1. Armenia is an ancient country
Armenia, along with Iran, China, Greece, Egypt and Japan, is among the 6 ancient countries that have survived for thousands of years. Armenia was first mentioned in king Dari I’s Behistun manuscript in 520 BC. Armenia was also mentioned in ancient Greek authors Herodotus and Xenophon in the 5th century BC.
2. First country to adopt Christianity
Armenia is the first country to adopt Christianity as state religion. Jesus Christ’s apostles Thaddeus and Bartholomew preached in Armenia, therefore Armenian Apostolic Church is named after them. Gregory the Illuminator (Lusavorich), who baptized Armenia in 301, became the first Catholicos of All Armenians. Armenia became the first Christian state.
3. The first church in the world was built in Armenia
Etchmiadzin Cathedral was the first official church, built in the IV century. First Catholicos Gregory the Illuminator (Lusvorich) dreamed that Christ came down from the sky with a fiery hammer in the hand and pointed out the place to build a church. In the year 303 in that place, where at the time was an ancient pagan temple, the church was founded, named Etchmiadzin. Christ’s Spear (Spear of Longinus), which the Roman soldier Longinus wounded Jesus Christ, is kept in the treasury of the Etchmiadzin Cathedral. The cathedral is in the list of UNESCO World Heritage.
4. Yerevan is one of the oldest cities in the world
Yerevan, the 13th capital city of Armenia, one of the oldest cities in the world, is located in the north-eastern part of the Ararat Valley. It was founded in 782 BC by King Argishti I. Yerevan is 29 years older than Rome.
5. The Armenian alphabet is one of the most advanced in the world
The Armenian alphabet was created in 405-406 AD by a scholar and monk Mesrop Mashtots. The key to creating the Armenian alphabet served the ancient Armenian language, consisting of 28 letters, which absolutely didn’t correspond to the sounds of the Armenian language. Mashtots’ alphabet consists of 36 letters. After the XII century 2 more letters appeared in the alphabet. Scientists consider the Armenian alphabet as one of the three most advanced in the world, along with Georgian and Korean alphabets. Mesrop Mashtots is also the creator of the Georgian and Albanian alphabets. More than one thousand six hundred years the Armenian alphabet exists almost unchanged.
6. The world’s first textbook of arithmetic problems was created by an Armenian mathematician
The world’s first textbook of arithmetic problems was created by an Armenian scientists the VI century mathematician David the Invincible. A sample of this book is kept at Matenadaran – the Institute of Ancient Manuscripts named after St. Mesrop Mashtots. Matenadaran is one of the largest repositories of manuscripts in the world. Matenadaran is also the world’s largest repository of ancient Armenian manuscripts.
7. Armenia is the homeland of apricot
Armenia is considered to be the homeland of apricot. This is due to the history of the penetration of apricot from Asia to Europe. It is said that in the XIX century, the apricot was imported from Armenia to Greece by Alexander the Great, and then from Greece to Italy. This version was not confirmed by the Roman and Greek inscriptions of the time: apricot is not mentioned there. However, apricot is mentioned in the sources of the I century, which gives evidence that the apricot was in Italy in the I century BC, after the Roman-Parthian Wars. Apricot was called “Armenian apple” (lat. Mela armeniaca, lat. pomum armeniacum), which confirms the theory that the apricot was brought to Rome from Armenia. Arab geographer Ibn al-Faqih in his “Book of Countries” (903) mentions the Armenian apricot under its Armenian name “tsiran” and calls it “the fruit of Armenia.” Famous Armenian musical instrument “duduk” is made of apricot wood.
8. Biblical mountain Ararat
Mount Ararat is the symbol of Armenia. It is depicted on the emblem of the country. According to Bible “Noah landed on Mount Ararat on his ark after the waters of the world Flood subsided, and the ark rested in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, upon the mountains of Ararat” (Genesis 8:4). Ararat Mountain range consists of two extinct volcanoes: Great Ararat (in Armenian Masis, 5165 m) and Small Ararat (in Armenian Sis, 3927 m). However, at present, the mountain is not in Armenia. It is in the territory of modern Turkey. It was moved to Turkey in 1921 by the Treaty of Kars. The modern Republic of Armenia doesn’t recognize the Treaty of Kars.
