Day Trip: Aruch and Marmashen Monasteries with Gyumri Folk Music City Tour
On this 9-hour tour you will visit Aruch, a monastery once known for having the largest dome in Armenia. The monastery has retained it's magnificence despite the dome no longer being present. You will also visit the Monastery Marmashen that is unique due to the beautiful color of the stones and the architectural solutions that can also be found in Western European churches of late period. Finally visit Gyumri, the second largest city in Armenia. It is one of the main cultural centers of the republic and the only Catholic church in Armenia has recently been built in Gyumri.
The 9-hour tour starts at 10am from the local operators office. You will be driven to the North-Western part of Armenia where the first stop is the village of Aruch, about 40 km away from Yerevan. In Aruch you can find one of the biggest churches in Armenia - St. Gregory cathedral, built in the 7th century. The cupola of the church was destroyed and now the piece of the sky seen from the circular opening of the cupola place is like an uninterrupted continuation of the frescoes once masterly painted on the walls of the church. Near the church there are the ruins of a palace built at the same time with the church and in the outskirts of the village there are the remainders of a castle and a caravanserai built later in the 13-14th centuries.
The next stop is on the picturesque bank of Akhuryan river where the magnificent monastery Marmashen built by duke Vahram Pahlavuni is situated. It is a huge complex, the construction of which started in 986 and finished in 1029. The main church is a domed hall. The facades of the church are elaborated with triangular niches, which endow the edifice with special liveliness. The survived eastern and northern walls of the second church, which is adjacent to the main church, prove that both with its composition and architectural details it is the smaller duplication of the main church.
The lunch break is held in a nice national-style restaurant in Gyumri with an accompaniment of folk music. One can choose the meal between 4 offered options in the vehicle before arrival to the restaurant and pay on the spot.
The last point is Gyumri city located in the middle of Shirak valley, 126 km far from Yerevan. From the ethnical point of view it is the most colorful city in Armenia. The local traditions are deeply rooted here, national spirit is reflected in everything. Walking along the streets of old Gyumri one still seems to hear the voice of the smiths' hammers, it seems that a cart will appear from the street corner and the carter will call to show around the city. The old houses, a part of which fortunately resisted the devastating earthquake in 1988, speak of the high architectural achievements of the city.You will then be dropped off back at the local operators head office in central Yerevan.