Vayots Dzor
Վայոց Ձոր
—  Province  —

Coat of arms
Location of Vayots Dzor within Armenia
Country Armenia
and largest city
 • Governor
 • Total 2,308 km2 (891 sq mi)
Area rank 7th
Population (2013)
 • Total 58,324[1]
 • Rank 11th
Time zone AMT (UTC+04)
Postal code 3601–3810
ISO 3166 code AM-VD
FIPS 10-4 AM10
HDI (2017) 0.745[2]
high · 5th
Website Official website

Vayots Dzor (Armenian: Վայոց Ձոր, Template:IPA-hy), is a province of Armenia. It lies at the southeastern end of the country, bordering the Nakhichevan exclave of Azerbaijan to the west and the Shahumyan Province of the Artsakh Republic (de jure Kalbajar District of Azerbaijan) to the east. It covers an area of Template:Cvt. 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 and Areni-1 winery of the Chalcolithic period, the 8th-century Tanahat Monastery, the 10th-century Smbataberd fortress, and the 13th-century Noravank monastery. Vayots Dzor is also home to the spa-town of Jermuk.

The village of Gladzor in Vayots Dzor was home to the 13th and 14th-century University of Gladzor.


Template:Armenia sidebar Literally meaning the valley of sorrows, the province is named after the Vayots Dzor canton of historic Syunik; the ninth province of Ancient Armenia. Syunik was ruled by the Siunia dynasty.


View from the Jermuk Hydrological Sanctuary

Situated at the southeastern end of modern-day Armenia, Vayots Dzor covers an area of 2,308 km² (7.8% of total area of Armenia). It is one of the most sparsely populated province in the country. It borders the Nakhichevan exclave of Azerbaijan form the west and the Shahumyan Region of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic from the east. Domestically, it is bordered by the Gegharkunik Province from the north, Ararat Province from the northwest and Syunik Province from the southeast.

Historically, the current territory of the province occupies most of the Vayots Dzor canton of the historic Syunik province of Ancient Armenia.

Arpa river

Vayots Dzor is a mountainous region. It is mainly divided into 3 mountain 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. The 2586 meters-high Vayots Sar volcanic cone is almost located at the centre of the province.

Vayots dzor has many rivers, mountains springs and mineral water. Arpa river has the most significant of them. It flows 92 km in the territory of Vayots Dzor. It originates in Vayots Dzor from the northwest hillside of Syunik plateau at a height of 3260 meters, and flows into the Araks river. It has a number of tributaries that form waterfalls such as the Jermuk Waterfall and the Herher waterfall.

Yeghegis river is the main tributary of Arpa. It flows into a valley that is protected by the government as a wildlife sanctuary.

Most of the rivers in Vayots Dzor are characterized with swift flow, deep fall and inclination. A large project was completed during the Soviet period, to transfer the water of Arpa river to Lake Sevan. Thus, an underground water tunnel was opened in 1981 that starts from the basin of Kechut reservoir to transfer the flow of Arpa river into lake Sevan.

A number of small lakes are also found in the valley of Herher river.

Vayk mountain range


The Areni-1 cave complex

Vayots Dzor was first mentioned in the Armenian history by Movses Khorenatsi. However, during archaeological excavations, many sites and objects were found in the region dating back to the Paleolithic Era and the Bronze Age. Carvings on cliffs depicting scenes of hunting and animals were also found. As a result of the archaeological studies, historians assumed that the region has been settled since prehistoric times. 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, a wine press, storage jars, pottery sherds, and is believed to be the earliest known winery in history.[3][4][5]

Archaeologists had also found a 5500-year-old leather shoe.[6]

As early as the 8th century BC, the area of modern-day Vayots Dzor was part of the Kingdom of Urartu. Later, it became part of the Kingdom of Armenia forming the Vayots Dzor canton of the Syunik Province.

