Yerevan

Travel to the fabled country of Armenia, where Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Arab, Mongol, Persian and Russian cultures are intertwined in a fabulous blend of traditions.

Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, is one of the world's oldest continually inhabited cities dating back to the creation of the Erebuni Fortress on the site in 782 BC. Set amongst the Caucasus Mountains, today Yerevan is the cultural, industrial and administrative center of the country and sports modern shops, restaurants and attractions. Nicknamed the "pink city" for the color of its building stone it is known for its hospitality and stunning landscapes. One of the most striking features of Yerevan is the view of snow-capped Mount Ararat, the legendary resting place of Noah's Ark. The majestic peak is the symbol of the city although it now rests outside the country's borders in Turkey.

Outside of the capital, Armenia offers travelers a wealth of activities. Mt. Aragats is an extinct volcano, the highest point in Armenia and not far from Yerevan with treks for amateurs and experienced outdoorsmen alike. Visit the Monastery of Psalms, perched on the edge of a gorge, and see the breathtaking views spread out around you. Armenia's continental climate provides an inviting atmosphere for visitors who want to spend time outdoors.

Within the city there are dozens of museums of every interest for visitors. The National Art Gallery has excellent collections of European and Armenian art. The Matenadaran is a book depository holding thousands of rare and unique illuminated treasures. The ruins of the Fortress of Erebuni still stand, its citadel and frescoes a testament to the art of past centuries. The museum there holds its archaeological wealth. The Armenian Crafts museum displays the skill of silver jewelers, woodworkers, carpet weavers, potters and metalworkers. The oldest country to adopt Christianity, Yerevan has some beautiful churches, but the lovely Blue Mosque was used as a museum under Soviet rule although is now reopened. Climb the Cascades for a view of the city then take a spin on the Ferris wheel in Victory Park. The Cascades and the Sculpture Park are an Art Deco version of the hanging gardens of Babylon and part of the Cafesjian Museum of modern art. There is a large staircase that rises up a hillside decorated with water features and gardens.

Strolling through compact Yerevan is wonderful in the warmer weather. The national opera, ballet and concert halls provide affordable entertainment and you can relax with a cup of coffee or regional brandy at open air cafes nearby. There are the illuminated dancing fountains in Republic Square, large shade trees lining the main avenues, Lover's Park and Swan Lake. On weekends there is Vernissage, the open market offering almost everything imaginable from Soviet souvenirs to car parts and carpets. Spread out over four city blocks it features every manner of craftsman and artisan and is hands-down the best place to shop for regional handicrafts.