The town of Vardenis is located in the southeastern part of the Gegharkunik Region and is considered to be one of the oldest settlements of the region. It is located in the valley of the Masrik River, on the territory of the Masrik artesian basin at 2,006 meters above sea level, near the southeastern shores of Lake Sevan.
It is 170 kilometres east of the capital Yerevan, and 75 kilometres southeast of the provincial centre Gavar. It got the status of an urban settlement in 1995. Nowadays the population is 12,600.
The town was also known as Vasakashen and Voskeshen. In 1969 it was renamed Vardenis which means the land of roses. It also was part of the Sotk canton of historic Syunik; the 9th province of Great Armenia.
According to legend, the settlement was founded as Geghamabak by Gegham; the grandson of the legendary Hayk: the forefather and founder of the Armenian nation.
Being situated on the Masrik plain and in the valley of Masrik river, the city borders Lake Sevan in the north, Zangezur mountains in the east, and Vardenis mountains in the south-east.
According to historian Ghevond Alishan, prince Gaburn Vasak of the Syunia dynasty founded the settlement of Vasakashen on the territory of Vardenis during the 9th century. Vasakashen survived until the 17th century. The fact that this city is one of the oldest cities in Armenia is proved by the existence of the tombs and the ruins of ancient mausoleums and other 568 monuments.
The oldest and most interesting monuments are the Makenyats monastery, the ruined Armenian basilica church dating back to the 7th century in Sotk village, the chapels of Ayrk and Karchaghbyur, the tombs of 3rd-1st millennia BC, the Cyclopean masonry, and the medieval khachkars (cross-stones).
The Church of Surb Astvatsatsin (Holy Mother of God) in the centre of the town was built in 1903. There are numerous khachkars in the surroundings of the church which date back to the 14th and 17th centuries. The area is rich with metal and non-metal resources, gold, semi-precious stones and numerous types of rock used in construction.