Lori Province

Lori province is situated in the northern part of modern-day Armenia. It is the third biggest province of Armenia with an area of 3,789 km² (12.7% of total area of Armenia) and a population of 283.9 thousand people. Lori is bordered by Tavush Province from the east, Kotayk Province from the southeast, Aragatsotn Province from the southwest and Shirak Province from the west. The province is bordered by the Kvemo Kartli region of Georgia.
Lori is a mountainous region, dominated by the ranges of Pambak, Gugark and Bazum. The highets point of the province is Mount Achkasar of the Javakheti range with a height of 3196 meters. The lowest point is 380 meters in the valley of Debed at the northeast of the province.
The main water resource of the province is the Debed river with its tributaries Dzoraget, Pambak and Martsaget.
The mountainous nature, the mild summer climate and the green forests of Lori attract a large number of visitors during the summer season. Many sanatoriums, hotels, resorts and spas serve the province, mainly around Vanadzor, Stepanavan, Alaverdi, Dsegh and along the rivers of Dzoraget and Deped.
The Monasteries of Haghpat and Sanahin, that are a UNESCO World Heritage Site are also situated in Lori province.
Lori has 3 nature protected areas and 2 botanical gardens: the Gyulagarak Sanctuary, the Margahovit Sanctuary, the Rhododendron caucasicum Sanctuary near Aghstev river, the Stepanavan Dendropark, and the Vanadzor Botanical Garden.

Odzun monastery

Odzun Church is an Armenian basilica constructed around the 5th-7th century in the Odzun village of the Lori Province.
The first church appeared here in the 6th century. In the 8th century it was reconstructed by Hovhannes III Odznetsi who served as the katholikos between 717 and 728 and was, as his name suggests, from Odzun. This is the time the church got its current form of a pink felsite basilica with three naves, the two side naves being narrow. At the northern (not preserved anymore) and southern side there are unusual cloisters and the west cloister has a blind wall with an arched entrance in the middle. The roof is barrel vaulted. At the eastern facade above the central window one can observe a carving of Christ with the gospel of St. John and two angels below. At the southern facade, at each side of the central window there are two angels and traces of another figure, probably Christ. Much later, in the 19th century two small bell towers were added. The church was renovated between 2012 and 2014.
There are numerous gravestones of the clergy around the church and a funerary monument. Its stepped platform supports two carved stelas between double arches. The east and west sides of the monument are carved with scenes from the Bible and introduction of Christianity in Armenia. Its north and south side are carved with geometrical motifs and floral shapes. It is suggested that this monument commemorates Hovhannes Odznetsi, but its style suggests that it was probably erected earlier, in the 6th century.
This is one of only two such funerary monuments in Armenia. The one located in Odzun was given as a gift to Armenia from an Indian King around the 8th century. The other one is situated in Aghudi in southern Armenian province of Syunik.

Kobayr monastery

Kobayr is a 12th-century Armenian monastery located in the village Kober within Lori marz, Armenia.
The monastery was built on a brink of a deep gorge, in 1171, by the Kyurikid princes, a junior branch of the Bagratuni royal house of Armenia.
In the 13th century, the monastery was acquired by the Zakarids, a noble Armenian dynasty at the service of Georgian royals. The Zakarids converted Kobayr into a Chalcedonian monastery, as a result of which the monastery stayed under the tutelage of the Georgian Orthodox Church for some time. This explains several Georgian inscriptions found on the walls of the monastery, which exist alongside the monastery's original Armenian inscriptions. The name of the monastery originates from the Georgian word kob and the Armenian word ayr both of which mean cave.
The monastery houses the tomb of Prince Shahnshah Zakarian, son of Ivane Zakarian. A bell tower in the middle of the complex was built in 1279 to house the tombs of Mkhargryel Zakarian and his wife Vaneni. The monastery is currently undergoing renovation funded by the government of Armenia with the assistance of the government of Italy. The ruins of the main church in the monastery contain frescoes of Christ and the twelve apostles as well as the Church Fathers and other Christian figures.

