Near the village of Areni on the southwestern side of Armenia lies numerous caves, some achieving remarkable depths, many unexplored, and some holding historical wonders. The most famous of these caves is undoubtedly the simply named cave of Areni-1. It may look like a small cave from the outside, just a crack in a giant rock face, but inside has hidden some of the oldest known artifacts in archaeology. In 2008, archaeologists discovered the oldest known shoe in the world at this cave dating to 5,500 years old. Predating the pyramids of Egypt, the shoe made of leather appears in astonishingly good condition. It now rests under a glass case in the Yerevan’s History Museum of Armenia.
Another discovery in 2011 also rewrote history in which the oldest known winery in the world was discovered at over 6,000 years old. A number of in-situ artifacts have been left in the cave relating to wine making and can be observed while exploring the chambers of the cave. Armenia also lays claim to being the country where wine was invented, and this finding further solidifies the claim. Add the idea that Noah and his ark landed on Mount Ararat just to the west of here, where the Book of Genesis states he subsequently planted a vineyard.
Situated on the eastern of the village of Areni in south central Armenia, 2 hours drive south of Yerevan.
A natural cave in which people started using and living in over 6,000 years ago up to the Byzantine period.
The original purpose is unknown; however, the oldest known wine making facility has been discovered in the cave.
An active archaeological site, it is also open to visitors daily. 1,500 dram entrance fee as of 2023.
We were expecting to use our imaginations quite a bit, as is common for Bronze-age sites, particularly in caves. Climbing up the stair to the first chamber of the cave, we were surprise to see many of the remains lying in-situ in the earth. As we ventured deeper into chambers 2 through 4, it became even more spectacular. It appears as a living museum. I believe Areni is a wonderful place to spend a couple days in Armenia as it contains stunning scenery, magnificent monasteries, and ancient caves. An entrance fee of 1,500 dram (2023) was collected as the base of the cave.