SOVIET ARCHITECTURE AND INDUSTRIAL DECAY
Yerevan – Gyumri – Alaverdi – Dilijan – Sevan
This tour is offered on a regular monthly basis. Let us know your desired departure month by clicking on the learn-more button below: we will match your preferences with the next relevant scheduled group departure. If you are still unsure about your desired departure date, then simply tell us a period or a season of the year and we will provide you a range of scheduled group departures: just pick up yours!
Our scheduled group departures don't suit your plans? If you are travelling with more than 4 friends, you can set your own departure date: we will arrange a bespoke tour just for you for the same price per person advertised below. If you are travelling solo or with less than four companions, we will then organise a slightly more expensive tailored tour according to your time schedule and specific geographical preferences.
Please note: this is a special itinerary with a strong focus on Soviet Architecture. If you are more into classic attractions (i.e. monasteries, ruins, churches, temples and museums) and/or natural wonders (gorges, lakes and gentle slopes alike), we can easily design a bespoke itinerary according to your own specific preferences. Get in touch for more details on our tailored routes in Armenia.
DAY 1 - Yerevan
In the morning you will meet your tour guide in the lobby of the designated hotel (exact hotel address and meeting time will be communicated well in advance per email; private airport pickup and shuttle service available for a small additional fee).
Introductory briefing about the region, the route and the set of rules to observe while travelling in Armenia.
In the company of a local architecture expert, we will enjoy a comprehensive Soviet Architecture tour of the city, which will include both early examples of Soviet constructivism and neoclassicism and later modernist and internationalist buildings, as well as a selected compendium of pre-Soviet architectural wonders.
We'll also go truly off the beaten path and visit the hinterland district of Malatia Sebastia, aka Bangladesh, a real-life compendium of Soviet urbanist theories and practices.
We suggest to order your own copy of the Architectural Guide Yerevan edited by DOM Publishers, as a perfect introduction to the tuff-and-concrete shapes of the city.
Lunch, dinner and overnight in Yerevan.
DAY 2 - Gyumri
Making an half-loop along the barren and desolate western side of the Aragats Massif and crossing remote hamlets and surreal wastelands, we'll reach the northern city of Gyumri (formerly Leninakan), which was almost completed destroyed by the apocalyptic 1988 earthquake and later rebuilt in a mixture of Soviet, pre-Soviet and post-Soviet architectonic styles.
Besides the routine pauses for food, toilet and random landscape pictures, we'll break the journey in Metsamor, home to the largest and most infamous nuclear power plant in the Southern Caucasus, and in Armavir, a little Soviet town full of nostalgia and Socialist constructs.
Once in Gyumri, as we did in Yerevan, we'll meet with local architecture geeks and visit both the most representative buildings and lesser known hidden gems, such as the mesmerising Iron Fountain in the outskirts of town.
Dinner and overnight in Gyumri.
DAY 3 - Alaverdi
Today we'll move to the green and fresh northeast of the country and head to the quintessentially Soviet mining town of Alaverdi, close to the border with neighbouring Georgia.
Besides the routine pauses for photography, food and toilet, we'll break the journey in two architectonically interesting little-visited Soviet cities along the way: Spitak, completely razed to the ground by the grand earthquake and consequentially rebuilt from scratch in a functional and yet traditional style, and Vanadzor (formerly Kirovakan), a city of industrial decay and provincial sleepiness.
After a scenic drive along the Debed Canyon, we'll eventually arrive in Alaverdi, where we'll enjoy a tour around both the steampunk and slightly unsettling downtown.
We'll also pay a visit to the Soviet Air Force museum dedicated to Artyom Mikoyan, a local aerospace engineer and one of the main designers of the legendary MiG.
Dinner and overnight in Alaverdi.
DAY 4 - Dilijan
From Alaverdi we'll move south to Dilijan, a famous golden-era retreat for the Soviet intelligentsia.
In Dilijan we’ll take care to avoid the heavily-restored, fake-looking and über-touristic Sharambeyan Street, and tour the refreshingly authentic Soviet downtown instead.
We’ll also pay our tribute to the Soviet Soldier Memorial and visit a Soviet-era sanatorium just outside town.
Close to Dilijan, we’ll then tour the little-known hamlet of Fioletevo, one of the last thriving Molokan communities in the Southern Caucasus.
The Molokans are rather friendly but extremely shy members of an Orthodox spiritual sect who live in almost complete isolation from the rest of society, far from modern comforts and technologies: the Russian answer to the Amish communities in rural Pennsylvania.
Dinner and overnight in Dilijan.
DAY 5 - Sevan
From Dilijan we'll head to the USSR-wide famous Sevan Lake, the Armenian Ocean.
As always, we will focus our tour on Soviet architecture and socialist heritage visiting both renowned gems (such as the Writers House on the Sevanavank peninsula and the central railway station in Sevan city) and obscure socialist urban experiments full of almost-forgotten architectonic surprises (namely the towns of Gagarin, Abovyan and Hrazdan).
In the evening we'll eventually drive back to the capital for a conclusive Soviet dinner in the outskirts of the city.
Overnight in Yerevan.
DAY 6 - Flight back home or transfer to further destinations
After enjoying a last Armenian-style breakfast together we'll take care of your transfer to the airport/train station of choice.
For those flying out: transfer to Yerevan International Airport.
For those wishing to take the train/bus to reach further destinations: transfer to the local train/bus station.
End of the tour.
3 to 8 participants: 990 € per person
The price includes: double/twin room accommodation (breakfast included; single supplement: 18 euro/night), private transport in the region (car or minivan), entrance fees to the attractions listed in the itinerary, guiding and translation service.
The price does not include: international flights and any other flight not explicitly included in the tour price and itinerary, meals, drinks and tips, transport to and from the airport of arrival/departure (35 euros/ride), visas if required, entrance fees to attractions not listed in the itinerary, insurance.
The route of this tour has been carefully designed after several research trips in the region. It is, however, always possible to slightly modify the itinerary according to the needs and the suggestions of the participants. Our motto is flexibility.
Please note: It’s advisable to arrive in Yerevan one day before the actual tour begins. You should notice, however, that you’ll have to take care of your accommodation for any day and night preceding the actual start date of the tour. Without any additional charge we will reserve a room for you at our hotel of choice and you’ll be able to pay for it by cash or credit card once you check-in. If your flight lands on the same day as the tour begins and you prefer to rest a bit before going out sightseeing, you will then meet your tour guide and the rest of the group at the designated hotel in the late afternoon.
Airport pickup in Yerevan is available for just 35 euros per ride.