4. Meeting a rare Russian Christian sect
The village of Fioletevo is home to around 3000 Molokans, a highly religious sect regarded as outside the traditional Eastern Orthodoxy, Catholic and Protestant denominations of Christianity.
They abide by the words of the Bible quite literally: they do not pray in front of a cross because it was made by human hands, or worship saints or icons. They follow centuries-old rules, such as only being allowed to marry other Molokans, men being bearded, men dressing in dark trousers and a white shirt, and women wearing headscarves and long dresses.
If you're interested to see beyond the typical visitor spots of Armenia, you can visit Fioletevo through tour companies such as Ayastour.
5. Visit a favela-like maze of homes
This post-Soviet country has much poverty and you will be struck by the number of beggars on the streets of central Yerevan.
Whilst the smart city centre may indicate a certain level of wealth for many citizens, a five minute walk up a hill to the Kond neighbourhood, on the western edge of the city, may suggest otherwise.
One of the capital's oldest areas, dating back to the 17th century, Kond's winding passageways are reminiscent of a Brazilian favela. It’s safe to walk around during the day, and gives an insight into the day-to-day lives of many Armenians.
6. Understand Armenia’s turbulent history at the genocide memorial
Armenia gained her independence in 1991, following many centuries of strife and discord with past rulers and attackers - the Greeks, Romans, Mongols, Persians, Ottomans and Soviets among them.
One dark and upsetting chapter in its history is explained on a hilltop to the west of the centre of Yerevan, at Tsitsernakaberd, the Museum of the Armenian Genocide.
As well as displays about the atrocity (which is unrecognised as genocide by neighbouring countries such as Turkey and Azerbaijan), 12 large stone monuments lean over a sunken flame, that has flickered for half a century. These stones commemorate the deaths of Ottoman Armenians between 1915 and 1923.
7. Experience Yerevan's nightlife
The capital has a good choice of bars, clubs and restaurants, as well as an impressive opera house.
A great little joint to while away the small hours is the characterful and cosy Malkhas Jazz Club, with two nightly live performances and open until three in the morning. Owner and ‘father of Armenian jazz’, Levon Malkhasian, performs several nights a week.
A rather different vibe is afforded at El Sky Bar at Yerevan Plaza Business Centre. It offers panoramic views, delicious cocktails and excellent DJ sets.
And one *just* outside of Armenia... admire the majestic Mount Ararat
Despite lying within the modern borders of Turkey, this is undoubtedly an iconic mage of Armenia. 30km from Yerevan and visible from much of it, this beautiful volcanic mountain rising 5137m, has a pilgrimage site at its base.
Right by the Turkey-Armenia border lives one of Armenia’s most historic and picturesque monuments: the Khor Virap Monastery. It’s the most accessible of the major out-of-town sights. Although you can’t climb the mountain, it’s worth visiting for the stunning landscapes alone.
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