9. Armenian Genocide
Armenian Genocide – Armenian massacres organized and implemented by the authorities of the Ottoman Empire in 1915 and lasted until 1923. The genocide was carried out by means of physical destruction and deportation, including the displacement of the civilian population in the conditions that lead to certain death. In 1907 in Turkey the power was taken by the Young Turks, who had the ideology of pan-Turkism, or the dream of a “Great Turan” from the Balkans to the Altai. Turkey’s entry into the First World War in 1914 gave the Young Turks the opportunity for a final decision of “the Armenian issue”, that is, the complete extermination of the Armenians. “Who now remembers the extermination of the Armenians?” – asked Adolf Hitler, thus motivating the German attack on Poland and planning the Holocaust. About 1,500.000 Armenians were violently killed. Armenian Genocide is recognized and condemned by 26 countries. 24 of April is recognised as the Remembrence Day of Armenian Genocide.
10. The Armenian Diaspora
The total number of Armenians in the world is 10-12 million, whereas the population of Armenia is around 3 million. After the 1915 genocide nearly 500,000 Armenians were scattered around the world and Armenian Diaspora greatly increased. Armenian refugees from Turkey settled in many cities of Eastern Europe, the Balkans and the Middle East. Large Armenian communities now exist in the United States, Russia, Iran, Lebanon, Ukraine, France, Syria, Argentina, Jordan, Bulgaria, Brazil, Canada, Australia and other countries. Diaspora has a great economic and political support to Armenia.
11. Winery in Areni is the oldest in the world
A few years ago in the village of Areni, located on the bank of the river Arpa in Areni-1 the world’s oldest winery was found, which had produced wine over six thousand years ago. Among the items found: press juice extraction, fermentation vessels, cups for drinking, the remains of vines and seeds. Scientists believe that the grapes, from which the wine was made in Armenia 6000 years ago, was the ancestor of the famous Pinot Noir. Now in France, they produce expensive wine from this sort of grape. The village of Areni is famous for its wine even now. Every year in October it hosts an annual wine festival.
12. The oldest shoe in the world
In September 2008, in the village of Areni the oldest shoe in the world was discovered. It aged over 5500 years. The footwear was found together with goat horns in a neatly shaped hole with the depth of 45 cm and a diameter of 44cm. It has been perfectly preserved thanks to the special microclimate, and that it was under a thick layer of sheep excrement, which acted as a hard protective shell. The shoe was of 37-th size and was filled with straw and grass. It was worn on the right foot, and it was made from a single piece of leather. Also the shoelaces and holes with 2-3 mm in diameter meant for the shoelaces have been preserved.
13. Armenian bread “lavash” is in the list of UNESCO World Heritage
In 2014 Armenian lavash was included in the list of Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO. The decision was made during the meeting of the Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Paris. The List of Intangible Heritage Site also includes: playing duduk (2005), the skill of creating Armenian khachkars – stone crosses (2010) and medieval Armenian epic “David of Sasun” (2012).
There are 9 cultural sites on the territory of Armenia, also under the protection of UNESCO: the Monastery of Haghpat (X-XIII century), the Monastery of Sanahin (X century), Echmiadzin Cathedral (IV century), Saint Hripsime Church (VII century), St. Gayane Church (VII century), the Archaeological Site of Zvartnots (VII century), Geghard Monastery (IV-XIII centuries), Saint Shoghakat Church (XVII century), the Upper Valley of the river Azat.
A tonir basically refers to an underground earth oven as shown in the photo below. Armenians love to eat lavash which is this thin layer of flat chewy bread that’s made from flour, salt and water and baked in a tonir. Lavash can be kept for 1 year without turning bad. So usually the local women will bake the lavash in bulk and then store them to eat slowly for the next few months. Armenians cannot imagine having their meals without bread! The bread is such a significant part of Armenian culture that it was listed on UNESCO’s cultural heritage list in 2014.
