Armenia's Must-Visit Reservoirs
Armenia is home to roughly 80 reservoirs! According to some estimates, reservoirs have existed in Armenia for millenia, a testament to the enduring importance of water as a natural resource. Archeological excavations have revealed the remains of a 4th century reservoir on the Goght river near the town of Abovyan. New reservoirs – like the one in Vedi village – have also been developed in the past few years to prevent modern water-related crises.
In general, reservoirs play a crucial role in water management by storing and regulating supplies for drinking, agriculture, industry, and electricity generation. They ensure a consistent water supply during dry periods and prevent flooding during heavy rains. Reservoirs also create new habitats for aquatic life and opportunities for plenty of recreational activities. Here we list seven of the most interesting reservoirs to visit around the country.
Aparan: Delicious Water Comes From Here
Located in the Aragatsotn region, Aparan is a vital water source for both drinking and agriculture. It’s also one of the most beautiful bodies of water in Armenia. Situated north of Mt. Ara and east Mt. Aragats, the reservoir is stunning year-round, most especially when the weather is clear. Then, Mt. Aragats’ southern and eastern summits stand tall and sharp against the sky. A trail snakes around the whole reservoir, passing by peaceful pine forests and ancient monasteries like St. Paul and Peter Church.
Azat Reservoir: A Scenic Retreat near Garni Temple
Nestled at the foot of the rocky red Mt. Yeranos, Azat is a captivatingly beautiful reservoir with uniquely curved shorelines. It is fed by snow meltwater from the Geghama mountain range which flows through the Azat River valley. Visit in mid-spring to see the reservoir’s emerald green waters at peak volume. Paraplane above the reservoir to admire its splendour in full or stand-up paddle board at sunset to catch unforgettable views of Mt. Ararat in the distance. Combine your visit with a trip to ancient nearby Garni Temple, which is perched dramatically on the edge of the Azat River valley.
Spandaryan: One of Syunik’s Gems
On the way to Armenia’s Syunik region, you’ll notice the vast Spandaryan reservoir from the road. Set against the backdrop of the Zangezur mountains, it is one of Armenia’s most dramatically beautiful reservoirs and the second in terms of volume. It was created in 1980 by damming the Vorotan River between Jermuk and Goris. The hydropower plant located on the reservoir provides sustainable energy to the surrounding region. The reservoir is also considered a great fishing location in Armenia.
Kechut: Resort Town Reservoir
Kechut Reservoir will greet you as you enter the resort town of Jermuk in Armenia’s Vayots Dzor region. Jermuk is a city of water, known for its hot springs, delicious fizzy mineral water, wide and fairy-like waterfall, and of course, Kechut. The 10th century Gndevank monastery sits on the banks of the tranquil reservoir into which the Arpa River flows. Since there is little to no light pollution in the area, the reflective reservoir is a lovely place to admire the stars. While it is currently being renovated, the Jermuk ropeway is another great way to experience the town from above!
Tolors: An Underwater Church
The Tolors Reservoir, located just 15 minutes from Sisian, is unique. Directly in the middle of its waters lies the 16th century church of St. Hripsime. And no, it’s not on an island; it’s submerged! In seasons of heavy rainfall or snowmelt, the church is only reachable by boat. In times of drought, it’s possible to walk to the church and pray inside it. It was during the Soviet era that officials decided to build a reservoir in the plain, disregarding the cultural and spiritual importance of the church. Locals claim that when the waters of the reservoir reach the church’s dome, hail comes and destroys the crops as a punishment for the sacrilegious decision.
Tavush: Forested fairytale
Located in the lush Berd region on Armenia’s eastern border, the Tavush reservoir is nestled between the forested villages of Tavush and Maflar. It is located on the Tavush river and makes a great spot for a picnic in the spring or summer months. On a clear autumn day, the surrounding foliage is brilliant and colourful. Combine your visit with the hidden Kaptavank monastery in nearby Chinchin village and the dramatic Ghuzan stone.
Akhuryan: Border Reservoir
Shared by Turkey, the Akhuryan reservoir is Armenia’s largest by cubic volume and is primarily used by both countries for irrigation. It is fed by the river of the same name, which runs through much of Armenia’s Shirak region. You can get a good view of the reservoir from the train which runs from Gyumri to Yerevan.
Discovering Armenia's reservoirs is a simple yet enchanting way to experience the country's beauty and serenity, making it a must-visit for nature enthusiasts and travellers seeking a peaceful retreat.