1. Visiting Ashtarak
Ashtarak is a town in the Aragatsotn Province of Armenia, located on the left bank of Kasagh River. Ashtarak has a cultural palace along with many public libraries. The town is also home to the house-museum of novelist Perch Proshyan founded in 1948, is located in Ashtarak within the Proshyan family house. The 17th-century bridge of Ashtarak on Kasagh River is among the interesting sites of the town. It is located in the gorge just below the church of Saint Sarkis. It was built in 1664 by the efforts of Mahdesi Khoja Grigor; a wealthy merchant from Kanaker. The bridge features 3 arches that are unequal in size. The best preserved one among the three churches is the Karmravor Church, dating back to the 7th century, dedicated to the Holy Mother of God (Surp Astvatsatsin). It has a small cruciform central-plan, with a reddish/apricot coloured dome, and an octagonal drum. Other churches include, Spitakavor built between the 5th and 6th centuries, and Tsiranavor built between the 13th and 14th centuries. The largest church of the town is the Saint Marianeh Church located at the center of Ashtarak. The 19th-century church of Surp Sarkis built on an old foundation, is situated on an attractive point at a promontory overlooking the gorge and offers a fine view to the above-mentioned three churches.
2. Visiting Byurakan
The Byurakan Astrophysical Observatory, or Byurakan Observatory is an astronomical observatory owned and operated by the Armenian Academy of Sciences. It is located on the slope of Mount Aragats in the village of Byurakan in Armenia. Founded in 1946 by Viktor Hambardzumyan, it was one of the main astronomy centers of the USSR. The buildings were designed by architect Samvel Safarian. The hotel, central building and structures are for astronomical instruments. The observatory has discovered special star clusters - stellar associations (1947), more than 1,000 flare stars, dozens of Supernovae, hundreds of Herbig-Haro objects and cometary nebulae, hundreds of galaxies. After the breakup of the Soviet Union, the observatory fell into hard times. The fist conference was held in November 1951 on the topic of stellar associations. On 19 September 1956 a major meeting on non-stable stars was held. It has been the site of two major conferences on SETI, and is recognised as the regional center for astronomical research.