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Vayots Dzor Marz


Land of Dynasty, Legend, and Rugged Beauty
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Introduction
Te Vayots Dzor Marz (region) is a truly unique place. Shaped through the eons
by countless natural forces and millennia of struggles between cultures from all points
on the compass, Vayots Dzor is a region rich in legends, history, and rugged beauty.
Te narrow pass between the Black and Caspian Seas creates a natural botleneck
where people and cultures moving between the Eastern Mediterranean and the Eur-
asian Steppe would ofen collide resulting in a meshing of ideas at times benevolent
and fractious. Historians have traced many cultures passing through this region whose
ideas continue to shape and refect on the people of these mountainous highlands.
One such group was the Orbelians who ruled over these lands for centuries, reach-
ing their peak during the 12th and 13th centuries. While Mongol warriors laid siege to
this region, the Orbelians were able to negotiate for independence and even prosper
by playing both ends of the geopolitical continuum. Tis independence allowed the
Orbelians to develop an extensive education infrastructure. Remnants of this infra-
structure still dot the local landscape. Vayots Dzor ofers a fascinating opportunity to
discover the unique Orbelian Dynasty and how the Orbelians are an integral part of
the history of Vayots Dzor and southern Armenia.
Vayots Dzor ofers many unique opportunities for largely unexplored cultural, his-
torical, and artistic experiences. However, visitors who do not speak some basic Ar-
menian should go with a knowledgeable local guide since the region is, by and large,
underdeveloped for traditional tourism. Local guides are available with many listed in
this guidebook and accompanying map.
Adventure-seekers have ample opportunity to rough-it and discover largely un-
touched historical, spiritual, cultural, and artistic places, and to put yourself inside
the overall experience. Equally, visitors seeking a more relaxed, upscale holiday will
fnd many options for quiet, charming bed and breakfast or hotel visits, serine strolls
along rolling hillsides or dangling their feet in small creeks. Te region is also famous
for small-scale farming where each family produces the tastiest fruits and vegetables.
Your visit would not be complete without a home cooked meal lovingly prepared by
residents who take great pride in their traditional Armenian cooking. Vayots Dzor of-
fers something truly unique for every rural holiday seeker.
Highlights
Geography
Vayots Dzor lies in the south of Armenia, two hours south of Yerevan by car or
bus. Te region covers an area of 2,308 km2. With a population of only 55,000 people,
Vayots Dzor is the most sparsely populated province in Armenia. Te regional capital
is Yeghegnadzor [yeghegnadzor], a town with substantially fewer than 10,000 resi-
dents.
Te name Vayots Dzor is translated as the Valley of Woes because the area was
devastated by several earthquakes during its history. Tere are many unique experi-
ences to be had in the region for the tourist who is willing to uncover the unseen riches
that lie beneath the surface. With the Yeghegis and Arpa rivers fowing through the
region, Vayots Dzor is good for trout fshing, nature and history tours.
Te earliest historically recorded setlement in Vayots Dzor was Moz, a setlement
near the present-day village of Malishka. Legend has it that Moz was buried by a vol-
canic eruption many centuries ago and that much of the setlement remains undiscov-
ered, buried under ash; Armenias equivalent to Pompeii. With many frozen lava fows
plainly visible on the surrounding hillsides, it is easy to see how this legend persists.
Vayots Dzor is a region defned by deep gorges, high mountains, cold springs, swif
rivers and mysterious caves. Te weather is continental with elevations ranging from
850m (Areni village) to 3522m (Vardenis mountains). Te region possesses a wide
diversity of fora and fauna with many animals listed in Armenias Red Book (list of
endangered species).
Flora and Fauna
Te Vayots Dzor region is doted with nature preserves; Herher, Jermuk, Yegheg-
nadzor and Gnishik. Within these spaces, you will see many diferent types of plants
and animals, many listed in Armenias Red Book. Near to Noravank are two IBAs
(Important Bird Areas) where you will see over 300 species of birds including eagles,
vultures, and owls among others. Further south near to Herher, you will occasionally
see endangered Caucasian bear and wild boar. Come hike the backcountry. Our lo-
cal guides will help you fnd hidden waterfalls or rugged clifs where eagles soar over-
head.
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Wine
Many Armenians regard winemaking as being born in Armenia, especially the Vay-
ots Dzor region. Having recently discovered 6,000 year old wine making facilities here,
there may be some truth to this statement. Te village of Areni, the fagship in this
burgeoning Armenian wine industry, is worth a visit to sample the local grapes.
Every October thousands of people from around the world come to Areni village
to celebrate wine. Te village of Areni is famous for wine with archaeological evidence
of wine production dating back some 6,000 years. However, today we celebrate mod-
ern winemaking along with traditional Armenian food, music and dancing. You can
taste many diferent varieties of wine, from dry to sweet, made from diferent types of
grapes. Te focus of the event is the Areni grape which has been the regional favorite
for countless generations. While many visitors come to Areni for the day, we encour-
age you to spend the night at one of the local B&Bs to relax and savor your visit. Many
local B&B or hotel options are listed on the accompanying map.
Our local guides can help you make all of your arrangements.
Unique Experiences
Vayots Dzor is a wild assemblage of small lakes, steep narrow gorges, lush vine-
yards, rough and jagged slopes, bucolic pastures, and noisy rivers. Against this natu-
ral mosaic, a visitor to Vayots Dzor will discover ancient monuments and fresh fruits,
which are ofen dried as tasty treats by the locals. Te province is rich in historical
and architectural sites, such as the Noravank Monastery (13thc), Smbataberd Fortress
(9-10thc) [smbataberd], Tsakhats Kar Monastery (10thc) [tsakhats kar], Selim
Caravanserai (14thc) [seleem caravanseri], and many others.
From the days of Marco Polo, the Silk Road was a commercial trading route
for merchants, traders, and explorers alike. Travelers would look forward to a stay at
one of the many inns, or Caravanseraies, along the way. Te Selim Caravanserai, con-
structed in 1332 and situated in the Selim (Sulema) mountain pass on the border of
Gegharkunik marz [geghharkuneek], is one of the best preserved. Step inside and
step back in history with water troughs carved from rock and living quarters for both
animals and humans under arches and columns holding up the expansive roof
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ing down the Selim pass afer visiting the caravanserai you are provided with some of
the most spectacular views in the entire south Caucasus. Te Vayots Dzor region is laid
out before you with its jagged, desert brown mountains doted with green orchards
and small villages. Drive slowly not only because the pass road is twisting, but because
you will want to savor the views.
Te regional capital of Vayots Dzor is Yeghegnadzor, on the north bank of the Arpa
River. Yeghegnadzor has monuments dating as far back as the 1st millennium B.C.E.
Among the many worthwhile sites in the Yeghegnadzor area are the Regional Museum
and the city Art Gallery, which is a branch of the National Gallery in Yerevan. Te
Noravank Monastery Complex also houses a very nice museum exhibiting some an-
cient texts and illuminated manuscripts, as well as, samples of ancient pigments used
to illustrate texts and for potery painting. Te History Museum of the University of
Gladzor is a short drive or hike up the main highway through town, which recently cel-
ebrated its 700th anniversary. Just south of Yeghegnadzor town and west of the village
of Agarakadzor is a well preserved 13th century medieval bridge across the Arpa River.
