Alaverdi (Armenian: Ալավերդի) is a city in Northern Armenia. The largest city in the Debed Canyon of Lori, an area rich with historical monuments and natural beauty, Alaverdi is your best bet for refueling, getting supplies or finding other things you'd expect in a town. The town itself has little to offer of historic value, save for the beautiful old foot bridge, since it was built as a mining town, a fact which you won't be able to miss as you go past the massive mining works. The mine once wreaked massive environmental damage, which stopped for a while with the collapse of the USSR, but now it has restarted, albeit on a much smaller scale. You can drive to the Sarahart suburb, which is on top of the canyon cliffs, or you can walk up the ancient foot path which is past the aforementioned bridge. The funnest, and perhaps most dangerous option though is the funicular, which takes the miners to and from work. Sarahart is adjacent to Sanahin Village, with the famous monastery, and the museum to the Migoyan brothers, with their extraordinary accomplishments of worldwide significance.
Although accommodation options are somewhat limited, making the decision to stay a few nights in the area will allow you to much better appreciate and explore what Armenia has to offer, without sitting in a car all day back and forth from Yerevan.
There are taxis and transport to other parts of the country as well.
Town is built along the Debed River, with some suburbs above including Sanahin and Sarahart which are accessible by road or cable car.
There is funicular from Alaverdi centre to Sanahin suburb.
Usefull marshrutka routes:
- Marshrutka #3 runs from the train station through the entire city along the Debed River.
- Marshrutka #5 - from the bus and train stations to Sanahin suburb (every 15-30 min, 100 AMD).
- Marshrutka #063 - from Alaverdi to Haghpat
To get to Odzun catch a bus going to Vanadzor (every round hour) or hire a taxi for 1,500 AMD.
Also it's possible to charter a taxi to Haghpat Monastery and Akhtala Monastery together for 5,000 AMD. Or to Odzun church and Kobair Monastery together for 5,000 AMD.
- 12th-century bridge of Sanahin. From this bridge it's possible to walk up to the top of the canyon and further to Sanahin monastery.
- Church of Saint Gregory of Narek (Narekatsi church) (By the post office near the bottom of the cable car.). New town church completed in 2001.
Sanahin and Haghpat
- Sanahin Monastery, Sanahin Village (Above Alaverdi in Sanahin Village, take marshrutni #3 from Alaverdi). UNESCO World Heritage site, and for good reason. This wonderland of incredibly well preserved Armenian architecture has stood for almost a thousand years, with little change. You can sense how the place must have buzzed with activity. Sayat Nova, the famous bard, used to sing here.
- Museum to the Migoyan brothers (downhill from Sanahin monastery). Artyom Migoyan the famous aeronautical engineer, designer of the MIG fighter series, while his brother become Premier of the USSR.
- Kayan Berd (Between Haghpat and Sanahin, follow the road to Akner N of Sanahin and then take small trail to the fortress). Ruins of a small black fortress built in 1233.
- Haghpat Monastery, Haghpat Village (6 km north of Alaverdi). Part of the same UNESCO site as Sanahin, you'll have a hard time choosing a favourite. The labyrinth of passages, chambers, khachkars and views will leave you wondering how this masterpiece was built.
One of the oldest and famous villages in Armenia. It boasts of the basilica church with its ethnographic museum, as well as Karasun Mankats church (12 century) and “Sirun Khach” cross stone. In the village cemetery there are lots of other cross stones, memorials and ruins of a small 7th century basilica church.
- St Grigori Monastery, south of Tumanyan town, 2 km north of Dsegh village. Surp Grigori can be accessed from both the highway below it (this trail starts at confluence of Debed and Marts rivers), or the fields above the cliffs. The hike is a little longer from below, but the road is much better, shorter and easier to find. This one has much more of the lost to time feeling, and due to the hike, and the very few that venture out here, you'll likely have it to yourself. If it weren't for the graffiti, the feeling you just discovered beautiful ruins in the jungle would be hard to shake.
- Tumanyan’s house-museum. Dsegh is birthplace of Armenian writer Hovhannes Tumanyan’s (1869-1923) and this museum is devoted to him.
