The Stone Garden Guide: Armenia and Karabagh

Some folks here might remember the trip I took to a while back and the series of dispatches I filed from that lovely, wonderful country. Armenia is one of those lesser-known gems in the world, a place you can go to not only see centuries-old historical sites, but also to get s glimpse of modern history as well, since the country was for several decades under communist rule, and there is still a marked, somewhat brutal feel to much of the architecture there. Of course, what may be brutal in some ways is today’s kitsch, and so many of the places in , and in particular, Yerevan, that might have been eyesores at one point, are now quite lovely in their own way. Take, for example, the Cascade complex downtown, a monstrous concrete plaza and series of seemingly unending stairs that speak of Soviet times, but also maintain a rather impressive grandeur.

All this is to bring up a wonderful new guide book that is out that I recommend you consider if you are thinking about a trip to . Soon to be released by Matthew Karanian, Robert Kurkjian and their Stone Gardens Productions, the book: Armenia & Karabagh is one of the best guides you will find on the region (the guide includes not just Armenia, but the disputed territory of Karabagh. I used the earlier version of Stone Garden Guide during my trip and found it immensely useful. The book provides ample history and context for its recommended sites and is both lively and informative about what you should see and do. As I mentioned in some of my dispatches, Armenia is not just a great place to experience history, it is also lovely and very appealing to the adventuresome. There are rivers and mountains and lakes all perfect for hikers, climbers, bikers and paddlers.

Anyway, I recommend you take a look at the guide if this fascinating little country happens to be on your life list of places to visit.