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Amazing Things You Don't Know About Armenia

  •  It’s home to the world’s oldest winery

  • At least that’s what the archaeologists claim: in 2011 they discovered what is thought to be the oldest winery on the planet, found, of all places, in a cave near the village of Areni.

  • Chess is part of the curriculum

    Which explains why Armenians are so good at it. Indeed, since breaking free from the Soviet Union, the country has proven itself to be a world beater at the sport: the men’s team have won the European Team Championships (1999), the World Team Championship (2011) and the Chess Olympiad (2006, 2008, 2012), while the women’s team have scooped the European Championship (2003).

  • More Armenians live abroad than in Armenia

    The events of 1915 forced millions of Armenians to flee abroad, where they established strong communities in the US, Russia and France. There are thought to be some 5.6 million people of Armenian descent living abroad, which is greater than the population of Armenia (3 million).

  • It has one of the world’s oldest capitals…

  • The Armenian capital, Yerevan, is one of the world’s oldest inhabited cities, constructed as it was 29 years before Rome. Overlooked by the snow-capped Mount Ararat, the capital has a bewildering number of historic buildings, not to mention a clutch of excellent museums.
  • It has celebrity connections

Armenia is the ancestral homeland of Charles Aznavour,Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Cher, Andre Agassi and Serj Tankian, the frontman of American metal band, System of a Down, one of the groups at the forefront of publicising the injustices of the Armenian Genocide. Armenia is also partly responsible for the Kardashians — dad Robert was second generation Armenian American.

  • Which is known as the “Pink City”

    Yerevan gets its pretty pink hue (and moniker) from the rosy volcanic rock that was used to construct many of the city’s buildings.

  •  Armenians think they know where Noah’s Ark is

There’s a widely-held belief in Armenia that Noah’s Ark is embedded in ice atop Mount Ararat. Despite many expeditions, said ark has never been found, but that doesn’t stop it appearing on Armenia’s coat of arms.religion? It happened in 301 AD with the

  • Churchill had a taste for Armenian cognac…

During the Second World War, Joseph Stalin shipped several dozen cases of Armenian cognac to Winston Churchill, which the then-British prime minister consumed with gusto. His love for brandy was no secret: by his own estimate he had drunk enough brandy to fill three railway carriages by the time he was 71.

  • It’s big on birds

    Armenia is a twitchers delight, home as it is to 345 of Europe’s estimated 530 bird species. Highlights include falcons, swans and eagles, which also feature on the Armenian coat of arms.

 

  • You can go skiing there

The main ski resort in Armenia is Tsakhkadzor, which has some 27km of slopes, plus six lifts to get you up there. Expect to pay around 8500 Armenian dram (about £17) for a day ski pass.

  • In fact Armenian cognac oiled the wheels of Yalta

The Yalta Conference – a meeting in the Crimea between Winston Churchill, Joseph Stalin and Franklin D Roosevelt to discuss Europe’s post-war reorganisation – is believed to have been largely fuelled by Armenian cognac and wine. One of Churchill’s aides at Yalta famously wrote about the then-British prime minister “drinking buckets of Caucasian champagne which would undermine the health of any ordinary man”.

  • The people are as hard as nails

    Armenia won one gold and three silver medals at the Rio Olympics, all of which were in wrestling or weightlifting. Enough said.

 

  • Its bread is Unesco-listed

    Dinner tables are rarely without huge piles of lavash, a tasty flat bread that is the cornerstone of Armenian cuisine. So important is this humble dish that it was placed on Unesco’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2014.

  • There’s an Armenian alphabet monument

    When the Armenian alphabet celebrated its 1,600th birthday in 2005, the authorities erected 39 stone statues depicting its letters near the final resting place of the man who created it, Mesrop Mashtots. Visitors can visit the giant letters, which stand proud in the town of Aparan.

  • It has three Unesco World Heritage Sites

    Which are: the monasteries of Haghpat and Sanahin; the cathedral and churches of Echmiatsin and the archaeological site of Zvartnots; and the monastery of Geghard and the Upper Azat Valley.