If you do not fully understand the specifics of south-western Asia, even a quick overlook of Yerevan will give you a clue: you are in the Middle East, although there are no mosques around, and nothing reminds of Islam.
Architecture of churches, often decorated with wonderful elements of stone carving, is one of the most visible forms of art. The 7th century was the highest point of religious and church architecture, although the overall decoration of Armenian churches is more modest than, for example, Russian. One of the most famous painters of modern Armenia, Hakob Hakobyan, being an ethnic Armenian, arrived in Armenia from Egypt in 1962.
Composer Aram Khachaturian and sculptor Khoren Ter-Arutyan; these are great names that are well known throughout the world. Traditional Armenian music sounds like in the Middle East. And today, a beautiful folk music is part of everyday life in the country. Armenian literature is rich in proverbs, tales and folklore, and writers of the twentieth century made a great contribution in the development of this aspect of culture. Armenian literature begins about 406 with the invention of the Armenian alphabet by Mesrop Mashtots. The first major Armenian literary work is a 5th century translation of the Bible; its language became the standard of classical Armenian. The 5th-century history of Movses Khorenatsi contains practically all that is known of pre-Christian Armenia, its folklore and epics. The founder of modern Armenian literature is Khachatur Abovyan.
When classifying the territory and nations of the Caucasus by language groups, the main three are the following: Caucasian, Indo-European and Turkish. The Armenian language represents an independent branch of the Indo-European language family. It is believed that this language family originated in western Turkey, spreading west into Europe and eastward as far as to India to 1000 BC.
Armenians adopted Christianity in the early antiquity (the most ancient churches were built in the IV century), Head of the Armenian Church lives in Echmiatsin. The Armenian Church ritual worship includes elements of ancient ritual chants. This is the only ancient church that does not celebrate Christmas on December 25. Armenians celebrate Christmas on January 6. It also coincides with the Epiphany. Traditionally, Armenians fast during the week leading up to Christmas. Christmas Eve is particularly rich in traditions. Families gather for the Christmas Eve dinner, which generally consists of: rice, fish, nevik (a vegetable dish of green chard and chick peas), and yogurt/wheat soup (tanapur). Desert includes dried fruits and nuts, including rojik, which consists of whole shelled walnuts threaded on a string and encased in grape jelly, bastukh (a paper-like confection of grape jelly, cornstarch, and flour), etc.
Lamb is the most popular type of meat and khashlama (boiled mutton) – the main dish cooked of it. Trout of Lake Sevan is wonderful. It is not difficult to find fruits and vegetables here. Beans, chickpeas, eggplant, yogurt and other dishes typical of the Middle East, are also typical for Armenian cuisine. Armenian cuisine uses spices sparingly, primary spices are: garlic, red pepper, mint (in Western Armenia), dill, parsley, tarragon, cumin, coriander, sumac, etc. Armenians extensively use stuffed items. In addition to grape leaves (for dolma), Armenians also stuff cabbage leaves, eggplants, zucchini or squash, tomatoes, peppers, onions, potatoes, various meats (particularly organ meats), whole fish, apples, quince, and even cantaloupe. Jajukh – there are several varieties of this salad, which resembles a dip or cold soup. The cucumber jajukh is made with diced cucumbers in a yogurt/garlic sauce.
Khorovats – Armenian word for barbecued or grilled meats (the generic kebab in English), the most famous dish of Armenian cuisine enjoyed in restaurants, family gatherings, and as fast food. A typical khorovats is chunks of meat grilled on a skewer, although steaks or chops grilled without skewers may be also included. In Armenia itself, khorovats is often made with the bone still in the meat (as lamb or pork chops). In Armenia today, the most popular meat for khorovats is pork.
Cognac (brandy) manufactured in Armenia is of first-class. There is a historical fact that Winston Churchill himself preferred the Armenian brandy its French varieties.
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