Te bridge is still in use today for faring animals across the river and ofers a pleasant
seting for a summer picnic. Te bridges unique pointed ogival design is a popular
subject for local artists and painters.
1 In 2013, theGovernment of Armeniaofcially changed thenameof theSelimPass and theSelim
Caravanserai to theVardenyats Pass and Orbelyanneri Caravanserai, respectively. As thesenew names
arenot yet well known, wewill continueto usetheold names in this guidebook and accompanying map.
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Cultural Heritage
Like many locations in this part of the world, Vayots Dzor can be described as an
open-air museum. Below is a list of sites to visit as a way to begin to explore the poten-
tial of this region. You can certainly experience a wide range of places on your own, but
visitors should consider using the services of a local guide since many of the sites are
not well developed to receive tourists. Local guides can also give you the favor and
local folklore of each site that you may miss otherwise.
In addition some sites require advance notice and some logistical planning since
they do not receive tourists on a regular basis (except tours arranged by Tour Opera-
tors). For those who want to discover new, unique, and fresh experiences, a litle plan-
ning and preparation pays of in unique and rewarding insights and memories.
Vayots Dzor Stories
A visit to the Vayots Dzor region might begin by visiting Antoine and Shiela Ter-
janian, local icons of tourism development. See an excerpt about local legends from
Antoines blog below:
Legend about Yeghegnadzor from Antoine S. Terjanians blog:
We all know that Yeghegnadzor, the town we chose for our residence on top of
the mountain in Armenia, is named afer the Yeghegis River, which fows along the
Silk Road, down below our house. Tis same river gave its name to the ancient town of
Yeghegis which was destroyed by the VII-th century earthquake and volcanic eruption
and which was reconstructed by Orbelyan princes as their capital and it is there that we
inaugurated the re-opening last year of the medieval Jewish cemetery.
I was wondering where the river got its name, for yegheg means reed in Arme-
nian and I was not able to fnd many reeds along its banks. Meruzhan Khoyents, the
local bearded old bard, told me his version of the legend before he diedit went like
this: Tere was a litle reed who was in love with the river. He was skinny and not so
handsome, while she was prety and proud. Night and day, the litle reed declared his
eternal and simple love to the river. Te river liked to firt. She made fun of his love. She
sometimes went out of her bed and fooded the glade, tickling the litle reeds feet. Te
litle reed thought it was reciprocal love and couldnt wait till the spring for the food-
ing to repeat. One sad day foreign invaders came on horseback, slashing and burning
everything on their way. Te litle reed got scared and jumped in the river. Te litle
reed died in the arms of his river while repeating the same simple and sincere words of
his love towards his river. According to the legend, the river was since called Yeghegis
(Yegheg Kits = Reed thrown-in).
Noravank Monastery Complex
Te jewel in the Vayots Dzor crown is the Noravank Monastery Complex.
Te Noravank Monastery and Museum Complex remain central to the story of
southern Armenia and is an important, internationally recognized site. Te Noravank
complex is comprised of several churches including Saint Astvatsatsin Church, Saint
Karapet Church, and Saint Grigor Chapel. Built from 9th to the 14th century, and
largely rebuilt in the 1990s, the complex is rich with historical and cultural artifacts
that are presented interestingly by English speaking guides. Te museum houses a
beautiful collection of local color extracts, artifacts, herbs, furniture, holy oils, coins
and potery. An Orbelian dynastic family tree can also be found there. Te complex
includes a mausoleum with tombs of Orbelian princes. It makes an impressive sight
with a breathtaking landscape and gorgeous red rock outcroppings. Te complex went
through a reconstruction in 1999 which was sponsored by Dicran and Diana Hadje-
tian. Te reconstruction was celebrated with a large re-inauguration ceremony. Te
museum hosts a number of photographs showing the reconstruction process.
Te monastery of Noravank hides a very interesting legend about Momik and his
sudden death. Momik fell in Love with the daughter of the Syunik ruler, but the ruler
was worried about this love between Momik and his daughter and he tried to give Mo-
mik an impossible task. He told Momik to build a magnifcent church within 3 years,
and then he would get the daughter of the ruler. Momik started to build the church
eagerly. Before the years had passed, news came of a fantastic and beautiful, but not
fnished church, to the ruler. Te ruler was worried about this and sent a murderer to
Momik to kill him. Te unsuspecting architect was pushed from the roof to a tragic
death.
Museum and Restaurant
One of Noravanks more recent additions is a welcome museum with a gif shop
and restaurant. Visitors can take advantage of fresh baked lavash in a traditional tonir
oven (go around back behind the restaurant to see the bakers in action). Te museum
houses some interesting artifacts and the gif shop ofers numerous Armenian-themed
souvenirs for all tastes.
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Areni 1 Birds Cave - Noravank Gorge
At the mouth of the Noravank Gorge lies a cave which boasts of fnding the old-
est leather shoe known in the world, the 5,500 year old Areni 1 shoe, discovered
by an international team of archeologists in 2008 (htp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Are-
ni-1_shoe). Te cave is also known for some of the oldest wine production facilities,
unearthed during the 2007-2008 excavations. Te cave continues to be explored by
international archeologists who expect many more signifcant fndings.
Note Due to the potential for vandalism or unknowingly disturbing buried arti-
facts, this site is not open to the public. Tis description is merely for tourists informa-
tion with respect to the most important aspects of Vayots Dzors remarkable natural
treasures. Please help maintain the preservation. When visiting the Vayots Dzor re-
gion, consult with your local guide for the most current caving information.
Other caves nearby ofer beginner to advanced caving opportunities for the ad-
venture seeker. Mozrov Cave, Bears Cave and Magel Cave also have spectacular
natural formations that took eons to create. As with Birds Cave, these caves too have
started limiting access to reduce human-caused degradation. Please consult with local
guides for more information.
Smbataberd Fortress
Te Smbataberd Fortress, founded as early as the 5th century, but more likely established
during the 9th-10th centuries, sits atop a narrow mountain ridge between Yeghegis village to
the south and Artabuynk village to the north and looking west toward Shatin village.
Te name Smbataberd has less clear origins. Te fortress may have its roots from
a 10th century Syunik prince, Smbat, or the name may come from the nearby village
Yeghegis where there is a grave of Smbat Orbelian, or possibly due to yet another Smbat
who is buried at Noravank and is said to have at some point rebuilt the fortress. Legend
has it the fortress met its demise afer the Turks employed a thirsty horse to snif out the
fortresss only water supply; a clay pipe that conveyed water down from nearby Tsakhats
Kar Monastery.
While the history of Smbataberd remains somewhat shrouded in mystery, a visit is well
worth the efort. With recently (partially) reconstructed walls and parapets, Smbataberd
is a perfect, if a bit strenuous, hike for a picnic or to view the valley villages below. Pack a
lunch, take a book, and enjoy the incredible views. For a quicker visit, hire an all-wheel
drive vehicle from the surrounding villages. Local guides will help make arrangements.
