Armenia is a civilisation so rich in history, culture and religion - and now is the time to visit. Expert Amelia took a tailor made trip to the church-heavy country and found herself fascinated by all it had to offer.

A country for reflection….

As I sped towards the border with Georgia I reflected upon everything I had seen and done in Armenia - a civilisation so rich in history, culture and religion it was impossible to do it justice in the time I had. I'd driven through Kurdish settlements, who'd come here in the mid-19th century as successful cattle breeders. Heard about the minority of Molokans, or milk drinkers, who had been exiled from Russia to Armenia by Catherine the Great in the mid-18th Century for refusing to accept Orthodoxy by drinking milk on fasting days. There are only now 4500 of them living near Lake Sevan and are much in demand for their cleaning skills and pickled cabbage! I had never known about the devastating earthquake that had ripped apart the town of Spitak in 1988 killing about 30,000 people and leaving hundreds of orphans in its wake. Or the perpetrations of Azerbaijan on the thousands of historical Kachjar monuments now wiped away for good...

My last night…

We dined on khorgin - or 'shepherds backpack' - thin crispy bread filled with melting beef and sweet onions. Some folk musicians appeared and gave an impromptu concert; one man on the drums and one on the dukduk - a mournful sounding reed pipe made famous for some of the sound track to the film Gladiator. I had heard the very piece played by a man at the 1st C temple of Garni a few days previously which is an Armenian folk tune itself. He explained how the pipe was made from the wood of the much beloved apricot tree found all over the country and used to make jam, as well as the grappa and sweet wine. After our meal we were offered some Ararat cognac which Churchill had once taken rather a liking to and had requested 365 bottles from Stalin. These he duly received whilst inadvertently setting the cognac producer free from a Siberian gulag.

Lasting thoughts…

I wandered back through Republic Square stopping at the singing fountains to watch the music dance in a vibrant techni-colour light show and was reminded by Irina our guide that Byron had once studied the Armenian language when in Venice in 1817 and written: '...Whatever may have been their destiny, their country must ever be one of the most interesting, on the globe...And perhaps their language only requires to be more studied to become more attractive.'

For more information on how to visit Armenia, or for your tailor-made holiday, contact Original Travel by phone on +442079787333 or by email ask@originaltravel.co.uk"