Lori Fortress: a medieval beauty

Armenia certainly isn’t short of castles and fortress citadels that are ready to blow your mind. These emblems of glory, battles, struggles …hold so much power and untold stories within their walls that you can feel them within you as you stand there marveling at these edifices .

So here we are standing in the middle of this vast and open land located on a mountain plateau 1490 meters above the sea level, the ravines of Urut and Dzoraget rivers are surrounding it, and glorious mountainous landscapes are encircling us from afar. It’s late afternoon in early September, the wind is pleasantly distracting us from the hot weather and the blue sky is adorned with clouds.

The setting can’t get any more picturesque making the beauty of the fortress stand out all the more.

Located 5 km from Stepanavan, this fortress which holds the same name as the province it’s located in, was built in the dawn of the XIth century. From early on, it had a high military value, and its placement on the Northern route gave it a major trading and strategic importance. Therefore it isn’t a surprise that throughout the centuries, many set a goal to occupy this city fortress as a means to increase their tactical power.

The eyes on this valuable asset were many !

Founded by David Anhoghin, as early as 1005 according to some historians, Lori was then briefly occupied by the Suljuks, a Turkic tribe in the dawn of the 12th century, before the Georgians took over. In 1185 Lori was under Armenian reign once again with the Zakaryan family.

Starting from the mid 16th, until the 18th century, Turks and Persians fought to take over the city.

It was later in the 18th century that the attempts to conquer the city fortress have calmed down after it lost its military turning into an ordinary fortress.

A busy past

As we walk around, in this mostly calm setting (except for the tourists and visitors who are eagerly exploring the place contemplating its beauty) I try to close my eyes and with the help of all the visuals that my memory has stored from movies and documentations about the medieval times, I attempt to rebuild in my imagination how this territory must have been centuries ago, when 10 000 habitants were living within the huge walls of this protected city. Crowded for sure… Loud no doubt! … impressive to say the least

While now the imposing calmness of Nature seems to have taken back its reign on this magnificent landscape the past must have been very different.

Pieces that stood the test of time

Luckily the city fortress hasn't completely disappeared as it has left behind some of its parts for us to explore, scattered elegantly here and here.

These include 2 bathrooms, a small one and a larger one with heat room, bathroom, fitting room. The dome served for the Lighting and ventilation whereas clay pipes installed into the walls, which you can still see now, ensured a system of water irrigation and the flow of hot water which was quite advanced for that time.

Another edifice is the civic house. With its 14x12 layout and originally 5 doors 4 of which are now closed, the main purpose of this structure remains a mystery, However we know that it was turned into a religious building later on, first a mosque in the 14 and 15th century and later on a church by Armenians in the 18th century.

The beauty of the surrounding landscape, the color of the green grass perfectly complementing the medieval style arches and stone walls of the citadel and the intriguing and fascinating past that this citadel has seen, all come together as you stand there in order to create a magical atmosphere that surely transports you.


Author: Grace Jerejian 

A walk through History