Tsakhats Kar Monastery
Dating from the 10th century, the monastery is set across the valley from the
Smbataberd Fortress, and was an integral element of the overall Orbelian Dynasty
infrastructure, which was comprised of the capital Yeghegis in the valley below, the
overlooking Fortress which protected the city and housed nobility, and the Tsakhats
Kar complex which had a fundamental role in the Orbelian education system. Te
Monastery is built in two wings east, and west, which are roughly 200 meters apart.
Tsakhats Kar architecture is quite unique and largely preserved.
Te road to Tsakhats Kar is rough and should only be tried with an all-wheel drive
vehicle, however, hiking along this ruted road is not terrifcally strenuous.
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Zorats Temple
Zorats Yekeghetsi (literally, Soldier Church) sits on a hill overlooking the river. Recent
excavations have uncovered a number of foundations from the early medieval times, when
a monastery was established. Tey include well preserved walls and window casings. Zorats
is completely unique in Armenian churches; there are no surviving structures like it in the
country. Instead of a closed space with a vaulted or domed ceiling, Zorats has no inner hall;
the only roofed spaces are the eastern altar apse and its fanking annexes, all of which are
open to a large western yard. In addition, the altar is raised more than usual, at about the
height for someone to dismount from a horse, which is indeed why it was built in such a way.
Te church was created so that warriors siting on their horses could receive the sacrament
and the blessing of the Church before going to batle. Te blessing of troops and their horses
before batle were commonplace, but no other church in Armenia was built exactly for that
purpose, and with the idea of bringing both steed and soldier into the outdoor sanctuary. It is
estimated that more than 12,000 soldiers were blessed at this temple.Te church was exten-
sively renovated in the 20th century and excavation of the surrounding area is ongoing.
Jewish Cemetery, Yeghegis
Tis mysterious Jewish Cemetery was unearthed in 1996 and contains 70 grave
sites with inscriptions in Hebrew or Aramaic. No other historical evidence for the ex-
istence of this community is known, nor of contemporaneous Jewish communities in
Armenia. Tis site is worth visiting for the sheer mystery of how this Jewish cemetery
came about. For further information please see htp://yeghegis.syunikngo.am.
Te gravestones resemble fallen columns, with fnely carved Hebraic inscriptions on
their long sides. Te site is well visited by tourists from around the world. Many of the
gravestones have rocks placed on them out of respect and as a sign of someones visit.
Te inscriptions include quotations from the Bible and various Hebrew names. Nifar
baba dar David behodesh Tamuz shnat aleph-taf-resh - dokhran tav lenichot nafshata reads
one inscription, which in Aramaic wishes the deceased good memory and rest for the
soul. In another, a father mourns his young son and expresses his belief in the eternity of
the soul, citing passages from Isaiahs prophecy on the resurrection of the dead. On a third
tombstone there is a blessing of Aaron, the priest from the Temple, in beautiful Hebrew.
Yeghegis Gorge Observation Deck
Just east of the village Shatin [shateen] is a small observation area adjacent to a
small village home. Breathtaking views of the Yeghegis Gorge with the wild river run-
ning through it are visible and the area is available for small picnics. Te observation
deck was reconstructed with funds from Scandinavian development agencies. Bar-
beque meals can be cooked in the summer if previous arrangements are made. Goats
can be seen when they come down the mountains to drink from the stream. Tere are
small signs along the village road to help guide you.
Petroglyphs
High up in the hills above Herman village are spectacular felds of prehistoric rock
carvings. Accessible only during the driest summer months and typically only by an
all-wheel vehicle, this site boasts some of the best rock carvings found in Armenia.
Tese petroglyphs are situated on very remote highlands where the mind can easily
be lost in the vastness of the empty surrounding lands. To visit this site, consult your
local guide and arrange for proper transportation. Tis is not an easy or a quick trek,
but well worth the efort if you desire a glimpse into humanitys very distant past.
However, even in the summer, be prepared to be rained (or possibly snowed) out.
Tanahati Religious Complex
St. Nshan and St. Stepanos are two churches which form a part of the complex.
Tey represent traditional architecture. In nearby excavations there are ruins of the
ancient University. Te church has a sundial and a working sanctuary. In 1984, at
the 600th anniversary of the founding of the church, a medieval festival was cel-
ebrated, reenacting the ancient traditions, culture and practices. Tanahati is located
north of Yeghegnadzor on a hillside northeast of the villages of Gladzor and Ver-
nashen. Tere are signs on the road to direct you. Te church of St. Stepanos has
a small cruciform central plan with a single octagonal drum and dome above. In
the interior of the church are important frescoes that date to the 7th century. For
further information about the churches please see www.armeniapedia.org/wiki/
Tanahati_Monastery
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St. Stepanos Church is named afer the 8th century prelate St. Stepanos, one of
the most important religious fgures of the early Christian era. A learned fgure of the
Armenian Church, Stepanos traveled to Rome, met the Byzantine Emperor and was
anointed prelate of Siunik at a time when the region was divided by pety bishops. He
created three bishoprics in the region, completing the long-delayed conversion of the
district.
Spitakavor Church and Proshaberd Fortress
A monastery tucked high into the Taksar mountainside, the structure is impres-
sively built directly on a steep slope about 2100 meters above sea level. Afer gradu-
ating from Gladzor Religious University, the graduates were sent to monasteries all
over Armenia and this was one of the monasteries that received the recently formed
13th Century Medieval Bridge
Located on the south side of the main North-South highway and near the village
Agarakadzor is a regionally well-known medieval bridge that crosses the Arpa River.
Facts about this bridge are sparse, but local legend has it that a Proshian family prince
once had his palace located near the site and thus built the bridge. While the palace is
long gone, the bridge remains and is in use today for moving livestock across the Arpa
River as well as making the perfect backdrop for a summer picnic along the river. Local
guides will help you fnd the bridge, which is just viewable from the main highway if
you know exactly where to look.
Silk Road Caravanserai on the Selim Pass above Aghnjadzor village
Along the traces of the famed former Silk Road and above the Aghnjadzor village
priests. Te structure is, still largely intact with a working bell and sundial. If properly
interpreted the site is rich with symbols and history. Te remains of the Armenian
military leader and political thinker Garegin Nzhdeh were secretly buried in the yard
of Spitakavor Monastery. He had died in a Soviet prison in 1955. Annually on June 17
Armenians across the world conduct a pilgrimage to the monasterys graveyard.
Among the inscriptions at the church, one in particular mentions the purchase of
a plot of land by an Armenian from a Jew, a surprising comment since European Jews
were forbidden from owning property in the Middle Ages. Tis, coupled with the ex-
cavation of a number of Jewish cemeteries and inscriptions in Vayots Dzor, suggests
they had found some tolerance in the Armenian lands of the time. Te inscription
described the plot of land as being a part of the village of Vernashen (then known as
Srkoghovk), in the kingdom of Vayots Dzor.
is a Caravanserai, on the Selim Pass dating from the 14th century. Tis consists of
a medieval protective structure built in 1321 where caravans would stop along the
Silk Road. Te structure is situated high in the mountains where animals and humans
would sleep under the same roof. Te site was destroyed in 1639 and later restored
in the Soviet era. Tere is prominent road signage identifying the site. Inside the site
lighting is poor and there are no interpretive panels. A guide would be needed to ex-
plain the background and meaning of the site.
