Vanadzor is considered the third largest city in the country after the capital Yerevan and the “cultural capital” Gyumri. The city bore the name Karaklis (or Karaklis) until 1935, and it was renamed to Kirovakan in Soviet times. Vanadzor is the center of Lori province, almost all routes to the north of Armenia run through this city. Let us find out which top 10 attractions are definitely worth seeing during your visit to Vanadzor.
Church of Holy Mother of God of Vanadzor
It is with this attraction that the first name of the city is associated. A church, made entirely of black stone, was built here in the 13th century. Turkic tribes began to call the settlement “Kara-Klis”, which meant “black church”. The old church building stood until 1826, and then was destroyed by a strong earthquake. A new church building was erected at the same place later, called “Surb Astvatsatsin” (“Holy Mother of God”).
The central square
The central square of the city (like the city itself) was named after Kirov in the Soviet years. Today, it is called Hayk Square in honor of the hero of the Armenian epic. The buildings of the square were built in the 1950s. The buildings themselves, their cladding and decoration preserve the special style of traditional Armenian architecture.
Saint Gregory Narekatsi Cathedral
This magnificent church is one of the relatively new attractions. The cathedral was erected in 2005. St. Gregory Cathedral is decorated with many art frescoes. Here you can also see paintings and images illustrating the history of the Armenian church and the formation of Christianity.
Lori-Pambak Museum օf Regional Studies
This is a museum, exposition and repository, where more than 34 thousand valuable exhibits are stored. Here you can see old clothes, dishes, jewelry, as well as ritual objects and tools. A visit to the museum will help to better understand the history of the region, “seeing” it with your own eyes.
The Vanadzor picture gallery has existed since the 70s of the last century. Once it was a branch of the central State Gallery, but soon it turned into an independent museum. Today, Vanadzor art gallery exhibits more than two thousand exhibits, including paintings, graphics, and sculptures.
Russian Orthodox Church (Church of the Nativity of Virgin)
Church of the Nativity of Virgin is a Russian Orthodox church. The church building, which has a round dome, is made in the not quite familiar Byzantine style. The church was built in the 19th century.
Kamakatar Chapel is a small old building located in the neighborhood of Vanadzor. The building, which has a religious purpose, belongs to the historical monuments of the medieval period.
About an hour’s drive from Vanadzor is another famous landmark of Lori province, two ancient monasteries – Haghpat and Sanahin. According to the legend two great architects, father and son, began to build Sanahin monastery together. But then they quarreled, and the son decided to build his own monastery. Sanahin is famous for its beautiful “lace” cross-stones, none of which repeats the ornament of the other.
The continuation of the legend tells that the son-architect managed to build a magnificent monastery and impressed his father. Seeing the work of the hands of his heir, the old architect exclaimed admiringly and approvingly “Ah, pat!” (“That’s the wall!”). That is why the monastery complex got its name Haghpat.
The Stone Bridge
An ancient stone bridge is located near Sanahin monastery. The bridge was built by Empress Vaneni Zakaryan in memory of her deceased spouse. The length of the bridge is about 60 meters, the height above the river is 12.5 meters. Despite the fact that the building is more than a thousand years old, not only the masonry, but also the lining of the bridge, as well as stone ornaments in shape of wild cats, have been perfectly preserved. The ancient bridge is still functioning and it offers amazing views of the monastery and the surrounding area.