|• Mayor||Armen Santrosyan|
|• Total||13 km2 (5 sq mi)|
|Elevation||1,500 m (4,900 ft)|
|• Density||1,200/km2 (3,100/sq mi)|
|Time zone||GMT (UTC+4)|
Dilijan (Armenian: Դիլիջան) is a spa town in the Tavush Province of Armenia. Usually called Armenian Switzerland or Little Switzerland by the locals, it is one of the most important resorts of Armenia, situated in Dilijan National Park. The forested and reclusive city is home to numerous Armenian artists, composers, and filmmakers and features some traditional Armenian architecture. The Sharambeyan street in the centre, has been preserved and maintained as an "old town," complete with craftsman's workshops, a gallery and a museum. Hiking, mountain biking, and picnicking are popular recreational activities. The city's population is steadily declining from the 23,700 reported in the 1989 census, to 14,846 in the 2001 census, with an estimated 15,600 by 2009.
The Armenian government is planning to turn Dilijan into a regional financial capital, beginning with the move of much of the Central Bank's operations to Dilijan in 2013.
Etymology and geography
Linguist Hrachia Adjarian has mentioned an explanation about Dilijan in his "Dictionary of Armenian Proper Names" where he wrote: "Dilijan (masculine) from the Persian 'heart of the soul' form, also mentioned once as Tilijan in 1544 document. The same name applies to the settlement near the lake Sevan, also a village in the way from Ghum to Sepahan in Iran".
In an ancient popular legend, the name of the city is named after a shepherd called Dili. The shepherd Dili was in love with his master's daughter, however her father was against it and ordered to kill the shepherd. For many long and dark days, the sorrowful mother was mourning and looking for her only son all over the area and desperately crying, "Dili jan, Dili jan .. " ("Jan is an endearment term added to the name of a friend or family member). According to the legend the area was later known for his name.
Dilijan lies on the banks of Aghstev River with a length of more than 20 kilometres (12 miles) and at a height of 1,500 metres (4,921 feet) above sea level. The valley is surrounded with the Lesser Caucasus mountains from the north, and the Semyonovka mountain pass from the south. The mountainous areas are all covered with thick forests occupying a territory of more than 34,000 hectares (84,016 acres). Reaching up the highest peaks of the mountains, the forests turn into Alpine meadows. In addition to Aghstev River, many other tributaries flow through the town.
The climate in Dilijan is cool during summer and cold with snowfalls in winter. With its Alpine climate, Dilijan is a town-resort with favorable oxygen regimen, unique landscape features and curative mineral water.
History and Culture
During the excavations conducted in the 1870s, many valuable items were found, dateing back to the Late Bronze and the Early Iron Ages (the end of 2000 BC-the beginning of 1000). Some of the excavated collections were transferred to the museums of Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Tbilisi, Baku and Yerevan, while the reminder was kept in the Dilijan Geological Museum.
During the medieval period, the territory of Dilijan was known as Hovk. Hovk was a favourite forest and a summer resort for the Arsacid kings to show their abilities in hunting. The settlement of Bujur Dili was founded during the 13th century near the area of modern-day Dilijan. The monasteries of Haghartsin and Goshavank were built between the 10th and 13th centuries. The monastery complexes have quickly developed and have served as cultural and educational centers. Haghartsin is one of the iconic examples of the developing Armenian architecture during the Middle Ages. Many other important religious and educational centers of the Middle Ages have survived in Dilijan, such as the Jukhtak Vank Monastery and Matosavank Monastery.
In 1666, the name Dilijan was mentioned for the first time in the notes of the French traveler Jean Chardin. Since the town became under the Russian rule in 1801, the population had gradually grown. In 1868 the first public education school was opened in Dilijan.
Auspicious conditions for cultural development have appeared at the end of the 19th and in the beginning of the 20th centuries. Many theatre groups were organized during the 1890s and the first library of the town was opened in 1908.
