YERVAN-LAKE SEVAN-NORATUS-HAYRAVANK-SEVANAVANK-YEREVAN

LAKE SEVAN is the largest body of water in Armenia and the Caucasus region. It is one of the largest freshwater high-altitude (alpine) lakes in Eurasia. The lake is situated in Gegharkunik Province, at an altitude of 1,900m (6,234ft) above sea level. The total surface area of its basin is about 5,000km2 (1,900sq/mi), which makes up 1⁄6of Armenia's territory. The lake itself is 1,242km2(480sq/mi), and the volume is 32.8km3 (7.9cu/mi). It is fed by 28 rivers and streams. Only 10% of the incoming water is drained by the Hrazdan River, while the remaining 90% evaporates.

The lake provides some 90% of the fish and 80% of the crayfish catch of Armenia. Sevan has significant economic, cultural, and recreational value. Its only island is home to a medieval monastery.

NORATUS CEMETERY, also spelled Noraduz, is a medieval cemetery with a large number of early khachkars located in the village of  Noratus, Gegharkunik marz near Gavar and Lake Sevan, 90km north of Yerevan. The cemetery has the largest cluster of khachkars in the Republic of Armenia. It is currently the largest surviving cemetery with khachkars following the destruction of the khachkars in Old Julfa, Nakhichevan by the government of Azerbaijan.

The oldest khachkars in the cemetery date back to the late 10th century. During the revival of the khachkar tradition in the 16-17th centuries many khachkars were built under the yoke of the Safavid Empire when oriental influences seeped into Armenian art. Three master carvers from this period carved khachkars in Noraduz, the most notable of whom was Kiram Kazmogh (1551-1610), his contemporaries were Arakel and Meliset. The cemetery is spread over a seven hectare field containing almost a thousand khachkars each of them depicting unique ornamentation. The majority of the khachkars are covered by moss and lichen. Several tombstones in the cemetery depict carved scenes of weddings and farm life.

Adjacent to the old cemetery a new modern cemetery has been built separated by a long fence. Nearby the cemetery in the village there is the Holy Virgin church built in the ninth century. One of the khachkars from the cemetery was donated to the British Museum in 1977 by Catholicos Vazgen I. The front face of the rectangular khachkar has a leaved-cross with two smaller crosses below that are framed with trefoil and bunches of grapes projecting from either side. An inscription on the left side seeks god's mercy for a certain Aputayli.

HAYRAVANK is a 9th to 12th century Armenian monastery located just northeast of the village of Hayravank along the southwest shores of Lake Sevan in the Gegharkunik Province of Armenia. The monastic complex consists of a church, chapel, and gavit.

Surrounding the monastery are numerous khachkars and gravestones that are part of a small cemetery. To the northwest a short distance from the site, are the remains of Bronze Age through medieval fortification walls and foundations of a settlement. A polished black vessel of the Early Bronze Age was discovered during archaeological excavations in the area. Weapons of metal and stone, tools, clay idols, numerous vessels, fireplaces and two tombs, all from the Iron Age were discovered in the vicinity as well.

The church at Hayravank was built during the late 9th century. It is a quatrefoil cruciform central-plan structure with four semi-circular apses that intersect to create squinches for the octagonal drum and conical dome to stand above.

A small chapel was added in the 10th century, accessed from the southeastern corner of the church. A single portal leads into the church from the gavit, it is believed that this entry was added between the 12th and 13th centuries. There is a second entrance through the church's exterior on its south side. Exterior walls of the structure differ from the construction of the rest of the complex in that rubble masonry has been incorporated into the façade. The original drum and dome had collapsed completely: their current rebuilt form dates from a restoration undertaken between 1977 and 1989. The gavit is located west of and adjacent to the church and was added in the 12th century. A main portal leads into the structure from the western wall, and has an arched tympanum with a worn inscription located above the lintel. Another portal leads into the gavit from the southern wall. Two thick columns situated at the western half of the building and two semi-columns at the eastern wall support large arches and a cupola above. The cupola consists of a short octagonal drum (only seen from the interior) as well as a short octagonal conical dome above decorated with "Harlequin Patterned" stonemasonry. The pattern alternates with reddish and a lighter grayish colored tufa. This example is considered to be one of the earliest examples of polychrome decorative masonry that was to become widespread in the following centuries in sacred buildings throughout Armenia. An oculus at the peak of the dome lets light into the room below.

Lunch 13:00-14:00

SEVANAVANK is a monastic complex located on a peninsula at the northwestern shore of Lake Sevan not far from the town of Sevan. Initially the monastery was built at the southern shore of a small island. After the artificial draining of Lake Sevan, which started in the era of Joseph Stalin, the water level fell about 20 metres, and the island transformed into a peninsula. At the southern shore of this newly created peninsula, a guesthouse of the Armenian Writers' Union was built. The eastern shore is occupied by the Armenian president's summer residence, while the monastery's still active seminary moved to newly constructed buildings at the northern shore of the peninsula.

Due to easier accessibility, good highway and railway connections with the Armenian capitalYerevan, a well-developed tourist industry in the nearby town of Sevan, and its picturesque location, Sevanavank is one of the most visited tourism sights in Armenia.

According to an inscription in one of the churches, the monastery of Sevanavank was founded in 874 by Princess Mariam, the daughter of king Ashot I. At the time, Armenia was still struggling to free itself from Arab rule.

The monastery was strict as it was mainly intended for those monks from Etchmiadzin who had sinned. Jean-Marie Chopin, a French explorer of the Caucasus, visited there in 1830 and wrote of a regimen restraining from meat, wine, youth or women. Another explorer visited the monastery in 1850 and wrote of how manuscripts were still being copied manually.

 Excursion price

Number of Persons

1

2-3

4-7

8-17

Price (USD) for one person

194

120

68

47

The excursion price does not include:

The tour includes: