Vayots Dzor Province

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Vayots Dzor
Վայոց Ձոր
Location of Vayots Dzor within Armenia
Coordinates: 39°45′N 45°30′E / 39.750°N 45.500°E / 39.750; 45.500Coordinates: 39°45′N 45°30′E / 39.750°N 45.500°E / 39.750; 45.500
Country Armenia
Capital Yeghegnadzor
 • Governor Edgar Ghazaryan
 • Total 2,308 km2 (891 sq mi)
Area rank 7th
Population (2011)
 • Total 52,324[1]
 • Rank 11th
Time zone UTC+04
Postal code 3601–3810
ISO 3166 code AM-VD
FIPS 10-4 AM10
Website official website

Vayots Dzor (Armenian: Վայոց Ձոր, Armenian pronunciation: [vɑjˌɔt͡sʰ ˈd͡zɔɾ]), is a province (marz) of Armenia. It lies in the south-east of the country, bordering the Nakhichevan exclave of Azerbaijan form the west and the Shahumyan Region of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic from the east. It covers an area of 2,308 km². With a population of only 53,230 (2002 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 of the Areni-1 cave complex and Areni-1 winery of the Chalcolithic period, the 8th-century Tanadivank monastery, the 9th-century Smbataberd fortress, the 10th-century Gndevank monastery, the 10th-century Tsakhats Kar Monastery, the 13th-century Proshaberd fortress, the 13th-century Noravank monastery, the 14th-century Areni Church and the 14-th century Spitakavor Monastery. Vayots Dzor is also home to the popular spa-town of Jermuk.

The village of Gladzor in Vayots Dzor was home to the 13th and 14th-century University of Gladzor.

General information and history[edit]

Vayots Dzor is situated in the south-eastern end of Armenia. It is the most sparsely populated province in the country. During the excavations the archaeologists found some objects that belonged to the primitive man, as well as diggers, bracelets, rings and buckles from the Bronze Age. All of these findings come to prove that the region has been settled since prehistoric times. They also found many carvings on the cliffs depicting scenes of hunting and animals. In 2008, another discovery made by an international archaeological expedition proved one more time that Vayots Dzor has been a resident for more than 5000 years. As a result of excavations carried out in the Birds’ cave archaeologists found a leather shoe which is 5500 years old. That is the oldest model of a shoe ever found in the world and is now exhibited in the History Museum of Armenia. They have also discovered some remnants of compresses grapes and a range of jugs (vine production) in the cave. It’s quite possible that it’s the oldest wine production in the world.

Vayots Dzor was first mentioned in the Armenian history by Movses Khorenatsi. Already in the 8th century BC today’s area of Vayots Dzor was involved in the Kingdom of Urartu. Then it became a part of the Kingdom of Armenia Major forming the Vayots Dzor canton of the Syunik Province. It used to be a residence for many princely stocks, and especially flourished under the dominion of the Zakaryan, Proshyan and Orbelyan families (12th-14th centuries). In the history of the 13th century Stepanos Orbelyan mentions the names of 94 settlements. A lot of significant churches, monasteries, bridges end caravansary were built during these centuries and today they have become important touristic spots and silent witnesses of the rich history of Vayots Dzor. In the Middle Ages the Great Silk Way passed through the area of Vayots Dzor. Now it is the roadway that links Martuni with Yeghegnadzor.

The period spanning from the 15th to 17th centuries is considered to be the worst in the history of Vayots Dzor. This is when the armies of the Turkic and Iranian tribes destroyed the prosperous villages and displaced the population. After joining Russia it was a part of the Sharur-Daralagyaz region of Yerevan province. In 1918-20 it was involved in the area of the First Republic of Armenia. In 1920-21 it joined Soviet Armenia.

During the administrative division in 1929-1930 today’s area of the province was divided into the regions of Yeghegnadzor and Azizbekov (now Vayq). In 1991 it became a part of the Independent Republic of Armenia and underwent the last division in 1995 when the above-mentioned regions united the Vayots Dzor province. During the Middle Ages, Vayots Dzor was a principality of the kingdom of Syunik. The name literally means "Valley of Woes" because the area was devastated by several earthquakes during its history. Vayots Dzor was part of Sharur-Daralagez uyezd of Erivan Governorate before the foundation of the Democratic Republic of Armenia in 1918.


The province is rich in historical and architectural sites, such as the Noravank monastery, the Smbataberd fortress, and the Tsakhats Kar monastery. The spa town of Jermuk, one of Armenia's premiere tourist attractions during Soviet times, is also located in the province.


Vayots Dzor borders the following provinces:

Water delivery network[edit]

There are lots of springs,rivers and valleys in the territory of Vayots dzor. Arpa river has the major importance and flows 92 km in the territory of Vayots Dzor. The Arpa has 2080 sq. m water basin. The river starts in Vayots dzor from the northwest hillside of Syunik plateau (3260 m ) and flows into Araks river ( in the territory of Nakhijevan). It has lots of tributaries that form waterfalls such as the Mermaid waterfall in Jermuk and Waterfall of Herher. Eghegis is the largest tributary where you can find a picturesque valley and a special protected zone. All the rivers in Vayots Dzor are swift and have deep fall and inclination and are full of energy supply. For transferring some water from Arpa to Sevan underground water transportation tunnel Arpa-Sevan has been built, which starts from the basin of Kechut. Here you’ll also find the basin of Herher and lots of other big and small lakes that have ecological and relaxing importance.


