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Considering a trip to Armenia? Get briefed on essential details.

Our car came to an abrupt halt as the traffic light switched to red at Republic Square, or Hraparak as the locals fondly call it, in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia. A woman, elegantly dressed in high heels, leisurely crossed the road. Our driver, Ashot, couldn't resist a playful remark, noting that she wasn't Kim Kardashian, though acknowledging the reality star's Armenian roots. "Kim is beautiful, but she doesn't live here," he chuckled in his broken English.

Curious about other famous Armenians, I inquired further. Ashot eagerly listed notable figures like Cher, Gary Kasparov, and Andre Agassi, emphasizing that while they may have Armenian heritage, they too don't reside in the country.

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Our guide, Elize, interjected, revealing an intriguing fact: out of the 14 million Armenians worldwide, only three million call Armenia home. This revelation was just the beginning of our journey through Armenia, a country rich in history, culture, and natural beauty.

Our exploration commenced on a crisp, sunny morning with a drive uphill to Victoria Park, offering panoramic views of Yerevan and the iconic Mount Ararat. Despite being located in Turkish territory, Mount Ararat holds profound significance for Armenians, symbolizing divine importance. It is believed to be the resting place of Noah's Ark after the biblical flood, a fact Elize shared with pride.

From our elevated vantage point, we captured breathtaking shots of the city, Mount Ararat, and the imposing statue of Mother Armenia. The park also houses reminders of Armenia's tumultuous past, including a fighter plane, missile, and museum of history, serving as poignant reflections of the country's struggles and victories.

Our journey continued to the Genocide Memorial Complex, a somber yet essential stop. The complex's towering spire and eternal flame pay tribute to the victims of the Armenian Genocide, depicted through photographs and exhibits that leave a lasting impact on visitors.

As we explored further, we encountered The Cascade, an architectural marvel comprising grand limestone staircases and art sculptures. The ascent provided captivating views of the city, while the interior housed the Cafesjian Center for the Arts, showcasing contemporary masterpieces.

Being the first country to adopt Christianity officially, Armenia boasts numerous ancient monasteries and holy sites. Although we couldn't visit them all, our trip included a visit to the Geghard Monastery, nestled amidst stunning natural landscapes. The monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage site, offered a glimpse into Armenia's rich religious and architectural heritage.

As we traversed through Armenia's picturesque countryside, passing quaint villages and lush landscapes, we marveled at the country's natural beauty. Despite facing economic challenges, Armenia's charm lies in its people, cuisine, and laid-back lifestyle.

From sampling traditional Armenian delicacies at local markets to witnessing age-old traditions like tying prayer cloths at sacred sites, our journey through Armenia left a lasting impression. As we bid farewell to Ashot and Armenia, we promised to return, embracing the relaxed pace of life that defines this hidden gem in the Caucasus region.

March 29, 2024 5:11 p.m. 12632

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