit the ruins of Zvartnots Temple, a masterpiece of Armenian architecture and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The main cathedral of Echmiadzin was the first official church built in Armenia in 303. Today it is the Holy See of Echmiadzin where the Catholicos of Armenia resides. The local museum exhibits the Holy Lance and a fragment of Noah’s Ark. Overnight in Yerevan.

DAY 8:

In the morning, drive east of Yerevan to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Geghard, a mediaeval monastery partially carved out of the rocks. Experience the exceptional acoustics of this intensely spiritual site in a specially arranged choir recital of sacred music. Continue to Garni village for lunch, followed by a visit of a pagan temple dating back to the first century AD — the only remaining monument of pre-Christian times in Armenia. Final night in Yerevan.

DAY 9:

Morning flight from Yerevan to London Heathrow via Paris.


Twin/double share: £2745 per person
Double room for sole use supplement: £395
Tour without flights cost: £2395
Deposit: £300 per person


  • Return flights with Air France from London, via Paris, to Yerevan
  • Private coach transfers and excursions
  • Six nights’ bed and breakfast in the 4* Historic Yerevan Hotel and two nights’ bed and breakfast in the 4* Avan Dzoraget Hotel
  • Six dinners and five lunches
  • Guided visits to sites listed in the programme
  • Services of the Lecturer and Tour Manager
  • Detailed programme and study notes
  • All entrance fees, taxes and gratuities for coach drivers and waiters


The four-star Avan Dzoraget Hotel is a modern building designed in local style and constructed from basalt stone, typical of the area. Beautifully located beside the Debed River and near the Caucasus mountains, the hotel has scenic views. Armenian and Georgian specialities are served from the restaurant, which has a terrace and a lounge bar. The fitness centre has a swimming pool and sauna. Rooms feature tea and coffee making facilities, TV, hairdryer and air conditioning.


Surround yourself in style at Armenia Marriott Hotel Yerevan, perfectly placed close to Republic Square in the city centre. Relax in beautifully appointed air conditioned rooms, featuring deluxe bedding, Wi-Fi (charge), marble bathrooms, slippers, hair dryer, mini fridge, TV and tea and coffee making facilities.