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ArmeniaNov 20 2006

Armenia was the first country to adopt Christianity as its state religion in AD 301. To explore Armenia is to delve into history: from Erebuni, an archaeological site studded with over 200 ancient rock engravings; and Ughtasar, an ancient fortress perched on top of a mountainous plateau; to countless monasteries and churches embedded in dramatic landscape. Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, is one of the oldest cities in the world, founded nearly 2800 years ago during the time of ancient Babylon. Although most of the old town was demolished in the 1930s, it is now decked out in more modern Soviet design. Indeed, Yerevan represents the very crux of Armenia: withholding both its ancient origins, a turbulent passage through time and now the forging of new beginnings.

Despite the violence of its history, Armenia is beautiful. Lake Sevan is the largest lake in the Caucasus, much praised for its pure waters and stunning setting, whilst North Dilijhan is a resort touted for its medicinal mineral waters. Touristic infrastructure is continually improving and there is greater opportunity to hike and horse ride every year. This greatness of the scenery complies with Armenia’s past (albeit brief) status as a great power. Before it was incorporated into the Roman Empire in AD114, the Armenian Empire stretched from the Caspian Sea in the east to the Mediterranean in the west.

Since then, the country has been tragically dogged by lost territory, national persecution and mass emigration. Subsequent Armenian history has been comprised of foreign domination and dissent, most notably when, at the outbreak of World War I, Turkish government catalysed the first genocide of the 20th century, in which an estimated one-and-a-quarter million Armenians were massacred and hordes more fled or were forced into exile. Nature itself seized power in December 1988 when a massive earthquake destroyed much of the capital, Diaspora, killing several thousand people. Rather than wilt in collective gloom, the Armenian mood strengthened and the country eventually gained independence. Even the murder of Premier Sarkisian and seven other leading politicians in 1999 temporarily paralysed the country’s politics but did not halt progress. Armenians have not quieted their protests: in early 2004, thousands of opposition supporters marched against the allegedly corrupt president, Kocharian.

Armenian character is key: the towns and cities are relics of endurance. It is the character of the locals that leads them to proudly inform visitors that Winston Churchill always insisted on Armenian brandy in preference to French. We advise you to follow their advice and raise a glass to Armenia.

 

Provided by http://www.guidearoundtheworld.com/
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