Goris town

Goris older names are Goraik, Gores, Kores, Kiores, Shen, etc. Settled in ancient times, it was first mentioned by the 13th c. historian Stepanos Orbelian as one of the villages that paid taxes to Tatev monastery.


Goris town

Goris town

Goris older names are Goraik, Gores, Kores, Kiores, Shen, etc. Settled in ancient times, it was first mentioned by the 13th c. historian Stepanos Orbelian as one of the villages that paid taxes to Tatev monastery.  According to the historian, Goris was a part of the 'Haband' province of Siunik.

Located on the left bank of the Goris River it was one of Zangezur's most famous seats of meliks.  Goris was divided into ten districts with the area's caves and tent-shaped rocks serving as dwellings until the 18th c. In the 18th c. one or two-story houses built from stone were constructed in front of the rock-cut complexes.

Outstanding features of Goris were the church and Melik Hiuseinians' palace located in the town center. The planning of the modern town began in 1850 and was completed in the 1870s during the reign of the head of the district Staratski and through the support of Manuchar-Bek Melik- Hiuseinian. The construction of Shushi-Goris road (1869-1877) played a vital role in the development of the modern town, which was founded on the right bank of the Goris River, to the west of the old settlement. The plan was drawn up by a German architect, however there is a view that architects Janushian, Kozlov and Kharchenko who led the construction works were responsible for the town planning. Modern Goris became the trade and administrative center of Zangezur district and in 1885 it was granted a city status by the Russian Empire. Outstanding features of the time were the Armenian and Russian churches, the school, the printing-house, the booths, the hotel, the bath and the houses owned by the Mirumians and the Yolyans. Goris was a living organism, with the synthesis of the architecture and natural area creating complete harmony.

The role of Goris as a trade center declined in the early 20th c. following the construction of Julfa-Yerevan railway (1908).

During the Soviet years the town became the administrative center of Goris district. Although the Ghapan railway constructed in the 1930s further diminished the significance of Goris as a road junction, the town reported unprecedented growth in construction sector as a regional center. The historic and architectural buildings have mostly survived intact, though some parts have experienced spatial and functional changes. 

Present-day Goris is Siunik's one of the most important towns, famous for its cultural and educational institutions (drama theater, Goris Local Tradition Museum, Aksel Bakunts House Museum). The town is the birthplace of writers Aksel Bakunts and Sero Khanzadian, gusan Ashot, physician R. Yolyan and other distinguished figures. Over 270 monuments are registered in the administrative area of the town, according to the state list of immovable historical and cultural monuments of RA Siunik Marz.


  1.  Old town

  2.  St. Grigor Lusavorich church

  3.  Seven Springs Monument

  4.  WW II monument

  5.  Monument of Bells

  6.  Axel Bakunts House Museum

  7.  Goris Art Gallery

  8.  Goris Local Tradition Museum

  9.  Children's Aesthetic Center Goris Branch

10.  Zoravar Andranik Memorial

11.  Culture Center

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Hanging out in GorisSpent three days in Goris in 2013 after being there several times over last eight years It is a rare "treed" town in Armenia, situated in a volcanic crater that is open to the south. As you approach from the west, there is a bell tower right at the turn to the army barracks. Get out with your camera, because the tower overlooks the whole crater. It also lets you"feel" the defensive nature of the town, as it was often a bulwark against the Persians from the east, and maybe Turks from the west.
It has an amazing downtown, called just "Central", which is all squat stone houses and shops, many with balconies over the sidewalks, and it is all downhill, from the main highway in Southern Armenia to Karabagh, which wraps around the north side of the volcano wall.
The highway actually passes through volcanic spires which I think were dolomite, pinnacles of stone rising out of the hillside, but sharper than at places in the American West, such as Bryce Canyon. They are on both sides of the highway as you pass east toward the crater wall toward Nagorno Karabagh.
The Bakunc family mentioned still lives there, and we had the pleasure of visiting Dr. Bakunc, retired biology professor.and his family. In typical Armenian style, you answer very politely inquisitive questions around a table covered with a dozen fruits. Before you notice it, the fruit disappears, and hot pastries take their place, cooked while you were there. In a half hour, the pastries slowly slide away, and you are eating dinner from the coffee table, everyone smiling and encouraging you to stuff yourself again!
There is one added feature just east of Goris. It is the area before and after the village of Tsegh, the last town before you descend into the river at Lachin.
Tsegh is a town where people lived in caves until less than a hundred years .
ago. The road to Karabagh runs on a hillside with deep wide valley's and fields on the left (we were told "Do not walk in field unless there are cows; sheep are too light to set off land mines. Cows mean that it is safe!").
You may see complexes of abandoned buildings in spots, examples of Soviet cooperatives that were abandoned. When you get to Tsegh, you will notice houses on the far side of the valley, each with caves under neath, now used for livestock. It was said that in Soviet times residents were told "Soviet citizens do not live in caves; build houses!" So they built houses over the caves, and used both (don't know if this was true, or just a Tsegh joke).
The caves are the result of a soft layer that pervades the area, and can be seen in a geologic line across the far hillside. Just before the road goes over the ridge, some huge caves can be seen in the far valley, and rows of them in the N-South ridge that used to be the boundary with the Lachin corridor.

If you have a visa for Artsakh, you can proceed past the check station (actually 6-8 miles inside of Karabagh (Artsakh) and get to the first sizable town of Lachin, recently renamed Berdzor in Armenian. Lachin was once the capital of the only country the Kurds ever had, Red Kurdistan, which was quickly conquered by the Red Army in early 1920's. It exists on a cliff facing the Armenian Highlands to the West, identifiable by the only snow as late as May 1. The newer red metal roofs are replacements for those blown off during fighting in the early 1990's. I f you look back from the top of the ridge westward, from above Lachin, you may notice many houses have long driveways, with apparent sentry posts halfway to the house, and indicator of adaptation to political insecurity.

All this is within a 90 minute drive of Goris, going east.


    How to reach From Yerevan drive through Arshakunyats avenue for 2.1km, at the roundabout, take the 3rd exit, drive for 3.8 km, turn right at Arin-Berd street, drive to north-west for 232km and you will reach the Goris town. The trip will take approximately 3 hours 20 minutes.

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