In the second half of the 19th century Dilijan’s fame as of a resort centre grew and leisure places appeared. There were clubs from 1896 to 1898. Later the famous Rotonda (French for domelike building) had been built. This theatre in the open air had become the most favorite place of both Dilijanians, Russian hot based in town and all the intellectuals of Transcaucasia. Rotonda had already functioned in 1900 and it had kept its existence till 1936. Here the prominent masters of scenic art such as H.Abelian, Vahram Papazian, A.Hrachian and others had played. Both a number of other timber buildings and Rotondo had not remained because of landslide natural phenomenon extended widely in Dilijan. In the period mentioned the house building construction architecture has noticeably developed. Rich men from Tbilisi and other places of Transcaucasia began to build their villas in Dilijan. In the issue of their villas’ style, house-building traditions of Dilijan and Molokans’ house decoration elements (sectarians from Russia who had immigrated in the 1830s) synthesis the new “Dilijanian style” had appeared. It has been characterized with gable tiled roof, wide patterned oriel and whitewashed walls. This style has quickly been spread all over the Aghstev valley and is in wonderful harmony with Dilijan green landscape. In the end of the 19th and in the beginning of the 20th century blacksmith's work, carpet weaving, useful arts, wood engraving and other folk crafts began to develop in the region. There is a Dilijanian peculiar carpet, samples of which are presented at Dilijan museums. In 1932 the State Theatre was founded in Dilijan. The artistic group managed by the honoured artist of culture of the Armenian SSR Hovhannes Sharambeyan functioned at Dilijan library. The school of Fine Arts was open on the basis of that very group and most of its graduates having continued their education at artistic and dramatic institutes and colleges of our capital have become famous artists. The collection of Historical and Cultural Reserve Museum “Dilijan” is represented by the pictures of Hovhannes Sharambeyan, M.Ghulian, Gh. Ghazarian, V.Amian, H.Asatrian, E.Haroutyunian, S.Davtian, devoted to the native town. Masters of wood engraving such as Garnk Alikhanian and Revik Hovsepian have made a great contribution in folk art development, and young master Grisha Hovsepian is a worthy follower of their works. The musical school founded in 1946 plays an important role in cultural life of the town (now it is the state college of arts). The most of its graduates have got a lot of awards at different significant festivals.
Dilijan has a rich historical and cultural heritage. During the nearby excavations in the prehistoric cemeteries of Golovino and Papanino, bronze items of almost three thousand years old were found, including armours, daggers, pitchers, ear-rings and others were found. All those items could be found either in Dilijan museum or in the Hermitage Museum.
- The "Rotondo": a domed building erected in the early 19th century by the efforts of many wealthy businessmen. It was designated to serve as a summer resort complex. The Rotondo overlooks the picturesque mountains and forest of Dilijan. The structure has been a source of inspiration for many artists and poets, including Yeghishe Charents.
- The Amphitheatre: the Dilijan amphitheatre is located at the city center. Inspired by the structure of "Rotondo", the amphitheatre was built by N. Danielyan.
- Khanjian's villa: an early 20th-century circle shaped villa, situated on the hill that overlooks the centre of the town. The villa represents the Armenian modernism of the early 20th century. It was built as a rest house for Aghasi Khanjian; the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Armenia.
- Memorial to Soviet Armenia: built in 1970 by the artists A. Tarkhanyan, S. Avetisyan, K. Vatinyan, symbolizing the 50th anniversary of the Sovietization of Armenia. Five edges of the monument symbolize each decade of the 50 years.
- Memorial to the World War II: built near central park in 1975 by K. Vatinyan and S. Mehrabyan to commemorate the local martyrs during the World War II.
- Haghartsin Monastery: one of Armenia's most popular monasteries, Haghartsin is nestled in lush forested mountains about a half hour drive from Dilijan. The monastery is in good condition and has a resident priest who sometimes gives tours. There are a few different churches, a large gavit, a huge dining hall, khachkars and a massive hollow tree. A slightly sweet bread is often being baked in an old oven.
- Goshavank Monastery: located to the north of the town, surrounded with a traditional village, and has a groundskeeper who opens the main church building up for visitors, and can give a tour. This is the one church in all of Armenia where entrance to one of the chambers is not free. The chamber is nice, but you can certainly enjoy the rest of the complex without it, especially since it may not be offered in English. There are excellent carved details and khachkars here, but the "lacework" khachkar at Goshavank is one of the most impressive in the world.
