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From top left: Sisian Town Hall • Saint Gregory Church of 689 • Zorats Karer archaeological site • Vorotnavank • Vorotan River • Shaki Waterfall • Ughtasar Petroglyphs • Sisian with Mt Mets Ishkhanasar
From top left:
Sisian Town Hall • Saint Gregory Church of 689 • Zorats Karer archaeological site • Vorotnavank • Vorotan River • Shaki Waterfall • Ughtasar Petroglyphs • Sisian with Mt Mets Ishkhanasar
Coat of arms of Sisian
Sisian is located in Armenia
Coordinates: 39°31′15″N 46°01′56″E / 39.52083°N 46.03222°E / 39.52083; 46.03222Coordinates: 39°31′15″N 46°01′56″E / 39.52083°N 46.03222°E / 39.52083; 46.03222
Country Armenia
First mentioned8th century BC
 • MayorArthur Sargsyan
 • Total9 km2 (3 sq mi)
1,600 m (5,200 ft)
 • Total14,894
 • Density1,700/km2 (4,300/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+4 (AMT)
Area code(s)+374 2830
WebsiteOfficial website

Sisian (Armenian: Սիսիան) is a town and the centre of the urban community of Sisian, in the Syunik Province in southern Armenia. It is located on the Vorotan River, 6 km south of the Yerevan-Meghri highway, at a road distance of 217 km southeast of the capital Yerevan, and 115 km north of the provincial centre Kapan.

As of the 2011 census, the population of the town was 14,894. As per the 2016 official estimate, the population of Sisian is around 12,900.


The area of present-day Sisian was also known as Sisakan and Sisavan during ancient times and later in the Middle Ages. According to Movses Khorenatsi, the name of Sisakan—and subsequently Sisian—was derived from Sisak,[2] a legendary ancestor of the Armenian princely house of Syuni.[3]


Ancient history and Middle Ages[edit]

Tombstones of pre-Christian era in Sisian
7th-century St. Gregory Church overlooking Sisian
A view of Sisian

Historically, the territory of modern-day Sisian was part of Tsghuk canton (Armenian: Ծղուկք գավառ Tsghukk gavar), within historic Syunik, the 7th province of Greater Armenia. It was first mentioned as a notable centre of paganism within the Kingdom of Urartu during the 8th century BC.[4]

Between 331 BC and 428 AD, the region of Sisian—known as Sisakan—was part of the ancient Kingdom of Armenia under the reign of the Orontid, Artaxiad and Arsacid dynasties. During the 4th century, the historic settlement of Shaghat near Sisakan became the residence of the Syuni princes, the ruling dynasty of historic Syunik. It remained the spiritual and the political center of the region until the end of the 10th century, when the fortified town of Kapan in the southern Baghk canton became the capital of the newly established Kingdom of Syunik in 987 under the protectorate of the Bagratid Kingdom of Armenia.[5]

In 1103, the region was invaded and looted by the Seljuks. After the fall of the Kingdom of Syunik in 1170, Syunik along with the rest of the historic territories of Armenia suffered from the Seljuk, Mongol, Aq Qoyunlu and Kara Koyunlu invasions, respectively between the 12th and 15th centuries.

Persian rule[edit]

At the beginning of the 16th century, Sisakan became part of the Erivan Beglarbegi within the Safavid Persia. It was known as Gharakilisa (black church) to the Turkic and Persian rulers of Eastern Armenia.[citation needed] By the beginning of the 18th century, Sisakan 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.[6] In 1750, Sisakan became part of the newly formed Karabakh Khanate.

Russian rule[edit]

At the beginning of the 19th century, many territories of southern Armenia including the region of Sisakan became part of the Russian Empire as a result of the Treaty of Gulistan, signed on 24 October 1813 between Russia and Qajar Iran following the Russo-Persian War of 1804–13.[7] In 1828–30, many Armenian families from the Iranian cities of Khoy and Salmast migrated to the region. In 1868, Sisakan became part of the Zangezursky Uyezd, within the Elisabethpol Governorate of the Russian Empire.

Modern history[edit]

After World War I, Sisakan became part of the short-lived independent Republic of Armenia between 1918 and 1920.[8] As a result of the Sovietization of Armenia in December 1920, Sisian was included in the breakaway Republic of Mountainous Armenia under the leadership of Garegin Nzhdeh, who fought against the Bolsheviks and maintained an independent state between 26 April and 12 July 1921.

