Lago Sevan

      The Sevan Lake (Sevana Lich) is like a sapphire hidden in the mountains. Its sky-blue waters rise above 1,900 meters (6233 feet) and they are surrounded by the Pambak, Shagdah, Vardenis, and Geghama mountain ranges. It is one of the largest alpine lakes in the world and is also known as ‘The pearl of Armenia’.

      The air is pure in Sevan Lake and during the hottest months, the average temperature of its crystal-clear water is around 18 degrees. It is a good place to practice windsurfing, sailing, wakeboarding or other water sports. Of course, it is extremely freezing in winter.

      Lake Sevan is located in the center of the province of Gegharkunik and if you have your own car, the best option to explore it freely is to drive on the road which surrounds the lake. Discovering it by bicycle is another option, and free camping is legal on its shores. Along with the Mount Ararat, it is one of the national icons and its waters have served as inspiration for many artists. “It is so beautiful that one wants to be shipwrecked in it,” Avetik Isahakians wrote as he contemplated its vastness.

      During the Soviet period, the ecosystem of Sevan Lake was in serious danger, since the authorities drained it until lowering its level by 20 meters. Fortunately, the Government retracted, and they became aware of the important role played by this exotic place, converting it into a national park in 1978. Nowadays, the waters are returning slowly to their course and their level has increased a couple of meters, which has meant that the ecosystem of its waters has also recovered slightly.

      Sevan the city

      The city of Sevan is a small Soviet-style town without much charm per se, but its surroundings are full of hotels on the edge of the lake and some of the most touristic spots in the area. It is located a couple of miles from its banks and it acts as a transport hub for the region. If you come by bus or marshrutka it is almost certain that this is the destination for you.

      It is located at almost 2,000 meters above sea level (6561 feet) and it has a population of 23,000 inhabitants. Nayrian Street is the main street of the city. Here you will find most of the food stores, ATMs, the market (or Shuka), the Town Hall, the cafes, the banks, and the taxi stops and minibusses which connect with the rest of the province.

      Tips if you travel to Lake Sevan in summer

      In May, June, July, August and September Lake Sevan is full of mosquitoes. If you are going to stay to sleep in the area, it is not a bad thing to bring a repellent to give it to you at dusk.

      Transportation

      From the city of Sevan there are Marshrutkas that stop very close to Sevanavank. They leave from 166 Sayat Nova Street at 10:30 a.m., 12.00 p.m., 2:30 p.m., 4:00 p.m., 5:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. However, the schedules may change so it is better to check beforehand. For the return trip, there are usually taxis hunting for tourists. A round trip by taxi from Sevan to the monastery, with an hour of waiting, is around 3000 AMD. If there are more passengers, it will be worth it for you.

      What to see?

      Mount Metsep

      At 2,220 meters high (7217 feet) offers a beautiful ascent. If the weather is good, from its summit there is a beautiful panoramic view of the lake, and if the weather is good you can glimpse the Aragats and Ararat in the distance. The trail begins near the Gomadzor cemetery, one of the neighborhoods on the outskirts of the city. You cannot get there by car, and the round trip on foot takes just over three hours.

      Sevanavank Monastery

      The sound of the seagull’s blends with a blue and green horizon in one of the most visited monasteries in Armenia. Sevanavank, or the black monastery, was founded in 874 by the princess Mariam Bagratuni, on top of a small island. Today, the island is a peninsula due to the drainage to which the Soviet authorities subjected the lake, and you can get there on foot. Sevanavank is located about three miles north of the city of Sevan.

      The authorities abandoned it in Communist times and it was badly damaged after the earthquake of 1936. In the ’90s, it was rebuilt again. The complex consists of the churches of Arakelots and Astvatsatsin, a gavit in ruins and the cells where the monks used to sleep.

      The area was one of the first to convert to Christianity and it is said that Sevanavank was the place where the priests who had sinned went to exile. We must emphasize their khachkars of andesite instead of tufa, which give them a characteristic green color. Nowadays, the monastery is still active.

      Museum of Natural Sciences of Sevan

      Opening Hours: Monday to Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.; Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

      Phone+374 261 20283.

      It is in the cultural center of the city. More than a museum, it is an exhibition hall with a permanent exhibition about the flora and fauna of the lake and its surroundings. When we were there, the entrance was free.

      Surroundings of the city of Sevan

       

      Noraduz cemetery

      Nowhere else but in a cemetery can you contemplate the history of a place. Well, the cemetery in the village of Noraduz is completely different from any other. It has the highest concentration of khachkars in the country, around 500, and it was created in the Middle Ages.

      It also has ancient stone tombs carved with drawings which represent important passages of the life of the deceased. Legend has it that the fearsome soldiers of Tamerlane confused the stone crosses with shields and when they thought that the warriors hid behind them, they keep walking past. This is how the small town of Noraduz was saved from looting. In the village, there is also the small church of Saint Gregory the Illuminator.

      Noraduz is 22 miles from Sevan. To get there you can take a round trip taxi from Sevan. If you want to save some money you should travel in marshrutka from Sevan to the city of Gavar, and once there, take a two-way taxi to and from Noraduz.

      Gavar is the capital of the province of Gegharkunik, and there are usually minibusses leaving for Sevan relatively often. However, you should check the schedules because they change continuously. Another option is to return by hitchhiking.

      Transportation

      • Marshrutka Yerevan-Sevan: they leave every hour from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. in high season and from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. in low season (from the north station).
      • Marshrutka Sevan-Yerevan: they leave near 156 Nairyan Street from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. in high season and from 8:00 a.m. to 4 p.m. in low season.
      • Marshrutka Sevan-Gavar: they leave near 145 Nairyan Street at 11:00 a.m., 2:30 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.
      • Marshrutka Sevan-Sevanavank: they leave near 166 Sayat Nova Street at 10:30 a.m., 12:00 p.m., 2:30 p.m., 4:00 p.m., 5:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.
      • Taxi stand: It is located at the end of Nayrian Street. A tour to Sevanavank, Hayravank and the Noratus cemetery costs around 8,000 AMD. To Tsaghkadzor: 3,000 AMD. To Dilijan: 4,500 AMD. If you manage to share it with a few other passengers, it will not be expensive.

      The iron road of the South Caucasus

      In summer you can go from Yerevan to Sevan by train. They leave every day (except Wednesday) at 8:30 a.m. from the Almost station. It is the old train which used to cover the iron route between Yerevan and the village of Shorzha, on the eastern shore of the lake. The railway line is an experience in itself. Outward and return schedules may vary, so you should ask for more information in the Sevan tourist office: +374 99 19 95 55

      Practical information

      Address: 164 Nairyan Poghots Street.

      Opening Hours: Monday to Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

      Phone: +374 99 19 95 55.

      It is located inside the Town Hall of the city of Sevan, on the main street. They speak French.

      Address: 169 Nairyan poghots.

      Phone: ✆+374 261 22650

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