Romania, Armenia & Georgia Tour
Travel through three countries examining the overwhelming beauty of cathedrals, churches and monasteries surrounded by beautiful landscapes!
With Professor William R. Cook
May 28 – June 14, 2017
Why Take this Tour?
- Led by Professor William R. Cook of Great Courses fame
- Admire 15 buildings with UNESCO World Heritage status
- Traverse three countries: Romania, Armenia & Georgia
Day 1: Depart the USA.
Day 2: Arrive into Iasi, Romania.
Day 3: Probota. Voronet. Humor.
Day 4: Rasca. Moldovita. Sucevita, Arbore.
Day 5: Fly to Yerevan, Armenia.
Day 6: Tour Yerevan.
Day 7: Echmiadzin. Zvartnots.
Day 8: Garni Temple Geghard Monastery.
Day 9: Noravank Monastery.
Day 10: Tatev Monastery.
Day 11: Selim Caravansaray. Hayravank Monastery.
Day 12: Sanahin. Haghpat.
Day 13: Transfer to Tbilisi, Georgia. Tour Tbilisi.
Day 14: Mtskheta.
Day 15: Stalin Museum. Ateni Sioni Church.
Day 16: Gelati Monastery. Bagrati Cathedral.
Day 17: History Museum.
Day 18: Fly back to the USA.
Let extraordinary ecclesiastic architecture take you from Romania, across the Black Sea, to Armenia and Georgia! This trip visits Romania to see the exquisite church frescoes of Moldavia including the monasteries of Probota, Voronet, Humor, Moldovita and Sucevita as well as Arbore Church. In Armenia, admire the cathedral and churches of Echmiatsin, the monasteries of Haghpat and Sanahin and Geghard. Finally, in Georgia, visit Gelati Monastery and Bagrati Cathedral and the Historical Monuments of Mtskheta!
Enjoy a taste of the Balkans and the opportunity to savor the diverse beauty of the Caucasus, crossing from one side to the other. Won’t you join expert Professor William R Cook and only 13 others on this expedition through the art and history surrounding these early Christian structures?
William R. Cook earned his B.A. from Wabash College, graduating cum laude. Shortly thereafter he received the Woodrow Wilson and the Herbert Lehman fellowships to study Medieval History at Cornell University where he completed his Ph.D. He is a lecturer for “The Great Courses” and is currently the Distinguished Teaching Professor of History at the State University of New York at Geneseo, where he has taught since 1970. His publications include Images of St. Francis of Assisi and Francis of Assisi: The Way of Poverty and Humility. He also currently edits and contributes to The Art of the Franciscan Order in Italy. Dr. Cook’s passion and enthusiasm for medieval art and architecture make him both an informed and lively trip leader.
(B) breakfast, (L) lunch, (D) dinner
Day 1: Depart the USA on the recommended group flight.
Day 2: Arrive Vienna and transfer the flight to Iaşi, Romania. Transfer to the charming Hildes Residence in Gura Humoruli, our home for the next three nights. (D)
Day 3: The highlights today are three of The Painted Monasteries of Bucovina on UNESCO’s World Heritage list. Built from the late 15th to the late 16th century, the external walls of these churches are covered in vibrant fresco paintings that are masterpieces inspired by Byzantine art. Probota, constructed in 1530, was the family crypt of a Romania prince, and in 1550, fortification enclosure walls were created at the request of his widow, to protect the church. A Moldavian Masterpiece, this Romanian Orthodox church is decorated with colorful Byzantine-style frescoes on both the exterior and interior of the building. Founded in 1487 by Stephen the Great to celebrate a victory over the Turks, the exterior walls of Voronet are decorated with splendid paintings featuring scenes from the bible using an intense shade of blue commonly known as ‘Voronet Blue.’ Founded in 1530, Humor is a tiny church that is topped by a cross-shaped shingled roof without a steeple, indicating that it was built by a court official rather than a prince. Not only renowned for it paintings, it also contains a treasured collection of 16th century icons. (B/L/D)
Day 4: Although not on UNESCO’s list, isolated Râşca is an important painted church. We go there to view the older half of the building that is covered with exquisite frescoes, and the exterior walls that were painted by the Greek painter Stamatello Kotronas. The fresco of the “Ladder of Virtues” was the model for the famous one at the Sucevita Monastery. The rest of today’s explorations take us to three more of the remarkable UNESCO Painted Monasteries of Bucovina. Within the small Arbore church is a scene from Genesis. Because it was not built by a prince, it is the only church in the region with no belfry towers. The monastery was founded in 1503 by Luca Arbore, an advisor to Stephen the Great. Rasca Monastery was founded in the 16th century. The church exterior walls were vividly illustrated by the Greek painter, Stamatello Kotronas. (B/L/D)
Day 5: The morning is free to relax before our flight. Depart for Vienna on an afternoon flight. There will be time for dinner on your own at the airport before the late night flight to Armenia. Overnight for three nights in the Opera Suite Hotel in Yerevan. (B/L)
