The Lori Province is apparently one of the greenest provinces of Armenia. Lori is located in the north of Armenia, bordering with Georgia. the town of Vanadzor is the capital of the province. Noteworthy to mention that the name Lori first appeared in the 11th century when King David I Anhoghin founded the fortified city of Lori. The fortress-city became the capital of the Kingdom of Tashir-Dzoraget in back in the 1065. The province is a perfect combination of monasteries, cities, historical sights, mountains, forests, and more.
Catch some of the best attractions and sights worth to visit in Lori:
The city of Vanadzor is probably one of the most underrated cities not only in the province, but in entire country. It is the third largest city in Armenia. However, Vanadzor is definitely a perfect base for a trip to the Lori province. Vanadzor used to be economically one of the greatest towns in its heyday, back in the Soviet period, when it was called Kirovakan. Unfortunately, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Armenian industrial giant Vanadzor started to collapse and many factories closed, were left abandoned. During your trip to Vanadzor you can see bunch of factories, mansions and more from the Soviet era. Nowadays, Vanadzor is a city that is still recovering economically and trying to attract travellers and investors to pay attention to it because Vanadzor and the Lori region is easily one of the most beautiful places in all of Armenia. Right on the entrance of the city the St. Gregory the Illuminator church is greeting its visitors. The church is visible mostly everywhere from higher spots of Vanadzor. However, the building is one of the youngest ones in the province (built in the 1990s) it is a very photogenic construction that has beautifully painted walls from the inside.
Another great point is the Lori Gorge or as locals say the Dzoraget Canyon. This astonishing 176 km long canyon looks like a giant crack down in the middle of the Earth. This is one of the most prominent features in the Lori. The Lori Gorge is worthwhile to visit, since it is home to many natural and historical monuments like Lori Fortress, Kobayr Monastery, the Debed River where you can go rafting, Horomayr, Odzun, many hiking trails, and much more.
The picturesque Lori Fortress is another favorite place for both locals and tourists. it is a 11th century fortress, that have been through a lot over the entire period of its existence.
It is not possible to imagine the Lori province without these historic and cultural twins – Haghpat and Sanahin Monasteries. Haghpat Monastery is situated up high in the mountains and is one of the finest examples of the combination of the nature and mankind. It is a medieval monastery complex built between the 10th and 13th centuries. The monastery was founded by Queen Khosrovanuysh, wife of the Bagratid king Ashot III, probably in 976.
Nearby monastery is at Sanahin which was built around the same time. The name Sanahin literally translates from Armenian as ‘this one is older than that one’, presumably representing a claim to having an older monastery than the neighbouring Haghpat Monastery. Sanahin and Haghpat Monasteries have been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is another fascinating place worthwhile to visit.
When you are in the Lori province Odzun becomes one of the must-visit places in your travel bucket list. The village is located above Debed Gorge, it is just a few kilometers south of Alaverdi and is famous because of the Odzun Church, one of the most breath=taking and oldest monasteries in the country. The church has an extraordinary architecture for 5th-7th centuries; however, it still remains unique for this reason.
One of the greenest villages of the Lori province is definitely the village of Debed, located not far from the Vanadzor. Debed is situated on the Araleks River and is a great stopping point on the highway. Noteworthy to say, that in 2018, COAF (Children of Armenia Fund) opened a SMART center there which is an education hub for children and adults.
Another great spot worthwhile to visit is the village of Ardvi, which is also covered with lush green mountains. The village gained its popularity as a filming location for Sergei Parajanov’s ‘The Color of Pomegranates’. In the village of Ardvi, you can give a visit to the spectacular Surb Hovhannes Monastery which sits a bit up on the hill. The Red Church is worth to visit as well, since it is at the entrance of the village. Both are special and will definitely take your breath away.
One of the most renowned towns of the Lori province is the town of Stepanavan, due to its stunning arboretum, or Dendropark. The Stepanavan Dendropark was founded in 1931 and has hundreds of different species of trees and plants that have been grown in a 35-hectare area. It is also a must-visit if you’re in the area.
One of the most underrated villages in the province is probably the village of Kurtan. It is known for its stunning Hnevank Monastery. It is situated near the Kurtan village in a gorge of the same name. It dates back to the 7-12th centuries and it literally means ‘Old Monastery’ in Armenian. it is also worthwhile to visit because of its gorgeous architecture and, of course, breath-taking view opening from the monastery.
If you have ever heard of the most famous Armenian poet, Hovhannes Tumanyan, then the village of Dsegh is definitely a great place for you to visit. When you’re in Dsegh, you can visit a museum dedicated to him called the House-Museum of Hovhannes Tumanyan. In addition, there are a lot of amazing hikes in the area.
Did you know that the Lori province is a home to a Greek village in Armenia? It is the village of Madan, or Lernahank, an abandoned Greek mining village up in the mountains near the town of Alaverdi. There is an amazing story about the establishment of the village. Back in the 1760s, Georgia’s King Irakli brought Greek miners to Alaverdi and they established several mining operations in Lori. There were 5000-7000 Greeks living in the region but after the Soviet Union, and even throughout Soviet times, they slowly started moving away, abandoning their homes and village. Today, around 30-40 people live in the village, and most can trace roots back to Greece.
Another beautiful and haunting point in all of Armenia is the gorgeous St. Nicholas the Miracle Worker Russian Orthodox Church. Unfortunately, the church is not operating, since it has been left to the nature since 1988’s Spitak Earthquake. The village, where the church is located, was founded in 1852 by Slavic families that relocated to Amrakits from Borjomi in Georgia. Nevertheless, the village and church are starting to gain popularity within the country.
Beside the nature and operating monasteries, the Lori province has tons of hidden and mysterious monasteries and churches that are in ruins now. One of the most renowned one is the Kobayr Monastery, located in the village with same name. This 12th century monastery is undergoing some reconstructions but it is definitely worth a visit. It is a small hike to get up to it from the main road but the path is carved out and it is easy.
There is no completed itinerary without a visit to the Akhtala Fortress and Monastery. It is an absolutely stunning place to visit. It is also known as Copperchurch, Akhtala Fortress and Monastery construction began back in the 10th-century and is merely one kilometer away from the town of Akhtala.
One of the most popular places in the province is the Mendz-Er Cave. It literally means “Big Cave” in Armenian. This complex is a restaurant, museum, and masterclass facility that is built right on the upper part of Alaverdi. Beside it offers a stunning view over the Lori. It is definitely a “can’t miss” destination.
Noteworthy to mention that the Lori province has become one of the most favorite destinations both for locals and tourists due to its amazing combination of nature, history and more.
The Lori province has a lot to offer its visitors, so make sure to add it on your travel bucket list, when you are in Armenia.