Excavations point to an earlier structure in the 13th century, when the main hall
was built. Te second period is dated to the Orbelian construction of two small rooms.
It is likely that an even older caravanserai would have been at the site; caravans through
this area go back to the 1st c BCE, when Rome took an interest in the strategic area.
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Jermuk
At 2080 meters of elevation, Jermuk is a famous mountain retreat town that pros-
pered under the Soviet rule. Today, eforts are being made to restore Jermuk, but it still
has remnants of its decaying super-scale Soviet infrastructure. Besides the traditional
Armenia Hotel and Health Spa a new Hyat is being constructed.
A trip to Jermuk would not be complete without frst embracing the natural hot
spring water that arrives in the old Jermuk gallery in varying temperatures from a mild
30C to a blistering 50C. For the cooler temperature waters, you can purchase a ceramic
drinking vase at the nearby souvenir stand. Afer the hot springs, venture down into
the canyon along the river to the famous waterfall named Mermaids hair where the
water slides efortlessly down the wide, smooth sloping rock face. Jermuk is an easy 53
km drive south then east of the provincial capital Yeghegnadzor. Jermuk is atractive
for its fresh air, waterfalls, artifcial lakes, walking trails, the surrounding forests and
mineral water pools. Jermuk is also being set up to become a major Chess center, with
numerous international chess tournaments scheduled in the town.
Te town is frst noted in writen history in the 1st c BCE, as a sort of Roman spa.
During the Arshakuni period (52-428), it had become a summer residence and resort
for the Syunik kings. Ten the resort was walled in with mainly wooden structures, and
though there is believed to have been a Roman style villa at the resort, no excavations
have confrmed this. Te waters medicinal properties were well known in the medieval
period when they were described in chronicles and it became a favorite treatment spot
for those who could aford the trip.
Arch of Fortune in Jermuk
In the Jermuk gorge, you can walk along the road that takes you to the famous
Jermuk waterfall. Te gorge in the summer contains many beautiful fowers, trees and
rocks set against a blue sky. But dont forget to make a wish, as there is a natural monu-
ment, created by nature alone. As legend has it, every person who walks past the Arch
of Fortune should think of their dream as they pass by the arch. Te dream will come
true if you believe it.
Martiros Rock Carved Church
Its a long jeep ride to get to the Martiros Rock Carved Church, but the efort is
worth it. Near the Martiros village high up on the mountain side is a huge khachkar
from 1283 atesting to the command of Prince Prosh and his son Paron Hasan. Oppo-
site the khachkar is a basilica built in 1866 and extensively rebuilt in the 1980s, includ-
ing half-fnished buildings for a future theological academy. Tere are ruins of rooms
where people stopped in transit. Te church has hidden tunnels, probably to provide
alternative exits if necessary. Te surrounding landscape is spectacular and there is a
waterfall 1km to the east.
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Museums, Galleries, Arts and Crafs, Souvenirs
Vayots Dzor Regional History Museum
Address: Yeghegnadzor, Shahumyan St. #4
Tel: +374 (0)281 23392
Email: museum68@rambler.ru
Website: htps://plus.google.com/114405222518491101038/about
Yeghegnadzor Branch of the National Gallery of Armenia
Address: Yeghegnadzor, Momiki St. #1
Tel: +374 (0)281 22638
E-mail: exegnadzoripatkerasrah@mail.ru
Website: htp://www.gallery.am/en/Branches/YeghegnadzorGallery/
Gladzor University Museum
Address: Highway H47, Vernashen village
Tel: +374 (0) 281 23705
Tis museum, established in 1984 on the 700th anniversary of Gladzor Uni-
versity, is located in the historic church of Saint Hakob (St. Jacob) in Vernashen
village. Te exhibition is devoted to higher education, scriptural art, the unprec-
edented rise of various branches of science in Medieval Armenia, and the history of
Gladzor University, believed by some to have been located at Tanahati (Tanadeh)
Monastery, 4.8 km from here. At Gladzor, students had a rigorous syllabus, study-
ing Teology, Mythology, Philosophy, Bibliography, Grammar, Rhetoric, Logic,
Arithmetic, Astronomy, Chronology and Geometry. Te outstanding miniature
painters Toros Taronatsi, Avag and Momik studied and worked at the university.
Gladzor was a major center of calligraphy where hundreds of manuscripts were sur-
vived, writen and illuminated in the scriptorium of Gladzor. An important distinc-
tion from other schools of learning in medieval Armenia, Gladzor University had
its own charter and its own educational and scientifc grading system. Of special
note, students practiced oral debate and defended their graduation theses at the
university.
In particular, the miniature art that developed at Gladzor got much of its inspi-
ration from local traditions, mythology and folklore hailing to the pre-Christian
era. Found in local decorative arts, the images used in the paintings included local
totemic fgures, idolized natural forces and allegorical tales of good and evil; their
depictions found in manuscript vignetes, headpieces and marginal miniatures. Tol-
erated by the church, these fgures became symbols of the new faith and were fted
into the Christian ideology. One example is the proliferation of the mythical siren
in this period, prolifc in Syunik sculpture, miniatures and decorative arts. Gladzor
manuscripts became known as works of art in their own times.;
Yeghegnadzor Fine Arts School
Contact: Samvel Hovhannisyan
Address: Yeghegnadzor,
Shahumyan St. #12
Tel: + 374 (0) 93 37 07 80
Working hours: 10:00-18:00
(you can make arrangements
on weekends)
Language: Russian
Artyom Ghazaryans Studio
Contact: Artyom Ghazaryan
Address: Yeghegnadzor,
Myasnikyan St. #9
Tel: + 374 (0) 94 69 47 90
Email: artyom1960@mail.ru
Web page: htp://
www.artmajeur.com/01-99art/
Language: Russian
Hayk Shahbazyans Art
Gallery and Studio
Contact: Hayk Shahbazyan
Address: Yeghegnadzor,
Mikoyan St., Building 14
Tel: + 374 (0) 93 68 70 17
Language: Russian
Jermuk Branch of the
National Gallery of Armenia
Address: Jermuk, Charents St. #1
Tel: +374 (0) 287 2-21-32
Website: htp://www.gallery.am
/en/Branches/JermukGallery/
Sunny Art Souvenirs and
Accessories
Contact: Anna Stepanyan
Tel: + 374 (0) 77 20 08 87
Facebook page: htps:
//www.facebook.com/pages/
Sunny-Art-Accessories
/192378887573833?fref=ts
Chiva Community Center
Contact: Lilit Grigoryan
Address: Chiva village
Phone: + 374 (0) 77 61 96 27
Working hours: 10:00-17:00
(working days)
Painting club hours: 15:30-17:00
(Wednesday and Friday)
Vayk Community Center
Contact: Aspram Aleksanyan
Address: Vayk, Shahumyan str. #21
Tel: + 374 (0) 98 90 17 68
Language: English, Russian
Working hours: 10:00-18:00
(Monday to Friday)
Embroidery club
(Monday and Tursday 15:30-16:30)
Potery club
(Tuesday and Tursday 16:00-17:30)
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Itineraries
Numerous itineraries are possible for the traveler who seeks a litle adventure and
does not mind the underdeveloped aspect of this unique territory. What follows are
only hints at the possibilities. Visitors may blaze their own paths or may consult with
locals and local guides for assistance.
