Vayots Dzor is the south-eastern province of Armenia. It is the most sparsely populated province in the country. The capital and largest city of the province is the town of Yeghegnadzor. Vayots Dzor is a mountainous region. It is mainly divided into 3 mountain ranges: the Vardenis mountain range at the north, the Arpa range in the middle and the Vayk range at the south. At a height of 3522 meters, the Vardenis volcano in the north is the highest point in the province, while the Areni valley, at a height of 850 meters, is the lowest point. The 2586 meters-high Vayots Sar volcanic cone is located almost at the centre of the province.
The province is home to many ancient landmarks and tourist attractions in Armenia including the Areni-1 cave complex and Areni-1 winery of the Chalcolithic period, the 8th-century Tanahat Monastery, the 10th-century fortress of Smbataberd, and the 13th-century monastery of Noravank. Vayots Dzor is also home to the spa-town of Jermuk. The village of Gladzor in Vayots Dzor was home to the 13th and 14th-century University of Gladzor.
Vayots Dzor Province offers a lot of attractions starting from city tours, historic sightseeing tours to hiking trails, and more.
Catch some of the best attractions and sights worth to visit in Vayots Dzor:
One of the most infamous winemaking places in Armenia is right in the Vayots Dzor province. It is the Areni Wine Village. It is believed to be one of the oldest wine-making and production place in the world that we currently know of and it is an essential point to add in an itinerary when you are in Armenia.
The Areni wine village of Vayots Dzor is surrounded by picturesque and colorful mountains, Areni village is probably one of the most convenient and great places to visit and try the local wine, hike to the church located up in the rocks, and take a part in one of the most famous wine festivals in Armenia known as the Areni Wine Fest. It is an annual wine festival that takes place in October. It is considered to be one of the biggest festivals in the entire region, since it is great to experience a big wine festival in world’s oldest wine-making areas.
The village of Areni is an essential place especially for wine-lovers, since Areni is a home to the Indigenous grape varieties like Areni Noir, Kharji, and others.
Noteworthy to say that the Areni village is not only wine and festivals, there you can find a prehistoric cave, called Areni-1 Cave. In 2008, right in this cave, archaeologists discovered the world’s oldest winery dating back over 6100 years to the Early Bronze Age. The Areni-1 cave is located alongside the Arpa River where inside it is possible to see the ancient wine barrels where the wine was once made as well as human remains from ceremonial burials. You can also see the cave where the oldest leather shoe, dating back over 5500 years to the Chalcolithic period, was discovered.
Another great place the Vayots Dzor is known for, is the Noravank Monastery. This 13th century iconic monastery is one of the greatest historic landmarks in Armenia. After passing the village of Areni, you will end up in a narrow cliff road to the monastery where you will see red cliffs, colorful mountains, and the powerful Amaghu River. The views surrounding the Noravank Monastery is beyond beautiful. It is one of the most visited places in Armenia, there is no completed Armenian travel bucket list without a visit to the monastery, so make sure not to miss this fascinating place out.
The Vayots Dzor province is one of the fewest provinces in Armenia, that has its own spa town. The infamous Jermuk spa town, alongside the Jermuk Hot Springs is located right in the Vayots Dzor. In the spa town of Jermuk, it is possible to drink renowned Jermuk mineral water at different temperatures and the minerals contained are exceptional for your health. In addition, when you are in Vayots Dzor, you can venture to the mountains around Jermuk and soak in the hot springs.
Another great place to visit in the spa town of Jermuk, is the Jermuk Waterfall. This waterfall is truly unique as it is a 72 m high sliding waterfall and the water drops into the Arpa River. The local legend refers to the waterfall as “the hair of the mermaid” because the girl was using her hair to help her beloved man climb up to her.
One of the oldest monasteries of the province is the 8th century Tanahat Monastery. Just like many other religious centers, Tanahat Monastery has a rich history and survived an earthquake but it contains some of the most interesting stone artwork such as details where an eagle clawed a ram or where a lion attacks a bull. It is also considered to be another great place to stop by, after visiting Areni.
One of the most renowned fortresses of Armenia, the Smbataberd Fortress can be found in Vayots Dzor. This 10th-century fortress is located in the Vayots Dzor, between Artabuynk and Yeghegis villages and was constructed by Bagratuni King Smbat II. Over the centuries, it became one of the most interesting places to visit in Armenia. On your way back, if you are a soviet fanatic, make sure to stop in the village of Arin and check out the Lenin statue.
Another historic spot, very close to the Smbatashen fortress is the 10th century Tsaghats Kar Monastery. It is covered with ancient stone ornaments, khachkars, and other ruins nearby. The monastery and its surroundings are beyond beautiful and to experience it a little hike is required.
Vayots Dzor is truly worthwhile to visit, since it hides another historic site in its territory. It is the Orbelian’s Caravanserai, which was part of the Great Silk Road. It was constructed in 1332 in Vayots Dzor region in the Vardenis Mountains at an elevation of 2400 meters. Also called Selim Caravanserai, Orbelian’s was a stopping point for caravans along the Silk Road. The Caravanserai is located in the Selim Pass, stretching between Gegharkunik and Vayots Dzor. The inside buildings are covered with medieval stone works and ornaments and was where caravans used to stop by and spend a night before continuing on their journey west.
Noteworthy to mention that Vayots Dzor province has become one of the most favourite destinations both for locals and tourists due to its amazing combination of nature, history, culture and more.
Vayots Dzor province has a lot to offer its visitors, so make sure to add it on your travel bucket list, when you are in Armenia.