Day 6: Arrive into Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, in the early morning. Transfer to the hotel with time to rest. Our afternoon city tour will begin in the massive Saint Gregory the Illuminator Cathedral, also known as the Cathedral of Yerevan, the largest cathedral of the Armenian Apostolic Church in the world. It was opened in 2001 in celebration of the 1700th anniversary of Christianity in Armenia. Then visit the Armenian Genocide memorial complex built in 1967 to commemorate the massacre of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire from 1915 to 1922. (B/L/D)
Day 7: This morning, drive to Vagharshapat, the location of Echmiadzin Cathedral, the Mother Church of the Armenian Apostolic Church, and the ruins of Zvartnots Cathedral, both designated UNESCO World Heritage Monuments in 2000. These sanctuaries document the early establishment of Christianity in Armenia and the evolution of a unique Armenian ecclesiastical architecture. The Armenian Church is cross-shaped with a dome over the central hall. Built 301-303 A.D., the Cathedral of Holy Echmiadzin is the most ancient Christian place of worship in Armenia. The archaeological remains of Zvartnots, completed in 662 A.D. and destroyed by an earthquake in the tenth century, provide a unique example of Armenian architecture of the early Christian period. We will also visit the Church of St. Hripsimeh, a perfect example of the cruciform plan and central cupola. (B/L/D)
Day 8: We begin today with the elegant Temple of Garni, a first-century Hellenic temple. It is the only pagan shrine in Armenia to survive the country’s Christianization in 301 A.D. Overlooking the Goghi and Azat River Canyons, it is built on top of an earlier Urartian temple. Nearby, Geghard Monastery, another UNESCO World Heritage Site, contains a number of churches and tombs, most of them cut into the rock. They epitomize the high-water mark of Armenian medieval architecture. (B/L/D)
Day 9: The drive this morning is through canyons enclosed by high ocher cliffs. Finally we reach the 13th-century Noravank Monastery complex where several churches and civic buildings are surrounded by a wall. During the twelfth century, Noravank was the residence of the Orbelians, an influential feudal family. Constructed of the dazzling gold-colored local stone, the churches glow in the sunlight and are beautifully decorated on the exterior walls. We continue to Goris, a charming town with stone houses faced with arched windows and balconies on tree-lined avenues. The city is renowned for its homemade fruit vodkas. We will spend two nights in the Hotel Mirhav in Goris. (B/L/D)
Day 10: Today we drive deep into the mountains to Tatev, a 9th-century Armenian Apostolic monastery spectacularly sited on the top of a high plateau with views that extend for miles. Construction began between 895 and 906; it is one of the oldest church complexes in Armenia. St. Gregory the Illuminator, who spread the word of Christ throughout Armenia, is buried in a small church here built in 1295. During medieval times Tatev Monastery was a vital scholastic, enlightenment and spiritual center. (B/L/D)
Day 11: Located on the shores of Lake Sevan, the largest body of water in Armenia and one of the principal freshwater high-altitude lakes in Eurasia, Hayravank Monastery dates back to the 9th -12th centuries. The main church, called St. Stepanos, is in the form of quatrefoil cruciform. The complex buildings and grave stones are distinctive as they are covered with rust colored lichen. After viewing the church, we then move on to Selim Caravansary, built in 1332 by Prince Chesar Orbelian to shelter travelers and their herds. This ancient lodge was constructed of blocks of basalt divided into three sections, and it is covered with a gabled stone shingle roof that rests on three arches. Continue to Dzoraget and the Tufenkian Avan Hotel where we spend two nights. (B/L/D)
Day 12: Our all day tour takes us to two UNESCO World Heritage sites, Sanahin and Haghpat. These two Byzantine monasteries were important centers of learning in the 10th to 13th centuries. The two monastic complexes represent the highest flowering of Armenian religious architecture, with a unique style developed from a blending of Byzantine ecclesiastical architecture and the traditional vernacular architecture of the Caucasian region. Return to Dzoraget for the night. (B/L/D)
Day 13: Cross the border into Georgia and drive to Tbilisi where we spend the afternoon seeing the sites of the city. Begin with the landmark Virgin Mary Metekhi Church, stunningly located on the cliff above the Metekhi River. In front stands a bronze equestrian statue of Vakhtang Gorgasali, the founder of the Tbilisi. From the church, the view across the river gorge is breath-taking with the scenic Nariqala Fortress on the opposite hill towering over the city. Lovely Sioni Cathedral was originally built in the 6th and 7th centuries, but has been destroyed and rebuilt many times, and what is visible today is mostly from the 13th century. The interior walls and ceilings are lavishly painted. Our final stop is the Anchiskhati Basilica of St Mary, originally constructed in the 4th century and the oldest surviving church in Tbilisi. Overnight for two nights in the 5-star Marriott Hotel, located in the center of the city near the opera house. (B/L/D)
