Lori marz of Armenia is a province in the northern part of the country. It is mostly popular among foreign visitors for its mountains, soft climate, green and deep woods and, of course, the famous Lori cheese! In Lori, they will easily find a sanatorium, resort, hotel or a spa center to his or her taste.
Lori marz (province) in Armenia is also known for being severely damaged by the devastating earthquake in 1988.
Today, Lori marz is a popular tourist destination, rich with natural and historical monuments. It houses even UNESCO World Heritage sites, such as the monasteries of Haghpat and Sanahin, as well as the Monastery of Akhtala (an annual pilgrimage place for not only Armenians, but also Greeks and Georgians).
Lori is the third biggest province (marz) on the Armenian map. The capital and the largest city of Lori is Vanadzor, although there are also other large and significant cities in Lori Armenia: Spitak, Stepanavan and Alaverdi.
Basic Information about Lori Marz, Armenia
In ancient times (until the 5th century), the todays Lori Armenia was included in the Gugark Province. On the map of the historical Armenia it was known as Tashir.
Lori Marz Location and Area
The province of Lori can be found in the northern part of the Armenian map. It is located near the border with Georgia (the region of Kvemo-Kartli).
Lori marz is 112 km from the capital city of Yerevan. It domestically borders with such Armenian provinces, as Tavush (from the east), Kotayk (from the southeastern part), Shirak (from the west) and Aragatsotn (from the southwestern part).
Lori marz is surrounded by the mountains and mountain chains of Javakheti, Somkheti, Pambak, Bazum, Gugark and Halab. Debed River and its tributaries (Pambak, Dzoraget and Martsaget) are the province’s main water resource.
The total area of Lori Armenia Province is 3799 sq. km (around 1467 sq. mi).
How to get to Lori Armenia?
In order to get to Lori marz of Armenia, you can use both traditional and non-traditional ways. Getting a taxi from Yerevan city’s Kilikia bus station is always a faster and an easier way to get to Lori (the cost will be around 5000 AMD or approximately 10 USD).
But, if you love traveling in a good company and have more fun, you can join a tour, organized by any tour agency in Armenia or, simply, by carpooling or hitchhiking!
Lori province is also served by the Stepanavan Airport, so, you can use this way of getting to the province, too!
Population of Lori Marz of Armenia
According to the official census, conducted in 2011, the population of Lori province is about 235 500 people. In Lori, there are eight urban communities and 105 rural ones.
The population of Lori mainly consists of ethnic Armenians who are followers of the Armenian Apostolic Church.
Nevertheless, there is also a Russian molokans’ small community (mostly in Fioletovo, Lermontovo villages), consisting of around 3800 people. There are also Russians and Ukrainians, living in Lori Armenia (Vanadzor city, Stepanavan city).
The Yazidi community is also very tiny in this province, 790 people, who mostly inhabit Lermontov Village. The Greek small community, consisting of approximately 650 people, lives in Vanadzor, Alaverdi, Stepanavan and other large rural and town communities of Lori marz of Armenia.
What is Lori Province Famous For?
Noawadays, Lori marz is home to three nature-protected territories, as well as two famous botanical gardens: the sanctuaries of Gyulagarak, Margahovit and Rhododendron caucasicum (near the river of Aghstev).
The Stepanavan Dendropark and the Botanical Garden of Vanadzor are also included among the most famous sites of Lori, Armenia.
The province of Lori is famous for its semi-soft and a little bit salty cheese, called Lori cheese (“Lori panir” in Armenian). Lori cheese is made from cow milk (usually pasteurized).
Lori cheese texture is partially spongy, having small holes inside. It is so soft and tasty, that it will melt in your mouth as soon as you taste this Lori cheese.
You can meet different types, shapes, sizes and even colors of Lori cheese but be sure to taste it if you are served one!
Climate of Lori Marz, Armenia
The climate of Lori Armenia is conditioned with numerous rivers (Dzoraget, Debed, Pambak, Aghstev) and mountains, the region is geographically surrounded with.