14. Armenian Brandy (cognac)
Armenian brandy – a well-known drink to all of us, respected around the world. Industrial production of cognac began in 1887. The merchant Nerses Tairyan built the first winery in Yerevan. 12 years later it was bought by a Russian merchant Nikolai Shustov from Moscow. A few years later Shustov cognac became popular not only in Russia but also abroad. In 1900 Shustov incognito sent samples of brandy to an exhibition in Paris. The Jury unanimously awarded the Grand Prix to the unknown winemaker. Learning that the birthplace of the drink was Armenia, the French allowed Shustov (as an exception) to write on the bottles the word “cognac” instead of “brandy” as all foreign manufacturers of such products were instructed to do. Russian Emperor Nicholas II, who tried Shustov’s brandy at a testing competition in 1912, gave him the right to be the main supplier of this drink at Russian imperial court. Soviet Ruler Joseph Stalin bought cases of Armenian wine and presented them to Winston Churchill as a gift during World War II. It was Winston Churchill’s favorite alcoholic drink. Every day he drank a bottle of 50-degree Armenian brandy Dvin.
15. Ropeway “The Wings of Tatev” is in the Guiness book of records
Ropeway “Wings of Tatev”, located next to the monastery of Tatev is the world’s longest passenger ropeway. It was built in the framework of “Tatev Revival” and opened on 16 October 2010. The length of the ropeway is 5752 meters. Ropeway “Wings of Tatev” is the only engineering facility of this magnitude in the world built in just 10 months. Air path to the monastery takes 11 minutes, the maximum height is 320 meters, the maximum number of passengers is 25, the capacity of the ropeway is 200 passengers per hour.
16. Armenia is a chess superpower
Chess has been known in Armenia since the IX century. It is mentioned in Armenian manuscripts of XII-XIII centuries which are kept in Matenadaran. Soviet chess player Tigran Petrosyan was the 9th World Chess Champion from 1963 to 1969. In modern Armenia since 2011, starting with the first class, students have been learning chess at schools as a compulsory subject. Chess classes contribute to the development of mental abilities of children, teach them to think flexibly and wisely. Armenia aspires to its methods of teaching to become one of the best in the world. Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan is the president of the Armenian Chess Federation. In 1999 men’s and in 2003 Armenian women’s team became the winners of the European Championship. In 2006 the men’s team won the Chess Olympiad in Turin, in 2008 repeated this success in Dresden, and in 2011 won the World Team Championship in Ningbo. Currently, Armenian men’s team is one of the strongest in the world, and leading Armenian chess player Levon Aronian is consistently among the top three players in the world in the FIDE rating list. Chess is Armenia’s international brand.
17. Armenia is one of the only mono ethnic countries in the world
97% of the people living in Armenia are Armenians and the remaining small percentage is made up of different ethnic minorities such as the Yazidis, Russians, Ukranians, Kurds, and more.
18. Richard the Lionheart’s “best mam”
Richard the Lionheart’s ‘best man’ was an Armenian prince (later king).
19. Yerevan is also known as the “pink city”
Yerevan is one of the most beautiful “pink city’ that we’ve ever been to, her buildings were all made of naturally colored volcanic rocks of varying shades of pink called “tufa”, hence giving her the name “pink city”. It is said that the wife of the main architect of the city, the wife of Alexander Tamanyan was in love with the pink color, that is why the city is covered with pink tufa.
20. There’s a ‘’stork village’’ here in Armenia!
We were on our way to the Noravank Church when we passed by this village with a whole row of long wooden poles lined up neatly along the road and a huge stork’s nest on the top of each pole! It was so amazing! These storks migrate to Africa every year before the winter arrives and returns when it’s spring! We happened to be there when it was almost spring and some of the storks have already arrived back home to their nest. It was such a cute sight! Also, the nests were so huge that some other smaller birds such as the sparrows have made their own little nest out of the huge stork’s nest!