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For other uses, see Kapan (disambiguation).
From top left: Mount Khustup and Vachagan River • Tatev MonasteryMonument to David Bek • Garegin Nzhdeh's memorial Kapan skyline
From top left:

Mount Khustup and Vachagan River • Tatev Monastery
Monument to David Bek • Garegin Nzhdeh's memorial
Kapan skyline
Official seal of Kapan
Kapan is located in Armenia
Location of Kapan in Armenia
Coordinates: 39°12′04″N 46°24′54″E / 39.20111°N 46.41500°E / 39.20111; 46.41500Coordinates: 39°12′04″N 46°24′54″E / 39.20111°N 46.41500°E / 39.20111; 46.41500
Country  Armenia
Marz (Province) Syunik
City status 1938
 • Mayor Arthur Atayan
 • Total 36 km2 (14 sq mi)
Elevation 910 m (2,990 ft)
Population (2011 census)
 • Total 43,190
 • Density 1,200/km2 (3,100/sq mi)
Time zone GMT+4 (UTC+4)
Postal code 3301-3308
Area code(s) (+374) 285
Website Official website

Kapan (Armenian: Կապան), is a town in southeast Armenia and the capital of the Syunik Province. It is located 316 kilometres (196 miles) south of the capital Yerevan, on the northern slopes of Mount Khustup, in the valley of Voghji River. According to the 2011 census, the population of Kapan is 43,190,[2] slightly declined from 45,711 in the 2001 census.[3] Kapan is the most populous town in the Syunik Province and the entire region of southern Armenia.

The town was known as Ghapan (Armenian: Ղափան) during the Soviet period.


The word Kapan originates from the Armenian verb kapel (կապել), meaning "to lock", and points to an old Armenian geographic term for valleys surrounded by interlocked mountain chains.[4]


Baghaberd fortress near Kapan

The area of modern-day Kapan was first mentioned in the 5th century as a small settlement. Historically, the town was part of the Baghk canton of Syunik, the 9th province of the historic Kingdom of Armenia (Armenia Major). By the end of the 10th century, the ruler of Syunik; prince Smbat II, moved to the town of Kapan and founded the Kingdom of Syunik, proclaiming himself a king under the protectorate of the Bagratid Kingdom of Armenia.

In 1103, Kapan was entirely ruined by the Seljuk invaders. Between the 12th and 15th centuries, Syunik along with the rest of the historic territories of Armenia suffered from the Seljuk, Mongol, Ag Qoyunlu and Kara Koyunlu invasions, respectively.

At the beginning of the 16th century, Kapan became part of the Erivan Beglarbegi within the Safavid Persia. By the beginning of the 18th century, Kapan was associated with the Armenian military leader David Bek, who led the liberation campaign of the Armenians of Syunik against Safavid Persia and the invading Ottoman Turks. David Bek started his battles in 1722 with the help of thousands of local Armenian patriots who liberated Syunik.[5] The centre of David Bek's struggle was the Baghaberd Fortress northwest of Kapan and Halidzor Fortress southwest of Kapan where he died in 1728.

Kapan became a significant urban settlement during the Qajar Persian rule in the 18th century. In 1828, Kapan was officially became part of the Russian Empire as a result of the Russo-Persian War of 1826–28 and the signing of the Treaty of Turkmenchay. With the merger of several villages, Kapan was formed as an urban community during the 19th century.

In 1938, Kapan was given the status of a town by the Svoiet government of Armenia.[6] Present-day Kapan is built around 10 km southeast of the old town.

Kapan used to have a small Jewish community.

Geography and climate[edit]

The "Key of Kajaran" monument in Kapan

Kapan is the largest town in the Syunik province as well as the entire region of southern Armenia. It is located in the eastern part of Syunik, within the narrow valley of Voghji River on a length of 13 km (8 mi) form the east to the west, at the southeastern slopes of the Zangezur Mountain Range, between the Bargushat and Meghri ridges.

The town is about 80 km (50 mi) north of the Iranian border.

With a height of 3201 meters, Mount Khustup is the highest peak of the region. The elevation of Kapan ranges between 750–1050 metres above sea level, with an average height of 910 metres.

The tributaries of Voghji River, Vachagan and Kavart flow through the town as well.

Kapan is characterized with hot summers and cold winters. Temperature could reach up to 38 °C (100 °F) during summer, and could fall down to −15 °C (5 °F) during winter.

The Shikahogh State Preserve, founded in 1958, is located around 14 km south of Kapan, near the Shikahogh village. The preserve is home to about 1,100 species of plants, 70 of which have been registered in the Red Book of Armenia. The fauna of Shikahogh has not been fully explored, but studies have already revealed rare species of animals such as leopard, wild goat, bear, viper, and hedgehog.[7][8]

Climate data for Kapan
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 4
Average low °C (°F) −3
Average precipitation mm (inches) 21.1
Source: en.climate-data.org[9]


Kapan is almost entirely populated by ethnic Armenians who belong to the Armenian Apostolic Church.