After the Soviet Red Army entered the Zangezur region in July 1921, Sisakan along with the towns of Goris, Kapan and Meghri fell under Soviet rule. In 1930, Sisian became the centre of the newly founded Sisian raion. The town and the raion were known as Gharakilisa until 1935, and Sisavan between 1935–40. With the operation of the Vorotan Cascade during the 1960s, the town of Sisian witnessed rapid growth. Many industrial plants and service-providing firms were opened in the region. With the gradual development of the town, Sisian was turned into a city of republican subordination within the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic. The major urban plan of the city was adopted in 1976. An airstrip was opened in 1982 at the northeastern suburbs of the town, adjacent to the main north-south highway of Armenia. The Sisian airport no longer operates for civilian aviation and is currently the site of a joint Russian-Armenian military post.[9][10]

Following the independence of Armenia in 1991, Sisian was incorporated into the newly formed Syunik Province based on the 1995 administrative reforms.



Mount Ughtasar with its volcanic crater lake, 14 km north of Sisian
Vorotan River in Sisian

Sisian is located at the southeast of Armenia, in the mountainous region of historic Syunik. Surrounded with the Zangezur Mountains from the west and Bargushat Mountains from the south, the town is situated on the shores of Vorotan River, at an average height of 1600 above sea level, only 6 km south of the main highway that connects Armenia with the Republic of Artsakh and Iran. The Sisian river joins the Vorotan at the southern border of the town.

The Sisian mountain pass north of the town is at a height of 2345 meters, connecting the Vorotan plain at the east with the plains of Nakhichevan at the west. The 3563 meters-high Mount Ughtasar is overlooking at Sisian from the north, while the Mount Mets Ishkhanasar (3552 meters) is located 13 km east of the town.


Sisian has a humid continental climate (Dfb according to the Köppen climate classification system). The average temperature in January is -6°C and +18°C in July. The annual precipitation level is around 489 mm.[11]

Climate data for Sisian
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) −2
Daily mean °C (°F) −6
Average low °C (°F) −13
Average precipitation mm (inches) 19
Source: World Weather Online[12]


Artsakh war victims memorial

Many of the ancestors of the citizens in Sisian migrated from Khoy and Salmast in Iran after the Russian conquest of the region in the 19th century. Currently, the town has a population of ethnic Armenians who belong to the Armenian Apostolic Church with the 7th-century church of Saint Gregory of Sisavan being the main church of the town. It is regulated by the Diocese of Syunik based in Goris.

Timeline of the population of Sisian since 1931:

Year 1931 1941 1951 1959 1969 1975 1979 1984 1989 2001 2011 2016
Population 1,635 1,473 3,016 3,818 6,778 9,100 10,603 12,487 15,731 16,843 14,894 12,900

Healthcare is served by the Sisian Medical Center. The Sisian Military Hospital is based in the nearby village of Aghitu.


Bull petroglyphs at Ughtasar
Sisian House of Culture
Sisian History Museum

Sisian is surrounded by many historical sites dating back to the Paleolithic Age as well as the early Bronze Age. The Ughtasar Petroglyphs, one of the largest ancient petroglyph sites in the world which date back to the 12th millennium BC,[13] are located a few kilometers north of Sisian. The Zorats Karer archaeological site—often referred to in international tourist lore as the Armenian Stonehenge[14]—of the 3rd millennium BC is located 3 km north of Sisian. The remains of a Bronze Age cyclopean fortress are found at the northeastern edge of the town, while 2 other medieval fortresses are found at the west and the northeast of the town. The 7th-century Saint Gregory Church of Sisavan (also known as Surp Hovhannes) is among the major historic landmarks of the town, built in 670-689.

The Sisian History Museum named after Nicholas Adontz has operated since its inauguration in 1989, covering the history of Sisian and the surrounding region.[15] The town is also home to a public library opened in 1935, the Hamo Sahyan house of culture, the Sisian branch of the National Gallery of Armenia opened in 1978.

The music academy of the town is operating since 1960, with around 175 students as of 2017. as well as an academy of fine arts. The town has also an academy of fine arts and children's art, operating since the Soviet days, named after Z. Khachatryan.

The town has 2 newspapers: Vorotan[16] and Vorotanian Ghoghanjner.


The Yerevan-Stepanakert highway (M-2 Motorway) that links Armenia with the Republic of Artsakh is only 6 km northeast of Sisian. The Sisian airstrip was opened in 1982 adjacent to the highway. The town is connected with the surrounding villages and towns with a network of regional roads, paved through the mountains passes.


