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From top left: Panoramic view of GorisGoris gate • Zangezur Mountains around GorisGoris skyline • Stone-pyramids of Old KoresSurp Hripsimé Basilica • Saint Gregory Cathedral
From top left:

Panoramic view of Goris
Goris gate • Zangezur Mountains around Goris
Goris skyline • Stone-pyramids of Old Kores
Surp Hripsimé Basilica • Saint Gregory Cathedral
Goris is located in Armenia
Coordinates: 39°30′28″N 46°20′19″E / 39.50778°N 46.33861°E / 39.50778; 46.33861Coordinates: 39°30′28″N 46°20′19″E / 39.50778°N 46.33861°E / 39.50778; 46.33861
Country  Armenia
Marz Syunik
Established 1870
 • Chief Hon Georgia
 • Total 8 km2 (3 sq mi)
Elevation 1,250-1,520 m (−3,740 ft)
Population (2011 census)
 • Total 20,591
 • Density 2,600/km2 (6,700/sq mi)
Time zone AMT (UTC+4)
Area code(s) +374(284)
Website Official website

Goris (Armenian: Գորիս), is a town in the southern Syunik Province of Armenia. Located in the valley of river Goris (or Vararak), it is 254 km away from the Armenian capital Yerevan and 67 km from the provincial center Kapan. Goris is an urban community and the second largest city in Syunik. In the 2011 census its population was 20,591, down from 23,261 reported at the 2001 census.[2] However, as per the 2016 official estimate, the population of Goris is 20,300.[3]


Throughout its history, Goris has been known as Kores and Gorayk. However, there are several explanations for the origin of the name. It is supposed that the name Goris is derived from the Indo-European prelanguage words "gor" (rock), "es" (to be), i.e. Goris/Kores meaning a rocky place. There was a dwelling in the ancient times in the same area of the town.


Ancient history and Middle Ages[edit]

The area of Goris has been settled since the Stone Age. Goris was first mentioned in the history by the Urartian period. King Rusa I (8th century B.C.) left a cuneiform, where he mentioned that among the 23 countries conquered by him, "Goristsa" country was one of them. The scientists suppose that it is the same Goris.

During the Middle Ages, the town-settlement was situated in the eastern part of the present Goris, on the left bank of Goris river. It was called "Kores" and coincided with one of the villages of Goru and Goraik mentioned by Stepanos Orbelyan (13th century).

The current spelling of the name was first mentioned in 1624, in a handwriting by Barsegh Yerets. In 17-18th centuries princes Melik Husenyans ruled Goris. In the beginning of the 19th century, on 13 October 1813 according to the "Gyulistan agreement", Goris fell under the domination of Emperial Russia.

Russian rule[edit]

In 1870, the modern town of Goris was founded to become the centre of Zangezursky Uyezd, within the Elisabethpol Governorate of the Russian Empire. In 1876, the construction of new Goris was completed near the old town, with the initiative of the head of "Starastky province" and recommendation of Prince Manuchar-Bek Melik Husenyan, and the major city plan designed by a German architect.[4] At the end of the 19th century the economical and cultural life of the town was greatly improved.

First Republic of Armenia[edit]

General view of Goris

With the establishment of the Republic of Armenia in 1918, Goris was included in the Zangezur province of the newly-founded republic. However, after the fall of the First Republic of Armenia in 1920, the 2nd Pan-Zangezurian congress held in Tatev on 26 April 1921, announced the independence of the self-governing regions of Daralakyaz (Vayots Dzor), Zangezur, and Mountainous Artsakh, under the name of the Republic of Mountainous Armenia (Lernahaystani Hanrapetutyun), with Goris as a de facto capital city.[5] However, the self-proclaimed republic had a short life, when the Red Army conducted massive military operations in the region during June-July 1921, attacking Syunik from the north and east. As a result of fierce battles, the Republic of Mountainous Armenia capitulated on 13 July 1921, following Soviet Russia's promises to keep the mountainous region as a part of Soviet Armenia.

Soviet rule[edit]

Under the Soviet rule, Goris has served as the regional centre of Zangezur gavar of Soviet Armenia. With the establishment of the Goris raion in 1930, the town became the regional centre of the newly-founded district. In 1970, Goris was granted the status of a city of republican subordination.

During the 1950s, the economy of the city has been boosted with the construction of many hydroelectric power plants in the area. Several new industrial firms were opened, and many modern residential districts were founded.


