See & Do
The rocky mountains, stones, and caves of Armenia are covered with petroglyphs. The drawings on these stones and walls tell of everyday life and traditions of the ancient citizens of the mountainous highlands.
The Ancient Inhabitants of the Armenian Highlands
The rich and ancient culture of Armenia has left its mark throughout the whole territory of the country and its historical lands. Numerous excavations continuously reveal new and new facts about the ancient origin of Armenia and its people. Marks of of human settlements since 90,000 B.C. are present throughout the former territory of the Armenian highlands. Some findings even mention Armenia as the birthplace of civilization and mankind.
Petroglyphs play a huge part in the confirmation of the Ancient origin of Armenia. Stones throughout Armenia are covered with petroglyphs – the rock paintings tell the story of life and traditions of ancient inhabitants of the highlands. A huge collection of petroglyphs (V-IV millennium BC) is located on the mountain plateau of Ukhtasar – a beloved place by ancient pilgrims that today can be reached by off-road vehicles.
The Pre-Christian Era of Armenia
Once Armenia was filled with pagan temples as the nation worshipped the ancient Urartian deities, yet after the Christianization of the country most of the sites were demolished. Christian monasteries were built on top of the remains of the pagan temples. Despite this some temples managed to survive and the preservation efforts successfully keep them in good condition.
The temple of the Sun god Mithra in Garni has been preserved since pagan times and is the only active temple in the former territory of the Soviet Union. Recent years have revealed new traces of the pagan past of the Armenia. The excavation of the Ogmik pagan complex were recently resumed. Throughout these excavations archeologists revealed sacrificial altars, rooms and remains of certain animals as well as statues and different carved symbols.
Christian Architecture of Armenia
Numerous Christian shrines are located on the outskirts of the capital and across Armenia. You can find lonely standing ascetic monasteries or monastic even complexes – cave monasteries and those resting at the bottom of deep valleys. The minimalistic interior of Armenian churches is further enriched with beautifully ornamented khachkars - cross stones, each unique in its type. For the demonstration of craftsmanship and symbolism, khachkars are now inscribed in the UNESCO list of Intangible Cultural Heritage as well as certain other Armenian sites and objects.
The Stone Army
Zorats Karer is perhaps the most mysterious place in Armenia. "The Stone Army" is the interpretation of the name of the Stonehenge of Syunik. As legend would have it, since ancient times the space was inhabited by industrious dwarves, for whom giant neighbors built those stone dwellings. According to another legend, in the V millennium BC an observatory operated here: on the day of the autumnal equinox, the sun rises right above the gates of the central ring, and many boulders have small holes on them, most likely for observing the stars. The third hypothesis states that Zorats Karer was once the ancient temple of the Sun god. The fourth one claims that these are obelisks and an entire army is buried beneath.