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Vayots Dzor Province

Coordinates: 39°45′N 45°30′E / 39.750°N 45.500°E / 39.750; 45.500
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Vayots Dzor
Վայոց Ձոր
From the top to bottom-right: Kechut Reservoir, Noravank Monastery, Arpa River, Jermuk Forests, Hyatt Place Resort
Coat of arms of Vayots Dzor
Location of Vayots Dzor within Armenia
Coordinates: 39°45′N 45°30′E / 39.750°N 45.500°E / 39.750; 45.500
and largest city
 • GovernorArarat Grigoryan[2]
 • Total2,308 km2 (891 sq mi)
 • Rank7th
 • Total52,324[1]
 • Estimate 
(January 2021)
 • Rank11th
Time zoneAMT (UTC+04)
Postal code
ISO 3166 codeAM-VD
FIPS 10-4AM10
HDI (2017)0.745[4]
high · 5th
WebsiteOfficial website

Vayots Dzor (Armenian: Վայոց Ձոր, Armenian pronunciation: [vɑjˌɔt͡sʰ ˈd͡zɔɾ] ) is a province (marz) of Armenia. It lies at the southeastern end of the country, bordering the Nakhchivan exclave of Azerbaijan to the west and the Kalbajar District of Azerbaijan to the east. It covers an area of 2,308 km2 (891 sq mi). With a population of only 52,324 (2011 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 fortress of Smbataberd, and the 13th-century monastery of Noravank. 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.


The province is named after the Vayots Dzor canton of historic Syunik, the ninth province of Ancient Armenia. The exact etymology of the name Vayots Dzor is unknown, although it is popularly understood to mean valley or canyon of sorrows (vay is an exclamation of sorrow or pain in Armenian, a cognate of the word "woe").[5] According to folk tradition, the region received this name after a powerful earthquake struck the area.[5] Historian Grigor Ghapantsyan considers it more likely that the name Vayots Dzor derives from the name of an ancient tribe or ethnic group with the name Vay, perhaps connected with Biaini, the endonym of the ancient kingdom of Urartu.[5][6]


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 the most sparsely populated province in the country. It borders the Nakhchivan exclave of Azerbaijan from the west and the Kalbajar District of Azerbaijan from the east (administered as the Shahumyan Region of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic between 1993 and 2020). 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: the Vardenis mountain range at the north, the Arpa range in the middle and the Vayk range at the south. At a height of 3522 meters, the Vardenis volcano in the north is the highest point in 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 located almost at the centre of the province.

Vayots Dzor has many rivers, mountains springs and mineral water, with the Arpa River being the most significant of them.[citation needed] It flows 92 km in the territory of Vayots Dzor, through the settlements of Jermuk, Vayk, Yeghegnadzor, and Areni, among others. It originates in Vayots Dzor from the northwest part of the 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 and the Herher.

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 by 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 the Kechut reservoir to transfer the flow of the Arpa river into Kake Sevan.

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

Vayk mountain range


The Areni-1 cave complex

Vayots Dzor is first mentioned in the History of Armenia by Movses Khorenatsi. The region has been inhabited by humans since prehistoric times. Archaeological investigations have uncovered many sites and objects dating back to the Paleolithic Era and the Bronze Age, including carvings on cliffs depicting scenes of hunting and animals. The Areni-1 cave complex—including the 6,100-year-old Areni-1 winery—discovered in 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.[7][8][9] A 5500-year-old leather shoe, the oldest known piece of leather footwear, has also been found in Areni-1.[10]

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.[citation needed] 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. It later became part of the Khanate of Nakhchivan and was known as Daralagez (also spelled Daralagyaz, Daralayaz).

During the first 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 that the territory came under Russian rule, it was incorporated into the newly established Armenian Oblast. In 1849, 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 the 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 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.



