Armenia has 10 Marzes or States. Although small in size and closely located they are quite different. They offer very diverse natural and manmade wonders that are to be seen and adored. Among those we have chosen one to be the number one attraction in each marz.
Shirak – The home of the second largest city of Armenia – Gyumri. Due to its historical value we chose Gyumri to be the number one destination in the Marz. It is also the cultural capital of Armenia. You will see many historic places, buildings and monuments in the city. The old buildings of Gyumri make it a perfect place for filming most loved Armenian movies. Here you can taste flavorful beer made by one of the oldest breweries of the country. People of Gyumri are famous for its humor and hospitality. Some of Armenia’s famous comedians are born in Gyumri. There are several unique restaurants serving delicious fish and other traditional dishes.
Lori is famous for its well preserved churches and monasteries. Also a very interesting type of nature with flat elevated valleys and deeper gorges. Lori is also rich with many rivers, big and small. On one of those rivers there is a waterfall. It’s called Trchkan. Its main feature is that you can go behind the waterfall and look at the world from a different viewpoint. The coolness of the air behind the waterfall will surprise you, while the calming sound of the waterfall echoing from the cliff will restart your mind. The road that will take you there is not less appealing. From Shirakamut village in Lori Marz you can take either a ride on the back of a Soviet truck or walk some 8 km along Chichkhan River and enjoy the scenic views with river crossings.
Tavush is the greenest marz of Armenia. There are a lot of untouched forests with a diversity of wild animals. It houses one of the best tourist resorts in the country – Dilijan. The one place in this marz that should be visited at any cost is Lastiver. This is where people believe the Heaven on Earth is. It is located beside a waterfall on Sarnajur (meaning “Fresh Water”) River in thick untouched forest. There is a campground called Anapat with elevated wooden houses where you absolutely have to spend at least one night and take in the real fresh morning air. There is also two-story Lastiver cave in the forest where locals were hiding from Mongol invaders. While hiding they made a carving on the wall that illustrates wedding ceremony. To reach Lastiver you have to walk about 2 km southwest of Apaga Resort near Yenokavan village. The trail will take you through the thick forest with high overlooks and the heartwarming songs of the birds.
Aragatsotn Marz. Compared to other marzes Aragatsotn is flatter. In fact it has only one mountain. With 4090 m above sea level Mount Aragats is also the highest point in modern Armenia. The slope of the mountain is mild, which makes it an easy climb. You can reach the top and come back down in just one day. There are natural springs along the path to and from the peak. You can start your climb from the Kari Lake at the base of the mountain. On your way from Yerevan you can also visit Byurakan Observatory and literally look at the stars. To make your trip complete you also should taste a traditional meal called Khash that is served at the restaurant at the base of the mountain. Make sure you have a guide and a first aid kit. The sudden fog can decrease the visibility to just a few meters even during the summer.
Kotayk – The marz with most natural springs with healing abilities. When traveling through Armenia you should taste the divine water from the many natural springs and feel the curing capabilities. There are numerous spas and health resorts in this marz, where you will actually prolong your life. The most famous natural springs are located in Hankavan, Arzni and Bjni villages and are homonymous. Due to its active ingredients the consumption of the mineral water must be limited to daily doses. You will also find the bottled versions that have the same healing abilities and taste.
Gegharkunik – Home of the biggest fresh water lake in Armenia and one of the biggest in the world. Situated at 1900m above sea level Lake Sevan is the second largest mountainous lake. The lake is rich with flora and fauna. There are several endemic fish, like Sevan Trout (Ishkhan in Armenian) that grows only in that lake. From the ancient times that fish has been the main dish for kings and queens around the world. Today, in the restaurants that surround the lake you can have Fish-Gata, which is a special way of preparing a fish to preserve all its natural flavor.
Armavir – The marz from where Christianity spread in Armenia and the world. This is where you will find the first church in the world, the Mother Cathedral. It is located in a town historically called Etchmiadzin, which literally means “the descent of a person who has one parent”. As we know from bible, Jesus only had a mother. The cathedral is built in 301, in the year when Armenia adopted Christianity as state religion. Today the town is called Vagharshapat and it is about 20 km west of Yerevan.
Ararat – This is a marz that contains several of the most valued national symbols of Armenia. This is the place where the tastiest apricots grow. It is also where Khor Virap is located. In Armenian it means a deep well. This is where the first Christian leader who converted Armenia to Christianity, Gregory the Illuminator, spent many years as punishment before Armenia became a Christian country. From the territory of the monastery you can clearly see the Mount Ararat with Ararat Valley and Araks River.
Vayots Dzor – This marz is one of the smallest and has several cozy towns that you are going to love. This place was loved by people from the ancient times. It has many once inhabited caves spread across the marz. Some of them have paintings on the walls, stone doors and places for storing wheat or liquids like beer or wine. The caves are located close to each other which makes visiting them more convenient. They are close to Noravank Monastery and Areni Village.
Syunik – This is the most mountainous marz of Armenia. The mountains here are high and steep with sharp peaks and slopes. This makes it a wonderful sight especially when looked at from the birds-eye-view. Now you can fly over those mountains and enjoy the spectacular scenery. Just hop on the TaTever Ropeway. It will take you from the road to Tatev Monastery over those mountains. With 5752 m it is also the longest reversible ropeway in the world recorded in the Guinness Book of Records.