Day 14: We depart Tbilisi this morning and head north to Mtskheta for two UNESCO World Heritage monuments. The 11th century Svetitskhoveli Cathedral contains a zodiac in one of its murals and houses the graves of Georgian kings. Its name, a pagan reference to the cosmic axis, identifies the location as the center of the world. The 6th-century Jvari Monastery was built on ancient pagan shrines where St. Nino introduced Christianity with the help of a solar eclipse and a thunderbolt that destroyed the old idols. (B/L/D)
Day 15: Leave Tbilisi and drive to Samtavisi, an 11th-century Georgian Orthodox cathedral on the UNESCO Tentative List. The building is a cruciform domed with high quality sculptural design on its facades along with interesting 17th century frescoes inside. The beautifully engraved decorations on the east façade are original. They were the pinnacle of Georgian stone-carving and many of the designs were used in later churches. Then it’s on to Ateni Sioni, an early 7th -century Georgian Orthodox church that was modeled on Mtskheta’s Jvari Church. Beautiful reliefs of stags, a hunting scene and a knight were carved into the exterior walls. The interior is covered with 11th -century frescoes depicting biblical scenes and Georgian rulers. they are among the finest medieval art in the country. (B/L/D)
Day 16: Located within the city limits of Kutaisi, both Bagrati Cathedral and Gelati Monastery are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The cathedral was built at the end of the 10th century and named after Bagrat III, the first king of united Georgia. Gelati Monastery is adorned with richly ornamented capitals and houses the tomb of its founder, David the Builder. (B/L/D)
Day 17: The Kutaisi History Museum has superb collections from all around western Georgia, but the highlight is the Golden Fund section. This is an outstanding exhibition of icons and crosses in precious metals and jewels, including a large, reputedly miracle-working icon that used to reside in the Bagrati Cathedral. In the afternoon, return to Tbilisi and overnight in the Marriott Hotel. (B/L/D)
Day 18: Transfer to the Tbilisi Airport for the recommended group flight to Munich and on to the USA. (B)
$9,995.00 (per person, double occupancy) includes all hotels; meals as noted; ground transportation; entry fees; and gratuities.
$995.00. Should a roommate be requested and one not be available, the single supplement will be charged.
Cost does not include: Round trip international airfare to Iasi, Romania and out of Tbilisi, Georgia; a separate $150.00 (per person) donation check; passport or visa fees; airport or departure taxes; beverages or food not included on regular menus; laundry; excess baggage charges; personal tips; email, telephone and fax charges; or other items of a personal nature. NOTE: Flight schedules into Iasi, Georgia vary and flights from Iasi, Georgia to Yerevan, Armenia are not daily; if the schedules change, we may have to change the dates by a day or two.
Fuel Surcharges: Far Horizons must pass on price increases when additional fuel charges are levied.
Donation Checks: As a tour company that benefits from the cultural and natural riches of our destinations, we have a policy of donating to the scientific and cultural projects and museums we visit. This has created a bond between Far Horizons and the academic and local communities that has helped us establish an extensive list of lecturers and contacts in each of our destinations. We ask that each participant write a check to the noteworthy project we designate. The donation amount is $150.00 per person.
A deposit of $500.00 is required along with your registration form. Final payment is due 90 days before departure. Upon receipt of your deposit and completed registration form, you will be sent a reading list and a tour bulletin containing travel information. Prior to the trip, we will send links to various websites of pertinent interest. Click here to download our Registration Form.
Cancellations and Refunds
Cancellations received in writing at least 90 days before departure will receive a refund less a $300.00 administrative fee. Cancellations received less than 90 days before the departure date will not receive a refund. If for any reason you are unable to complete the trip, Far Horizons will not reimburse any fees. Registrants are strongly advised to buy travel insurance that includes trip cancellation.
International flights are not included in the cost of the trip. If you do not arrive or depart on the scheduled days, you are responsible for all transportation (including airport transfers) to join the group. If Far Horizons must change the trip dates or cancel the trip for any reason, Far Horizons is not responsible for any air ticket you may have purchased. Please send your complete air schedule as soon as you have it. NOTE: Please contact Far Horizons if you would like for us to handle your air ticketing.
Private Tours of Archaeological Sites
The private tours of archaeological sites and talks by specialists are scheduled in advance and include a donation to each. Specialists working at these sites are excited about showing their work to interested enthusiasts. However, please be aware that there may be times when the director or a member of the staff may not be on site when our groups arrive due to other commitments.
This Archaeological Tour is limited to 14 participants