10 ways Armenia is closer than you think

The article is published with the permission of the 100 LIVES project.

Why Starbucks owes Armenians, where Noah parked his ark, how to design a proper castle and who was the genius to first turn grapes into wine? Here are a few ways to find an Armenian trace where you didn’t quite expect it.


If you stop by Starbucks in the morning or revel in the thought of sitting in a Parisian cafe, sipping espresso and people-watching all day, you have Armenians to thank. It was, after all, they who founded Europe’s first coffee shops in the 17th century. It’s been hundreds of years of caffeinated bliss ever since.


As children, few of us had never dreamt of owning a castle. They show up in most stories, from King Arthur to Robin Hood to Monty Python. Even though we might think these castles are uniquely English, French, or west European, they are actually heavily influenced by the designs of castles of the Armenian kingdom of Cilicia, where many Crusaders dropped by on their way to fight in the Holy Land.


English, French, German, Russian and Greek, among dozens of other languages, are all known as Indo-European languages. Although it was originally hypothesized that these languages originated in the Indian subcontinent, a more recent hypothesis places the origin of Indo-European languages in the Armenian Highland.


It’s delicious and makes for a great snack – and it comes from Armenia! The apricot’s scientific name, Prunus armeniaca, or “Armenian plum,” indicates that the naming scientists placed the origin of the fruit in Armenia.


The great flood caused life on earth to start anew, and when Noah landed his ark, it was at the summit of Mount Ararat in the Armenian Highland. From this, we can conclude that the Bible is telling us that all life started in Armenia and all people are descendants of Armenians. So, brothers and sisters, let’s get together!


Rome has been around for a long, long time thanks to great infrastructural planning. The finely sculpted statues probably didn’t hurt. But one thing that’s older than Rome is the Armenian city of Yerevan, which was previously known as Erebuni. It has been continuously inhabited since 782 BC, making it 29 years older than Rome.


It doesn’t seem like a sport until you realize the mental knots players twist themselves into would make a gymnast weep, but chess is indeed a sport. It’s the national sport of Armenia, where the pastime is ubiquitous and its many champions are national heroes. It’s such an important part of life that it’s become a mandatory subject in school. Checkmate, world!


“Beer is made by men, wine by God,” said Martin Luther. The proto-Armenians who were making this stuff thousands of years ago in what is the oldest winery to be found in the history of the world would likely agree. And although they probably didn’t think they were gods, they must have been really pleased with themselves for their discovery. 

9. ANI

If you like churches, you should go to Armenia’s old capital, Ani. Actually, you should’ve gone there a few hundred years ago when it was called the city of 1,001 churches, before the Turks came in and destroyed pretty much all of it. But, even today, the ruins littering the landscape show the vast architectural wonder, which would’ve been on display were the structures of the great city still standing.


You know Stonehenge, but it’s predated by an arrangement of stones in Armenia’s south called Zorats Karer. The monoliths, like Stonehenge, are supposed to be an ancient observatory, lining up with the stars.