Haghpat Monastery

Haghpat Monastery, also known as Haghpatavank, is a medieval Armenian monastery complex in Haghpat, Armenia. The monastery was founded by Queen Khosrovanuysh, wife of the Bagratid king Ashot III, probably in 976. The nearby monastery at Sanahin was built around the same time. Described as a "masterpiece of religious architecture and a major center of learning in the Middle Ages", Haghpat monastery, together with Sanahin monastery, was placed on UNESCO's World Heritage List in 1996. The monasteries at Haghpat and Sanahin were chosen as UNESCO World Heritage Sites because: The two monastic complexes represent the highest flowering of Armenian religious architecture, whose unique style developed from a blending of elements of Byzantine ecclesiastical architecture and the traditional vernacular architecture of the Caucasian region.

Akhtala Monastery

Akhtala also known as Pghindzavank is a 10th-century fortified Armenian Apostolic Church monastery located in the town of Akhtala in the marz of Lori, 185 kilometers north of Yerevan. The fortress played a major role in protecting the north-western regions of Armenia and is among the most well preserved of all in modern Armenia․The main church at the compound is famous for its highly artistic frescoes, which cover the inside walls, the partitions, and the bearings of the building. The original Armenian name of the settlement where the monastery is built is Pghindzahank, which means copper mine.
The main building of the monastic compound is Surp Astvatsatsin (Holy Mother of God) church. The exact date of the building of the church is unknown. It is generally regarded as an 11th-13th century complex, but the current church has been built on an earlier foundation. Kirakos Gandzaketsi mentions that Ivane Zakarian was buried in the church in 1227. Stepanos Orbelian refers to the church in 1216. Modern researchers date the murals within the church to 1205–1216. The murals are one of the best representations of Byzantine art outside the traditional borders of Byzantium. The majority of the murals bare scriptures in Greek. The murals were painted under the patronage of atabek Ivane Zakarian between 1205 and 1216. Parallels have been drawn between the murals and the 11th century Armenian miniature paintings of the Mugni Gospels. The coloring of the murals is characteristic of typical Byzantine art while the thematic solutions are more Armenian. New and Old Testaments scenes as well as various saints including Saint Gregory the Illuminator are depicted on the murals. A large image of the Holy Virgin is depicted in the dome holding Jesus.

Sanahin Monastery

Sanahin is an Armenian monastery founded in the 10th century in the Lori Province of Armenia. The name Sanahin literally translates from Armenian as "this one is older than that one", presumably representing a claim to having an older monastery than the neighbouring Haghpat Monastery. The two villages and their monasteries are similar in many ways, and lie in plain view of each other on a dissected plateau formation, separated by a deep "crack" formed by a small river flowing into the Debed river. As with Haghpat, Sanahin is frequented by an increasing number of tourists, due to its recent inclusion on the itineraries of numerous Armenian tour agencies, the beauty of its monastery complex matching that of Haghpat's. The complex belongs to the Armenian Apostolic Church with numerous khachkars (stones with elaborate engravings representing a cross) and bishop gravesites scattered throughout it.
The monastery had vast areas of land with 300-500 people, among whom were scientists, cultural figures. At this time, the school was transformed into a monastery chemaran - Academy. Sanahin had a scriptorium, where many books were written. With many buildings of different ages Sanahin formes a harmonious architectural ensemble. The main group includes: cross-domed churches Astvatsatsin (934) and Amenaprkich (957-962), in the second half of X century - Cathedral of the Lori kingdom with sculptures of kings Smbat and Gurgen on the eastern facade. In 1064 Sanahin was attacked by Seljuks, in 1104 by Persians. In 1139 an earthquake destroyed as well a big part of the complex. In the gorge of Debed river, near the monastery Sanahin, there is a bridge with the same name Sanahin (1192) with sculptures of cats and scripts made by Zakaryan dynasty.

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