Tanahat Monastery, founded in the 8th century, rebuilt during the 13th century

Many churches, monastic complexes, bridges and caravanserais were built between the 10th and 13th centuries, when Vayots Dzor was part of the Kingdom of Syunik under the rule of the Siunia dynasty.

During the Middle Ages, the Silk Road passed through the area of Vayots Dzor, particularly the road that currently links the town of Martuni with Yeghegnadzor. Vayots Dzor was home to one of the earliest higher educational centres of medieval Armenia, the University of Gladzor; founded around 1280 by Nerses of Mush.

Jermuk canyon and forest

The period between the 15th and 17th centuries is considered to be the darkest period in the history of Vayots Dzor. The region became a frequent battlefield between the invading troops of the Turkic and Iranian tribes. As a result, many monuments and villages were destroyed and the population was displaced.

During the 1st half of the 19th century, following the Russo-Persian War of 1826-28 and the resulting Treaty of Turkmenchay signed in 1828, Vayots Dzor passed from Iranian to Russian rule. In the same year the territory passed to the Russians, it was incorporated into the newly-established Armenian Oblast. In 1840, the Erivan Governorate was founded including Vayots Dzor, while in 1870, the governorate was further divided into uyezds. Consequently, Vayots Dzor became part of the Sharur-Daralagezsky Uyezd of Erivan Governorate.

Between 1918 and 1920, the region was included within the short-lived Republic of Armenia. After the Sovietization of Armenia, Vayots Dzor became one of the regions that resisted the Soviet Communist rule and formed the unrecognized Republic of Mountainous Armenia under the leadership of Garegin Nzhdeh. However, after falling to the Bolsheviks in July 1921, Vayots Dzor became part of the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic.

During the Soviet period, modern-day Vayots Dzor was divided into the raions of Yeghegnadzor and Azizbekov. After the independence of Armenia, the 2 raions were merged during the 1995 administrative reform to form the Vayots Dzor Province.



Malishka village

The population and density in Vayots Dzor is the least among the provinces of Armenia. According to the 2011 official census, Vayots Dzor has a population of 52,324 (25,740 men and 26,584 women), forming around 1.7% of the entire population of Armenia. The urban population is 18,449 (35.26%) and the rural is 33,875 (64.74%). The province has 3 urban and 41 rural communities. The largest urban community is the provincial centre of Yeghegnadzor, with a population of 7,944. The other urban centres of Vayk and Jermuk have a population of 5,877 and 4,628 respectively.

With a population of 4,460, the village of Malishka is the largest rural municipality of Vayots Dzor.

Ethnic groups and religion[]

Cathedral of the Holy Mother of God in Yeghegnadzor, 12th century

The majority of the Vayots Dzor Province population are ethnic Armenians who belong to the Armenian Apostolic Church. The regulating body of the church is the Diocese of Vayots Dzor, headed by Archbishop Abraham Mkrtchyan. The Holy Mother of God Cathedral (known also as Surp Sarkis) in Yeghegnadzor is the seat of the diocese.

A percentage of the population in Vayots Dzor have their ancestors migrated from the Iranian towns of Salmas and Khoy in 1829 and 1830.

Administrative divisions[]

As a result of the administrative reforms took place on 17 June 2016, 8 October 2016 and 9 June 2017, Vayots Dzor is currently divided into 8 municipal communities (hamaynkner), of which 3 are urban, and 5 are rural:[7][8][9]

