Culture of Armenia
Armenia which is located between the East and the West was the place of collisions between great empires of antiquity and the Middle Ages. Romans, Persians, Byzantines, Arabs, Seljuks, and Mongols crossed Armenia and destroyed it interrupting its cultural development leaving behind nothing but the smoking ruins. Having managed to resist each of the powerful newcomers, the people have saved fidelity to their culture which nevertheless underwent some changes. As a result the national culture of Armenia acquired some features characteristic to both eastern and western civilizations.
Until 301 the culture of Armenia had developed under two influences - western (Hellenism) and eastern (Parthia). However, these influences only supplemented and enriched the national culture.
The culture of Christianity started to develop when the king Trdat III in 301 years forbade the heathenism and proclaimed Christianity as the official religion of the state, and this influenced many developments in Armenian culture, and specifically architecture. Replacing pagan temples with the first churches, Christian influences created architectural masterpieces such as the churches of Hripsimeh, Gayaneh and the gem of 7th Century Armenian architecture, Zvartnots.
The creation of Armenian alphabet in 405 by Mesrop Mashtots became a major milestone in the development of culture.
Culture in Armenia has many facets, the most important are:
Architecture - one of the most interesting art forms in Armenia, as, for example, churches bear artistic illustrations in frescoes and reliefs.
Music - Sharakans are traditional Armenian liturgical songs, which are experiencing a revival today. Distinctive musical instruments are used to play Armenian folk songs. Sayat Nova, Komitas, and Aram Khachaturian are among Armenia's best-known musicians and composers. Contemporary music comes in the forms of jazz and pop.
Literature - Early Armenian literature was written by the «father of Armenian history», Movses of Chorene, who authored The History of Armenia. The 19th century, writer Mikael Nalbandian created a new Armenian literary individuality, his poem was the inspiration for the Armenian national anthem, Mer Hayrenik.
Painting blossomed in the 19th century. Artists from that period, such as the portrait painter Hakob Hovnatanian and the seascape artist Ivan Aivazovsky, continue to enjoy international reputation. In the 20th century, Martiros Saryan captured nature's essence in a new light.
Cuisine - Armenian cuisine is a combination of different tastes and aromas. Intimately related to eastern and Mediterranean culinary art, various spices, vegetables, fish, and fruits combine to present unique dishes. Armenia is also famous for its wine and brandy, in particular, Armenian cognac.
Armenia kept the rich traditions of its culture and the unique and valuable contribution to the world culture.
Armenian culture is hence a perfect amalgamation of the best achievements of the past with the high hopes of future.