The Most Famous and Interesting Caves in Armenia

The Most Famous and Interesting Caves in Armenia









Armenia is a treasure trove of unique geological formations. Some of the most fascinating of these are the caves that can be found scattered throughout the country. From ancient dwellings to natural wonders, they are a testament to Armenia’s rich history and geology.

An Ancient Winery

Some of the most famous cave systems are located in the Vayots Dzor region. The most easily accessible of these is the Areni-1 cave (or Bird’s cave) which sits at the mouth of the road to Noravank, one of the province’s most striking monasteries. Remarkable for its well-preserved artifacts, the ancient Areni cave served as a winery during the Bronze Age. Inside, archeologists have found grape seeds, pottery, and what is thought to be the world’s oldest preserved leather shoe.   
If you’re in the mood for a glass of wine after your visit, there are plenty of working wineries in the area. The surrounding villages of Areni and Aghavnadzor produce many of Armenia’s best grapes. If you’re not the one behind the wheel, make sure to stop by a roadside stall in Areni for samples of homemade grape, pomegranate, raspberry, peach and currant wine. You can take home a few bottles too!

Bear Bones

At three kilometers in length, the Arjeri cave is Armenia’s longest known cave system. Located near the town of Yeghegnadzor in the Vayots Dzor region, the cave is named for the Armenian word for “bear.” Ancient bear bones were found inside it, and if you’re very lucky you might see a live bear too (probably not). But, as there are bears in the region, it’s always smart to travel with a professional. Guided tours are available for those who want to learn more about the cave's geology and ecology. 
Not far away is Mozrov cave with its labyrinth chambers, dripping stalactites and multi-colored geological formations. Visit both caves in one day for an amazing adventure.

Bats Galore

Magellan cave, also located in the Vayots Dzor region, has an entrance so narrow that you might miss it! The explored section of its primary passageway extends for 1.7 kilometers in length and varies from 250 cm to 15 meters in width. Due to its depth, the temperature in the cave stays stable at around 14°С. Magellan is best known for its nocturnal inhabitants. Eight species of bats live inside it! If you dislike them, this is not the cave for you.

UNESCO World Heritage Site 

Geghard Monastery is a UNESCO World Heritage site located in the Kotayk province. The monastery was founded in the 4th century. Visitors can explore Geghard’s various chambers and rooms, including the stunning main hall which is carved directly into the surrounding rock. If you visit on a Sunday, you can hear the melancholic strains of the patarag, the mass of the Armenian Apostolic church. And while you’re there, don’t forget to purchase a delicious round of gata from a roadside stall.  
While you’re in the area, be sure to visit the nearby ancient temple in Garni and catch the sunset vista of Mt. Ararat above Azat Reservoir.

A Village Made of Caves

The network of caves in Khndzoresk, located in the Syunik province, is also a popular tourist attraction. There, small homes carved directly out of the cliffside were inhabited until the 1950s. During the Armenian Genocide and in times of war, they were used as a refuge by the local population. Today, visitors can explore the various eerie chambers and tunnels of the cave system, but reaching them is not for the faint of heart. Khndzoresk is accessible only via a suspension bridge that spans a deep gorge! 
Many people combine a trip to Khndzoresk with a visit to Tatev Monastery, a striking center of Ancient Christianity accessible by the world’s longest non-stop, double-track cable car!  

A Green Fairyland 

Lastiver cave is a fascinating natural wonder located in the Tavush region. It can be reached by hiking from the village of Yenokavan through the Lastiver Canyon, a picturesque gorge with waterfalls, rock formations, and lush vegetation. The two-story cave is unique for its intricate wall carvings, which date to pagan times. 
Don’t miss out on the amazing nature and activities that Lastiver has to offer. While there, you can also go horseback riding and visit the network of ziplines and the rope course at Yell Extreme Park. 

Final Thoughts

In addition to these famous caves, there are many other smaller cave systems scattered throughout Armenia. Some of these are believed to have been used as storage facilities, shelters during times of war or even for religious uses. Whatever their original purpose, the caves in Armenia are a testament to the ingenuity and resilience of the Armenian people throughout history.

Whether you are a history buff, a nature lover, or just looking for an adventure, the caves of Armenia should be on your list! 

Published on July 22, 2024