One of the main visits in Armenia are the monasteries and the biblical Ararat Mountain located in Turkey from the first world war but easy to see from the Armenian Border. Unfortunately at the moment is not possible to cross the border to Turkey because all the borders between Armenia and Turkey are closed due to the tension between these two countries.
The mountain of around 5000 metres is also close to Iran and the autonomous Republic of Nakhchivan border but the best views outside Turkey are from the monastery Khor Virap in Armenia.
This mount has a vital historical, cultural and religious importance for the Arminian people and the region in general; according to the old testament in the book of Genesis it was a place where Noe rest the Arc.
How to go to the Ararat area?
As I mentioned before the best way to enjoy of the Ararat Mountain views are from the monastery Khor Virab located 40 kilometres from Yerevan, the arminian capital.
From Yerevan there are 3 ways to go there:
- Public or Private Tour: The most easy way but the most expensive; the cost for full day is around 25.000 drams (50 euros). Tourist agencies offer tours to Khor Virap in daily basis from Yerevan. In Republic Square we can find several vans with telephone contact or we can talk directly with the driver but some are not from the official and habilitated travel agencies. Hotels also offer tours on arrival and contact official agencies.
- Taxi: Depend on your negotiations skills and luck because majority of taxi drivers doesn’t speak english, just russian and local language. The tentative price for a return trip from Republic Square and 1 or 2 hours wait in Khor Virap should be around 15000 drams (30 dollars).
- Public Transport: The cheapest option but the less confortable for sure. The cost is ticket is 400 drams (1 dollar) yes 1 dollar! The journey is around 45 minutes and close to the Khor Virap stop the driver ask if someone need to go down there. This bus stop which is not a bus stop at all is in the intersection of 2 roads, the other road is the route to monastery and take 15 minutes walking.
The bus number is the 467 and departure from behind central train station 3 times a day: 9am, 11am and 3pm. For more information about buses and schedules there is a small touristic office in Republic Square.
For come back to Yeveran from Khor Virap in theory the bus stop is in the opposite direction but nobody knew the schedule. If you don’t want to wait for a long time there the only option is take a taxi from the entrance of the monastery to Yerevan but not always the taxis are available there. In my case I had good luck but instead of come back to Yerevan I went to Vagharshapat for 6000 drams (12 dollars), Yerevan is not too far from Vagharshapat so that could cost no more than 8000 drams.
What to see in Khor Virap?
Khor Virap is not a town, village or city, is just a monastery in the middle of nothing a few metres close from the border with Turkey. There is town in Armenia called Ararat so be careful because is a common mistake confuse this town with Khor Virap. The town is a few kilometres far away from the monastery.
Walking through the route to the monastery we’ll find a big arminian cemetery which is interesting for the people whom never seen an arminian grave before.
The monastery entrance is free, only the toilet is for change. Inside the monastery there are not too much to visit or do, is an small site which you can visit in 15 minutes. We can visit the main church and a small chapel. The main attraction the is the Ararat Mountain which is only visible if the day is clear. This is a very important thing to keep in mind for avoid disappointments and waste time and money. So please check the weather forecast in the area before book the tour. I’d say 24 hours in advance should be fine but the weather is unpredictable because is mountain weather.