Monday, June 13 2016 12:25
Naira Badalian

Armenia is on list of top-10 places that deserve more travelers, according to National Geographic

Armenia is on list of top-10 places that deserve more travelers,  according to National Geographic

ArmInfo. Armenia is on the list of  the top 10 places that deserve more travelers, according to National Geographic. Armenia tops the list. Journalist Tara Isabella Burton writes that since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the tiny Caucasus country of Armenia has often been associated with the Karabakh conflict. 

"Despite occasional skirmishes along the Karabakh border, however, Armenia today is safe, with a burgeoning tourist infrastructure, largely centered around family-run B&Bs and agrotourism-style homestays, designed to attract adventurous backpackers to the country's staggering and often unheralded natural and architectural beauty," she says. "Few people know that Armenia was the first country in the world to adopt Christianity as a state religion, in A.D. 301. And Armenia's ancient churches-massive, sprawling complexes of ruins nestled into the wildly green canyons and mountaintops of the countryside-are among the world's best preserved," she stresses. 
 
While other Christian churches are decorated with painted frescoes, many of which have faded or been destroyed, the carved stone lions of cliffside Geghard Monastery and intricately carved khachkars (stone graves) of Sanahin stand as a testament to the creative power of one 
of the world's oldest, and least heralded, civilizations. And Armenia's churches aren't the only attraction of its countryside.  
 
The wildflower-dappled hills and valleys here-far more accessible than the vertiginous mountain paths of Georgia-are full of pagan temples like Garni, just outside Yerevan, and cobblestoned "spa towns" like Dilijan, nicknamed "Armenia's Switzerland." "Most tourists concentrate their activities around Yerevan, the country's muted, largely Soviet-era, capital. But a half-day's drive from Yerevan ($50 with a reliable taxi driver), is the town of Goris, set among caves and cliffs in Armenia's verdant south and among the country's most spectacular. Winding hikes through the historic village take you through the cave villages of Old Khndzoresk, while a short bus ride takes you to the ninth-century mountaintop stone monastery of Tatev, once a capital of Armenian culture and learning, accessible by one of the world's longest cable cars. In the heart of Goris, an eccentric mountaineer runs Khachik's B&B (from $20 per night, including meals), a homestay with nightly home-cooked meals, garnished with fresh herbs, boasting terrace views over Old Goris," the author says.  The other countries on the top-10 list are Nicaragua, Nepal, Iran, Kosovo, Uzbekistan, Albania, Uzbekistan, Albania, Tmor-Leste, Georgia and Tunisia.  
 
To recall, earlier Head of the Tourism Department of the Armenian Ministry of Economy Mekhak Apresyan said that in late 2016 international tourism in Armenia will grow by 5%. Apresyan said that in Q1 2016, international tourism in the country rose by 8.6%. "According to the National Statistical Service of Armenia, in 2015 as many as 1,256,572 travelers arrived in Armenia (in Jan-Dec 2015 - 1,192,120 travelers, with a 3.2% year-over-year decline), In Q4 2015, as many as 1,310,164 people left Armenia for tourism purposes (in Jan-Dec 2015 - 1,187,369 people, with a 1.3% y-o-y decline). In Q1 2016, a total of 1,252,506 tourists (8.6% y-o-y growth) visited 
Armenia, while 1,227,499 people left the republic for tourism purposes (with a 5.9% y-o-y growth).
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