The economy of Vayots Dzor is one of the weakest points of the Armenian economy. Agriculture is the leading sphere. Industry is basically introduced by the recycling of agricultural products. Cattle-breeding is dominant in agriculture with the following branches: cattle, wool-bearing, goat farming, bee-keeping, poultry farming. Vine-growing and fruit-growing are noticeable branches in botany. Here a lot of varieties of apricot-tree, cherry-tree, pear-tree, peach tree, apple-tree, oleaster, quince, plum-tree, sweet cherry-tree, grapes, walnut and berries are grown.

In the lying places of the valley Arpa people are busy with cultivation of melon. The foothill zone of the province is considered to be one of the 4 regions of wine-making in Armenia. Endemic grapes Areni are particularly famous and the wine bearing the same name is made of that type. Wine-making here has a thousand-year (millennial) history. Cheese-making, mineral water production and wine-making replenish the industrial complex. There are also a few water-electric units and an instrument making factory in Eghegnadzor. The enlargement of substructure of resort economy has a crucial role in the development of the regional economy.

Oldest shoe in the world[edit]

In 2008 the oldest leather shoe was found in the cave Areni-1, which is located in Vayots Dzor. It is about 5500 years old. Shoes like this were used in Ireland about 50 years before. Scientists from Armenia, Ireland, USA, Israel and Great Britain examined the shoe. Its age was estimated in the laboratories of Oxford and California.

The shoe was made in 3500s BC during Eneolithic or Copper-stone age. During the detection the scientists noticed that the shoe was filled with hay, the purpose of which is not clear yet. The shoe size is 37 (European). It has already moved to the History Museum of Armenia and needs to be conserved.

Older shoes-sandals were found in the Missouri cave, USA. But they were made of plant substance.


Monuments in Vayots Dzor have always attracted philologists, archaeologists and topographers.

Gndevank, Herheri Sion, Shativank, Knevank or Khotakerats Vank, Argyazi St. Khach and a number of other churches and gravestones were built during the 9th and 10th centuries.

One of the masterpieces of the Armenian architecture-Noravank, as well as a group of churches adjacent to it, the hotel, the celestial chapel, monuments of Eghegis, gates of Srkghunik and Arpa, Selim caravanserai, Arpa and Agarak bridges were built in the 14th century. Sculpture, painting and miniature painting also developed along with architecture.


The province of Vayots Dzor consists of the following 44 communities (hamaynkner), of which 3 are considered urban and 41 are considered rural.


The population and population density of Vayots Dzor is the smallest of all Armenian regions. Based on 2009 data basis, the population of Vayots Dzor is 55800, 19500 of which are those of urban population and 36500 of rural. The region has 44 communities, 3 of which are urban communities (Eghegnadzor, Vayq, Jermuk). Rural areas aren’t big ones. The cities are also small. The largest regional center is Eghegnadzor, the population of which is 8200. The city is situated on interstate road of Yerevan-Stepanakert-Iran. Arpa river flows crossing the south of the city. Gladzor and Vernashen villages merge Eghegnadzor in the north. The cultural life and educational environment are being improved.

The population of Vayq and Jermuk is about 6000. The latter is a health center. Here the process of bottling and the delivery of mineral water Jermuk is being carried out. The 28% of population is urban, the number of women is higher than that of the men. Locals like to celebrate national, traditional and holy feasts, such as the Easter, Tyarnendaraj and Vardavar. The most popular and unique holiday is the harvest festival, that is celebrated every year in regional center Eghegnadzor on the second Sunday of October. Locals from all villages take part in the parade on cars decorated with flowers, bringing their own harvest, berries typical to their land. The locals also showcast theatrical performances on their lifestyle and national cuisine. In the amphitheatres concerts are being held and round the square the locals display harvest of their villages.

Wine festival which has also become traditional is celebrated again in October in the village Areni. People in Vayots Dzor have their own traditional cuisine as a part of the Armenian one.

In villages, traditional lavash and gata are baked in tandoor (big jar dug in the earth in which fire is made used for baking bread). Banjars- wild herbs of medical importance are very popular. Beloved dishes are sour banjar, karshm, kyalaglosh, shorva with kaurma, rabbit kofta, portridge shorva, rosted quail and kid barbecue. People in Vayots Dzor are very hospitable and hardworking.


Towns or urban communities[edit]

Image City (town) Province Founded Land area (km2) Population (2011 census)
Djermuk.JPG Jermuk Vayots Dzor 13th century (first mentioned) 5 4,628
Arevik stadium Yeghegnadzor stadium.jpg Vayk Vayots Dzor ? 3 5,877
Yeghegnadzor landscape3.jpg Yeghegnadzor Vayots Dzor 5th century (first mentioned) 6 7,944

Villages or rural communities[edit]

Non-community villages[edit]


  1. ^ Vayots Dzor population, 2011 census
  2. ^ "RA Vayots Dzor Marz" (PDF). Marzes of the Republic of Armenia in Figures, 2002–2006. National Statistical Service of the Republic of Armenia. 2007. 

External links[edit]