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Discovering Biblical Armenia

Photo by Claudia Dewald, courtesy istockphoto


Are you looking for that next destination to wow your members or clients? Are you looking for one that will generate unprecedented interest and enthusiasm among your group planners? And, are you looking for a destination that will make you a hero for discovering and recommending one of the most fascinating hidden gems of the faith-based travel industry? If so, then consider planning a tour to the biblical country of Armenia.

If you’re like me, you’re probably wondering what the country offers and what its significance is as a travel destination. In addition, you’re probably not sure where Armenia is located, but your best guess is it lies somewhere between Europe and the Far East. You’re almost certain it’s not a Christian country. And you may not think that Armenia is connected to the Bible in any significant way.

As the author of several religious travel guidebooks, including The Christian Travel Planner, I must admit that I once shared many of these same thoughts and misperceptions. However, a couple of years ago I met tourism representatives from Armenia who helped me begin to change my perception of the country. I was surprised to learn how “biblical” and Christian Armenia is. It was this eye-opening encounter with those Armenians that began my desire to learn more about the country and to one day travel there myself.

Test Yourself

Before we dive further into discovering Armenia, let’s first test your knowledge about this destination. Take a moment to answer the following five questions about Armenia:

1. Which famous biblical mountain can be viewed while visiting Armenia?

Hint: The answer lies in Genesis.

2. Which two of Jesus’ apostles evangelized Armenia?

Hint: The first names of the apostles begin with “B” and “T,” respectively.

3. True or false: Armenia became the first nation to adopt Christianity as its state religion?

Hint: Armenia became a Christian country in the fourth century.

4. Which country has a higher percentage of Christians in its population: Armenia or the United States?

Hint: Ninety-four percent of the Armenian population belongs to one religion.

5. Which country lies west of Armenia?

Hint: This country is another prominent biblical destination.

Learning the facts
1. Which famous biblical mountain can be viewed while visiting Armenia?

One of the great highlights of visiting the country of Armenia on a pilgrimage, mission trip or leisure vacation is viewing the biblical Mount Ararat. What is significant about this landmass? Mount Ararat is where Noah’s Ark came to rest after the Great Flood. You will find this story in the first book of the Bible (see Genesis 8:4).

2. Which two of Jesus’ apostles evangelized Armenia?

Armenia is one of the few countries in the world that can claim being personally evangelized by two of Jesus’ apostles. After the death of Christ, the apostles Bartholomew and Thaddeus traveled to ancient Armenia, where they introduced and spread the Christian faith.

3. True or false: Armenia became the first nation to adopt Christianity as its state religion? 

True. Unbeknownst to most people, Armenia was the first country in the world to officially declare the Christian faith as its state religion in A.D. 301. This is one of the most surprising facts about Armenia and Christian history. And even more astonishing is that this proclamation took place years before Constantine officially recognized Christianity within the Roman Empire.

4. Which country has a higher percentage of Christians in its population: Armenia or the United States?

Americans are often surprised to learn that 94 percent of Armenians are Christians, which is far greater than the percentage of Christians in the United States.

5. Which country lies west of Armenia?

The biblical destination of Turkey lies to the west of Armenia; Georgia is to the north, Iran to the south and Azerbaijan to the east. From a global perspective, Armenia is situated between Eastern Europe and Western Asia.

Eleven reasons to go
If you didn’t know all the above facts, you’re not alone. Most people, including Christian history buffs and faith-based travel professionals, are not aware of these tidbits about Armenia. With this in mind, here are the top 11 reasons to include biblical Armenia in your religious travel program and to offer the destination as a new travel choice for your members or clients.

1. Armenia is a biblical destination and home to one of Scripture’s most significant and best-known stories of all time, Noah’s Ark and the Great Flood.

2. Armenia shares an ancient and rich Christian heritage and culture dating back to the apostles Bartholomew and Thaddeus and was the world’s first Christian country.

3. Armenia features many famous centuries-old religious sites. Highlights include three UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the cathedral and churches of Echmiadzin and the archaeological site of Zvartnots; the monastery of Geghard and the Upper Azat Valley; and the monasteries of Haghpat and Sanahin.

4. Armenia provides exceptional opportunities to meet, share fellowship and spend one-on-one time with the local Christian community.

5. Armenia offers a plethora of possibilities for missionary travel and volunteer vacationing, including building homes, educating the youth, playing with children at orphanages and providing medical care.

6. Armenia is a fresh, exciting destination for housing a biblical or faith-based convention or conference.

7. Armenia’s history is intriguing. The country has endured great challenges and upheavals throughout its history, yet through it all has managed to retain its national, ethnic, cultural and religious identity.

8. Armenia features breathtaking scenery complete with mountains, valleys, forests, isolated highlands and Lake Sevan, one of the world’s highest alpine lakes.

9. Armenia’s cuisine is exceptional, unique and delicious (Google “lavosh” for a sampling of Armenian recipes).

10. Armenia lies at the crossroads of Europe and Asia along the Great Silk Road and remains one of the oldest and most durable civilizations.

11. Armenia greets every visitor with its famous hospitality of warmth and smiles and is ready to welcome you.

How to begin your travel planning to Armenia
The best place to begin your travel planning to Armenia is by contacting the Armenian Tourism Development Agency (ATDA), which serves as the tourist office of Armenia. Whether you are a travel provider, a group planner or an individual traveler, ATDA provides a number of helpful resources, such as information about transportation, lodging, dining, entertainment, activities and sites of interest in Armenia.

In addition, you can obtain from ATDA a listing of Armenian tour operators who can work directly with your preferred travel provider or agent here in North America. To view these resources, visit info@armeniainfo.amthe official ATDA Web site at You can also send an e-mail to ATDA at or

Good luck with your travel planning, and upon your return home from Armenia, be sure to share your stories and experiences with others about this remarkable biblical destination. It’s a country that’s ready to tell its story to the world.

Kevin J. Wright is president of the World Religious Travel Association,
chairman of the World Religious Travel Expo and author of The Christian Travel Planner.