I cannot believe it has been almost one month since our Armenian adventure. My Russian and I spent 5 days touring this ancient place. Despite our short stay, we managed to squeeze in quite a bit from exploring Yerevan, Armenia’s capital city, visiting the healing hot springs of Jermuk, lunching in the seaside town of Sevan and attending a traditional Armenian wedding.
I knew very little about Armenia before our trip, but thanks to our friend Edik who was also our guide throughout most of the trip, I learned a lot along the way. He also dropped several fun facts on us that enhanced my experience and now I’m excited to share them with you! Below are 20 fun facts about Armenia to know before you go.
FUN FACTS ABOUT ARMENIA TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GO:
1. Armenia’s capital, Yerevan, is known as the “pink city” because of the pink stones used in many of its buildings. It was pretty foggy during our stay, so the stones didn’t have the same glow as they would on a sunny day, but you can sort of see the pinkish hues in the cover photo above.
2. Armenia is one of the oldest countries in the world and the first to adopt Christianity.
3. The oldest church in the world is located in Armenia. The Echmiadzin Cathedral was constructed between 301 and 303 in the city of Vagharshapat.
4. Traditional Armenian crosses are carved into stone and can be found throughout the country.
5. A not so fun, but important fact to be aware of is that the Armenian genocide occurred between 1915 and 1923 and resulted in the slaughter of 1.5 million Armenians.
6. Armenia borders both Turkey and Azerbaijan and has ongoing political tension with both.
7. Armenian is the official language, while Russian is the main foreign language due to Armenia being a former Soviet republic.
8. The game of chess is taken very seriously in Armenia. In 2011, chess became a required subject in public schools. Armenia also produces the most chess grandmasters per capita than any other country.
9. The national symbol of Armenia is Mt. Ararat. It is even believed that Noah’s Ark was discovered at its peak.
10. Pomegranates are also a symbol of Armenia. Images of the fruit are incorporated into many tapestries, carvings and souvenirs.
11. Armenia is one of the oldest wine producers in the world thanks to its climate and fertile land. Smaller vineyards even sell their wines from their own local roadside markets.
12. Kilikia is Armenia’s local beer.
13. Armenia’s national drink is cognac. Hoy and Ararat are the two main brands both of which are produced at local distilleries in Yerevan.
14. “Voxch” is the Armenian word for “cheers” (pronounced voksh).
15. Armenia’s second most popular drink after cognac is mineral water from the city of Jermuk. It is believed that the water has healing powers and the town itself has become a popular destination for heal and wellness retreats.
16. A staple of Armenian cuisine is lavash, a thin, slightly chewy, flat bread eaten with every meal. The dish even made UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list.
17. The colors of the Armenian flag are red, blue and yellow. The red represents the blood shed by millions in the Armenian genocide, blue represents the sky and yellow represents bread, a staple of Armenian cuisine.
18. Lake Sevan is the largest body of water in Armenia. The northern side of the lake is known as “blue lake” because its rocky bottom causes it appear bluer than the southern side, which has a muddy base.
19. Most cars in Armenia run on methane gas, making them energy efficient and environmentally friendly. However, pumping that gas is extremely dangerous and all passengers are required to exit the vehicle when while the methane tanks are filled.
20. Armenia’s currency is the dram. The exchange rate between the dram and the dollar is is 500 dram to 1 dollar (pretty sweet!)
Have you visited Armenia? Any desire to? Share your comments below!