Geography and climate[edit]

Goris is situated in the valley of Goris River, also known as Vararak River. The valley is surrounded with the Zangezur Mountains. The town has an average elevation of 1,385 metres above sea level. The surrounding mountains are famous for their medieval cave-dwellings carved out of the soft rock in the southern and eastern parts of the town. The Goris Wildlife Sanctuary is situated at the southeast of the town at a height ranging between 1400 and 2800 meters above seal level, covering an area of 18.5 km². Caucasian grouse, roe deer and brown bear are among the notable animals in the sanctuary.

Located in an alpine climate zone, the weather of Goris is characterized with mild snowy winters and hot summers. The average temperature in January is –1.3 °C and +19 °C in July. The annual precipitation level is between 500 and 600 mm.

Climate data for Goris
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Daily mean °C (°F) −7.7
Average precipitation mm (inches) 31
Source: plusninety.ru[6]


Panoramic view of Goris


Currently, the residents of Goris are entirely Armenians. However, the population suffered gradual decline since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Here is the population timeline of Goris since 1870:[7][7][8][9][10]

Year 1870 1897 1926 1939 1959 1970 1976 1989 2001 2011
Population 1,000 1,450
(74.6% Armenians)
(98.1% Armenians)
5,571 10,337 14,320 17,400 23,795 20,840 17,881


The Cathedral of Saint Gregory the Illuminator in Goris is the seat of the Diocese of Syunik of the Armenian Apostolic Church. It was constructed between 1897 and 1904. After being consecrated by Catholicos Mkrtich Khrimian in 1903, the church was officially opened in 1904. In February 1921, the Saint Gregory Cathedral of Goris was the location where Garegin Nzhdeh was announced as the Sparapet (commander) of the Armenian forces of the forthcoming Republic of Mountainous Armenia in a solemn ceremony. The church building has served as a regional history museum during the Soviet days.


The House-museum of Axel Bakunts

The stone-pyramids of Old Kores located to the east of the modern town, is one of the most attractive sites in Goris. The old town is home to the 4th-century basilica of Surp Hripsimé.[11] The basilica has been renovated during the 16th century. However it was closed during the Soviet period until its major renovation in 2010. Finally, it was reopened for the public in October 2013.[12]

Goris is a prominent cultural centre in Syunik. It has cultural palace, a public library and a dram theatre.

The archaeological museum of Goris opened in 1948 is dedicated to the rich history of the Syunik region. The house-museum of Axel Bakunts is operating in the town since 1970, while the Goris art gallery is operating since 2001. Other museums in the town include the geological museum of Goris.[13]

Goris has a rich heritage in the music of Armenia and is a major centre for traditional music instruments. It is the birthplace of famous musician Gusan Ashot.

Goris is home to the annual Mulberry festival taking place in August every year.[14]


The landscape as seen from the M-2 Motorway between Goris and Shaki

The M-2 Motorway that connects the capital Yerevan with southern Armenia and the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic passes through Goris.

The Goris Airport, also known as Shinuyar Airport or Shinuhayr Airport, is located to the south of Goris, near the village of Shinuhayr. It has been closed since the collapse of the USSR in 1991. However, the Armenian government plans on reconstructing the airport and opening it to public and private service by 2016.[15] According to the central government, it is envisaged to operate starting from 2016. The airport will allow tourists to visit the Syunik region and Zangezur Mountains as well as the Tatev monastery and other summer resorts around the town.


Old Kores

Being home to many food-processing plants, the economy of Goris is mainly based on light industry. The home-made fruit vodkas are particularly good and famous in Goris.

Goris is home to the Vorotan Hydropower Plant opened in 1989 and considered one of the main providers of electrical power in Armenia. Other large industrial firms in Goris include the "Vosmar" company for asphalt concrete and crushed stone founded in 2002, the "Goris Gamma" for electronic devices founded in 2003, and the "Goris Group" for bottled spring water founded in 2005.

Goris is also a favoured destination of many local and foreign tourists, with a large number of hotels and inns. The stone-pyramids of Old Kores is one of the most attractive sites in Goris.


Goris is an important educational centre in Syunik. It has 7 secondary schools, 2 intermediate colleges, 7 kindergartens, 2 sports, 2 musical and 1 art schools.

Goris State University is operating in the town since 1967. Branches of the State Engineering University of Armenia and Yerevan State Institute of Theatre and Cinematography are also operating in the town.

Goris is also home to the Goris Kh. Yeritsyan State Agricultural College.


Zangezour football club had represented the town in professional competitions between 1982 and 1997 when they were forced to quit due to financial difficulties. They used to play their home games at the Goris City Stadium.

Notable natives[edit]

International relations[edit]

Twin towns[edit]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]