Vayots Dzor Marz

Vayots Dzor marz is a pleasant destination for the thousands of visitors who come each year. The region is 130 km from Yerevan on the main road which runs from Yerevan down to Sisian, Goris, Kapan, Meghri and on to Iran.

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Introduction

Vayots Dzor has one of the most rugged landscapes in Armenia, with towering rock cliffs and stands of trees clinging to rocky hillsides. 

The upper slopes of the mountains are alpine meadows, once teeming with forests, now a carpet of grass and wildflowers in the spring that turn into shades of burnt umber in the summer.

Cut like a diamond by the Arpa River, the marz has spectacular rock formations both above and below ground.  Some of Armenia’s largest caves are in Vayots Dzor, several of which are prime spelunking destinations for adventure tourists. 

Caves include primordial stalactites, hundreds of km of unmapped territory, and even sacrificial cave sites from the Paleolithic and Bronze Ages. 

Above ground, Vayots Dzor is also a pleasant destination for the thousands of visitors that visit Jermuk, Armenia’s premiere mineral water spa. 

Blessed with several types of naturally heated mineral water, clean alpine air and forests of cultivated pine and hardwood trees, the town is in the throes of upgrading to international standards, with services at a fraction of the cost at European spas. 

Hiking and camping enthusiasts will enjoy the region's relative remoteness; trails lead to abandoned villages, ruins of medieval and Bronze Age sites, and lonely shepherd camps used by friendly Yezidis and Armenian locals. 

The Arpa River is fed by hundreds of springs and streams, with several impressive seasonal waterfalls, and far flung stands of native forests, the last of their kind in the district.

The most impressive forests are in the south of the region, which also includes some of the oldest finds in the region, including fossil fields and Bronze and Iron Age fortresses and settlements.

Historical monuments include the World Heritage Site nominee Noravank, one of Armenia’s architectural jewels, with its elaborate High Gothic decorations on the walls of the amber-colored churches. The vank is reached by a narrow cliff passage, passing caves and spectacular natural rock formations and recognized Important Bird Areas (IBAs).  

Others include Vayots Dzor’s “jewel in the crown” monastery of Gndevank; the Selim Caravanserai; the ruined medieval town of Yeghegis with its horse-standing Zorat's church and Jewish cemetery; the towering castle of Smbataberd; and medieval architectural complex Vernashen. 

Vernashen is near the legendary University of Gladzor, one of the oldest universities in the western world. 


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