Tavush Marz, in the northeast of Armenia, is known for its lush green forest-covered mountains, and the wealth of attractions hidden in the folds and crevices of its mountains and valleys. Leading the field in terms of tourism development, amongst its monasteries and historic towns, a variety of outdoor activities are beginning to flourish – whether it’s zip-lining 750m over the Sarnajur Gorge, hiking through the Dilijan National Park or the Samson Gorge, or dropping a heart-stopping sixty meters into pit caves.
Take a scenic drive to the north along the highway to Tbilisi, to the (now dormant) industrial town of Noyemberyan, on the Koghb riverbed. Nearby are the haunting Mshkavank Monastery and some important archeological excavations. Along the way is the resort town of Dilijan, dubbed Armenia’s “Little Switzerland,” due to the splendid historic homes’ wooden balconies and balustrades, set against the stunning mountainous forest backdrop. The old-town Sharambeyan Street preserves a slice of how Dilijan looked historically, and has shops, a museum, a restaurant and a hotel, all renovated with the uniquely Tavush wood- and stonework designs.
Tavush also boasts the city of Ijevan, a second resort area and favorite summer retreat for Armenian artists. Ijevan is the gateway to eastern Tavush; roads lead over the high Sarum and Tsaghkut mountain passes into the wild Tavush Mountain Range and Shamshadin, Armenia’s “Shangri La”. All roads in this region wind up and down wooded hills, through the endless expanse of natural solitude.
Important medieval monasteries and fortresses abound in Tavush, hidden in spectacular locations, such as Haghartsin, Goshavank, Markaravank, Arakelots, Kirants Vank, Deghdznuti, Lastiver Cave Church, Nor Varagavank, Shkhmuradi and Khoranashat.