Blessing of Grapes August 14-25 Choosing this tour package you’ll have a unique opportunity to participate in one of the most important Armenian festivals, Blessing of Grapes Ceremony which is held on 16 August of 2009 in Echmiadzin town. In Armenia it isn’t allowed to eat grapes before they are blessed. In August the Armenian Apostolic Church is celebrating the feast “Assumption of the Virgin Mary” -the blessing of grapes. In August by the time of this festival the grapes ripen. On the Feast of the Assumption of St. Mary, the Ceremony of the Blessing of the Grapes is conducted, and the harvest for the entire year is blessed on that day. Our clergymen had chosen grape for benediction since Christ blessed the wine made from grapes and gave it to his disciples as a symbol of his vital blood. The same blessed grape would become blessed wine, and from that very grape people preserved a bit for the next year grape blessing ceremony as a sign of richness and abundance. August 14 – Day 1
Arrival at Zvartnotz International Airport. Our tourist guide will welcome you at the airport. Transfer to the hotel/apartment in Yerevan. August 15 – Day 2 YEREVAN CITY TOUR - Drive through the central streets of Yerevan: Republic Square, Opera House, “Cascade” Monument and Stairs, "Mother Armenia" Monument with a breathtaking view of Yerevan, Victory Bridge, Hrazdan Stadium, Sports and Concerts Center, Presidential Palace, National Assembly Building, Academy of Sciences, Tsitsernakaberd-Armenian Genocide Memorial Complex and Museum Visit Matenadaran, a unique Research Institute of Ancient Manuscripts and a Museum. Matenadaran is the largest center of study and safekeeping of Armenian manuscripts in the world. Lunch in a traditional Armenian restaurant, where you’ll enjoy the best dishes of the miraculous Armenian cuisine. Overnight in Yerevan. August 16 – Day 3 “BLESSING OF GRAPES FESTIVAL”
Leave for Echmiadzin town, the Holy See of the Armenian Apostolic Church, where the Armenian Catholicos (Supreme Patriarch) resides. Visit St. Hripsime Church which was built in 7th century and is considered a masterpiece of early medieval Armenian architecture. Continue to Echmiadzin Mother Cathedral. Historically, it is the focal point of the town of Echmiadzin, and it’s the oldest church in the world. It was originally built by Saint Gregory the Illuminator as a vaulted basilica in 301-303A.D., when Armenia was the only country in the world the state religion of which was Christianity. The church was built on the place of a pagan temple, the remains of which can be seen until now. The Etchmiadzin Cathedral is listed among the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Participate in the festival of “Blessing of grapes”. On the way back to Yerevan visit the Ruins of Zvartnots Cathedral. Zvartnots was a majestic cathedral dedicated to St. Gregory. Zvartnots, built as Armenia's main cathedral in 641-661A.D. was to suppress the Echmiadzin Cathedral by its grandeur. The remnants of Zvartnots, even in ruins, are a majestic sight. The Ruins of Zvartnots are listed among the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Lunch in a traditional Armenian restaurant. Overnight in Yerevan.
August 17 – Day 4 Tour to Garni Pagan Temple and Geghard Monastery. The Pagan Temple of Garni is the only non-Christian temple currently standing in Armenia. Gracing the hillside the pagan temple was dedicated to the God of Sun, Mithra. It was built in 77A.D. by the Armenian King Trdat I. The architectural complex of Garni was Armenia's foremost center of Hellenistic culture and the summer residence of Armenian kings. The fortress is situated in a picturesque locality and commands a broad panorama of orchards, fields and mountain slopes covered with motley carpets of varicolored grasses, of the jagged and precipitous canyon of the Azat river. The artistic merit and uniqueness of its monuments place Garni among outstanding creations of architecture of world importance. Driving for 9 more kilometers from Garni, you'll reach the Monastery of Geghard, which is included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Geghard is an incredible ancient Armenian monastery, partly carved out of a mountain. Though the monastery has been around since before the 4th century, the main cathedral was built in 1215.It is said that the holy lance that pierced the body of Christ was kept here. The architectural forms and the decoration of Geghard's rock premises show that Armenian builders could not only create superb works of architecture out of stone, but also hew them in solid rock. Lunch in an Armenian peasant house in Garni village. Overnight in Yerevan. August 18– Day 5 Tours around the Lake Sevan. Drive to the Lake Sevan, nicknamed as “the blue-eyed bride of Armenia”. It’s one of the most beautiful alpine lakes in the world situated at 1900meters above sea level. It takes up 5% of Armenia and it’s the main source of fresh water of the country.