- Jukhtak Vank Monastery: small 12th century monastery located just at the edge of Dilijan, only at a 10-minute hike from the Dilijan Mineral Water plant. Huge iron bands hold one of the two churches together, preventing its It has two separate churches, Surp Astvatsatsin and Surp Grigor with their surrounding cemeteries.
- Matosavank Monastery: located in the forest opposite to Jukhtak Monastery. It is easy to miss, and not terribly interesting from the outside, but the inside is a cool, moist, green, mossy world unto itself. The low light illuminating bright green algae covered khachkars is very soothing, and the environment transports you far from your daily life.
- Dilijan National Park: or the Dilijan Reserve, occupying 24,000 hectares, is well known for its forest landscapes, rich biodiversity, medicinal mineral water springs, natural and cultural monuments.
- Other historic monasteries: Saint Gregory of the 10th century, Saint Stepanos and Saint Astvatsatsin of to the 13th century with a number of khachkars in the complex.
Dilijan National Park
The forests of Dilijan cover an area of more than 34000 hectares. For the enrichment of the natural life around Dilijan, the state forest reserve was founded in 1958 to become known as Dilijan National Park later in 2002. Woods cover 94% of the park territory and with around 40 types of trees and 18 types of bushes, being mostly oaks, beeches, hornbeams, maples, elms, willows, etc.
The national park is also rich in its fauna, including brown bear, wolf, marten, otter, lynx, sylvan cat, Persian squirrel, sylvan dormouse, hedgehog, chamois, European red deer, wild hog, pheasant, quail, partridge, Caspian turkey, culver, bald eagle, lammergeyer, pygmy eagles, golden eagle, hawk and others.
Lake Parz is one of Dilijan's most attractive natural sites. It is situated in the northern part of the town at a height of 1,400 metres (4,593 feet) above sea level. It has an area of 2 hectares (5 acres) and an average depth of 8 metres (26 feet).
To the east of the Lake Parz, at a distance of 3 kilometres (2 miles) from Gosh village, Lake Tzlka is located at a height of 1,500 metres (4,921 feet). Aghstev River with its tributaries passes through the town and the surrounding forest. Its origins are from the northwestern part of the Pambak mountain range, at a height of 2,980 metres (9,777 feet). Aghstev River has a length of 133 kilometres (83 miles). Many tributaries flow into Aghstev such as Bldsan, Ghshtoghan, Haghartsin and Getik rivers.
Economy and tourism
In 2009, it was announced by the Armenian government that Dilijan will turn into a developed financial centre for Armenia and the region. According to government officials, many of the operations and responsibilities of the Central Bank of Armenia will move the northern town-resort of Dilijan, starting from 2013.
Currently, many significant financial and cultural institutions are operating in the town such as the Dilijan regional financial and banking centre, the United World College Dilijan, the Old Dilijan-Tufenkian Centre, the modern building of Dilijan theatre and the Dilijan Museum.
Dilijan is among the favorite destinations for local and foreign tourists. The town has a number of high-class hotels and sanatoriums, allowing the visitors the chance to enjoy the beauty of the National Park as well as the historical sites.
The town is also famous for its mineral curing water fountains.
The central amphitheatre of Dilijan is the venue of many summer festivals and cultural events.
Sport and education
The town has 5 public education schools and 6 kindergartens with 2250 students and 350 children respectively. A music academy and another one for arts are also operating in the town. Dilijan has a branch of Yerevan State Academy of Fine Arts and a branch of Yerevan University of Management and Information Technologies. Three intermediate colleges for medicine, arts and crafts are also operating in the town.
- Serik Davtian: was a famous Armenian needlework and carpet art expert, founder of the Dilijan library.
- Gagik Davtian: was a professor-scientist and academician who pioneered the hydroponics.
- Arshavir Torosian: was a professor-doctor and expert in medicinal plants of Armenia.
- Ashot Petrosian: was a mathematician, one of the founders of cybernetics and computer science in Armenia
Twin towns – Sister cities
Dilijan is twinned with:
- Dilijan at GEOnet Names Server
- World Gazeteer: Armenia – World-Gazetteer.com
- Report of the results of the 2001 Armenian Census, National Statistical Service of the Republic of Armenia
|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Dilijan.|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Dilijan.|
- DILI VILLA B&B in Dilijan
- Armeniapedia article on Dilijan
- Dilijan guide on Haykland