Directions into Vayots Dzor by Car or Minivan
Coming to Vayots Dzor from Yerevan, you have two options. If you drive south
on the M2 (the main north-south highway), afer you pass the picturesque village of
Yelpin [yelpeen] you will begin seeing many roadside vendors of homemade wines,
seasonal fruits and other tasty things. You are entering the famous Areni village region.
Consider stopping along the way to sample the freshest local produce, chat with the
locals about their wines and about village life.
Passing through the Areni village, you will come upon the entrance road to the
Noravank Monastery Complex. Turn right. Tis is the most famous tourist stop in all
of Vayots Dzor, and for good reason. Drive slow along the Noravank road and take in
the scenery of the sheer clifs above the road, stopping once or twice to admire the
views of the red clifs. Keep a look out for the many birds that inhabit these clifs. Te
clifs above the road are a recognized Important Bird Area (IBA).
Afer Noravank, continue south along the M2 and into Yeghegnadzor which is just
up the hill from the main highway. Visit the local museums and get a favor of the local
scene in this quaint small Armenian town. Tere are many hiking or other outdoor
options available nearby. A local guide can help you. Consider spending the night at
one of the local B&Bs and extending your visit to include dinner at the outdoor Aygi
Caf in the park or one of the restaurants along the main M2 highway or along the
M10 highway that connects the M2 in Getap village to Shatin village and up the Selim
Pass.
If you come into Vayots Dzor along the M10 highway, the northern route along
Lake Sevan and over the Selim pass (ofen closed during snowy winter months), the
frst site you will come upon is the Selim Caravanserai. Bring a picnic lunch and con-
sider stopping and taking in the spectacular views of Vayots Dzor at your feet.
Afer visiting the caravanserai, drive down the pass and turn east at the entrance
to Shatin village. Tis will take you to the Yeghegis Gorge. Tere are many sites to
visit along this road including the Jewish cemetery, Zorats church, the rubble ruins of
old medieval Yeghegis, and the trailhead that will take you to Smbataberd fortress and
Tsakhats Kar Monastery. Continuing along this road, you will enter and pass through
Hermon village. At the eastern edge of the village, bear to the lef and head toward
Lucy Tour Hotel Resort. Tere you can get lunch and make arrangements to visit the
petroglyphs in the hills above the village. You will want to prearrange a visit to the
petroglyphs as these hills are ofen too wet or snowy for even 4WD vehicles.
If you are coming into Vayots Dzor from the south on the M2 highway through the
Syunik region, you will want your frst stop to be the Vayk Hotel and Tourism Center.
Here you will fnd information about the Vayots Dzor region and various local sites.
Aferwards you can venture out to a local caf or restaurant and then drive up the hill to-
ward the famous city of Jermuk. You may want to meet with a local guide who can help
you arrange for mountain biking, horseback riding or other nearby outdoor activities.
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Vayots Dzor Itineraries by Car
1) Two-Day Wine Tour
Tis tour combines visits to both commercial wine factories and home facilities,
where the households are making wine in ways that have not changed for hundreds
of years. You can taste local wine all year round. However, if you wish to participate
in the wine making process, you beter visit during the harvest season between mid-
September and early November. Many seasonal activities are also available.
Calendar of activities:
March and April pruning and fxing of dry branches.
May cultivation and fxing of green branches.
June, July, August irrigation, weed control, treatment and fertilization.
Early September - harvesting and eating diferent varieties of grapes.
Late September, October, early November harvesting the Areni variety of
grapes, which is the most famous
Homemade wine. Depending on the temperature and percentage of sugar, within a
few days you can make young wine. You should, however, be careful with such young
wine. As the fermentation process is ongoing, the wine will possess natural carbon-
ation. Similar to carbonated sof drinks, if youre not careful when opening you will
receive a shower spray of fzzy wine! For 2-3 days, take a tour, make some wine, and
then venture further south to Karabakh (Artsakh) or Meghri. When you come back,
taste the wine you made!
DAY 1
Perhaps, the best introduction to Vayots Dzor wines will begin by visiting the Are-
ni Wine Factory, where you may taste a variety of 14 grape and fruit wines.
Contact: Rafk Simonyan
Phone: +374 (0) 93 42 44 06
Visit the factorys grape felds near Areni. Your local guide will help you fnd the
felds. Also, if weather permits, on the way back the local guide can show you the
location of Kosajur a mineral water spring (bubbling water), where you can
swim in the pool (entrance 200 dram/person). During the day, most locals are
out working in the felds, but in the evening you will ofen meet them nearby mak-
ing khorovats (Armenian BBQ).
Just show up and enter. No contact person.
Afer the Areni factory its worth it to visit with some local residents, where you
can observe, and depending on the season also participate, in the process of wine
making. Here are available contacts in Areni:
Rafk Davtyan, +374 (0) 94 42 44 16.
Yeghia Grigoryan, +374 (0) 93 63 58 47
Hayk Voskanyan, +374 (0) 93 88 13 64. Wine Cellar on the main highway(v. Areni).
Vardan Simonyan, +374 (0) 93 63 05 10. Wine Cellar on the main highway
(v. Areni).
Svetlana Khachatryan, +374 (0) 93 43 35 26
Te contacts above have home-based, small-scale wine making operations. Tour
opera-tors should contact them directly to make arrangements to visit. Single
tourists should contact a local guide to help arrange their visit as Armenian and
perhaps Russian are the only languages spoken.
Tese contacts will help you make your own wine. With pre-arrangement, they
will keep your wine for several days until you return. Continue your visit to the
south of Armenia, Karabakh (Artsakh), Meghri. When you return to Yerevan,
stop back in Areni to pick up your wine. If you like, and for a small fee, they will
keep your wine for years until you return again.
Optional: visit the Areni-1 (Birds) Cave. As the excavation is still in process, en-
tering the cave is not always possible. However, you may ask the local guide for
possible pre-arrangement. You do have the option to view the outer section of the
cave, where the old-est leather shoe was found some years ago.
Lunch with a local B&B (with pre-arrangement) or in a restaurant along the Arpa
River. Many options are listed in the guide map.
Drive to Aghavnadzor village. Main contact Norayr Hakhverdyan, +374 (0)77
87 98 59.
Visit Norayrs Old Style Armenian House and Maran or winemaking facility.
Taste his dry and semisweet wines pared with cheese. Visit his felds. Picnic
lunch in the felds is possible with pre-arrangement.
Overnight at a B&B in Areni or Yeghegnadzor. Many options are listed in the
guide map.
DAY 2
Visit the grape felds near the Gladzor and Vernashen villages to see the diferent
ways of grape cultivation in mound gardens / / [tmbayeen
agee].
