Vayots Dzor Province

Vayots Dzor lies at the southeastern end of the country. It covers an area of 2,308 km². With a population of only 53,230 (2002 census), it is the most sparsely populated province in the country. The capital and largest city of the province is the town of Yeghegnadzor. 
The province is home to many ancient landmarks and tourist attractions in Armenia including the Areni-1 cave complex, Areni-1 winery of the Chalcolithic period, the 10th-century Smbataberd fortress, and the 13th-century Noravank monastery. During archaeological excavations, many sites and objects were found in the region dating back to the Paleolithic Era and the Bronze Age. The Areni-1 cave complex -including the 6100 year-old Areni-1 winery- discovered in the archaeological excavations conducted between 2007 and 2011, revealed that the region was settled during the 5th millennium BC (Late Chalcolithic Age). The winery consists of fermentation vats, awine press, storage jars, pottery sherds, and is believed to be the earliest known winery in history. Archaeologists had also found a 5500-year-old leather shoe in Areni cave complex.
The province is mainly a mountainous region. It is mainly divided into 3 ranges: Vardenis mountain range at the north, Arpa range at the middle and Vayk range at the south. At a height of 3522 meters, the Vardenis volcano at the north is the highest point of the province, while the Areni valley, at a height of 850 meters, is the lowest point. Vayots dzor is rich with rivers, mountains springs and mineral water. It has lots of tributaries that form waterfalls such as the Jermuk Waterfall and the Herher waterfall. Jermuk and the surrounding forests are a major tourist attraction with many luxurious sanatoriums, spa resorts and its ropeway. It is considered the centre of medical tourism in Armenia


Smbataberd is a fortress located upon the crest of a hill between the villages of Artabuynk and Yeghegis.
It is likely that Smbataberd was founded during the 5th century, but was better established and heavily fortified during the 9th to 10th centuries.
The fortress received water from an underground clay pipe leading from the monastery of Tsakhats Kar. Local legend tells that Smbataberd was captured by the Seljuq Turks in a similar manner as the fortress of Proshaberd, where a thirsty horse was used to sniff out the pipeline so as to cut off the water supply to the fortress. Because of dates relating to the destruction of the Tsakhats Kar and its later restoration in 1221, and the destruction of the village of Yeghegis toward the end of the 11th century, it would be assumed that the fortress also fell to invading forces during the 11th century. There is some evidence though that suggests the fortress was defended until the 13th century, which would mean that it may have possibly been captured by Mongol forces rather than those of the Seljuq Turks.
Smbataberd was built in a very advantageous position on the southern end of a ridge, guarded by steep cliffs on three of its sides. Very large ramparts with towers are still relatively intact on the exterior. Within the confines of the fortress little remains except for the faint foundations of buildings near the fortification walls and a keep located at the highest point of the site.


Noravank is a 13th-century Armenian monastery, located 122 km from Yerevan in a narrow gorge made by the Amaghu River, near the city of Yeghegnadzor. The gorge is known for its tall, sheer, brick-red cliffs, directly across from the monastery. The monastery is best known for its two-storey Surb Astvatsatsin (Holy Mother of God) church, which grants access to the second floor by way of a narrow stone-made staircase jutting out from the face of building. Surb Astvatsatsin (Burtelashen) was completed in 1339, a masterpiece of the talented sculptor and miniaturist Momik, who designed it, and was also his last work. Near the church there is his tomb khachkar, small and modestly decorated, dated the same year. Burtelashen is the dominant structure in Noravank.
In the 13th–14th centuries the monastery became a residence of Syunik's bishops and, consequently a major religious and, later, cultural center of Armenia closely connected with many of the local seats of learning, especially with Gladzor's famed university and library.
The complex has several surviving khachkars. The most intricate of them all is a 1308 khachkar by Momik. Standing out against the carved background are a large cross over a shield-shaped rosette and salient eight-pointed stars vertically arranged on its sides. The top of the khachkar shows a Deesis scene framed in cinquefoil arches symbolizing a pergola as suggested by the background ornament of flowers, fruit and vine leaves.
Noravank monastery were added to the tentative list of World Heritage Sites of UNESCO.