According to the 1989 Soviet census, the Vayots Dzor Province (then part of the Vayk and Yeghegnadzor districts in 1930–1995)[11] had a population of 60,357. 10,234 or 16.96% of which was urban, distributed in the city of Jermuk, and 50,123 or 83.04% were rural, distributed in the districts of Vayk (13,680) and Yeghegnadzor (36,443).[12]

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[edit]

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[edit]

As a result of the administrative reforms concluded by June 17, 2016, October 8, 2016, and June 9, 2017, Vayots Dzor is currently divided into 8 municipal communities (hamaynkner)[13][14][15][16]

  • A cross denotes a town (urban settlement), otherwise, the settlements are villages (rural settlements).
Municipality Area (km2) Population
(2011 census)
Centre Settlements
Areni Community[17] 438 10,410 Areni Agarakadzor, Aghavnadzor, Arpi, Chiva, Gnishik, Khachik, Mozrov, Rind, Yelpin. (Abandoned: Amaghu)
Jermuk Community[18] 497 7,359 Jermuk Gndevaz, Herher, Karmrashen
Vayk Community[19] 184 7,064 Vayk Arin, Azatek, Por, Zedea
Yeghegis Community[20] 477 5,961 Shatin Aghnjadzor, Artabuynk, Goghtanik, Hermon, Horbategh, Hors, Karaglukh, Salli, Sevazhayr, Taratumb, Vardahovit, Yeghegis. (Abandoned: Arates, Getikvank, Kalasar)
Yeghegnadzor Community[21] 27 7,944 Yeghegnadzor


The archaeological museum in Yeghegnadzor

The people of Vayots Dzor are mainly conservative.[citation needed] 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.[22]

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[edit]

Smbataberd fortress of the 10th century

Churches and monasteries[edit]

Spitakavor Monastery of 1321


Vardadzor monthly is the regional newspaper of Vayots Dzor. It has been published in Yeghegnadzor since 15 November 2002.[23] It covers political, economical and regional news. It also has a literary supplement.


The M-2 Motorway that connects 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[edit]

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.[24]

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). Internationally renowned winemaker Paul Hobbs[25] and the Yacoubian family journey to the Birthplace of Wine to craft modern, world-class wines from the indigenous varieties found in the high-altitude, mineral-rich soils of Vayots Dzor. Among the Yacoubian-Hobbs portfolio are a Dry White Wine predominantly made of Voskehat, and two different Areni. Their vineyards grow a stone's throw away from the Areni-1 cave, the oldest known winery dating from over 6000 years ago. With their local team, Paul and the Yacoubians are growing and crafting wines that confirm Armenia's part, not only in the ancient history of winemaking, but in its very relevant present and future amongst the great wine regions of the world.


The industry of Vayots Dzor contributes 1% of the annual total industrial product of Armenia. Industry is mainly based on water bottling, 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:
    • "Yacoubian-Hobbs" (wine), first vintage 2014
    • "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.[26]
    • "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.[27] The company's "2010 Zorah Karasi Areni Noir" was ranked in the 2012 Bloomberg's top 10 list.[28][29]
    • "Areni Wine Winery", opened in 2003 in Areni.
    • "Hin Areni Vineyards", opened in 2007 in Areni.[30]
    • "Trinity Canyon Vineyards", opened in 2009 in Aghavnadzor.[31]
  • 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,[32] and the Yeghegnadzor Cannery operating since 2015.[33]
  • 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 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 "Jermuk 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.[34]

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[35] and operated until 1340 and "left behind a rich intellectual heritage".[36]

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:[37] 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.[38]


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, Jermuk hosts the FIDE Grand Prix Jermuk chess tournament.