Contact: Norik Mkrtchyan
Phone: (home) +374 (0) 281 23253 (mobile) +374 (0) 93 39 22 77
Email: norgr@mail.ru
Language: Armenian
Visit Barrel factory - Izoton wood factory in Yeghegnadzor. Large and small,
400-700 liter, wine barrels are produced here for the local wine industry. Tour the
small production facility. Small barrel souvenirs are available.
Contact: Hayk Isakhanyan
Phone: +374 (0) 91 20 13 49
Address: Yeghegnadzor, Mikoyan St. #8
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Visit to willow botle pack makers house. Artur Petrosyan produces interesting
wine bot-tle sheaths from local willows and river cane materials. Tese unique
products are a great addition to any Armenian handicrafs souvenir collection.
Contact: Artur Petrosyan
Phone: +374 (0) 94 38 73 13
Address: Yeghegnadzor, Khanjyan St. #11
Lunch in Yeghegnadzor at Arman Hakhverdyans Wine House. Arman has converted
the front of his home into a wine production and tasting hall complete with dining
facilities. At his vineyard located near his home, Arman uses organic fertilizers and
bio-ecological production standards. Before crushing the grapes, he hand-sorts each
bunch to produce unique blends. Armans Wine House is also a gallery for local art-
ists and painters who are interested in the nature of Vayots Dzor.
Contact: Arman Hakhverdyan
Phone: +374 (0) 98 05 06 35
Address: Yeghegnadzor, Tumanyan St. #3
If you are planning to spend a second night in Vayots Dzor, look at the Areni
and/or Yeghegnadzor B&B sections.
2) Day trip by car Along the Silk Road
Te famed Silk Road passed through this territory. Remnants of this exist today.
By car, you can see many of these ancient monuments and experience some of the
atmosphere felt many centuries ago.
Walking Tour to Shativank, Injured Witness(artifacts that are broken but have
witnessed the events of the past) 10th century ruins. Shativank was reconstructed
in the 17th century by the famous merchant Jacob Jughayetsi.
Ruins of medieval caravanserai of Aghnjadzor. Tis caravanserai is not the same as
you will fnd at the top of the Selim pass. Tis caravanserai is at the botom of the
pass and is not as well preserved, but worth the visit.
Destroyed bridges, Silk Road witnesses. Along the Yeghegis River below the Selim
pass are remnants of bridges that once served as passages across the river.
Selim medieval caravanserai.
Patron of caravanserai, Chesar Orbelyans Palace in Hors Village.
Mid-day meal in the restaurant on the Yeghegis riverside.
Medieval bridge (13thc) on the Arpa River. Further south, near the Agarakadzor
village, is an intact medieval bridge.
Old Martiros Village on the Silk Road. Continue further south, towards the town of Vayk.
Optional: Tour to Vimapor.
3) Day trip by 4WD to Vayots Sar
East of Yeghegnadzor is a dormant volcano called Vayots Mountain (or Sar, in Arme-
nian). Clearly visible on satellite images, this mountain ofers excellent trekking as well
as convenient visits by 4WD vehicles.
Departure by 4WD from Yeghegnadzor.
Visit Vayots Mountain. See 10-day hike, day 4 for details.
Visit village Herher and St. Sion Monastery on the lip of the rock.
Outdoor picnic at St Sion or on the shore of Herher reservoir.
Te picturesque Arpa River gorge: Symphony of Basalt columns.
Visit Gndevank: 10thc miracle. See 10-day hike, day 3 for details.
4) Day trip by 4WD, car and/or hike in Yeghegis Gorge
Arates: Ruins of quondam powerful monastery.
Walking Tour to Hermonavank, Medieval Educational Center.
Yeghegis Village: Ancestral shrine of Orbelyan rulers
Visit the 13th c Jewish cemetery.
Zorats Temple: 14thc monument with unique structure.
4WD or walking tour to Smbataberd: Impregnable hilltop fortress.
Tsakhats Kar: 10-13thc monastery.
Mid-day meal with a village family in Artabuynk.
Shadivanq: Injured witness artifacts from the 10th century.
Bezoar goat observatory in Shatin village.
6) Day trip by 4WD to Petroglyphs
Departure from Hermon village, 4WD to Husosar (Muradsar).
6,000-8,000 year-old Sepulchres (tombs).
8,000 year-old Petroglyphs above 3,000 m altitude.
Outdoor picnic at the highlander catle-breeder.
Plateau of Karmrashen
Abandoned medieval setlement ruins.
Field of Cross-Stones (khachkars in Armenian).
Herher River waterfall.
Cave Window to Herher.
Return to Hermon village
Optional: Supper and overnight stay at a local B&B or hotel.
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Vayots Dzor Itineraries by Foot Trekking
1) 10 day hike
Vayots Dzor is a hikers paradise. For adventure and view seekers, this place is for
you. Mountains and gorges conceal historical gems and natural treasures that are only
accessible via hiking trails and paths. Within this region you can discover mysterious
caves, ancient monasteries, ruins, cemeteries, pre-historic sites, and diverse landscapes,
including everything from dry desert to forests and alpine zones. Photographers will
also enjoy the unique fora of this region as well as the amazing shadows created by
Vayots Dzors jagged mountain gorges.
Hiking in Vayots Dzor is seasonal. May to October is the best time for trekking.
Depending on weather, you may fnd good opportunities for hiking as early as April
and as late as November. As always, use care when hiking the Vayots Dzor backcountry
as there are a number of animal and reptile species including bears and snakes that you
may encounter. While encounters are rare, careful preparation is best for protection.
Day 1
Start: Hermon village in Yeghegis Gorge
End: Petroglyphs feld under Husosar (Muradsar) Mountain
Climb: 1250m altitude
Distance: 19 km
Arrive the day before your hike begins. Sleep at any of the local hotels or B&Bs
found on our guide map. Hike uphill for 11 km. Tis is a steep climb so come prepared.
Te remaining days are mostly fat trekking. (Jeeps are available for this frst day from
LucyTour or other local villagers to take you up this steep portion. Contact local tour
guides for current information.)
Te frst night, sleep under the stars near the petroglyphs. You may choose to break this
trek into two days and sleep the frst night somewhere along the path to the petroglyphs.
If you choose the jeep option for the frst 11 km, it is a relatively easy trek to get to
the petroglyphs feld on the frst day and to camp there the frst night. Tis is a subal-
pine zone with no forests, but a wide variety of fowers early in the season.
Day 2
Start: Petroglyphs feld
End: Geysers above Jermuk
Distance: 20 km
Tis hike goes mainly through the fat plateau area where you will cross small
streams that fow downhill forming the Arpa River.
Option one is camping under the stars near the geysers above Jermuk. Tis is where
the water begins to acquire the famous Jermuk carbonation.
Option two is to sleep at a hotel or B&B in Jermuk. Consult the guide map for
sleeping options.
Day 3
Start: Geysers above Jermuk (B&B in Jermuk)
Midday rest stop: Gndevank Monastery
End: Herher village
Sleep: St. Sion Monastery
Distance: from geysers, 12 km; from Jermuk town, 15 km
Visit Kapuyt Fortress
Tis trek starts at your campsite or B&B in Jermuk. Hike the short distance from
Jermuk to the Gndevank Monastery for a midday rest. Gndevank is unique in Vayots
Dzor as being the only monastery that is currently occupied by monastic monks. From
Gndevank, hike the picturesque Arpa River gorge past the symphony of basalt col-
umns and the Kapuyt Fortress. Te Kapuyt Fortress is named so because sun shining
down on the hillside slopes produces a blue hue as a result of copper in the soil. Camp
near the St. Sion Monastery near Herher village.