Municipality Type Area (km²) Population
(2011 census)
Centre Included villages
Jermuk Municipality[10] Urban 497 7,359 Jermuk Gndevaz, Herher, Karmrashen.
Vayk Municipality[11] Urban 184 7,064 Vayk Arin, Azatek, Por, Zedea.
Yeghegnadzor Municipality[12] Urban 27 7,944 Yeghegnadzor
Areni Municipality[13] Rural 438 10,410 Areni Agarakadzor, Aghavnadzor, Arpi, Chiva, Gnishik, Khachik, Mozrov, Rind, Yelpin. (Abandoned: Amaghu).
Gladzor Municipality[14] Rural 131 5,220 Gladzor Getap, Vernashen.
Malishka Municipality[15] Rural 86 4,460 Malishka
Yeghegis Municipality[16] Rural 477 5,961 Shatin Aghnjadzor, Artabuynk, Goghtanik, Hermon, Horbategh, Hors, Karaglukh, Salli, Sevazhayr, Taratumb, Vardahovit, Yeghegis. (Abandoned: Arates, Getikvank, Kalasar)
Zaritap Municipality[17] Rural 468 3,906 Zaritap Artavan, Bardzruni, Gomk, Kapuyt, Khndzorut, Martiros, Nor Aznaberd, Saravan, Sers, Ughedzor. (Abandoned: Akhta, Horadis).


The archaeological museum in Yeghegnadzor

The people of Vayots Dzor are mainly conservative. They celebrate the religious and traditional feasts, including Trndez and Vardavar. A key celebration is the harvest festival, that is celebrated every year in Yeghegnadzor on the second Sunday of October. Locals from all villages take part in the parade on cars decorated with flowers, bringing their own crops, berries typical to their territories. Theatrical shows and concerts are being held during the festival.

Another popular celebration in the province is the wine festival, which is celebrated annually during the month of October, in the village of Areni.

The traditional Armenian lavash and gata are still baked in traditional tandoors at the villages of Vayots Dzor. Local dishes include sour banjar, kyalaglosh, shorva with ghavurma, rabbit kofta, portridge shorva, rosted quail and kid barbecue.[18]

Yeghegnadzor is the cultural centre of Vayots Dzor Province. It has a cultural palace, a public library and an archaeological museum. The town's public park is home to a vishapakar (dragon stone) dating back to the 2nd millennium BC.

Fortresses and archaeological sites[]

Smbataberd fortress of the 10th century

  • Areni-1 cave complex and the Winery of the Chalcolithic age,
  • Smbataberd fortress of the 10th century,
  • Proshaberd fortress of the 13th century,
  • Ertij Fort of the 13th century,
  • Agarakadzor bridge of the 13th century,
  • Orbelian's Caravanserai of 1332.

Churches and monasteries[]

Spitakavor Monastery of 1321

  • Tanahat Monastery of 735,
  • Saint Sion Monastery of the 8th century,
  • Shativank monastery of the 10th century,
  • Khotakerats Monastery of the 10th century,
  • Tsakhats Kar Monastery, 10th-11th centuries,
  • Noravank monastery, 10th-13th centuries,
  • Gndevank monastery, 10th-13th centuries,
  • Cathedral of the Holy Mother of God in Yeghegnadzor, 12th century,
  • Noravank monastery of 1205,
  • Spitakavor Monastery of 1321,
  • Areni Church of 1321.


Vardadzor monthly is the regional newspaper of Vayots Dzor. It is being published in Yeghegnadzor since 15 November 2002.[19] It covers political, economical and regional news. It also has a literary supplement.


The M-2 Motorway that connect Armenia from north to south, passes through the province. On the other hand, the towns of Yeghegnadzor are domestically connected through a number of well-developed roads.

The Jermuk airstrip is located near Jermuk, adjacent to the Kechut Reservoir.


Agriculture and viticulture[]

Orchards in Vayots Dzor

Vayots Dzor has the poorest agricultural index among the Armenian provinces, forming 2.2% of the annual total agricultural product of Armenia. Around 82.5% (1,903 km²) of the total area of the total area of the province arable lands, out of which only 8.5% (162 km²) are ploughed.[20]

However, agriculture -including farming and cattle-breeding- is the most common activity in the province. Agricultural crops include apricot, cherry, pear, peach, apple, quince, plum, melon, walnut, grapes and berries. Cattle-breeding includes wool-bearing, goat farming, poultry farming and bee-keeping. Vayots Dzor is among the leading provinces of Armenia in wine production in terms of grape cultivation and wine export (along with the provinces of Ararat and Armavir).