Notable natives[edit]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Vayots Dzor population, 2011 census" (PDF).
  2. ^ "Arminfo: Ararat Grigoryan appointed governor of Vayots Dzor region". arminfo.info.
  3. ^ "Statistical Committee of the Republic of Armenia" (PDF).
  4. ^ "Sub-national HDI - Area Database - Global Data Lab". hdi.globaldatalab.org. Retrieved 2018-09-13.
  5. ^ a b c Hakobyan, T. Kh.; Melik-Bakhshyan, St. T.; Barseghyan, H. Kh. (1998). Hayastani ev harakitsʻ shrjanneri teghanunneri baṛaran [Dictionary of toponymy of Armenian and adjacent territories] (in Armenian). Vol. 4. Yerevan: Yerevan State University. p. 744.
  6. ^ Kapantsyan, Grigor (1940). Istoriko-lingvisticheskoe znachenie toponimiki drevney Armenii [Historical-linguistic meaning of toponyms of ancient Armenia] (in Russian). Yerevan: Yerevan State University. p. 70.
  7. ^ Maugh II, Thomas H. "Ancient winery found in Armenia." Los Angeles Times. January 11, 2011. Retrieved January 14, 2011.
  8. ^ Santini, Jean-Louis. "Scientists find 'oldest ever' winery in Armenia." Agence France-Presse. January 11, 2011. Retrieved January 14, 2011.
  9. ^ Owen, James. "Earliest Known Winery Found in Armenian Cave." National Geographic. January 10, 2011. Retrieved January 14, 2011.
  10. ^ Dindar, Shereen (June 9, 2010). "World's Oldest Leather Shoe Found—Stunningly Preserved". National Post. Canada. Retrieved June 11, 2010.
  11. ^ "Legislation: National Assembly of RA". www.parliament.am. Retrieved 2022-02-11.
  12. ^ "Демоскоп Weekly - Приложение. Справочник статистических показателей". www.demoscope.ru. Retrieved 2022-02-10.
  13. ^ Նախատեսվում է իրականացնել համայնքների խոշորացման 14 պիլոտային ծրագիր
  14. ^ "Հայաստանի 328 համայնքների միավորմամբ կձևավորվի 34 համայնք. ԱԺ-ն քննարկում է ծրագիրը | Լրագիր".
  15. ^ "Վայոց ձորի մարզպետարան". vdzor.mtad.am.
  16. ^ "ՎԱՅՈՑ ՁՈՐԻ ՄԱՐԶ" [Vayots Dzor Province]. ՀՀ ՄԱՐԶԵՐԻ ԵՎ ԵՐԵՎԱՆ ՔԱՂԱՔԻ ՍՈՑԻԱԼ-ՏՆՏԵՍԱԿԱՆ ԲՆՈՒԹԱԳՐԵՐԸ [Socio-economic characteristics of the provinces of the Republic of Armenia and the city of Yerevan] (PDF). Yerevan: Statistical Committee of Armenia. 15 November 2022. Archived (PDF) from the original on 9 February 2023.
  17. ^ "Վայոց ձորի մարզպետարան". vdzor.mtad.am.
  18. ^ "Վայոց ձորի մարզպետարան". vdzor.mtad.am.
  19. ^ "Վայոց ձորի մարզպետարան". vdzor.mtad.am.
  20. ^ "Վայոց ձորի մարզպետարան". vdzor.mtad.am.
  21. ^ "Վայոց ձորի մարզպետարան". vdzor.mtad.am.
  22. ^ "RA Vayots Dzor Marz" (PDF). Marzes of the Republic of Armenia in Figures, 2002–2006. National Statistical Service of the Republic of Armenia. 2007.
  23. ^ Vardadzor monthly
  24. ^ "Armstat: Vayots Dzor" (PDF).
  25. ^ Zimmerman, Liza (November 28, 2023). "Exploring Armenian Wine". Forbes.com.
  26. ^ "About Getnatoun wine factory".
  27. ^ "Our story". Zorah Wines.
  28. ^ "Armenian Wine Makes Bloomberg's Top 10 List – Asbarez.com".
  29. ^ "Armenia's Best Wineries | Wine Tours in Armenia | Oldworldwinetours.com". oldworldwinetours.com.
  30. ^ "Hin Areni Wine". hinareniwine.am.
  31. ^ LLC, Trinity. "Home | Armenian Wine | Trinity Canyon Vineyards". trinitycv.com.
  32. ^ "IZOTON::". www.izoton.am.
  33. ^ Center, Armenian Information. "240 նոր աշխատատեղ Եղեգնաձոր քաղաքում (ֆոտո)". yn.am.
  34. ^ "Snow art fest is one more reason to pack your bag for Armenia: This winter is ideal for it". PanARMENIAN.Net.
  35. ^ 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.
  36. ^ Nersessian, Vrej (2001). The Bible in the Armenian Tradition. London: British Library. p. 43. ISBN 9780892366408.
  37. ^ "Vayots Dzor Province schools" (PDF).
  38. ^ "Կայացել է ՀՀ Վայոց ձորի մարզի հանրակրթական հաստատությունների ղեկավարների օգոստոսյան ամենամյա խորհրդակցությունը | Առավոտ - Լուրեր Հայաստանից".

External links[edit]