Vardenyats (Selim) Caravanserai

This monument is located on the road linking Gegharkunik marz to Vayots Dzor marz (both part of historic Armenia's Syunik province).


Vardenyats (Selim) Caravanserai

Vardenyats caravanserai (formerly known as Selim Caravanserai)

This monument is located on the road linking Gegharkunik to Vayots Dzor marz (both part of historic Armenia's Syunik province). It was built on the ancient Dvin-Partav international trade route, which included  the Selim mountain pass.

According to the inscription in Armenian, the caravanserai was commissioned by Prince Chesar Orbelian and constructed in 1332. The facade features two bas-relief statues embellished with Orbelian dynastic emblems.

Built from basalt, the building is 41 meters long. It is a three-nave hall that adjoins a vestibule and a domed chapel at the east end. Fourteen pylons divide the hall (26x13m) into three naves that feature half-round vaults below the pitched roof.

On the western side, the hall connects to two small rooms for travelers at its end (southern and northern naves). Under the eastern wall is a large basalt watering trough. The oculus in the dome of the middle nave widens  through a series of stalactite ornaments, admitting light into the hall and vestibule.  The outer walls feature stalactite carvings.

There are stalactite decorations on the south facade entrance, with bas-relief statues of a winged animal on the left, and a bull on the right, above the lintel. The pitched roof over the vestibule and that of the hall form vertical lines. Both roofs are covered by basalt slabs as protective covering.

The caravanserai was destroyed in the 15th-16th centuries and reconstructed in 1956-1959. The roof slabs, the south wall, the internal walls, the domes and the vaults were fully reconstructed.

In 2011 excavations uncovered an entrance from the vestibule into the single-nave hall.

On the road above the caravanserai is an Important Bird Area. For information, please visit this BSSRC page.

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    How to reach Selim Pass Caravanserai is about 2-3 hours from Yerevan, depending on your vehicle and driver. There are two routes you can take: the Southern Route follows the M2 highway 120 km and past Areni to Getap, turning north on the M10 towards Martuni. The caravanserai is about 35 km uphill from Getap. The northern route takes the Sevan highway (M4) 64 km to the Sevan-Gavar cloverleaf, then going south on the M10 64 km and past Gavar to Martuni.

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