This paper studies the visual forms of representation of Armenia as a travel destination since 17th century until today. It reviews the issue in historical progression, finding the transformations, similarities and/or differences in visual messages created by European travelers and local tourism authorities. Exploring the early drawings by western travelers, this paper builds an iconographic tradition for depicting Armenia through the tourist gaze. Its logical continuation is studied in modern and post-modern visuals, mainly photographs, created by tourists (TGC) and destination marketing companies (DMC) in Armenia. Hence, the central research question of this paper answers how the visual representation of Armenia as a travel destination has developed from 17th century until now, and how is this being negotiated by tourists. The case of Armenia is chosen as a newly emerging tourist destination with ancient history that has been transformed from a Silk Road country to a hidden, off-the-beaten track land, as a location to be explored by adventurous post-tourists. Moreover, this region with its different influences from previous hegemonies with Iran, Turkey and Russia, and its ongoing political conflicts, opens up new possibilities in exploring tourism development in the Middle East. Three periods are categorized in investigating this evolution: pre-modern times of first Western exploration; Soviet era of place branding; and post-modern age in construction of destination image (DI). Main data for the research are drawings and photographs created by several generation of travelers found in early travelogues and modern travel blogs, brochures, posters and post-cards promoted by local DMCs and national tourist organizations (NTO). These images were studied through visual and textual content analysis, mise-en-scene and semiotic analysis. The concepts of these images point on several main aspects of representing Armenia, out of which two dominate throughout the development: nature landscapes (mountains, rocks, canyons), and culture (medieval monasteries, monuments surrounded by nature). The combination of photographs and texts construct an affective image of Armenia as a heavily-cultured hidden country, with sublime nature of highlands.

culture, tourism, Armenia, visual, representation, travel, gaze
N. van Es
Place, Culture and Tourism
Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication

N. Khachatryan. (2019, June 14). Construction of Visual Representation of Armenia as a Travel Destination: A synthesis of tourist and local gazes. Place, Culture and Tourism. Retrieved from