Known And Unknown Lori

Lori stands out with its wonderful nature, natural monuments, rich historical and cultural heritage, fortified cities, churches, medieval bridges.

Lori region is located in the north of the Republic of Armenia, bordering Georgia. The highest point of the region, the top of Hot (Tej) Mountain, is located at an altitude of 3101 m above sea level, the lowest – the lower part of the Debed River – about 390 m.  Lori occupies 3799 square meters; the population is about 210,000. The administrative center of Lori region is Vanadzor, which is the third largest city in Armenia. The region has a mountainous landscape, with a relatively humid climate. It is rich in rivers, forests, alpine meadows, springs, including mineral.

Lori region was one of the most important industrial-mining centers of Armenia. Traditional crafts include weaving, carpet weaving, embroidery, woodworking, khachkar and stonework. The region stands out with its wonderful nature, natural monuments, rich historical and cultural heritage, fortress cities, churches, medieval bridges. Lori is located in the seismic zone. The epicenter of the devastating 1988 earthquake was the village of Nalband, north of the town of Spitak in the Lori region.

Famous and unknown Lori:

Lori is rich in secular, religious architectural monuments, natural monuments, and legends.

Lori is an ancient settlement, as evidenced by archeological discoveries belonging to the 3-1 millennium B.C., as well as the results of excavations at Kosi Joter, Gharakotuk, Lorut and other ancient sites. Lori had very favorable living conditions: rich nature, cave dwellings in the deep gorges of Dzoraget  and Debed, cool climate, fresh springs, numerous rivers rich in fish, fruit forests, pastures, rich fauna.As the people of Lori say, if you were born in Lori, you will not starve․

The forest will feed you. The whole Armenian highland, including Lori, is rich in both secular and religious architectural monuments, natural monuments, legends.

Sanahin, Haghpat, Akhtala, Odzun, Kobayr, Horomayr, Ardvin were educational, cultural and scientific centers of medieval Armenia. Famous medieval scientists lived and worked in these monastic complexes. The 8th century lawyer, political scientist, public figure, diplomat Hovhannes Odznetsi Hayrapet was born in Lori, who was consecrated by the Armenian Church after his death. One of the most important works of Odznetsi is the “Armenian Codex”, the first collection of ecclesiastical law in Armenia.

All-Armenian poet Hovhannes Tumanyan, great prose writers Stepan Zoryan, Hrant Matosyan, world-famous aircraft designer Artem Mikoyan, high-ranking USSR state and political figure Anastas Mikoyan were born in Lori. The Armenian Kyurikian or Lori Kingdom was established in Lori in the 10th century, the center of which became the fortress city of Lori in the 11th century. In the 12th century, the Kyurikyans were replaced by the ruling dynasty of the Chalcedonians or the Zakarians, a Georgian religion. Both dynasties have left their significant mark on the construction of Lori church, fortress, culture, and economic development.

The mint of King Kyurike II was located in Akhtala fortress. The first coins with the Armenian inscription known to us were minted here. Five of these unique copper coins are now kept in the Yerevan History Museum, with the image of Jesus Christ on the obverse, with the words “YS KS” – “Jesus Christ” written on both sides, and on the reverse, “Lord, help Cyrus of the Cyrus Palace”. These coins weigh 3-8 g and are similar to the Byzantine coins of the period. Information is also preserved about the silver coins of King Cyrus II.

Lori has been invaded by Persians, Arabs, Turk-Seljuks, Mongol-Tatars in different times in history. In the Middle Ages, for some time, it was annexed to the Kingdom of Georgia, after which the Chalcedonian culture flourished here, and the Akhtala monastery complex became the center of the Chalcedonian Armenians. 1801 Tashir-Dzoraget has joined Russia along with Georgia.

Lori Akhtala historical and cultural settlement is also famous for its copper mines, the extraction of which has a history of thousands of years. Here is the oldest factory in the Caucasus, the ore processing plant, built in 1763.

In the 19th century, a railway was built in Lori to facilitate the export of copper to the European market by a French company operating copper mines. The genius medieval troubadour-poet, singer Sayat-Nova, named after Father Stepanos, served in the Haghpat diocese from 1768 as a monk, from 1778 as an illuminator. The world-famous director Sergey Parajanov’s film “The Color of Pomegranate” was filmend in Lori Sanahin, Haghpat and Ardvi Monasteries. Lori is famous for both handmade and natural monuments.

Clean air, mild climate, cold springs, mineral waters, high mountains, deep gorges, lush forests, water-rich and fast-flowing rivers, waterfalls, rocky habitats are an inseparable part of Lori’s characteristics. Lori is rich both in written monuments, manuscripts, inscriptions, and folklore ․ Many interesting stories have reached us, which complete the description of Lori.

