It is not a coincidence that the word ‘Ijevan’ means inn or shelter for caravans because the capital of the province of Tavush was always at a crossroads.
Its location meant that the main routes that connected the Persian and the Ottoman Empires with Russia stopped here. Fruit of that relation with commerce is the hustle and bustle that still remains in its small market (shuka). That is open every day and it is where the people of the whole region converge.
The commercial and institutional life of Ijevan revolves around the Yerevanian street (the M4 Road which traverses the centre) where the bazaar, the Town Hall, the bus station, and some cafes are located.
Ijevan is in the Valley of the Agstev, the river which splits the city in two and which dies in the Kura or Mtkavari (for the Georgians).
It is surrounded by hermetic forests and some of its neighbourhoods climb the slopes of the mountains that protect them.
The city’s climate is warmer than Dilijan and its lands are known for producing some the best white wines in the country.
Nowadays, the authorities are trying to boost tourism, although sometimes it seems that instead of moving forward, they walk backwards. For example, the old tourism office was closed.
There are some half-decent hotels and average B&Bs in the centre. Even though without a doubt, the best accommodation in the area – it is worth knowing it – is in the nearby town of Yenokavan. It is called Apaga Tour and they organize tours on horseback.
They rent bicycles and organize other outdoor activities to get to know the Lastiver Caves and the incredible Yenokavan forest. In our opinion, it is one of those sites that you cannot miss. It is a network of caves with pre-Christian engravings surrounded by wild forests, small waterfalls and a stream with natural pools.
In addition, the city of Ijevan has a small museum, a botanical garden, a good university, a winery that can be visited, and a few cafes that fill with life as soon as the good weather arrives. If you have time, you should visit the Makaravank Monastery. It is hidden amongst the trees and is one of the main centres of pilgrimage in the area.
What to See?
The Botanical Garden
It is located at the entrance to the city if you arrive from Dilijan, on Yerevanian Street (M4 Road), just in front of the Local Museum. It is perfect for having a walk and contemplating the different species of flora.
Ijevan Wine Factory
Address: 9 Yerevanyan Poghots Street.
Opening Hours: Monday to Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Phone: ✆ +374 263 33953.
The Ijevan Wine Factory is the best winery in the region. Amongst its wines are its varieties of ‘Ijevan red’, ‘Ijevan white’, ‘Areni’, ‘Nazeli’, ‘Gayane’, ‘Hin Berd’, ‘Hin Ijevan’, ‘Saperavi’ and its sweet pomegranate wines.
They organize visits and tastings in advance (3,000 AMD). The winery is at the entrance to the city, 1 mile from the centre on the Dilijan Road, near the Botanical Garden.
15 miles from Ijevan, and hidden in a forest, is the monastery of Makaravank. Although it is not active, it is kept in a good state of conservation. Few tourists go to this place, which is perfect to feel the calm and peace of the environment. It was built between the 10th and 13th centuries.
The most important structure is the Astvatsatsin Church, which was built in 1204. According to the legend, the monastery remains unfinished because the enclosure was erected under the supervision of the master-builder Makar and his son. The young man died during the process and the father committed suicide when he found out.
The master’s body was buried under the walls of the monastery. Since then, this site is known as Makaravank. The complex has several other churches, chapels, and buildings which played secondary roles. The nearest marshrutka leaves you in the village of Akhajur, about three miles from the sanctuary. A roundtrip taxi ride from Ijevan with a half-hour wait costs around 6,000 AMD.
Parks and Gardens
The two main green spaces of the city are the Fountain Park (Parque de la Fuente), located in front of the City Hall, and the Sculpture Park (Parque de las Esculturas), between Valansi and Ankhakutian Street.
The former is the heart of the outdoor life of Ijevan, where fairs, concerts, and other events are organized. And the latter is a very quiet place with trees that cast their shade on hot days and is located very close to the government building of the Tavush region.
Dilijan Local Lore Museum
Address: 5 Yerevanyan Poghots Street.
Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
It is a small museum where several ethnographic elements of the area are shown. The memorial of the city in honour of the victims of the genocide is situated next to the building.
Where to Sleep?
Cheap Lodging Type
Address: 4 Tavrizyan Poghots Street.
Phone: ✆+374 77 012274/ +374 77 292979.
It is a nice house with three double rooms with a shared bathroom. The family is super friendly. The rooms are quite simple, and the lady proprietor is a very good cook in the kitchen. They speak a little English and French. It costs AMD 6,000 per person for a night’s stay.