- Odzun Basilica Church, Odzun Village (8 km southwest of Alaverdi). A huge basilica, which has withstood the tests of time for 1,300 years, the church in Odzun is a beauty. There is an interest memorial on the site with carvings telling a story, and a large village surrounds the church.
- Horomayri Monastery, near Odzun (This is an incredibly well camouflaged monastery on the slope of the cliffs, just 1 km south of Odzun. To get there, climbing up from the highway along the Debed River is probably quickest, but hiking south across the cliffs from the last switchback to Odzun is easy as well. The tough and quick way is descending the cliffs from 1 km south of Odzun.). The monastery is built in part at the top of the cliff, in part halfway down. At the top, there is a three-chambered chapel. Below, the walls of the canyon form one of the four walls of the structures. There are caves within the monastic complex, khachkars and carvings. St Mark's Church was built by the Princes Zakare and Ivane Zakarian in 1187. The other buildings were built by Abbot Samuel in 1206.
- Ardvi Monastery (St Hovhannes Monastery), Ardvi Village (5-6 km from Odzun village, 9 km from Alaverdi). Monastery built in VIII-XVII centuries consists of two small churches and a belfry surrounded by low-height walls. There is also a tetrahedral monument, khachkars (cross stones) and ruins of dwellings.
- Kobayr Monastery, Kober Village (12 km south of Alaverdi). The partially collapsed church once had magnificently exposed frescoes - which are now being covered again as the complex is restored. The setting is really nice, as are the views. Well worth the 15 minute walk up the slippery wet slopes of the canyon.
North of town
- Akhtala Monastery, Akhtala Village (20 km northeast of Alaverdi). This beautiful fortified monastery has exquisite frescoes, large fortifications, great carvings and interesting ruins. Not many visit it yet, but that will likely change in time.
- Khorakert Monastery, Jiliza Village. A long, hard trek from Alaverdi, over a mountain dirt road, the peak of Mt. Lalvar, and hitting the Georgian border, this monastery is has a very cool cupola unique to Armenian architecture in a lush forest - few makes it this far.
- Khuchapi Monastery. If you make it to Khorakert, you should be able to make it to this soaring, majestic and lost work of architecture, further along the border.
Hike, bike, climb, camp, 4x4, photography...
The biggest market (shuka) between Vanadzor and Georgia is here, but don't expect too much from the selection local produce and cheap imports dominate the market.
There are a couple of places to eat in Alaverdi, plus almost all hotels and B&Bs have their own restaurants.
- Restaurant (which is reached by crossing the highway bridge towards Sanahin, but turning left after the bridge rather than right, and driving to the end of the short road.). meal sets which includes soup, kebab, salad etc. for 2,600-3,100 AMD.
- Tavern (A few kilometres before Alaverdi on main the road, before turning to Haghpat). Fully-functioning restaurant. As of 2014 there is some reconstruction happening on the restaurant grounds but they still serve food.
- A few cafes near 12th-century bridge of Sanahin serving some simple snacks. Nice views over the river. Cheap, coffee is 200 AMD.
- Barbecue resturants along the highway.
- Sanahin bridge Hotel has a lounge bar.
There are not so many hotels inside the city (just one, Lalvar Hotel) all the rest lie in nearby villages/suburbs, however getting there is quite easy as there are lots of public marshrutkas plying the area.
- Lalvar Hotel, Engelsa st., 5. 10,000 AMD double room, 16,000 AMD deluxe.
- B&B Iris (Irena Israyelyan), Baghramyan st. 65 (3 km east of town, marshrutka #3 will get you there), ☎ +37425323839, +37491088812, e-mail: or firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. Friendly, family run B&B. Comfortable, clean but smallish rooms with shared bathrooms. It is also possible to camp. The owners can help arranging transport, and they also organise dinners parties gathering all guests together. Nice setting and fantastic views over the river. Excellent meals. Can be a bit noisy. Double room 15,000-20,000 AMD; lunch 2,000 AMD, dinner 3,000 AMD.
- Ana Mari Hotel. Simplistic hotel run by friendly owner. It occupies the first floor of a 5-storey building. A bit rundown but very cheap.
- Sanahin Bridge. A hotel with lounge bar recently opened in 2014. Modern design. Only 4 rooms so far. Charming lobby. Extremely nice personnel. WiFi. 20,000 AMD double room.