There are many places of pilgrimage, sanctuaries in Lori, where hundreds of pilgrims and believers visit every year with the expectation of a miracle. The region is also distinguished by the diversity of the ethnic composition of the population․ Representatives of 18 nations once lived here.

Currently, there are Greek-Russian settlements in Lori. The Molokans, who are ethnic Russians, have a special place, but differ from them by their unique religion, culture, customs and way of life. Lori played an important role in the formation of the first republic of Armenia in 1918. Among the heroic battles of May 1918, the heroic battle of Gharakilisa was of exceptional importance. According to Nzhdeh, “Without the battle of Gharakilisa, we would have neither today’s Soviet Armenia nor a single Armenian living on that territory today.”

The three-day heroic battle of Gharakilisa saved the Armenians of Ararat and laid the foundation of the Armenian state. The public and political figure Avetis Aharonyan called the heroic battle of Gharakilisa the 20th century Avarayr battle.

Famous settlements of Lori

Lori or Loreberd

Loreberd was a powerful defensive structure, surrounded on three sides by inaccessible gorges, and on one side by a double walled tower, from which the deep ditches dug out, and in case of danger were filled with Miskhana waters. The width of the fence in some places reached 20 m, and the height – 20-25 m.

The medieval fortress town of Lori is located 4.5 km from Stepanavan, on a plateau bordered by the gorge of the Miskhana River. The fortress was founded by the Armenian king David I Anhogh (“without land”) in 1005-1020. The locals call the fortress Ashot Iron Fortress in honor of the Bagratuni king. This is due to the legend that Ashot Yerkat spent the night here on the Utik-Gegharkunik road.

Loreberd was discovered during excavations in 1966 ․ This magnificent fortress city, which flourished in the Middle Ages, was discovered with its citadel, squares, suburbs, cave dwellings, tombs, and valuable archeological finds. The two-story palace building was found, 2 bathrooms, big and small, with clay pipes for hot and cold water, a heating system, a cold-water pool, and a reservoir connected to the city water supply system. The fortress city occupied 33 hectares, of which the citadel – 8․5 hectares.

The Citadel was surrounded by squares and workshops. Dozens of inhabited caves were found around the city. Loreberd was a powerful defensive structure, surrounded on three sides by the inaccessible gorges of the Dzoraget River, its tributary the Miskhana River, and on one side by a double-walled tower, from which the deep ditches dug out, and in case of danger were filled with Miskhana waters. The width of the fence in some places reached 20 m, the height – 20-25 m.

The fortress city is currently destroyed. Part of the castle walls, and the arched entrance are preserved. In 1065, Loreberd became the capital of the Kyurik kingdom. Located on the northern trade route, it was a large commercial center. In 11-13th centuries it had about 10 thousand inhabitants. The Kyurikyans, then the Zakaryans and their successors, built palaces, churches, baths in Lori, bridges and khachkars in the gorges separating the suburbs from the city.

A subway was built that reached the Miskhana River and ended in a tower-like structure. It was used to keep in touch with the outside world and to obtain drinking water when needed. Work tools, weapons, jewelry, various clay vessels, glass vessels, porcelain, earthenware, bone-stone objects, coins were found in Loreberd, which give grounds to suppose that many branches of handicrafts were developed in Lori. These items also include items imported from other countries, particularly Georgia, Persia, Central Asia, and Mesopotamia. On the Urut tributary of

Dzoraget the bridge is still preserved in the 11-12th centuries․ The bridge was built in 2007, which is one of the best examples of medieval Armenian bridge construction. The flight of the bridge is 8.5 m, the opening of the arch is 3.8 m, the width is 2.8 m. The bridge is built of basalt polished stones.

Stepanavan

Stepanavan is one of the ancient settlements of Lori region. It was a part of the historical fortress city of Lore, the center of the historical\Tashir-Dzoraget kingdom. At the beginning of the 19th century, the Hasan-Jalalyans, a well-known ruling dynasty, came here from Artsakh. Until the end of the 30s of the 20th century, the cross at the top of the gorge was preserved, on which it was written that it was erected by Prince Hasan-Jalalyan.

Stepanavan is the second city of Lori region. This green city with wonderful climatic conditions is called the second Switzerland by the people. It is not accidental that in the former USSR it was one of the famous resorts for many years, and now it is a wonderful resort. Dzoraget divides Stepanavan into two parts.

