The town was known as Nor Bayezet or Novo-Bayazet until 1959. It was named after the Western Armenian town of Bayazet. Between 1959 and 1995, the town was known as Kamo, named after the Bolshevik revolutionary Kamo (Simon Ter-Petrosian). The town was renamed Gavar in 1995, which means ‘a country’ in the Armenian language. The name of the city is also pronounced as Kyavar.
Gavar was founded as Novo-Bayazet (New Bayazit) in 1830 around 8 km west of Lake Sevan, by the Armenian migrants from the town of Bayazet of the Ottoman Empire. The area of the modern-day city has been inhabited since the Bronze Age. Many historical tombstones that date back to the 2nd millennium BC were found here. The remains of a cyclopean fort dating back to the early Iron Age, are found on a hill at the centre of the town.
It is believed that the fortress was the royal capital of the Velikukhi region within the Urartu kingdom. It was surrounded by more than 22 minor fortifications. The region of Velikukhi was conquered by the Urartian king Sarduri II. His son, Rusa II renamed the fortress in honour of Khaldi; one of the three chief deities of Ararat. The Artsvakar neighbourhood of the city, is also home to another Iron Age fortress, dating back to the 2nd millennium BC. In this city, you can see many other monasteries, Khachkars (cross-stones) and other historical monuments.
Gavar has a history museum, a cultural palace, a drama theatre, many public libraries and a monument dedicated to the victims of the Great Patriotic War. The town has a state university, an educational teaching centre, school of music, school of art, and a special school of duduk named after Gevorg Dabaghyan.
The local cuisine is first of all famous for its dish “Kyavari Kyufta” which is made from minced and spiced meatballs. They also say that the tastiest “ishkhan” (trout) fish is prepared here using a special recipe known only to the locals. Red wheat bread is typical of the local cuisine. Gata and baklava are traditional pastries of Gavar that are known for their unique taste.