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WHY YOU SHOULD VISIT ARMENIA

Centuries-old history, culture and traditions of the Armenian people

The history of Armenia goes back into the depth of centuries and millennia.

According to old Armenian mythology, the endonym "Hay" (pronounced [ˈhaj] derives from the name of Hayk, the legendary patriarch of the Armenians.

The legend has it that in 2492 BC Hayk led a group of 300 warriors and their families from Mesopotamia to the shores of Lake Van and founded an Armenian state in the vicinity of Mount Ararat with the borders stretching around the three largest lakes of the Armenian Highlands – Van, Urmia and Sevan.

 

Urartu (also known as Ararat, Biainili, the Kingdom of Van),which existed as a union of tribes since the 13th century BC and as a state since the 8th century BC, was the predecessor of the Kingdom of Greater Armenia formed in the second century BC. One of the sources that documents Urartu’s existence is the only preserved ancient Middle Eastern map, Babylonian Map of the World, dated the end of VIII and the beginning of VII BC.

Babylonian Map of the World. VIII — VII centuries BC.

British museum, London

Tigran the Great King

The Kingdom of Armenia reached the height of its power under the rule of Tigran II the Great (95-55 BC). During his reign the kingdom expanded to the west reaching the Mediterranean Sea and bordering Egypt and to the east up to the Caspian Sea. Tigran II the Great took the title of “king of kings”, which was earlier used by the rulers of Parthian Empire. He founded a new capital, Tigranakert, and for a long time successfully resisted the attempts of Roman expansionism.

 

After around 600 years the Kingdom of the Greater Armenia was split between Sasanid and Roman Empires in 387 AD. Nevertheless, until the year 428 the eastern part of the country was under the rule of the Armenian royal dynasty of Arshakids.

Mesrop Mashtoc

A crucial development in the life of the Armenian people was the invention of the Armenian alphabet by Mesrop Mashtots in 405 AD. The Armenian alphabet together with the national church became a pillar of Armenian self-identification for a long period of no independence.

 

Up until the modern times, the Armenians in different regions of their settlement attempted to restore their independence. In this regard, it is noteworthy to mention some of the prominent Armenian statehoods that existed in the middle ages.

The Kingdom of Ani (also known as Bagratid Armenia, The Bagratid Kingdom of Armenia) was an Armenian feudal state that existed from 885 to 1045 AD. The Bagratids succeeded in returning the political term “Great Armenia” into usage making it the official name of the state. After the Byzantines conquered the capital Ani in 1045, the kingdom ceased its existence.

The Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia was yet another medieval Armenian kingdom that existed from 1080 to 1375 in the south-east of Asia Minor by the coast of the Mediterranean Sea.

 

Armenian Cilicia played a significant role during the Crusades of Western European Christians in the Middle East, helping them and then becoming an ally of their newly established states. Having survived all the neighbouring Crusader states, the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia fell in 1375 under the attacks of the Mamluks of Egypt.

The main area of Armenian settlements, the Armenian Highlands, for a long time remained a scene of rivalry first between Byzantium and Persia and after the fall of Constantinople between the same Persia and the Ottoman Empire. Nevertheless, some remnants of the Armenian statehood in the form of Armenian principalities (melikdoms) continued their existence in Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) and Syunik until the 18-19 centuries.

 

As a result of the Russian-Persian war of 1826-28, a part of Eastern Armenia was annexed to Russia. Later in 1918 the Republic of Armenia was formed on a part of this territory with the city of Yerevan as its capital.

Having gained independence in a very complicated geopolitical situation, particularly, after the Armenian Genocide in Turkey in 1915, Armenia, drained and bloodless, could not resist the attacks of foreign enemies, primarily Kemalist Turkey, and eventually became one of the Soviet republics.

First Republic, Coat of Arms

1918-1920

It is worth noting that during its Soviet years Armenia grew from a poor agrarian country into an industrial republic, where economics, culture and arts equally flourished.

The present capital of Armenia, Yerevan, is the twelfth in a row of historical capitals that Armenian states have had in the territory of Greater Armenia at different points of time. This continuity is also expressed in the memorial columns of the new building of the Yerevan City Hall. And here are the names of its eleven predecessors: Van, Armavir, Yervandashat, Artashat, Tigranakert, Vagharshapat, Dvin, Bagaran, Shirakavan , Kars and Ani.

Flag and Coat of Arms