Lori is located in the north of Armenia. It is the third region by its sizes with the regional center Vanadzor. Here is the longest transport tunnel of Armenia, which passes through the mountain range of Bazumi and forms the basic part of the automobile route Stepanavan-Vanadzor. The river Debed is the main water pulse of the region with its streams Dzoraget, Pambak and Marts. Lori is rich of mineral sources.
The towns of Lori region:
Alaverdi was known as Alverd, which means red stone. The town is rich of historical monuments. The monasteries of Sanahin and Haghpat, the bridge of Sanahin are the most famous of them. Alaverdi has been a town since 1938. Before 1939 it was also known as Manes and has been under the federal subordination since 1963.
Alaverdi is famous for the copper smelting factory “Manes”, which was the first one in the heavy industry of Armenia and was built at the end of the 19th century.
Akhtala is located in the distance of 62km from the regional center. The fortress of Akhtala or Pghndzahank (a copper ore) was built in the middle Ages (X century). Many historical and cultural monuments are preserved in this town, particularly the monastery of Akhtala, the monastery of Holy Trinity (St. Astvatsatsin; XIII century) and the churches of Arakelots (St. Gevorg) and Ayanes, the chapels Khachvank, Nahatakavank and St. Hovhannes.
Stepanavan is situated on the bank of the river Dzoraget to the north from the mountain range of Bazumi. Its distance from Yerevan is 144km and 30km from Vanadzor. This town was named after Stepan Shahumyan.
Tashir is a town on the highway Stepanavan-Tbilisi in a lowland and 1500m above sea level. It was founded in 1844 by the instruction of the Russian Empire. The town was called Vorontsovka after the viceroy of that time by the people replaced to Tashir from Saratov region. It was renamed to Kalinino after the revolutionary Kalinin in 1935. It became an urbanized area in 1961 and was ranked among the towns of Armenia in 1983. The town was renamed to Tashir in 1991 by the name of the province Tashir.
Vanadzor (the regional center), Spitak and Shamlugh are the other towns of the region.
The sites of Lori region:
The monastery of St. Astvatsatsin was the largest chalcedonic monastery in Armenia. It had an important religious, educational and cultural role still in the XII-XIII centuries. The main church of the monastery St. Astvtsatsin was in the center of the fortress.
Bardzrakash St. Grigor monastery
Bardzrakash St. Grigor monastery (X-XIII) is located in the distance of 2km to the north-east from the village Dsegh in Lori. The monastery consists of 2 churches, a gavit, a chapel and the ancestral grave of Mamikonyans. St. Astvatsatsin cathedral (1221) was built by Marzpan, the son of the lord Sargis Mamikonyan. Gavit (1259) is adjacent to the cathedral from the south and to the church with the pawnshops(X century) from the north. The chapel St. Harutyun (1204) is in the southern side of the group of monuments. The buildings have sculptures and inscriptions. This monastery was also called “White monastery” because of the white coloring.
Monastery of Khuchap
The monastery of Khuchap (the word “khuchap” means “a panic”) is amonastery of the XIII century located near the village Privolnoye on the northern slope of the mount Lalvar. The oldest church of the complex was built in the IX-X centuries. It is a basilica type building, which used to be a cloister belonging to the Armenian Apostolic faith and it changed into a chalcedonic monastery during the reign of Zakarians in the XIII century.
Haghpat was founded in 976 during the reign of Ashot III bagratuni. It is located on the plateau, which borders with gorges and it used to be protected with the Kayanaberd (a fortress). The monastery was one of the great cultural centers of the Medieval Armenia, where famous workers of that period used to promote an activity as well as many manuscripts were written and illustrated, among them the “Gospel of Haghpat” of 1211.
The oldest church St. Nshan was founded by the wife of the king Ashot III Khosrovanuysh in 991. The architect was Trdat. It’s rectangular from outside but from inside it’s a crosswise church with double - floor pawnshops in the four corners. The huge cupola of the church is leaned upon the arks which rise up from two walls. Abbot Hamazasp built a wide gavit in the north of the main cathedral in 1257, which is called “the building of Hamazasp” and it is adjacent to a small church from the eastern side.
There are many legends tied with the name of Haghpat. According to one of them one of the lords of Sanahin invited a famous master to build a monastery. The master arrived with his son. During the work the master and his son got into an argument, after which the son left the work and went away with another worker. Another lord hired them to build his monastery. When the walls of the monastery, which was building by the master’s son, rose so high to be seen from Sanahin the workers informed the old master about that. He decided to pay a visit to his son’s building. He went close to the wall of the monastery and watched it. Everybody was silently waiting for the master’s estimation. Finally he pushed a stone and said-“Akh pat” (tr. a firm wall). Here the father and son embraced and conciliated again. And the monastery was called “Haghpat”.
The monastic complex of Hnevank (VII) is situated in the east of the village Kurtan, on the right bank of the river Dzoraget. The main church is a domed building with three vestries, which is rectangular from outside and cross-shaped from inside (the western cross wing isn’t preserved). There are two pawnshops adjacent to the vestry, the southern of which is covered with a cruciform roof and the northern one with a semi-cylindrical roof.
The medieval monastic complex of Sanahin is located in Lori region, in the village of the same name, in the present area of the town Alaverdi. In the ancient times it was included in the province Tashir of the state Gugark of the Greater Armenia. Sanahin and the monastery of Haghpat were recognized a part of a world-wide cultural heritage.
More than 50 khachkars are preserved in the territory of the monastery, in the cemetery and the village center. The khachkars of Grigor Tatevordi (under the northern wall of the church St. Harutyun done by Mkhitar Kazmich in 1184) and Sargis (under the western wall of the gavit of St. Astvatsatsin church, 1215) are of special value, as they are the best models of the sculptural art of medieval Armenia.
The church of St. Astvatsatsin or Khachgond is situated in the village Odzun of Lori region. According to the legend, it was founded in the 1st century A.D. by the apostle Thomas, who consecrated the priests and bishops in the territory of the church. The present building of the church was built in the VI century in the place of an older basilica type church erected by Gregory the Illuminator and Trdat III in the IV century. There are many high-reliefs on the façade and on the window-frames of the church. The image of the angel on the right from the window is especially interesting. The angel of Odzun is presented in a difficult disposition: it is seemed to lean against the frame of the window. Next to the monastery there is a memorial of the VI century, which is like a double ark located on the leaders in the niches of which there are high-relief covered columns.
Lori or Lore fortress is located in the distance of 5km to the north-east from Stepanavan on the left bank of Dzoraget. It was founded by David Anhoghin probably in 1005-1020. After conceding the town Shamshulde to the Georgian king Bagrat III in 1065, Kyurike I (1049-89) made Lori the capital of Kyurikyan kingdom. Lore was built from the local basalt. The town was provided with water through the clay tubes from the sources 5km far from the town, and with the technical water- through the open irrigation ditches flowing over the tubes. Tools, weapons, coins, decorations, different clay jugs and pipes, glass jugs, porcelain, faience, bone and stone objects were found in the fortress Lori, which make us to consider that many branches of handicraft were developed here. There are many things imported from other countries as well, particularly from Georgia, Iran, Middle Asia and Mijagetk.