The industry of Vayots Dzor contributes by 1% in the annual total industrial product of Armenia. Industry is mainly based on water battling, alcoholic drinks production (mainly wine), food-processing and dairy products. The discovery of the 6100 year-old Areni-1 winery has provided increased awareness of the ancient tradition of wine-making in Armenia and particularly in the region of ancient Syunik.

Zorah Wines Vineyards

Hin Areni Winery

  • Wine production: Vayots Dzor has a large number of wine producers (mainly producing under the category of "Areni wine"), including:
    • "Getap Wine Factory" (Vedi Alco Winery branch), opened in 1938 in Getap.
    • "Maran Winery", opened in 1992 in Yeghegnadzor.
    • "Areni Wine Factory", opened in 1994 in Areni.
    • "Old Bridge Winery", opened in 1998 in Yeghegnadzor.
    • "Getnatoun Winery" (wine, brandy), opened in 1999 in Yeghegnadzor.[21]
    • "Vayk Group Winery" (wine, vodka), opened in 2000 in Vayk.
    • "Ginekar Winery", opened in 2000 in Aghavnadzor.
    • "Mets Syunik Winery" ("Matevosyan Wine"), opened in 2001 in Aghavnadzor.
    • "Zorah Wines", opened in 2001 in Rind.[22] The company's "2010 Zorah Karasi Areni Noir" was ranked in the 2012 Bloomberg's top 10 list.[23][24]
    • "Areni Wine Winery", opened in 2003 in Areni.
    • "Hin Areni Vinyards", opened in 2007 in Areni.[25]
    • "Trinity Canyon Vineyards", opened in 2009 in Aghavnadzor.[26]
  • Yeghegnadzor has many plants for cheese and other dairy products. The town is famous for its goat cheese produced by the "Golden Goat" factory founded in 2000. It is also home to the "Selim LLC" for dairy products founded in 2002. Other industrial firms of the town include the "Rafelgrig" for electrical products founded in 1968, the "Izoton" company for oak-wood made barrels for wine and brandy aging founded in 2003,[27] and the Yeghegnadzor Cannery operating since 2015.[28]
  • Vayk is home to the "WCW of Vaik" building materials factory founded in 1968, the "Arpi Mineral Waters Factory" founded in 1973, and the "Meg Ararat" factory for tea production founded in 2008.
  • Jermuk is known for its mineral water production. The town is home to the "Jermuk Group" CJSC, currently being the main producer of Jermuk mineral water. Founded in 1999, Jermuk Group acquired the original water producing factory known as "Jermuk Mayr Gortsaran" operating since 1951. Another water bottling factory known as J"ermuk Service Enterprise" was founded in 2014.

There are many small plants for building materials production in the villages of Areni, Agarakadzor and Yeghegis, while the village of Malishka is home to a jewelry plant.


Jermuk spa town

Jermuk ropeway

The cultural heritage and the natural monuments of the region attract a number of tourists. Jermuk and the surrounding forests are a tourist attraction with many sanatoriums, spa resorts and its ropeway. It is considered one of the centres of medical tourism in Armenia.[29]

Some areas of the province are listed as protected wildlife sanctuaries, including the Herher Open Woodland Sanctuary, the Jermuk Forest Sanctuary, the Jermuk Hydrological Sanctuary, and the Yeghegnadzor Sanctuary.

The Mozrov Cave was found in 1980 near the village of Arpi. It is protected as a natural and cultural monument of Armenia.


An Armenian manuscript of the Gladzor University, 13-14th centuries

Vayots Dzor was home to the medieval Armenian University of Gladzor that was established around 1280 by Nerses of Mush[30] and operated until 1340 and "left behind a rich intellectual heritage".[31]

Currently, the Yeghegnadzor branch of the Armenian State University of Economics is operating in the province since 2008.