Here is the population timeline of Kapan since 1831:

Year 1831 1897 1926 1939 1959 1976 2001 2011
Population 196 2,272 2,658 8,511 19,315 36,351 45,711 43,190


Vahanavank monastery
Holy Mother of God church near the Vahanavank monastery

The area around Kapan has a plenty of historical structures including:

  • Baghaberd Fortress of the 4th century, also known as the castle of Davit Bek.
  • Tatev Monastery of the 9th century, founded in the place of an ancient tabernacle well known in ancient times.
  • Vahanavank Monastery of the 11th century.
  • Halidzor Fortress of the 17th century.

The town has many attractive structures including:

  • Kapan Archaeological and Ethnographic Museum.
  • Monument dedicated to David Bek.
  • Garegin Nzhdeh's memorial and park.
  • Vazgen Sargsyan central park.
  • "Karapeti Gyol" artificial lake.
  • Garegin Nzhdeh Square.

Wings of Tatev cableway which connects Halidzor village with the Tatev monastery is located 24 km (15 mi) north of Kapan. It is the longest reversible aerial tramway built in one section only.[10]


Kapan is connected with Iran by road. In late 2008, the road between Kapan and Meghri on the Iranian border was redeveloped. The railway line Kapan-Kovsakan-Mijnavan is currently inactive.

Prior to the Nagorno-Karabakh War, a small airfield was used to accommodate the aircraft YAK-40 and AN-14 cargo.

The nearest airport to the town is the defunct Goris Airport located 62 km (39 mi) north of Kapan, near the town of Goris.[11]


The medieval bridge of Kapan

With a population of around 45,500, Kapan is struggling to cope with the realities of post-Karabakh war and post-Soviet society. However, there are signs of growth and development. Kapan is primarily a mining centre, hence its Persian name of the Qajar time معدن (Ma'dan, meaning "mine"). Kapan's industry is dependent on the newly privatized polymetallic deposit, though additional operations have developed including mining support services, commercial scale animal husbandry, and an expanding retail sector. The furniture and textile industries have grown in recent years.

Kapan has been a major centre for the production of many non-ferrous metals. Commercial development of the local deposits began in 1890. Armenian entrepreneurs and French mining engineers obtained concessions to the copper mines and a copper-ore processing plant was built in the city.


Kapan is the education centre of southern Armenia. It has 13 public education schools, 3 music schools, 3 sport academies and many branches of Yerevan State University. The Kapan Museum of Geology and the History Museum named after Shmavon Movsisyan are among the prominent museums.


Association football is the most popular sport in the town. Gandzasar Kapan FC, founded in 2004, are representing the town in the Armenian Premier League. They play their home games at the Gandzasar Stadium. The club won the 3rd place of the Armenian Premier League on 3 occasions: in 2008, 2011 and 2012-13. Gandzasar have the highest average attendance at home games in the league.

In May 2013, Gandzasar Kapan opened their football training centre at the outskirts of Kapan. The new complex has many regular-sized football pitches including one with artificial turf. The academy became the first developed technical football centre in the Syunik Province.[12]

Basketball, artistic gymnastics, boxing and athletics are among the widely practiced sports in Kapan.

Notable natives[edit]

Twin towns – Sister cities[edit]

World War II memorial in Kapan


  1. ^ Syunik
  2. ^ census 2011
  3. ^ Report of the results of the 2001 Armenian Census, National Statistical Service of the Republic of Armenia
  4. ^ Western Armenian Dictionary & Phrasebook: Armenian-English/English-Armenian (Hippocrene Dictionary and Phrasebook). 2006. p. 86
  5. ^ Капан (in Russian). abp.am. Retrieved August 28, 2009. 
  6. ^ About Kapan
  7. ^ Igor G. Khorozyan, Pavel I. Weinberg and Alexander G. Malkhasyan: Conservation Strategy for Armenian Mouflon (Ovis orientalis gmelini Blyth) and Bezoar Goat (Capra aegagrus Erxleben) in Armenia. in Status and Protection of globally threatened Species in the Caucasus. CEPF Biodiversity Investments in the Caucasus Hotspot 2004-2009. Edited by Nugzar Zazanashvili and David Mallon (2009).online PDF
  8. ^ Armenia Tree Project - Environmental News and Analysis
  9. ^ "en.climate-data.org". 
  10. ^ World's longest cable car line opens to Armenia. PhysOrg.com. Retrieved on 2011-06-15.
  11. ^ Waiting rooms and cafes to be constructed at stations of Tatev aerial tramway
  12. ^ Gandzasar football academy
  13. ^ "Interactive City Directory". Sister Cities International. Retrieved 11 March 2014. 

External links[edit]