For thousands of years, the raging waters of the Debed River have made their way between tight mountains and have slowly formed one of the natural wonders of the country: a canyon which is 7 kilometers long and hundreds of meters high. To top it off, the man has created authentic works of art in the form of fortresses and monasteries which have made this area one of the greatest tourist attractions of the north of the country.
Together with Etchmiadzin, it has the highest concentration of World Heritage monuments and few places in the country can compete in terms of historical and landscape heritage. You cannot miss its two jewels of religious architecture: the Aghpat and Sanahin Monasteries.
The sticking point is imposed by the colossal Alaverdi Copper Factory, which during the time of Tsarist domination came to supply a quarter of all the mineral necessary for the Russian Empire. Even today, the plant maintains high production rates. The buildings that were built during the Soviet period in the main population centers are also a shock to the eyes.
The gap opened by the forces of nature in the past has now been exploited by man to build one of the busiest – and worst preserved – roads which connect Iran with Georgia and Russia. The only international railway line that remains active in Armenia after the war in Nagorno-Karabakh and whose final destination is the Georgian capital runs through here, too.
The main town in the area is Alaverdi. This small town has the best transport connections, the odd restaurant, and B&B. However, the best hotels in the area, such as the Avan Dzoraget or the Qefo, are in nearby towns. The area offers some trekking and although most of its villages are connected by marshrutka, the frequencies are not very high, thus making the transport slow and a bit chaotic. You can always take a taxi or hitchhike.