Lori can be characterized as a province with mostly mild climate. However, besides mild summers, this province is also famous for its severely cold and snowy winters.
The average precipitation level ranges between 600-700 mm annually.
5 Things to See and Do in Lori Marz in Armenia
Thing to See in Lori Armenia #1: Lori Fortress
Lori Fortress is among the most interesting historical sights, situated near Stepanavan city of Lori Province.
What is special about this fortress is that it’s located approximately 1500 m above sea level. It is a naturally inaccessible site due to the canyons and deep gorges of Dzoraget River.
It is important to note that there is only one entrance to the castle: it is located at the north-western part of the Lori fortress wall. Historically, in the north-western part of this wall, there was an ancient city wall, as well as some artificial barricades that are not well-preserved up to date.
Thing to See/Do in Lori Armenia #2: Kobayr Monastery
Lori, Armenia is rich with historical monuments and, mostly, monuments. One of them is the Monastery of Kobayr (literally, “cavern”, because of the numerous caverns around the monastery).
Archeological findings prove that the monastery area was a settlement in the Bronze and Iron Ages.
The monastic complex of Kobayr includes several churches, such as Katoghike, Mariamashen (literally, “built by Mariam”, an Armenian princess), the 12th Century Church, as well as a belfry-sepulcher and a refectory.
The main church of Kobayr complex is Katoghike (12th century building). Although the construction itself is not preserved well but, nowadays, one can admire with the architecture style, decorations and frescoes all around the walls that are surprisingly well-preserved.
Actually, by visiting this historical site, you will see a whole historical complex. It has various buildings and structures that have much to tell you about the ancient and medieval history of these places.
Thing to See/Do in Lori Armeni #3: Akhtala Monastery
The Monastery of Akhtala is situated around 185 km from Yerevan (to the north). The special thing about this monastery is that it is one of the few Armenian Orthodox churches in the country.
Akhtala Monastery in Lori marz was built during the period of the so called Renaissance of Armenian cultural life (12-13th centuries).
Akhtala Monastic complex includes the Church of St. Astvatsatsin, as well as the Fortress of Akhtala. Akhtala Fortress is a 10th century building, the walls and the towers of which are mostly built from basalt.
In the Armenian history and various chronological records, there are different dates, regarding the St. Astvatsatsin Church (literally, “Holy Mother of God”) construction. But, based on its architecture style and design, the building is mostly considered to be built in the 11th century.
This church is has special religious importance: it housed the cross that John the Baptist had baptized Jesus Christ with, until one of Armenian princes, Ivane Zaqaryan sold it to Noravank Monastery.
Thing to See/Do in Lori Armenia #4: Hovhannes Tumanyan House-Museum
Hovhannes Tumanyan is a famous and very beloved Armenian writer, a public and national figure. His works are popular among all the Armenians, regardless of their age, social class and preferences in literature!
So, it is not surprising that there is the Tumanyan House-Museum, built in the Dsegh Village, this outstanding poet’s birthplace.
Its exhibition includes the personal belongings of the writer that have a great value. Throughout the year, thousands of visitors are attracted by this sight and the sacred relics it is home to, regardless of the museum’s location in a highland village site.
Thing to See/Do in Lori Armenia #5: Odzun Temple
Odzun Basilica in Lori marz is a 5th century Armenian church, reconstructed in the 6th century by the Armenian Catholicos Hovhannes Odznetsi (literally, “from Odzun”). This is why, the church was named after him.
During the 19th century, 2 bell-towers were constructed in addition to the Odzun Complex. Recently, Odzun Temple was renovated once in 2012, and the second time in 2014.
The church complex comprises many gravestones, funerary monuments. One can see some Bible scenes, carved on the walls of the monastery.
The special thing about this church is that its complex is one of only 2 such funerary monuments in Armenia. The second one is located in the Syunik Marz of Armenia (Aghudi settlement).