Vardan Vardanyan B&B
Address: 25 Prochyan Poghots Street.
Phone: ✆+374 94 00 3695/ +374 93 00 3695.
It is managed by Vardan, the owner of the Vardanank Cafe, which is on one of the sides of the City Hall. His house is very close to the business. It has a triple room and a double room with a shared bathroom. The B&B has very basic decoration. It costs AMD 5,000 per person.
Address: 40 Ankhakutyan Street.
Phone: ✆+374 94 515154.
They have large, bright and clean rooms with TV, WIFI, and bathroom. The decor is quite acceptable by Armenian standards. The hotel also offers slightly larger superior rooms with its own sitting room. Good location. It has its own restaurant serving local cuisine. The double standard costs AMD 10,000 and 20,000 for the superior room.
Address: 3 Yerevanian Poghots Street.
Phone: ✆+374 91452463 / +374 263 35611.
This is a cheap, clean, and comfortable hotel located a few miles from the Ijevan market, in the artery of the city. The rooms, although without great luxuries, are comfortable. They have rooms with private and shared bathrooms. AMD 5,000-7,000.
Expensive Lodging Type
Address: Village of Yenokavan.
Phone: ✆+374 94 60 30 10/ +374 93 365437.
This is the best resort in the area. It is like a small village with 22 mountain houses serving as rooms. The lodgings are very comfortable and have magnificent views of the city of Ijevan and Mount Murguz at 2,993m (9819 feet).
The hotel also specializes in all types of active tourism: horseback riding for up to 12 days, trekking, and hiking. They even organize bonfires at night and they have a restaurant where they make their own bread.
Apaga Resort is in the village of Yenokavan, 8 miles from Ijevan, in a spectacular setting. It is surrounded by forests that offer some of the most beautiful paths and trails in the Tavush region. You can even find the Lastiver Caves within 3 miles. For more information: www.apaga.info
Lastiver Caves and the Yenokavan Forest
Have you had enough of so many monasteries? Do you want to get to know the wildest side of Armenia?
8 miles from Ijevan, in the small town of Yenokavan, is one of the most spectacular forests in the country. The Yenokavan Forest extends along a deep gorge 100 meters high (328 feet). The place is dotted with prehistoric caves, small waterfalls, and full of exuberant vegetation that make it an ideal place to “disconnect” for a few days from the rest of the world.
To get there, you have to go to the nearby Yenovakan and continue on the road to the Apaga-Tour hotel resort (you can see the accommodation section of Ijevan). By taxi, the journey usually costs around 2,000-2,500 AMD one way. The paths that descend to the caves and waterfalls start from this place. It is the best spot to ask for information about the route you have to follow or even hire a guide to avoid getting lost.
The descent to the caves and the Khaghpyur River takes around 50 minutes (3 miles) along small paths that sometimes fork out. You can spend the night both in Apaga-Tour and in the quaint Anapat camp, located on the edge of the river in the deepest part of the canyon. The latter is full of teepees, tents, and even huts on the trees.
In winter, due to inclement weather, they lodge their clients in a grotto called the ‘Crystal Cave’, near the base camp. You should bring your own sleeping bag, since the temperature drops at night. You can also choose a peaceful clearing in the vicinity and do some free camping.
Lastiver is located deep in the Yenokavan Gorge and the footprint of man survives for centuries thanks to the drawings which are carved on the walls of some of its cavities.
In them, there are also engraved crosses dating from Christian times. There are several caves here that are between 10 and 15 meters deep, and about 15 meters wide.
During the periods when Armenia was devastated by its enemies, this hidden place served as a hiding spot for the peasants.
The stop is located in a wooden hut on the main road heading towards Berd (Yerevanian Street), next to Dan Garden Cafe.
- Marshrutkas Ijevan-Yerevan: they leave at 7.30 a.m., 8.30 a.m., 9.30 a.m., 10.30 a.m., 12.30 p.m., and 3.30 p.m.
- Marshrutkas Ijevan-Dilijan: they leave at 7.30 a.m., 8.30 a.m., 9.30 a.m., 10.30 a.m., 12.30 p.m., and 3.30 p.m.
- Marshrutkas Ijevan-Vanadzor: There are several services a day to Vanadzor. You should find more information about the hours at your reception hotel.