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We visited Armenia with a rental car in neighboring Georgia, and it is very simple to drive across the border with a rental car, but it is difficult to enter Arzeibaijão, which we ended up leaving for the next backpacking trip.

On the drive down from Georgia to Armenia, we saw incredible beauty and wonderful scenery.

The relatively poor country has agricultural scenes all along the mountainous path.

You have to pay a car insurance fee when you enter Armenia, we ended up not paying, but the ideal is to pay to be at peace with crashes, as the insurance is only valid for the country where the car was rented.

Our objective was to visit the cities Sanahin and Haghpat and their respective monasteries, World Heritage Sites because they are ancient and occupy the top of the northern Armenian mountains.

Sanahin is a medieval monastic complex, a precious jewel of Armenian architecture. It is situated in the Lori Debed Gorge in the village of Sanahin. According to documents and material culture evidence, this structure belongs to the 10th century. Sanahin's name literally translates from Armenian as "this is older than that", presumably representing a claim to having a monastery older than the neighboring monastery from Haghpat.

The monastic complex embraces the church of St. Hakob (9th century), the church of St. Astúvatsatsin (928-944) as well as the church of St. Amenaprkich (966) surrounding the main temple. Originally, the interiors of St. Astvatsatsin and St. Amenaprkich were decorated with frescoes. But now you can hardly discern any.

During the period of 10-13 centuries, the monastery was an important and respectable center of learning, where humanities and medicine were taught. Scientific treatises were written, paintings and miniatures were created here. The book depository in Sanahin dates back to 1063. It is a unique architectural construction that highlights the high level of architectural skills of local masters during the period of the 11th-13th centuries. The depository was designed in the shape of a square and had a niche to preserve the manuscripts. The roof of the depository was of special and distinctive appearance. And in general, his influence can be seen in many architectural constructions in Armenia.

The Sanahin complex is rich in traditional Armenian carved stones called khachkars, which were placed not only as memorials but also as a marker of various events, such as the construction of an inn in 1205 and the construction of a bridge in 1192. This bridge It stands among all other bridges discovered in the territory of the complex with its high artistic virtue, integrity and perfect harmony. The bridge is exceptional throughout Transcaucasia.

The Sanahin complex is an important site not only for Armenians but also for the entire world as it belongs to the UNESCO World Heritage list.


The monastery was founded by Saint Nishan (Sourb Nshan) in the 10th century during the reign of King Abas I. The monastery in nearby Sanahin was built at the same time.

The location of Haghpat Monastery was chosen so that it overlooks the Debed River in the Lori region of northern Armenia. It was built, not on a peak, but halfway up a slope in a location chosen to protect and conceal from prying eyes and also in response to a kind of monastic humility. A peak on the opposite side of the river is more than 2,500 meters high.

The small church of St. Nishan is the earliest surviving building of Haghpat. It began in 966-67 and was later enlarged and embellished under the direction of Trdat the architect.

The largest church in the complex, St. Nishan's Cathedral, was built from 967 to 991. It is a typical example of tenth-century Armenian architecture, its central dome resting on the four imposing pillars of the side walls. The outer walls are dotted with triangular recesses. A fresco in the apse depicts Christ Pantocrator. Its donor, the Armenian prince Khutulukhaga, is represented in the south transept (a transverse nave that intersects with the main nave). The sons of the church founder, Princes Smbat and Kurike, are shown with Queen Khosravanuche in a bas-relief in the east of the pediment. Apart from one or two minor restorations carried out in the 12th and 12th centuries, the church has retained its original character.

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