Sprawling around the Dzoraget River, Stepanavan is a picturesque city framed by the Bazum Mountains in northern Armenia. It’s considered one of the birthplaces of Armenian communism but attracts visitors due to its centuries-old fortress, atmospheric monasteries and an arboretum planted with tree species from across the globe.
Things to do in Stepanavan
Perched atop a promontory between the Dzoragets and Miskhana rivers is the Lori Berd Fortress, which served as a base for David Anhogin who ruled the region from the 10th to the 11th centuries. Wander between the massive fortifications and ruined buildings to learn about life here for Armenia’s powerful noble families, then visit the Bronze Age tombs dotting the surroundings.
A short drive east of Stepanavan is Hnevank, an Armenian Apostolic Church monastery dating back to the 7th century. It was almost completely rebuilt by Lord Smbat of the House of Orbelian in the 12th century and features fine stone carvings and a well-preserved semicircular altar in its domed church.
Green thumbs shouldn’t miss a visit to the Stepanavan Dendropark, a 35-hectare arboretum established in 1931 by the Polish engineer Edmund Leonowicz. It showcases more than 500 species from around the world, many of which were acquired through exchange programs with botanical gardens in Georgia, Ukraine and the Far East. Stretch your legs along one of the leafy walking trails while admiring the diverse collections of magnolias, cypresses and oaks.
Getting around Stepanavan
Stepanavan is around 2.5 hours’ drive from Yerevan and Zvartnots International Airport, which has flights to destinations across Europe and the Middle East. Minibuses make the journey to Stepanavan from the Armenian capital, while having your own vehicle gives you greater freedom to explore the region. The centre of Stepanavan is compact enough to explore on foot.