As of the 2015-16 academic year, Vayots Dzor was home to 50 public schools as well as 17 pre-school kindergartens:[32] The number of the students was around 6,300, while the academic staff included around 1,100 teachers. Around 1,000 children attended the kindergartens.[33]


Arevik Stadium in Vayk

Arpa FC of Yeghegnadzor -founded as Momik FC in 1992- used to represent the town in the Armenian Premier League football competition. Like many other Armenian football clubs, Arpa FC was dissolved in early 2003 and is currently inactive from professional football. The towns of Vayk and Yeghegnadzor have a football stadium each with minor capacities.

Every year, during the month of August, Jemruk hosts the FIDE Grand Prix Jermuk chess tournament.

Notable natives[]

  • Ara Abramyan, Armenian businessman based in Russia.
  • Narek Sargsyan, Armenian architect and politician.
  • Kamsar (Kamo Sahakyan), renowned Armenian painter.
  • Narine Dovlatyan, Armenian singer and actress.


See also[]

  • Areni-1 cave complex
  • Areni-1 winery
  • Geshin
  • Gharaghaya
  • Gyabut
  • Gyadikvank
  • Syunik (historic province)
  • Siunia dynasty
  • Sharur-Daralagezsky Uyezd


  1. ^ Vayots Dzor population, 2013 census
  2. ^ "Sub-national HDI - Area Database - Global Data Lab" (in en). 
  3. ^ Maugh II, Thomas H. "Ancient winery found in Armenia." Los Angeles Times. January 11, 2011. Retrieved January 14, 2011.
  4. ^ Santini, Jean-Louis. "Scientists find 'oldest ever' winery in Armenia." Agence France-Presse. January 11, 2011. Retrieved January 14, 2011.
  5. ^ Owen, James. "Earliest Known Winery Found in Armenian Cave." National Geographic. January 10, 2011. Retrieved January 14, 2011.
  6. ^ Dindar, Shereen (June 9, 2010). "World's Oldest Leather Shoe Found—Stunningly Preserved". National Post (Canada). Retrieved June 11, 2010. 
  7. ^ Նախատեսվում է իրականացնել համայնքների խոշորացման 14 պիլոտային ծրագիր
  8. ^ Հայաստանի 328 համայնքների միավորմամբ կձևավորվի 34 համայնք. ԱԺ-ն քննարկում է ծրագիրը
  9. ^ Municipal communities of Vayots Dzor
  10. ^ Jermuk community
  11. ^ Vayk community
  12. ^ Yeghegnadzor community
  13. ^ Areni community
  14. ^ Gladzor community
  15. ^ Malishka community
  16. ^ Yeghegis community
  17. ^ Zaritap community
  18. ^ "RA Vayots Dzor Marz" (PDF). Marzes of the Republic of Armenia in Figures, 2002–2006. National Statistical Service of the Republic of Armenia. 2007. 
  19. ^ Vardadzor monthly
  20. ^ Armstat: Vayots Dzor
  21. ^ About Getnatoun wine factory
  22. ^ Zorah Wines: Our story
  23. ^ Armenian Wine Makes Bloomberg's Top 10 List
  24. ^ Armenia's best wineries
  25. ^ About Hin Areni Vinwyards
  26. ^ Trinity Canyon Vineyards
  27. ^ "IZOTON" Limited Liability Company (LLC)
  28. ^ Yeghegnadzor cannery reopened
  29. ^ Snow art fest is one more reason to pack your bag for Armenia
  30. ^ Arnavoudian, Eddie (22 November 2010). "Science versus Religion: the case of the Medieval Armenian University". Armenian News Network / Groong, University of Southern California. Retrieved 2 November 2013. 
  31. ^ Nersessian, Vrej (2001). The Bible in the Armenian Tradition. London: British Library. p. 43. ISBN 9780892366408. 
  32. ^ Vayots Dzor Province schools
  33. ^ Educational council in Vayots Dzor

External links[]

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