Armenia is an ancient country situated in the Caucasus Mountains.
Armenia is one of the oldest centers of the world’s civilization; it was this country that became the first Christian state, ahead of Rome and Greece. The main symbol of Armenia is the sacred mountain Ararat, to which, according to the Bible, “in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month” after the start of the Flood, Noah’s ark moored. This is the mountain that gave its name to our restaurant.
Modern Armenia is a country with ancient history, extremely rich cultural heritage, picturesque nature and superb gastronomy.
Armenia, which is situated at the intersection of trade routes, connects Europe and Asia. There are strong historical ties between the Portuguese and Armenians. Both these nations used to belong to the Roman Empire, being situated on its two opposite “poles” – the West and the East.
The ties between the Portuguese and Armenian merchants have been known since the Age of Discovery. The Portuguese used Armenia’s neutral position to penetrate Asian countries closed for Europeans in the Middle Ages. As a matter of fact, Portuguese merchants used to change into Armenian clothes and raise the Armenian flag on their ships in order to safely make profitable deals with intractable Indians. For instance, Bento de Góis, a Portuguese explorer of the 17th century, is depicted in such an Armenian commercial costume on the monument in his native town of Vila Franca do Campo on one of the Azores Islands. This was the costume he wore to be able to visit China in the company of Saak, an Armenian. The Portuguese name Armenio appeared in the same period, which unambiguously hints that, in addition to commercial ties between the Portuguese and Armenians, there were much closer relationships.
There is a well-known story about the Armenians who arrived in Porto in 1453 with the relics of St. Panteleimon – they saved them from the Muslim Turks who had seized Constantinople. They left the relics in the fishermen’s church of Saint Peter (igreja São Pedro de Miragaia) and settled nearby, giving the name “Armenian” (Rua Armenia) to one of the streets of Porto.
But the most famous Armenian in Portugal is Calouste Gulbenkian. His name is known to every Portuguese. Gulbenkian, one of the most decent representatives of the Armenian people, an oilman, diplomat, art collector and outstanding philanthropist, dedicated his life to Portugal. The educational and cultural projects of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation keep on connecting the Armenian and Portuguese peoples.