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Armenia

With its dramatic mountain scenery, ancient monasteries and warm hospitality, Armenia is a hidden gem of a destination. Geographically situated between Europe and Asia, it is one of the world’s oldest centres of civilisation, and has been ruled, conquered and absorbed by many powerful leaders and empires. Despite this, Armenia forged – and retains – a unique identity. It was the first country to adopt Christianity as a state religion (in 301 AD), which gave rise to the abundance of spectacular monuments, monasteries and churches dotted throughout the country today. Particularly special is the Monastery of Geghard, a UNESCO World Heritage Site carved from the rocks at the entrance of the beautiful Azat Valley, or the magnificent ruins of the 7th-century Zvartnots Temple, which retain much of their sumptuous original ornamentation. For those seeking the buzz of the metropolis, Yerevan, the capital city, is an excellent base from which to explore many of the country’s architectural treasures and an interesting reflection of Armenia’s more recent Soviet past. Despite such highlights, Armenian tourism remains underdeveloped compared to its European counterparts, making a tour in the company of an expert Art Pursuits lecturer the very best way to experience and understand this fascinating country.
 
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