A traditional café

The economy of Sisian was greatly boosted with the inauguration of the Vorotan Cascade in the early 1960s. Many industrial plants and service firms were opened by the Soviet government, including the production of building materials, reinforced concrete, textile and medical equipments. The industry was enlarged with the foundation of the sewing factory, the Armenian rug production unit, and the dairy products plant. Agriculture was also promoted during the Soviet days, with the establishment of many poultry and pig farms.

Following the independence of Armenia and the resulted economic crisis, most of the industrial and agricultural firms of the Soviet period were forced to close.

Currently, many plants for the production of building materials, furniture and canned food are operating in the town, including the Sisian Shik mining plant,[17] Bazalt-M plant for building materials (since 2009),[18] and Sisian Ceramics plant.

With its ancient archaeological sites and attractive nature, tourism is an important sector for Sisian and the region. The town is served with many traditional boutique hotels, B&Bs, as well as restaurants and pubs.


As of 2017, Sisian is home to 5 public education schools as well as a number of pre-school kindergartens.

The Sisian branch of the Armenian National Agrarian University was opened in 2004, with seven specialties: agronomy, milk and dairy technology, land management and cadastral survey, economics and management of agrarian production, agrifood system accountancy and audit, veterinary sanitary expertise, and animal husbandry.[19]

The Sisian Adult Education Center is a non-profit organization offering development programs for the population of the town.


Sisian Football School Stadium

Football, volleyball, futsal, handball, weightlifting, boxing, wrestling and chess are among the popular sports in Sisian. The children and youth sport school of the towns was opened in 1961 by the efforts of volleyball player Manvel Amirkhanyan.[20] Designated for around 500 young trainees, the school was entirely reconstructed and opened in March 2017.[21]

The town is also home to a chess school as well as a football school operating since 2011.

The Sisian Football School Stadium was constructed during 2017. The stadium has an up-to-date artificial turf and a seating capacity of 500 spectators.

International relations[edit]

Twin towns – Sister cities[edit]

Sisian is twinned with:

Notable people[edit]

The statue of Hamo Sahyan in Sisian

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Statistical Committee of Armenia. "The results of the 2011 Population Census of the Republic of Armenia" (PDF).
  2. ^ (in Armenian) Movses Khorenatsi. History of Armenia, 5th Century (Հայոց Պատմություն, Ե Դար). Annotated translation and commentary by Stepan Malkhasyants. Gagik Sarkisyan (ed.) Yerevan: Hayastan Publishing, 1997, 1.12, p. 88 ISBN 5-540-01192-9.
  3. ^ (in Armenian) Harutyunyan, Babken. «Սիսակ» (Sisak). Soviet Armenian Encyclopedia. vol. x. Yerevan, Armenian SSR: Armenian Academy of Sciences, 1984, p. 399.
  4. ^ Sisian community of Syunik
  5. ^ Kingdom of Syunik
  6. ^ Капан (in Russian). Retrieved August 28, 2009.
  7. ^ Baddeley, John F. (2006). The Russian Conquest of the Caucasus: With Maps, Plans, and Illustrations. Martino Pub. ISBN 9781578985760. Retrieved 11 November 2018. The Russian Conquest of the Caucasus.
  8. ^ Hovannisian, Richard G. (1967). Armenia on the Road to Independence, 1918. University of California Press. ISBN 9780520005747. Retrieved 11 November 2018. Armenia on the Road to Independence.
  9. ^ Sarukhanyan, Vahe (2019-02-01). "Armenia's Sisian Airport: Will it Revert from Military to Civilian Use?". Retrieved 2021-11-17.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  10. ^ "Russian Peacekeepers Expand Presence in Sisian". CIVILNET. 2021-03-17. Retrieved 2021-11-17.
  11. ^ "Sisian climate: Average Temperature, weather by month, Sisian weather averages - World Weather Online". World Weather Online. Retrieved 24 February 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  12. ^ "Climate: Sisian". World Weather Online. Retrieved February 24, 2021.
  13. ^ Ughtasar: The Petroglyphs of Armenia
  14. ^ "The Vorotan Project". Kelsey Museum of Archaeology. 2005. Archived from the original on 9 November 2013. Retrieved 9 November 2013.
  15. ^ Sisian History Museum named after Nicholas Adontz
  16. ^ Vorotan newspapaer
  17. ^ Sisian Shik mining plant
  18. ^ Bazalt-M for building materials production
  19. ^ Armenian National Agrarian University, Sisian branch
  21. ^ Sisian sport school is reconstructed

External links[edit]