Day 4
Start: St. Sion Monastery. Hike to Vayots Sar.
End: Hermon village
Distance: Vayots Sar to Hermon village, 30 km. St. Sion to Vayots Sar, 11 km.
From St. Sion, follow the Herher stream upriver toward the plateau of Karmrashen
(2000m altitude) where you will see abandoned medieval setlement ruins and a feld
of cross-stones (khachkars). Before you reach Karmarshen, you will pass the pictur-
esque Gutenu waterfall. Afer this, climb Mt. Vayots Sar, a dormant volcano at 2586m
altitude. Tis is the deepest crater in Armenia at 128m, diameter of the craters rim at
600m and rim circumference at 2000m.
Afer Vayots Sar, hike down toward Hermon village. Tis is a long 30 km hike that
can be broken into two days. You can sleep under the stars where bee keepers keep
their bees,or you can call ahead to arrange for jeeps to pick you up and take you to
Hermon village.
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early 14thc, Spitakavor has undergone some restoration lately and makes a perfect pic-
nic or camp site. Proshaberd (or Boloraberd, 2430m), the 13thc fortress sits across a
small valley from Spitakavor. Mostly in ruins, it is still a worthy hike due to its position
and views. Camp at either Spitakavor or Proshaberd.
Day 8
Start: Spitakavor-Proshaberd
End: Yeghegnadzor
Distance: 12 km
Hike down the hill toward Vernashen village. Continue on to Gladzor village and
have lunch in the garden with the local family of Norik Mkrtchyan. (Tel: (home) +374
(0) 281 23253 (mobile) +374 (0) 93 39 22 77 Email: norgr@mail.ru Language: Ar-
menian). In Yeghegnadzor, check into a local B&B, shower, rest, and then visit ethno-
graphical museums. Sleep at a local B&B or hotel.
Day 9
Start: Yeghegnadzor B&B
End: Gnishik
Distance: 18 km
Hike down through Yeghegnadzor, across the main highway and toward Agarakadzor
[agarakazor] village. Pass through Agarakadzor and on the right you will see the Grav min-
eral spring. Tis spring can be hot. Take time to touch and perhaps dip your feet in for a few
minutes. Continue back along this road toward Gnishik [gneesheek] village. You will pass
ancient terraces most likely created by nature but used for farming for many thousands of
years. In Gnishik you will fnd a few old Armenian buildings. Gnishik is also situated within
a preserved site that has many examples of local fora including six endemic species of plants
and wild wheat. Gnishik was one of the oldest setlements in Armenia with some visible
examples of pre-Christian cross-stones. Camp in Gnishik.
Day 10
Start: Gnishik
End: Noravank
Distance: 12 km
Hike through the wild nature of this region. Te short, but more dangerous route follows
the Gnishik River toward Noravank. As few people hike this canyon, you may encounter
bears and snakes. Te safer route is to cross the Gnishik River and follow the mountain con-
tour which will curve you around toward Noravank. A slightly longer but much more scenic
option is to hike from Gnishik to Khachik [khasheek] village and sleep in Khachik. Khachik
has the best view of biblical Mount Ararat. Te Armenian government ofen uses this view
for its promotional materials. If you choose this option, hike down the Khachik road toward
Amaghu [amahgoo] village. From Amaghu, continue to Noravank. From Noravank, the op-
tions are to go by car to Areni, Yeghegnadzor or any other location of your choosing.
Day 5
Start: Hermon village
End: Smbataberd Fortress
Distance: 15 km
From Hermon, hike the road up to Arates church, 4km. Historical information about
Arates and the village dates back to the 9thc, but comments about them exist as far back
as the 7thc. Tis church complex was used as a summer residence for its high-ranking
priesthood. Continue hiking to the west toward Tsakhats Kar. Tsakhats Kar complex was
one of the remarkable cultural and spiritual centers of medieval Armenia. It was one of
the high chairs of Syunik Province together with the Tatev Monastery and Noravank.
Tsakhats Kar was also the center of handwriting otherwise known as a religious manu-
script scriptorium. From Tsakhats Kar, follow the small road across the valley to Smbatab-
erd. Smbataberd is one of the largest and most inaccessible fortresses in Vayots Dzor. It
was erected in the early medieval period. Te Orbelians reinforced and transformed it
into a mighty protective fortress. Te fortress had been repeatedly besieged during its
existence, but always remained inaccessible. Camp within the ruins of Smbataberd.
Day 6
Start: Smbataberd
End: Shativank
Distance: 11 km
Hike out of Smbataberd and down the hill toward Yeghegis village. Visit Zorats
Church, the recently discovered medieval Jewish cemetery, and Hostun, the ruins
of medieval Yeghegis which was the capital of Vayots Dzor during this period. Walk
through the ruins where some streets are visible even now toward the west and to
Shativank. Camp overnight at the Shativank ruins.
Day 7
Start: Shativank
End: Spitakavor-Proshaberd
Distance: 9 km
Tis hike is short but strenuous. Hike from Shativank (1750m) up the Spitakavor-
Shativank road, which is more of a path than road, to Spitakavor (2120m). Built in the
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2) Day trip hike to Smbataberd Fortress and Tsakhats Kar Monastery
Two paths are available to hike to Smbataberd.
First option: Te path begins just west of the Yeghegis village. Tere is a small dirt
road that divides the frst houses of Yeghegis village and the rural open space. Park your
car here and hike up this road along the houses. To your right will be village homes and
to your lef will be a small creek. Smbataberd should be visible to your lef in the distance
at the top of the hill. Once you reach the end of this road, before the sharp turn to your
right, the footpath begins. Te footpath is not clearly marked, but is heavily used by local
sheep, goats and cows. You will pass a small waterfall and some old, rusty fencing with a
metal gate. Just follow this path up the mountain. About half way up you will encounter a
half-fnished road, which will take you up the remaining way to the top. Once at the ridge,
to the lef is Smbataberd. To the right, in the distance, is Tsakhats Kar.
Second option: Go to and pass through Artabuynq [artaboynk] village. At the east edge
of the village, drive down the small road to an old red building. Park your car here and cross
over the river by foot using the iron bridge. Tere will be a footpath to your right where you will
climb up the northern part of the hill. Tis footpath is also a poorly maintained road which is
suitable for 4WD vehicles. Smbataberd will be visible at the top of the hill slightly to your right.
Which direction to choose depends on your interests. Te hike up from Yeghegis
village is more scenic, but the path up from Artabuynq is somewhat quicker. We ad-
vise you to hike up to Smbataberd using the frst option, through Yeghegis village, and
return down the hill through Artabuynq village.
