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Vanadzor (Arm: Վանաձոր), Lori Marz

Vanadzor's Russian Church

Vanadzor is Armenia's third largest city, set in a river valley with a milder climate than that of Yerevan, and hour and a half drive to its south.

Vanadzor (93823 p, till 1935 Gharakilisa or "Black Church," till 1992 Kirovakan after Bolshevik Caucasus specialist Sergei M. Kirov/Kostrikov, murdered in 1934 and buried in the Kremlin Wall) is the capital of Lori Marz, Armenia's third largest city, laid out ambitiously in a once-lovely valley now hideously blighted by a huge chemical plant. The plant, privatized in 1999, produced a wide range of chemicals, and also specialized in growing industrial crystals. In 1998, the remaining workers of the plant were using the gas-fired crystal growing boxes to bake potatoes. Vanadzor lost 564 residents in the 1988 earthquake, but preserved most of its grand main street. There is a high-rise hotel with intermittent running water and other amenities in the main square, as well as a number of brand new hotels providing very comfortable and clean accommodations.

Vanadzor's history dates back to the Bronze Age, with interesting tombs and other material finds now, in principle, housed in the local museum. The town received its name possibly as early as the 13th c, from a black stone church on a nearby hill. Totally destroyed in 1826 by Hasan Khan during the Russo-Persian war, the city enjoyed considerable uplift from the opening of the railroad to Tbilisi in 1899. In May 1918, General Nazarbekian's outnumbered troops fought the Turkish Army to a creditable tie, pushing them back a few days later at the crucial battle of Sardarapat. On the N side of the Spitak-Vanadzor highway, about 2 km W of the city, there is a little shrine in the ruins of a church, site of a planned monument to that battle.

Source: Rediscovering Armenia Guidebook

See Armenia Hotel Directory for accommodation.


  • Oasis

Tigran Mets 48
Tel: 4-06-46

  • Huge restaurant next to the lake
  • Little food window near the main square.