After the excellent tour to Aragatsotn region I was excited to discover more places to visit in Armenia. My second choice for a daytrip was Lori region, located up north close to the border with Georgia. It took a while to get there from Yerevan, around 3 hours to Alaverdi, but it was well worth the time as the place was just stunning! The landscape changed big time on the way, from the vast Ararat plains to Aragats foothills to finally lush forests and hills of northern Armenia. It was a perfect overview of how much this country has to offer only in terms of nature!
First stop in Lori, Armenia: Haghpat Monastery
The first stop was Haghpat Monastery, listed on UNESCO World’s Heritage List (together with Sanahin Monastery) as a great example of religious Armenian architecture with Byzantine and Caucasian influence and an important learning centers back in the times of the prosperity. The complex dates back to 10th century and is located on the hillside overlooking Debed River but, unlike most monasteries in Armenia, is not isolated. On the sight there are few churches, chapels and some incredible khachkars as well as other structures such as library or kitchen. With all these buildings the complex still feel really small and intimate. Every single place was spectacular, with small details covering walls and little light coming through the small hole in the ceiling. There were couple of other groups visiting the complex at that time but it was easy to get away from them, look around the area on your own and think of the greatness of the place all the centuries ago. I really liked this place and the surroundings, so unobtrusive yet so incredible.
I visited Lori Province as a day trip from Yerevan. If you’re looking for a place to stay in the capital of Armenia I’ve picked the best hotels in Yerevan for you, from budget to luxury! Click here to see them all!
After Haghpat we stoped for lunch in Alaverdi before heading to another destination of the day – Sanahin monastery. Just this short glimpse of the city made me want to spend more time there. The breathtaking location in the valley and surrounding hills, the cable car connecting upper and lower part of Alaverdi, the copper plant dominating the landscape, grey houses and streets. I could see there’s so much more to this place than just the first depressing impression. When I go to Armenia again (and I’m sure there’ll be more trips there in future) I’ll try to visit Alaverdi again as something in this city enchanted me!
Another amazing monastery of Lori, Armenia: Sanahin
Sanahin Monastery turned out to be even more amazing than on the pictures. The place looks very remote and abandoned, kind of like a ruin. It was built at the same time as Haghpat, in 10th century, and also served as a learning center. When we arrived there was no one in sight, only a single candle was lit up. That made the complex look even spookier and unreal. It was a weird feeling walking around in a knee-long grass, having in mind the greatness of the place I was in. Maybe I’m exaggerating here but I really could feel this is the special place, the one that played a big part in the history of the country. Sanahin was yet another spectacular Armenian Monastery that I was lucky to visit and it quickly became one of my favourites too!
Dsegh – where one of the greatest Armenians was born
The last stop of this tour was a small village of Dsegh, a birthplace of Hovannes Tumanyan – a national poet of Armenia. The house where he was born now operates as a museum dedicated to his memory. I must admit I didn’t know anything about the writer prior to my visit to Armenia but it was still interesting to learn about the life of the person who is so important to Armenian nation (even now one of the towns in Lori Province is named “Tumanyan”). Dsegh itself was a nice place too, with a beautiful location and friendly local people.
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Review of the tour to Lori, Armenia
As for the tour itself – this time it was much bigger, 40 people and only me + 2 more were not Russians (that’s because it was in the times of bank holiday in Russia, when lots of people travel). But we had a big, comfortable bus so it wasn’t such a big problem. Again the lovely young girl who was our guide spoke first in Russian, then in English which gave enough time to explore visited places (and each time when she was ready to tell the English part but I was not around yet she just waited for me, at times I had a feeling it’s like a private tour). Over lunch we could get to know each other a little bit, I sat at the table with 4 Russians in their 20s and it was interesting to chat to them for a while. Even if it was a long journey it didn’t feel so and we still had more than enough time in ech location. The Lori Province was another good tour I could recommend to everyone visiting Armenia who wants to see some less popular yet spectacular places!
Do you like visiting UNESCO sites? Would you like to visit Armenia?
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If you think of visiting Armenia or just want to read more about the country take a look what else I wrote about it:
- What you should know about Armenia
- Why Yerevan is my new favourite city
- Exploring south of Armenia
- and more!
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