Vayots Dzor has one of the most rugged landscapes in Armenia, with vegetation struggling to cling to the towering rock cliffs!
The Vayots Dzor marz is located in the center of Armenia, with its largest urban center Yeghegnadzor situated 123 km from Yerevan. Vayots Dzor has one of the most rugged landscapes in Armenia, with vegetation struggling to cling to the towering rock cliffs! Once teeming with forests, the upper slopes of the region are blanketed in alpine meadows, seas of grass and wildflowers in the spring that turn into shades of burnt amber in the summer.
Hiking and camping aficionados will enjoy the unforgiving terrain and relative remoteness of the trails that lead to abandoned villages, sites of medieval and Bronze Age ruins, and far-flung seasonal shepherd outposts set up by friendly local Armenians and Yezidis.
Walking among the spectacular rock formations cut like diamonds by the Arpa River, is not just an above ground experience, as Vayots Dzor also contains some of Armenia’s largest caves. Prime destinations for adventure tourism, the primordial caves hanging above sacrificial sites from the Paleolithic and Bronze Ages, amidst the hundreds of miles of unmapped shafts. The most popular ones include the Archeri (Bears’), Magel and Mozrov Caves.
There are also plenty of opportunities to rest and recover above ground, with Jermuk being this region’s most popular destination. Armenia’s prime mineral-water spa, Jermuk is blessed with several types of naturally heated mineral water, clean alpine air and forests of cultivated pine and hardwood trees, and is in the midst of upgrading to international standards, with services at a fraction of the cost of their European counterparts.
After a refreshing day in the geothermal springs, visit some of the many historical monuments. The World Heritage Site nominee, Noravank, is one of Armenia’s architectural masterpieces, with elaborate high gothic decorations gracefully carved into its amber-colored walls. Reaching the monastery is an experience in itself, travelling through a tight gorge of brick-red cliffs punctured by a myriad of caves. Other sites include Gndevank Monastery with its exquisitely preserved frescoes; the Selim Caravanserai; the ruined medieval town of Yeghegis with its Jewish cemetery; and Zorats Astvatsatsin Church, built with tall entries, to allow military commanders to enter and receive their blessing on horseback; the towering castles of Smbataberd and Proshaberd; the medieval architectural complexes at Her-Her and Vernashen; and the nearby remains of the thirteenth century University of Gladzor, one of the oldest universities in the western world.
Area: 2,308 km2
Administrative center: Yeghegnadzor
Distance from Yerevan to Yeghegnadzor: 123 km
Mountains: Vardenis Range, Vaik Range
Lakes: Sevakn, Jukhtak, Hreshtak
Rivers: Arpa, Yeghegis, Herher
Sites: Areni, Jermuk (Resort Center), Herher Towns, St. Astvatsatsin Church, Gndevank Monastery, Magel and Mosrov Caves