On one of the days of our New Year holidays in Armenia, it was planned to visit two attractions located south of Yerevan, namely the Khor Virap and Noravank monasteries . I planned to visit them on the day when the weather will be sunny, because from the walls of the Monastery-fortress Khor Vrap you can see the symbol of Armenia – Mount Ararat.

All days in Yerevan were overcast, and we rented cars in advance for 3 days (why it is more profitable to rent a car in advance and read about our rental experience in a the article ), so there was nothing to do, and even the cold that cut us off could not stop us and we went on a trip . On the first day, we visited sights from the west and east. Since the weather did not improve on the second day, we went to Lake Sevan , in the hope that “tomorrow the sun will come out.” In Sevan, we understood the “trick” of winter Armenia: there is fog in the city and bright sun in the mountains. There was no choice and on the third day we drove south in the hope of seeing Ararat.

Khor Virap Monastery: how to get, excursions, winter photos

On this day, it was planned to visit two attractions – Khor Virap and Noravank . Another one was added along the way – Areni winery. More about this later.

 

 

St. grigor church khor virap
Entrance to the church of St. Gregory

 

Khor Virap Monastery is not only historical, but also a fateful place for Armenians. It is located on the site of the ancient capital Artashat, the history of which dates back to the 2nd century BC. It was here that there was a prison where St. Gregory the Illuminator spent 13 years. It is noteworthy that the entrance to this prison has been preserved to this day, it is located under the church of St. Gregory. I won’t go into the history of the monastery in more detail, you can read about it in many more competent sources, I’ll only say that today most tourists are attracted by the proximity to Ararat, in good weather it can be seen clearly. By the way, the border with Turkey runs literally a few kilometers from the monastery.

 

Khor Virap Armenia
View of the Khor Virap Monastery from the observation deck

 

 

How to get to Khor Virap from Yerevan

The easiest way to get to Khor Virap from Yerevan is by car (own or rented). There is a direct road from Yerevan, as far as I can remember, even an autobahn (in some sections the limit is up to 120 km), but during our visit the interchanges were repaired, so in many sections there was a speed limit and detours. The distance from Yerevan is about 40 km, it took 40-45 minutes in time (due to speed and repair restrictions). In Pokr Vedi you need to turn right following the signs of Khor Virap. The Monastery has parking, they didn’t take money from us. Entrance to the fortress is also free.

 

 

Monastery Khor Virap
View from the observation deck Khor Virap to the parking lot and the countryside

 

Of course, you can also get to Khor Virap by taxi. I can assume that the cost in one direction will be about 5000 drams, but it is better to negotiate with the taxi driver individually.

By public transport it is also possible (for lovers of comfort it will not work, especially in winter): by minibus or bus from the Sasunci David metro station. Need a bus to the city of Ararat or to Khor Virap. The journey takes about 40 minutes, the price is 1200 drams. The bus stops at a turn on Khor Virap, about 4 km away. Further – on foot, by taxi or by car.

Excursion to Khor Virap

You can also book an excursion to Khor Virap. During the tour, you will not only be provided with a transfer to this attraction, but they will also tell you in detail the history of this place. From individual excursions I recommend this one , since it looks exactly like our route.

 

Read also the article “How to Travel to Armenia on Your Own: My Mini-Guide”

 

Khor Virap in winter

You can visit Khor Virap even in winter, excursions come there every day, and getting by yourself is also not difficult. Most likely it will not work to see Ararat, but it is definitely worth a visit to the monastery itself. Here are my winter photos of Khor Virap Monastery

 

 

Khor Virap Church of the Holy Virgin
Church of the Holy Virgin in Khor Virap

 

virap choir
In the monastery of Khor Virap

 

virap choir in winter
View from the walls of Khor Virap to the border with Turkey and Mount Ararat, but not in such weather 🙂

Areni Winery

 

Areni winery
Winery in the village of “Areni”

 

While still in Khor Virap, I overheard with one of the guides that “in the mountains we can still see Ararat.” I wanted to find out all the details. It turned out that when traveling to Noravank, we will rise above the clouds, and there is a chance to see the top of Ararat. I also learned from the guide that there is an Areni winery on the way to Noravank , where you can listen to an excursion, taste and, if you like, buy wine. We decided to call in. We arrived at the winery before the influx of 3 huge tourist buses. First, we went to the tasting room, where we were offered a tour with a tasting of Areni wine for 1000 drams per person. During the 10-minute tour, various wine making machines and a cellar where wine barrels are stored were shown. Next is a tasting of three types of wine. All the wines are dry and I didn’t like it.

 

 

Areni factory excursion
During a short excursion, here are such units for making wine

 

arena wine barrels
Wine Barrels in Areni Cellar

 

Areni winery armenia
Wine tasting at Areni factory

 

We decided to go further and found another Degustation Room to the left of the one where we originally went. It was there by that time that there were tourists from these 3 buses. On the top floor you can watch a video film and order tea and coffee, on the lower floor – a tasting of different types of wine (including blackberry, pomegranate, apricot vodka and many, many others).

 

arena factory
Another tasting room

 

arena plant tasting
This is how the walls look in the tasting room

 

Areni factory Armenia
Quite unusual wall decoration

 

We didn’t wait to wait when the three buses were tasted and purchased and went on to the most unusual and beautiful sight of Armenia (in my subjective opinion!)

Noravank Monastery: how to get, excursions, photo

 

noravank
Noravank Monastery is hidden among the rocks

 

Noravank Monastery Complex is an amazing place hidden in the mountains of Armenia, and more precisely – in the Red Canyon. The road to the monastery is very picturesque! And the monastery itself stands high on a cliff. Nevertheless, driving up to the entrance to the car is not difficult.

How to get to Noravank from Yerevan

After visiting the monastery of Khor Virap, you need to continue driving for about 80 km. We traveled on Maps.me maps – be sure to download, a good navigator, it works offline – along the M-2 highway. After the Areni factory, just a couple of kilometers there will be a pointer to Noravank, we drive between the rocks and drive along a scenic road for about 8 km. You can park your car right at the entrance to the monastery. They didn’t take money from us, maybe in the summer season parking is paid. Entrance to the monastery complex is free.

By taxi, the fare from Yerevan starts from AMD 30,000, if you choose this option, check the cost in advance and try to bargain at a price that is favorable to you, or book an excursion for the same money.

 

road to noravank
On the way to Noravank you will climb above the clouds!

 

noravank road in the rocks
The picturesque road to the monastery runs between the rocks

 

noravank how to get
The road to the monastery

Excursions to Noravank from Yerevan

Excursions can be bought on Republic Square in Yerevan, or ordered online and visit Noravank during one of the excursions. Khor Virap and Noravank, as a rule, are inspected during one excursion. 

Photo of the monastery complex Noravank

And these are my winter photographs of Noravank Monastery. The network has a lot of summer and spring photos of Noravank, there are not many winter ones. Honestly, it seems to me that winter landscapes only decorate this place, however, see for yourself.

 

Noravank Monastery
One of the churches of the complex

 

monastery complex noravank
The monastery is located in a very picturesque place

 

noravank monastery armenia
Surb Astvatsatsin church with very narrow steps leading to the second floor!

 

noravank armenia
The Red Canyon where Noravank is located is a very picturesque place!

 

Bright and cloudless to you Armenia!

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