If you have time, you may want to visit the Tsakhats Kar church, which is visible on
the opposite mountain, east of Smbataberd. To get to the church, go down from Sm-
bataberd veering right toward Artabuynq village. You will pass through a large glade
and then ascend up the opposite hill from Smbataberd. To return to Smbataberd, re-
trace your steps back down the hill and through the glade.
3) Day trip Hike to Spitakavor Monastery and Proshaberd Fortress
Tis picturesque, day-long hike begins from the village of Vernashen. From Yegheg-
nadzor, hike or drive up toward Vernashen. Follow the signs past the Gladzor Univer-
sity museum and leave your car at the base of the mountain. From here, you have two
options. You can choose to hike the dirt road that begins to your lef at the base of the
hill. Simply follow this road and enjoy the sweeping views of Vayots Dzor as you trek
up the mountain. Te other option, and best led by a local guide, is to venture straight
up the mountain following livestock paths. Tis path can be confusing as you will skirt
along narrow paths cut into hillsides by the animals and cross a few mountain streams.
But you will also pass a couple mountain camps where during summer months locals
set up house to watch sheep and other livestock. Bring gifs of store bought cofee in
small sealed bags or sweets and enjoy their conversation and perhaps some homemade
yogurt with small cups of Armenian cofee. Your local guide will help you with transla-
tions. A recommended route is to hike up the animal path to Spitakavor (and Proshab-
erd), enjoy a picnic lunch at the top, and hike back down the road. If hiking down the
road in the early evening, you will be treated to a magnifcent sunset.
30 31
Other Itinerary Options by car or 4WD
1) Horseback riding and mountain biking
As Vayots Dzor becomes more of a tourist destination, some activities are available
only in certain locations. Horseback riding and mountain biking, two activities with
huge potential, are currently only available in the village of Hermon at the LucyTour
Hotel Resort. Contact information is available on the accompanying guide map. In the
coming years, these activities will become much more popular in this region.
2) Caving in Areni
Te Areni village region is historically famous for wine. Tis region was made even
more famous by the recent discovery of 6,000 year old wine making facilities inside
the Areni-1 (Bird) cave complex near the Areni village. While this cave complex is still
being excavated by archaeologists and is closed to outside visitors, there are several
nearby caves worth exploring.
Mozrov, Arjeri (Bear), and Magel are three such caves open to visitors and have
spectacular natural formations that took eons to create. As with the Areni-1(Bird)
cave, these caves too have started limiting access to reduce human-caused degradation.
Please consult with local guides for current information. Also, if you plan on visiting
these caves, expect to get dirty. Tere are few paths and lots of crawling around on
dusty rocks. You will want to consider staying at one of the local hotels or B&Bs not
only to experience the local food and chat with locals, but also to get clean afer your
spelunking adventure.
3) Winter Sports in Vayots Dzor
Currently, there are two options for organized winter activities in Vayots Dzor; the
many well-known hotel resorts in Jermuk, and LucyTour Hotel Resort in the village
of Hermon. Since Vayots Dzor and its mountains are located at an average of 1500m
above sea level, the winter season creates a unique seting for winter sports and out-
door exploration. Tere are endless possibilities for exploration as Vayots Dzor has a
plethora of felds for snow-shoeing, cross-country skiing, and trekking.
Hermon Village
LucyTour has developed a few trails around the villages of Hermon and Arates and
has access to snow-shoes, ski equipment, and snowmobiles. Visitors to Vayots Dzor
need not stay at LucyTour to take advantage of these activities.
Because LucyTour has access to of-road jeeps, trip itineraries can be customized
for travelers who wish to explore the surrounding mountains and either sled down,
snow-shoe, or cross-country ski around the area.
Below are a few possible snow-shoe/cross-country ski itineraries with LucyTour
Hotel Resort (suggested for December-March, depending on snow fall):
From LucyTour Hotel Resort, drive up to village Arates (4 km) via jeeps. Begin
your trek at Arates by snowshoeing or skiing toward the west. Consult your guide
map to start in the correct direction. Between Arates and the Tsakhats Kar Mon-
astery (viewing site), you will cross a small river, which is located in a steep gorge.
Ten you will transcend to-wards Artabuynq village. Tis trip is advised for experi-
enced cross-country ski-ers/trekkers. Total: 18 km
Daily walking tours to destinations such as the Hermon Plateau, Goghtanik village,
Arates river waterfall and the ruins of Arates Church (an easier option).
Jermuk
Jermuk, a small, quaint town located in the north-eastern part of Vayots Dzor, has
plenty of winter opportunities for both adventure tourists and individuals seeking a
resort town to relax in. Jermuk is home to Vayots Dzors only ski chairlif/funicular. Ski
equipment rentals are available as well as equipment for snow tubing.
Visitors can also ride the ski lif to the top and be rewarded with stunning mountain
views. Te ski lif also has two small restaurants, one at the botom and one at the top
of the mountain.
If playing outside on the ski mountain isnt enough, you can fnd many paths and
trails around the town to explore, both during the day and at night. Bring a fashlight!
Afer your days activities, visit one of the many hotel spas for an evening of relax-
ation.
If you are visiting in mid-February, Jermuk hosts an annual ice festival in the center
of town where you can get involved in local winter festivities, participate in games, and
view intricately carved ice sculptures. Some of the festival activities include a chess-
board and pieces carved from ice, local dancers and musicians performing, and snow-
mobile rentals.
Check individual hotel websites for good descriptions of winter activities. Websites
are found on the accompanying guide map.
Contact Edgar Galstyan (Phone: +374 (0) 77 61 71 86) for more information,
pricing and availability.
36
Local Guides
Norik Mkrtchyan
Tel: (home) +374 (0) 281 23253
(mobile) +374 (0) 93 39 22 77
Email: norgr@mail.ru
Language: Armenian
Vladimir Grigoryan
Tel: (mobile) +374 (0) 91 40 72 11
(home) +374 (0) 10 46 22 99
E-mail: armenia@da-tours.com
Website: www.da-tours.com
Language: English, Russian, Armenian
Arman Aghababyan
Tel: (mobile) +374 (0) 98 92 22 93
Email: aghababyan@rambler.ru
Language: English (simple)
Laura Sargsyan
Tel: (mobile) +374 (0) 68 62 60
(home) +374 (0) 10 46 54 62
Email: lorasargsyan@gmail.com
Language: French

Hasmik Sargyan
Tel: +374 (0) 94 91 32 64
Email: hasmik.syunikngo@yahoo.com
Language: English, Italian
Karen Isakhanyan
Tel: +374 (0) 91 19 49 79
Email: karisaxan@gmail.com
Language: English, Persian
Norik Araqelyan
Tel: +374 (0) 77 85 40 54
Language: German
Harut Harutyunyan
Tel: +374 (0) 98 52 81 28
Email: exegnazorski@mail.ru
Language: German
David Simonyan
Tel: +374 (0) 94 53 63 29
Language: English, Turkish, Russian
Ashots B&B
Tel: +374 (0) 94 42 57 29
Language: English, Russian
CONTENTS:
Introduction
Highlights
Geography
Economics
Flora & Fauna
Unique Experiences
Wine
Cultural Heritage
Museums, Galleries, Arts and Crafs, Souvenirs
Modern Entertainment
Itineraries
Local Guides