The city is surrounded by lush forests, dominated by pines, alpine meadows and mineral waters. In the 1800s, officers from Tsarist Russia were exiled here, and nuns from monasteries, formed families here, and a new district, Slobodka, was established. Vladimir Mayakovsky’s parents lived on Mayakovsky Street in Stepanavan. In 1801, Stepanavan, which was part of Tashir province, came under the rule of Tsarist Russia together with Georgia.

In the 1860s, there was a school for both sexes in Jalaloghlu, where the All-Armenian poet Hovhannes Tumanyan studied. The oldest street of Jalaloglu was called the Street of Millions before the revolution, where rich people and nobles lived, and here were the summer houses of ts arist officials. The settlement was named Stepanavan in 1923 in honor of the Armenian revolutionary figure Stepan Shahumyan. The city has a mausoleum, chapels – St. Amenaprkich, St. Nshan, churches and medieval bridges. In the center of Stepanavan is St. Sargis Church, built in the 13th century. In Stepanavan 1917-29 there was an orphanage where children who survived the Armenian Genocide took refuge.

Dsegh:

“Dsegh, with its invincible and wonderful position, is like a natural fortress. Its small plain is surrounded and fortified on the south by forested mountains, and on the other three sides by deep valleys. The borders of the Dsegh valley start from the south with cool high mountains, and end in the deep valleys in the north.” This is how the All-Armenian poet Hovhannes Tumanyan, described his birthplace Dsegh.

Dsegh is located on a high island on the right bank of the Debed River. The area of ​​the village was an ancient settlement. Dsegh in folk etymology means a place outside, a beautiful place outside – a separate place. According to the legend, in order to distinguish the village from the others, it was called Dsegh or Duz place, a flat place, which means that the village was in the plain before, people climbed the paths to work, then returned. The difficulties of moving forced them to leave their former place of residence and settle in their current place of residence. The old village has not been preserved.

Dsegh was the Mamikonyans’ summer house in the 10th century, then its residence. The Mamikonyan family cemetery is preserved ․ The khachkars and tombstones here are mainly from the 13th century. By the way, the Tumanyan dynasty descended from the famous Mamikonyan dynasty. Tumanyan was proud of his family roots and signed the letters written in 1880-90 were by the name Hovhannes Tumanyants-Mamikonyan. In 1853 a school for both sexes was opened in Dsegh, six years later only boys studied here. Then there was no school in the village for about 10 years.

The children, including the child Hovhannes, were made literate in his house by the owner Grigor (Grishka) Tumanyan, Hovhannes Tumanyan’s uncle. In 1878, on the initiative of the poet’s mother, the school of teacher Sahak was opened in the village. By the way, only Hovhannes among the students avoided the “methodical beating” of the semi-literate master-teacher. According to the poet “I did not get any of the beatings, since I was shy of my father, and especially afraid of my mother.” South of the village, at the foot of Tsovakar mountain, there is a beautiful Lake Tsover (seas)․

It is here that the earth and the sky get mixed together and take on a green hue, the color of the forests of paradise. The lake used to be big, and surrounded by several lakes, that’s why it was named “Seas”. The Holy Lord Khachkar or the Beautiful Cross (13th century) is located in Dsegh. The height of the khachkar with a pedestal is more than 4 m and is made of pink stone. The khachkar depicts Jesus sitting on a throne, under a flowered cross – the symbol of the earth. In the center of the village is the statue of Hovhannes Tumanyan.

The house-museum of the All-Armenian poet is located, under which the poet’s heart rests. In the center of Dsegh, next to the Tumanyan House-Museum, is the church of St. Gregory the Illuminator in the village, where Tumanyan’s father, Father Tadevos, once served. An early medieval quadrangular monument is preserved in the medieval cemetery of Dsegh, the height of which is 2 m. A single stone pillar placed on a three-tiered pedestal depicts a cross, palm leaves, and a vine. All sides of the monument have their symbolic images. There are such monuments in several settlements of Armenia.

The famous Gikor spring is located in Dsegh gorge, from which, according to Tumanyan, his little hero drank water on the way to the city. This image is also preserved in the movie “Gikor”. The spring is a beautiful monument of nature. In 2.5 km from the village, in a forested gorge, is St. Grigor Bardzrakash Monastery built by the Mamikonians (10th-13th centuries).

There are no historical records about this monastery, lithographic inscriptions are preserved. The monastery is half-ruined. According to the preserved model, the church had two floors. The second floor is now visible, the first one went underground during the earthquake. There are foundations of various destroyed structures in the territory of the monastic complex, traces of economic buildings built of raw stone.

