This trip combines breathtaking views, a rich history through small villages, tasting regional foods ranging from tea to wine and includes a masterclass in creating local dishes. It is an active trip which incorporates observing the beauty of a region while embracing the life of the people who live there. This little-known part of the world offers stunning scenery as well as unique history and is ideal for our 14-day tour.
Starting in Azerbaijan, you will start your journey with a Baku city tour with a walk in the beautiful narrow streets visiting historic monuments including the magnificent Shirvanshahs Palace, the UNESCO site Maiden ToYour dating from the 12th century, and a stroll through the Taza Bazaar. Nearby you’ll visit Surakhany which houses the Ateshgah Fire Temple, a former site of worship for Hindu, Sikh, and Zoroastrian. Continuing on, you will explore the Yedi Gumbez “Seven Tombs” and move on to the Friday Mosque in Shemakha. Overnighting in Sheki, a stunning architectural center founded more than 2700 years ago with striking views of the Caucuses, you can wander through the bazaar to explore the craft workshops and pick out sweets from the local bakeries.
Moving into Georgia, you will stop in Kvareli for a tasting of some of the best wines in Georgia and enjoy lunch with a local family. Driving through Georgia you will enjoy the stunning views of Alazani Valley against the backdrop of the Great Caucasus Mountains. Doted among the landscape you will tour the Church of the Archangels Gabriel and Michael from the 16th century, walk the cobbled streets of Sighnaghi, ride the cable car up to the Narikala Fortress which is one of the oldest fortifications dating from the 4th century. Moving beyond the beauty of the landscape, you are invited in to enjoy dinner in a family home while learning the secrets to some local dishes and sharing in rich conversations while you break bread.
In Tbilisi you will visit the ancient capital and religious center of Georgia, Mtskheta, which is over three thousand years old. It is considered to be one of the most religious cities in Georgia, being the origin of Christianity in this region and is called the Holy City by the Georgian Orthodox Church which is headquartered here. You continue on to visit two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the Jvari Monastery from the 6th century and Svetitskhoveli Cathedral from the 11th century where the Robe of Christ is buried. Ending our time in Georgia, you will journey from the Great Caucasus to the Lesser Caucasus to Akhaltsikhe the main town of Samtskhe province. Along the way you will stop and visit the town of Gori the birthplace of Joseph Stalin and the heart of the Kartli region.
Finally, reaching Armenia, you will admire the Russian architecture in the city of Gyumri and stroll along the cobbled streets to a bustling market. On the way to Yerevan you will visit the Echmiadzin Cathedral, built in A.D. 301, located just outside the city. The cathedral is considered by scholars to be the oldest existing cathedral in the world and was the first built in ancient Armenia. Overnighting in Yerevan, the present-day capital of Armenia, which was the first country to adopt Christianity as a state religion in A.D. 301 and is today a thriving, bustling city of cathedrals, theatres and unique gastronomy.
In the final days of the trip you will continue our theme of exploring ancient religious and cultural sites. Seeing the Mesrop Mashtots Institute of Ancient Manuscripts, which is of prime importance for the study of the history and contains works survived only in their Armenian translation. You will visit the Hellenistic Mithras Temple of Garni, followed by a visit to the Geghard Monastery which is a unique architectural structure, partially carved out of the adjacent mountain and surrounded by cliffs. You will explore Republic Square, designed during the Soviet era it consists of five grand buildings built in a neoclassical style of architecture with heavy Armenian motifs. Driving into the Ararat Valley against the Biblical Mt Ararat to view the Khor Virap Monastery, you will see where Noah’s Ark cast anchor on the bank of the River Araks on one of the high hills. The trip ends with dinner at a classical Armenian restaurant, where you can reflect on your vast experiences traveling through Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia.
Trip departure dates are set for September 13 or October 11, 2019, or this tour is available for customized dates upon request. This tour operates with a minimum of 2 and a maximum of 20 travelers. Other group rates are available upon request.