Vanadzor is the capital city of the Lori region. It is the 3-rd largest city in Armenia and the industrial, economic, educational and cultural center of Lori. The city is about 120 kilometers (75 miles) north of the capital Yerevan. Vanadzor was known as Gharakilisa, then in the Soviet period as Kirovakan, and after the independence of Armenia in 1992, Kirovakan was renamed Vanadzor.
The city is located in the valley of the Pambak river, 1350 meters above sea level, surrounded by the mountains of Bazum and Pambak. From East and South the city is surrounded by forests, from North and West - by hills covered with bushes and plants. The climate in Vanadzor is characterized by cool summers and relatively mild winters.
The word Vanadzor is a combination of two words meaning "Valley of Van", Van refers to the historic Armenian city of Van (now in the territory of Turkey). The area of the present-day Vanadzor has been settled since the Bronze Age, which is proved by the tombs and other historical remains found on the hills of Tagavoranist and Mashtots. The area was a part of the Tashir of Gugark; which was the 13th province of the Kingdom of Armenia.
Vanadzor is a beautiful quiet city surrounded by mountains and forests, with low-raised buildings and lovely parks. The city was a popular resort during the Soviet period. There were skiing routes, ropeway, summer camps, and resort houses in the city. Unfortunately, Vanadzor, along with Gyumri and Spitak, suffered extensive damage during the earthquake in 1988. However, it has been reconstructed and is becoming a popular resort again.
Vanadzor is the educational and cultural center of Lori Province. The Vanadzor House of Culture named after Charles Aznavour is one of the largest cultural centers in Armenia. The Eduard Kzartmyan school of music has been operating in the city since 1934, the fine art museum since 1974, and the house-museum of writer Stepan Zoryan since 1990.
Vanadzor is the seat of the Diocese of Gougark of the Armenian Apostolic Church. The church of the Holy Mother of God (1831), is the oldest church in the city. Saint Gregory of Narek Cathedral, opened in 2005, is named after Saint Gregory of Narek to commemorate the 1000th anniversary of his Book of Lamentations. Orthodox Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, opened in 1895, is serving the city's small Russian community.
There are several important state universities and colleges in Vanadzor․ The city is also famous for its Horevel Folk Dance Ensemble (founded in 1958), Vanadzor Chamber Music Choir (1989), and Vanadzor Chamber Orchestra (1993). Some modern rock bands famous in Armenia have been formed in Vanadzor.
It is home to many theatres including the Bohem Chamber Theatre of Vanadzor, Vanadzor Musical Theatre, Vanadzor Drama Theatre named after Hovhannes Abelyan, and Vanadzor Puppet Theatre.
One of the beloved spots of the residents is the artificial lake not far from the center. It is especially popular on hot summer days when children, and not only, swim and have fun here. Nearby is the famous Armenia Vanadzor Spa and Hotel Complex.
In warm summer evenings, the locals love to stroll in the parks and along the city streets, as well as in Hayq Square surrounded by beautiful buildings. In the center of the square, you will see the new musical fountains that have no prototype in the region. Thus, welcome to Vanadzor - an excellent place for those who love nature and quiet peaceful city life with slow pace and harmony.