There are several B&Bs scattered around the village, just to name a few: Odzun B&B, ☎ +374 10 25 31 41. 8,000 AMD per person., Vahagn Davtyan B&B, ☎ +374 10 25 31 41. 8,000 AMD per person., Alvard Nersisyan B&B, ☎ +374 10 25 31 41. double room 12,000-15,000 AMD., Amalya Nalbandyan B&B, ☎ +374 10 25 31 41. 6,000-7,000 AMD per person..
- Odzun Hotel, Odzun Village (Above the village 2 km away from it, past the cemetery), ☎ +374 95 717404. A 1971 old Soviet rest house that has been recently renovated. Offers large modern rooms and cottages. Open-air swimming pool, billiards, tennis, volleyball and football fields, children playground. For some it's proven to be a very cheap and convenient spot to rest, with breakfast included. Surrounding forest and splendid views over the mountains worth a visit on its own. Transfer from the city is free of charge. Single 8,000 AMD, double 12,000-16,000 AMD, also serve food for 2,000 AMD set meal for 2 person.
- Flora Simonyan B&B (Right next to the parking lot of Haghpat Monastery), ☎ +374 10 25 31 41, e-mail: email@example.com. Family run place with simple but quite decent rooms. Can prepare some meals. 10,000 AMD per person without meals.
- Gayane Hotel, ☎ +374 93413705. Quite good rooms. Nice owners. Fantastic view of Debed river canyon, 5-10 min walk from Haghpat monastery. There is also a restaurant with delicious national food very moderately priced. Single 8,000 AMD, double 16000.
- Hotel "Qefilyan" (outside the village, 20 minutes walk to Haghpat monastery), ☎ +374 55 210-210, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-out: Single 15,000 AMD, double 22,000 AMD, triple 27,000 AMD. New, clean hotel surrounded by nature, with beautiful views. Restaurant
- Aleksan Qocharyan B&B, ☎ +374 10 25 31 41. Shared Facilities: kitchen, washing machine, tea/coffee maker. 8,000 AMD per person.
- Karo Yerznkyan B&B. Double 10,000 AMD, meal 3,000-4,000 AMD per person.
- Eteri Guesthouse, ☎ +374 99 744 918. A few new rooms. If you need to find an owner - she works in Akhtala monastery. 3,000 AMD per person.
- Guest House Artemi, Tumanyan st. 2 build. 5, Tʼumanyan village (14 km from Alaverdi). Nice modern rooms in a private house 20,000 AMD.
- Anoush Hotel, Vanadzor-Alaverdi Highway, 21st km, ☎ +374 253 68181, +374 93 472281, +374 93 504637. A beautiful little complex, originally started as a barbecue restaurant, it quickly became a dependable fixture of the area. Right by the highway and overlooking the Debed River and the forests beyond, the building is built in the traditional local style and is a fun place to watch life go by in this region.
- Lori Rest House (From Vanadzor 16th km to Alaverdi turns right), ☎ +374 10 566014, e-mail: email@example.com. Cold water, toilet, bathroom and hot water in some rooms. Satellite TV set, telephone in the lobby. FB meal is included in the price. Playground, parking lot, café, shop. Café, tennis, billiard, football, volleyball 6,000-10,000 AMD per person. Special discounts for children. Cash only.
- Tufenkian Dzoraget, Dzoraget Village, Vanadzor-Alaverdi Highway (Big new basalt hotel, across river from highway, 19 km from Alaverdi). Luxury western hotel, with excellent comfortable rooms, design, views. Luxury prices as well. There is also a restaurant with a full (and expensive) menu. 54,000 AMD.
Internet can be found in most of the hotels and B&Bs. Otherwise use mobile 3G which signal is quite good here.
There are 2 mobile operator stores in town, VivaCell MTS and Orange, both located near the bus station. Beeline sim cards can be bought from the grocery store nearby.
- Noyemberyan (NE 52 km)
- Stepanavan (W 50 km) - town famous mainly because of the ruins of the walled city of Lori, located nearby
- Tbilisi, Georgia (N 120 km) - Georgian capital
- Vanadzor (S 50 km) - Armenia's 3rd largest city.