Gegharkunik Region

Gegharkunik
Gegharkunik

Area: 5,349 km2

Population: 235,075


Gegharkunik is the largest province in Armenia. Its capital and largest city is the town of Gavar. However, most of the territory of the region (1,278 km2) is covered by Lake Sevan, the largest lake in Transcaucasia and a major tourist attraction of the region.

The name of Gegharkunik is derived from Gegham, a 5th-generation Haykazuni King and one of the descendants of the legendary patriarch and founder of the Armenian nation Hayk. Gegham was the father of Sisak (founder of the Siunia dynasty), and Harma (grandfather of Ara the Beautiful). Gegham mountains and the Lake of Gegham (currently known as Lake Sevan) were also named after Gegham.

Armenia has no access to the sea, and this might be a disaster for many people, but Armenia has its blue pearl-Lake Sevan. This lake is the pride of the Armenian people, it’s the one and only and when there is little of something people as a rule, always appreciate and treasure it. The lake is 1,242 km2, and the volume is 32.8 km3. The largest lake in the Caucasus, it's also one of the largest freshwater high-altitude lakes in the world. Its colors and shades change with the weather and by its own mysterious processes, from a dazzling azure to dark blue and a thousand shades in between. The lake supports a healthy fish population, including the endangered Ishkhan (prince trout), named for a row of spots like a crown on its head. Other species include introduced crayfish and sig (white fish).

The climate is cooler than in other areas. The average annual temperature makes up 5 degrees Celsius. In January the temperature might reach minus 6 degrees Celsius and go as high as 16 degrees Celsius in July. In general, the weather is windy. The wind is especially mean in winter. While in Sevan don’t miss the chance of underwater diving. The coastal underwater world of the lake, where beginners can start their journey and professionals practice, is quite interesting and varied. Here you can see underwater rocks, shoals of fish, interesting algae, sunken boats, etc.  

Of course, it is difficult to compare all these with the underwater world of the seas and oceans, coral reefs and big ships, but only by the fact that the sensations produced by diving in the mountain lake are very different from diving in the open sea, it is a completely different. The season of diving in Lake Sevan begins in July and lasts until September.

The Lake and its mountainous vicinity offer a myriad of opportunities for active and passive rest. Paragliding over the lake, windsurfing in the waters or camping on the shore – pick something to your taste. Your trip to Sevan will be incomplete without short of historical/cultural sightseeing which starts from the Sevan Peninsula and its neighborhood.

Here the medieval Sevanavank Monastery is situated which is one of the most-visited sights in Armenia. Sevanavank Monastery has played a crucial role in Armenian history, in fact, it has served as a place for battle. Its location and the fact that it was then completely surrounded by water made it a good strategic shelter for Armenian King Ashot II (also known as Ashot Erkat, “Erkat” meaning “Iron”). The monastic complex comprises 2 churches- vivid pieces of early Armenian medieval architecture- Surp Arakelots (“Holy Apostles”) and Surp Astvatsatsin (“Holy Mother of God”). The inscription in one of the churches says that it was built by Armenian princess Mariam, daughter of Ashot I, who later became the king of Armenia and the founder of Bagratuni dynasty.          

Sevanavank is one of the 30 churches that Princess Mariam vowed to build in the memory of her husband. King Ashot I, in his turn, presented six villages and gardens in the territory of today’s Garni and Yerevan to the monastery. However, the peninsula was a religious center even centuries before the construction of Sevanavank Monastery churches. Surb Harutyun Church was built by Gregory the Illuminator, the founder of the Armenian Apostolic Church. It is said that the church was ruined during an earthquake in 995.

Even before Armenia’s adoption of Christianity as a state religion, there was a small pagan temple on the island of Sevan. It’s one of the few monasteries in Armenia that work for religious purposes and that’s why there is a special dress-code. Although the monastery is situated very close to holiday resorts, it’s forbidden to enter the church dressed in a swimsuit, very short skirt, and so on. Your legs and shoulders must be covered appropriately.

Vazgenian Theological Academy is also located on the peninsula, not too far away from Sevanavank Monastery. The Academy was founded in 1990 and named after His Holiness Vazgen A. It works under the direct supervision of the Mother See of Holy Ejmiatsin and belongs to the Armenian Apostolic Church. You cannot enter the academy, but you can notice the black building on your way up to the monastery. And there are rewards for those willing to look a little deeper and climb a little higher as locals are impressed by those who bother to look into their side of the world and take particular pride in whatever they have, be it an Urartian fortress or a medieval monastery.


City/town


Sights

Sevanavank

Sevanavank is monastery complex on a peninsula of Lake Sevan which is located in Gegharkunik region. According to the Armenian historians, Gregory Enlightener was founded the first two churches in 305

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