Photographer hopes to popularize lesser-known cultural sites in Armenia

Several years after my family vacation, I had the opportunity to participate in Birthright Armenia. In addition to working as volunteers, we also made excursions to tourist sites. During this time I started wondering what other places I could see and that was the unofficial start of the project.

Sevanavank

It all started with the creation of a personalized Google map and for the past 5 years I have been adding to the map and continuing my research. I have a background in photography, but I realized the importance of showing information with photos.

In my research, I discovered that many places to visit were located between typical tourist attractions and that’s where the name of the project comes from. For example, every tourist has visited the temple of Garni, but did you know that 5 minutes away you can find the beautiful 12e-century Mashtots Hayrapet Church?

Or let’s say you are visiting Tatev Monastery, 10 minutes from the main road you can stop and visit Vorotnavank, an 11th century monastic complex.

Or even for a day trip to Yerevan, there are amazing sights such as St. Astvatsatsin Katoghike Church in Avan, the oldest surviving church in Yerevan, built between the years 591 and 602.

So what can you expect from this project? In addition to providing photos and information, there is also an interactive map that will help users visualize where these sites are in relation to places they have already visited and help them plan their next trip. Again, it’s about creating a tool that provides accessible information. The research and descriptions with the photos come mainly from English, Armenian and Russian online sources. A lot of the work involved digging deep to find the information and combining it all in one place!