Stepanavan is one of the most picturesque resort towns in Armenia, famous for its mountainous climate and thick forests. Nowadays, Stepanavan will offer you numerous resorts (Sochut of Stepanavan is the most popular), hotels and restaurants, attractive not only for local visitors, but also for tourists from all over the world.
During the Soviet era, Stepanavan was considered to be a popular tourist destination, but after the destructive earthquake of Spitak in 1988, the city was mostly destroyed.
Currently, it is reviving from the destructions, caused by the earthquake.
The city is especially rich of pine forests and, as you may have heard, the pine tree aroma is healthy and useful for those, suffering from respiratory problems.
Basic Information about Stepanavan
According to archeological surveys and the remains of an antique fortress, found in this area, the territory of nowadays Stepanavan was settled from the 4th millennium BC.
The khachkar memorial (cross-stone), found in the Stepanavan city area, proves the settlement was established as Jalaloghli (meaning “Jalal’s son” from Turkic languages) in 1810. The founder of the town was an Armenian prince Davit, deriving from a noble family of Hasan-Jalalyans.
After Bolsheviks came to power, in 1923, the city was renamed Stepanavan in order to honor one of the Armenian bolshevik leaders, Stepan Shaumian.
Location and Area of Stepanavan
Stepanavan city is located in the Lori Marz of Armenia, about 140 km north of Yerevan. It is also known for its location right in the center of Yerevan-Tbilisi highway.
Geographically, Stepanavan is situated between the forests of the Lori Plateau and the shores of Dzoraget River, surrounded with Bazum Mountains. The Dzoraget River’s gorge divides the town of Stepanavan into northern and southern parts.
The city is 1375 meters high above sea level.
The total area of Stepanavan is around 14 sq. km (or 5 sq. mi).
According to the census, conducted in 2011, Stepanavan city population is about 13086 people. The majority of Stepanavan population consists of ethnic Armenians. They follow the Armenian Apostolic Church.
Nevertheless, there are also other ethnicities and communities of national minorities, living in Stepanavan. Those include, for example, Orthodox Russians, Ukrainians, as well as Greeks’ communities.
How to Get to Stepanavan, Armenia
In order to get to Stepanavan, there are various options, actually. The most popular one is, of course, by taxi. Taxis, as well as buses and minibuses to Stepanavan, are regularly departing from Kilikia bus station of Yerevan.
Soon, there may also be another option for getting there: it’s the Stepanavan Airport, located 8 km northwest of Stepanavan. The airport is currently defunct but the Armenian government plans to reopen it soon.
There is also the M-3 motorway, connecting Stepanavan with Vanadzor and Yerevan, H-34 road (in the north), H-33 road (east), H-23 road (west), connecting the town of Stepanavan to other municipalities that you can use to get here.
Climate of Stepanavan
Stepanavan climate is considered to be relatively humid. It is mostly conditioned with alpine meadows, mountains and thick woods that surround the resort town.
In this part, you will get to know some weather and climate facts about Stepanavan town, so that you choose the best time for you to travel to this wonderful resort of Armenia!
If you prefer mild weather and average temperatures, then the months May, June, September and October are the right time to come to Stepanavan.
It is important to know that July and August are the warmest months in Stepanavan, while the coolest month here is January. December and January are also the driest months
The wettest month in Stepanavan is May so, if you do not like rainy weather, you should avoid this month.
Things to See in Stepanavan, Armenia
Thing to See in Stepanavan #1: Dzsoraget River Gorge
If you are a lover of natural sights, then seeing Dzoraget should be on your must-see places list! Dzoraget is a river in the northern part of Armenia, flowing through the Debed hydrological region of the Lori Marz of Armenia.
Dzoraget is a compound word in Armenian meaning “gorge-river”, correspondingly formed by the words “dzor” (gorge) and “get” (river). The river starts its flow from the Bazum Mountains.
The Dzoraget River flow is from west to east, passing through picturesque gorges around the town of Stepanavan. It ends, feeding into the Debed River and, finally, drains to the River of Kura. The river gorge in certain places has depth of more than 200 meters.
Thing to See in Stepanavan #2: Stepan Shahumyan Museum
Do you love visiting museums? Then during your visit to Stepanavan, you should definitely enjoy this museum! Stepan Shahumyan, as mentioned above, was a prominent Armenian Bolshevik leader and this museum was opened to honor his memory.
The museum construction started in the beginning of the 1970s, in the territory of Stepan Shahumyan’s home. The architects of, creating the new building, preserved the core features of the previous one.
In the Museum of Stepan Shahumyan you can see some of the Shahumyan family belongings, such as photographs, furniture and documents exhibited.
Upstairs, you can also find a gallery that exhibits local artists’ works and downstairs the museum you will get introduced to some items, telling about the history of Stepanavan.
Thing to See in Stepanavan #3: Hnevank Monastery
Like anywhere else in Armenia, Stepanavan also is rich of monasteries and churches, one of which is the Hnevank Monastery. It is located between the city itself and the Debed Canyon.
Historically, the Hnevank monastic complex was ruined and rebuilt numerous times. The current look of the monastery dates back to the 12th century. Hnevank is especially attractive during spring months, as well as summer, as you can see it surrounded with wildflowers.
Thing to See in Stepanavan #4: Lori Berd (Lori Fortress)
The historical, currently ruined fortress of Lori is located between Dzoraget and Miskhana rivers gorges. Lori Berd (“berd” means “fortress” in Armenian) possesses massive towers and grand stone blocks that will immediately attract your attention.
There is an ancient cemetery in this area, dating back to Bronze Age, as well as the gorge bridge, dating from the 14th century.
If you want to reach Lori fortress of Stepanavan, you can take a taxi (15 minutes ride, costing about 1000 AMD or around 2 USD). Otherwise, you can head out of the city across the bridge, follow the river flow, passing through this territory.
From Lori Berd, you can go back to Stepanavan, again, either by the same taxi or just taking a walk (4-5km from Stepanavan).