Proceed to Vaghashapat to visit the Etchmiadzin Cathedral, the Churches of St Hripsime and St Gayane, the Zvartnots Temple, The Holy Mother of God Cathedral and Shoghakat Church. Then return to Yerevan, stopping at The Genocide Memorial Museum and the Blue Mosque en route. Overnight in Yerevan.
Meal plan: Breakfast
The 4th-century Etchmiadzin Cathedral is the central authority of the worldwide Armenian Apostolic Church. Its name translates as 'where the Only Begotten descended' in reference to Gregory the Illuminator's vision of Christ descending from heaven and striking the ground with a golden hammer. The Cathedral was then built on that exact spot. The complex consists of the Mother Cathedral, the monastery with a residing brotherhood, the Catholicos residence, the Kevorkian Theological Seminary and a museum.
Constructed in the 7th century, the UNESCO-listed Zvartnots Temple originally stood at a height of 49 metres, making it one of Armenia's tallest structures during that period. It consisted of three stories in a cylindrical shape and was crowned with a dome. While all that remains now are the ruins of the lower walls and individual fragments, details including floor mosaics and intricate stone carvings indicate how the temple was once beautifully decorated from top to bottom. It is still questioned as to what caused the temple's fall in the 10th century, though theories include destruction by a powerful earthquake or the temple's cornerstone being removed during an Arab invasion, causing the building to collapse in on itself.
Opened in 1995, the Armenian Genocide Museum commemorates the victims of the Armenian massacre from 1915 to 1922 in the Ottoman Empire, told through photographs, newspaper reports and films. Built into the side of a hill, the museum has a simplistic concrete design so not to distract from the 40-metre-high Genocide Monument nearby, reached via a path from the museum flanked by a 100-metre-long wall engraved with the names of the massacred communities. Visits to the museum are now part of the official State protocol, with many foreign official delegations paying their respects, highlighting the importance of remembering such tragedies so they will never repeat themselves.