The main monument of the medieval monastic complex consists of two adjacent churches and a vestibule, to the south of which are the other structures of the complex: St. Harutyun Chapel (Crow Ark), the Mamikonyan family cemetery, the oil mill, through which they received oil. There is a monastery bridge in the gorge (13th century). The monastery was a medieval educational center. The representatives of the Mamikonian ruling dynasty received education here. The people call St. Harutyun chapel “Crow’s Ark”.

According to the preserved legend, people who cooked food here, did not notice that a snake fell into the pot and poisoned it. Seeing that, the crow threw himself into the cauldron so that people could see and not eat the poisoned food. After that the chapel was called “Crow Ark”.

Aramyants Castle

A Tbilisi-resident (Georgia) Armenian businessman, great philanthropist Mikael Aramyants built a castle in Akhtala in the 1900s, the like of which he saw while traveling in Switzerland. It is said that Aramyants built this castle for his sick daughter, who could be helped by the clean, healthy air of this settlement.

This Swiss-style castle with its farm was called “Armenian Switzerland” by Aramyants guests. Many intellectuals and national figures were hosted here: Alexander Mantashyants, Khrimyan Hayrik, Hovhannes Tumanyan, Alexander Shirvanzade, Vardges Surenyants, Gorg Bashinjaghyan and others.

1918 The declaration on the establishment of the first Republic of Armenia was signed here on May 28. During the Soviet years, the building was turned into a rest house. Now, unfortunately, it is not in a good condition. This building is one of the two preserved castles in Armenia, the other is the house of Tairov in Vanadzor, which has the same architectural style. The castle is surrounded by about 100 cypress trees, which make the current castle appear even poorer and more abandoned.

Sanahin Bridge

The Sanahin bridge is built on the old Alaverdi-Sanahin road, on the Debed river.

It was built by Queen Vaneny of Kyurik at the end of the 12th century. in memory of her prematurely deceased husband, King Abbas Bagratuni. This is the largest single-span bridge among several dozen bridges-monuments in Lori, the height of which is 18.6 m, the length is about 60 m, the width of the middle part is 3.3 m.

It is built of large hewn basalt stones, which harmonizes with the riverbank rocks of Debed gorge. In the four corners of the fences there are high sculptures of lions, one in each corner, as “guardian” symbols. The bridge is built with brilliant engineering skills, it is a harmony of engineering and artistic solutions of the Armenian mind.

Kurtan

Kurtan is a settlement that existed 1000 years before Christ. This is evidenced by the discovered tombs and dwellings. There are caves here in the rocks, which the locals call an ice house, where the water freezes in summer and melts in winter.

The village is also called “Lori Peninsula” because it is located at the top of a rock, surrounded on three sides by canyons and partly connected with other settlements. Dzoraget flows in a picturesque gorge. From St. Astvatsatsin Church in Kurtan, the subway leads to the caves in the gorge, where they lived, hid and took shelter in case of danger. It is said that the village resembles Shushi in its position. The name of the village means settlement, savior.

In addition to the 6th century St. Astvatsatsin Church, Kurtan is home to the Hnevank (10th-14th centuries), Gtevank (6th-17th centuries), the Hermit (11th century), and the Chapels of the Holy Sunday.

Shamlugh

Shamlugh is the second smallest city in Armenia, located in the Alaverdi region, at the foot of Mount Lalvar.

The city is multinational, something that, in general, is not specific to homogeneous Armenia. Shamlugh used to have about 5000 inhabitants of 16 nationalities: Armenians, Georgians, Azeris, Greeks, Russians, Ossetians, Italians, Ukrainians, Belarusians, etc. Why did they always live in peace and harmony, for a very simple reason, everyone considered themselves natives of Shamlugh. Shamlugh has not been left out of the emigration that started in the 1990s.

At present, about 500 people live here, who remember their nationality, speak their native language Shamlugh dialect, love their native “town” very much. The city was founded in the 18th century, when King Heracles II of Georgia invited Greek specialists and miners to Lori for the exploitation of mines.

At the end of the 19th century, the copper production of the region was handed over to French miners, who expanded and rebuilt the mines and named the settlement Shamlugh. From those years the great influx of Europeans to Shamlugh began, which contributed to the socio-economic, educational and cultural development of the settlement.

“Sister and Brother” Castle

The castle (10-13th centuries) is located near the village of Dzoraget, on the right and left banks of Dzoraget, at the foot of 2 rocks.

It has served as a fortress point since ancient times, from the territory of which the roads passing through the gorge and the river are guarded. It is now in ruins. Remains of a fortress are visible on the rocks. According to the legend, a brother and sister of noble-origin built castles on the tops of high cliffs to show off their military skills and fight with each other.

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