The town of Meghri, Armenia / Photo: Gayane Tonoyan
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The town of Meghri is located in the Syunik province in the south of Armenia, near the border with Iran. It takes a 375-kilometer long (but stunningly beautiful!) journey to get here from Yerevan. The road crosses several breathtaking mountain passes, running through the diverse and changing landscapes of Ararat, Vayots Dzor and Syunik provinces. But once you reach this green oasis stretched along the bank of river Araks, you will definitely be rewarded with a great experience exploring the cozy and warm town!
Here are the top 5 things to do while you are in Meghri – plan at least 2-3 days for the trip to explore the town and its surroundings at a slow pace.
1. WANDER AROUND THE OLD TOWN
One of the streets of Pokr Tagh in Meghri / Photo: Gayane Tonoyan
Called Pokr Tagh in Armenian, which means Small District, this historical neighborhood of Meghri is the perfect place to get lost wandering through the labyrinth of narrow streets with old houses and orchards. Locals are known for their friendliness and sincere hospitality, so it’s a good idea to have some sweets with you in case you get invited for tea or coffee to one of the houses (which happens quite often when you are travelling in Armenia).
Meghri has been populated since ancient times, and one of the interesting things preserved until today is the town’s unique water and irrigation system called Qarez which was a system of underground wells and tunnels providing the town’s water supply.
2. EXPLORE THE BEAUTIFUL CHURCHES
St. Hovhannes Church in Meghri / Photo: Arty Om
St. Astvatsatsin and St. Hovhannes churches, both built in the 17th century, are among Meghri’s must see places. Although today the St. Astvatsatsin church is semi-ruined, it is still quite interesting from architectural perspective. And St. Hovhannes church is very unique because the inside walls are fully decorated with murals - something very unusual for traditional Armenian religious architecture. The murals depict different scenes from the Bible and are rich in intricate ornaments and beautiful designs.
3. HIKE UP TO THE MEGHRI FORTRESS
The towers of the Meghri Fortress / Photo: Arty Om
The Meghri Fortress was first mentioned in the 10th-11th centuries. The fortress underwent a reconstruction in the18th century, and some of its walls and towers are still preserved. The fortress is located on a small hill which offers an excellent viewpoint over the town. Best time to visit is late afternoon to catch some beautiful sunset views.
4. GO TO A VILLAGE
If you have enough time, taking a short 10km ride to the village of Karchevan is a nice option to experience rural life in the south of Armenia. It’s a tiny village of about 300 people which preserves the traditions of village life, and has a very unique dialect which even Armenians do not understand! You can walk around getting into the quiet pace of village life and shopping for fruits and fresh local produce like milk, cheese, etc.
5. TRY THE LOCAL FRUITS
The colors of the market / Photo: Gayane Tonoyan
Meghri is famous for its delicious fruits. Due to its geographical location at an altitude of about 600 meters above the sea level, Meghri produces all sorts of fruits and vegetables – apples, pears, peaches, pomegranates, grapes, persimmons, figs, and even lemons and olives! If you are here around the harvest time in autumn (September – November, depending on the fruit), shopping for some local delicacies is an activity not to be missed. Locals take special pride in persimmons, pomegranates and figs, so make sure to try them if you get a chance! Dried figs and persimmons are also a special local sweet available in winter time.
HOW TO GET TO MEGHRI:
If you don’t have a car, you can get to Meghri in one of the below ways:
OPTION #1: Public transportation
The mini-buses for Meghri leave from the bus station on Sevan street, just behind the Yerevan Train Station, departing every day at 7:00 AM. The ticket costs 5000 AMD ($10.50 as of Sep. 22, 2017). I'd suggest to call them in advance to make sure you get a seat. The dispatcher's phone numbers are: +37477 529 252; +37499 529 252.
Read more: How to Use Public Transportation in Armenia?
OPTION #2: Taxi
If you’re a group of 3-4 people, you can take a taxi from Yerevan to Meghri and share the expenses. Make sure to start your journey as early as possible since it’ll take you around 6-7 hours to get Meghri.
OPTION #3: Hitchhiking
And of course, you can always hitchhike your way to Meghri, since hitchhiking in Armenia is really easy. Plus, you can also stop and explore some other interesting sites on the way to Meghri (such as, Khor Virap monastery, Areni village, Goris). But if you want to make it to Meghri in one day, make sure to leave Yerevan early in the morning.
Read more: Hitchhiking in Armenia: Useful Tips and Info