A Journey Through History
Nestled within the Lori region, Stepanavan is not just another city in Armenia; it’s a journey through the annals of history. From prehistoric sites that transport you back to the Stone Age to the medieval charm that the town exudes, Stepanavan is a living museum.
The region where Stepanavan now stands has roots deeply entrenched in antiquity. Originally part of the Tashir province, the area has seen the rule of the Artaxiad dynasty and has been a part of the Armenian Kingdom since 385 AD.
An Ancient Trade Hub
Strategically located along the northern trade routes, Stepanavan was not just a bustling craft center but also a significant trading hub in medieval Armenia. Its significance can be gauged from the fact that by the 11th century, the city had a population exceeding 10,000, a considerable number for its time.
The Reigns of Glorious Dynasties
The city came under the governance of the Bagratuni dynasty in the 9th century. They united several neighboring provinces to create the province of Tashir-Dzoraget within the Kingdom of Lori. The zenith of this kingdom was under King Kyurike, whose rule extended from 980 to 1048 AD, further strengthened by David I the Landless. During this period, Lori Berd—a medieval royal palace complex—was established and served as the central powerhouse of the kingdom.
A Cultural Hub
Stepanavan later became a significant estate for the Zakarian dynasty and served as a summer retreat for Armenian kings like Ashot Erkat. Renowned Armenian poet Hovhannes Tumanyan received his early education in this city, a fact commemorated by School No. 3, now named in his honor.
Transformation Through Time
Over seven centuries after its establishment, the city underwent a transformation. Renamed in honor of Bolshevik Armenian revolutionary Stepan Shaumyan, Stepanavan transitioned into being the administrative center of the Lori region.
A Tourist’s Paradise
Today, Stepanavan and its surrounding areas serve as an excellent canvas for tourism. Visitors can explore an array of historical and cultural landmarks, including the Stepan Shaumyan House-Museum, the 11th-century Basilica of St. Nshan, and the ruins of the Shushanik Fortress from the 10th and 11th centuries. Nature lovers can revel in the lush Stepanavan Dendropark (Botanical Garden) or take scenic hikes through the city’s steep mountains and beautiful forests.
- Stepan Shaumyan House-Museum: Learn about the life of this revolutionary Armenian figure.
- Basilica of St. Nshan (11th Century): A spiritual journey into Armenian Christian architecture.
- Lori Berd Fortress: Dive into the life of medieval Armenian royalty.
- Ruins of Shushanik Fortress: A 10th-11th-century fortress that stands as a testament to Armenian resilience.
- Church of Tormakadur: One of the oldest churches in Armenia, dating back to the 6th-7th centuries.
- Stepanavan Dendropark: A must-visit for nature enthusiasts, featuring a wide variety of local and exotic flora.
Whether you’re a history buff, a nature lover, or simply someone in search of tranquility, Stepanavan offers something for everyone. Its rich past and vibrant culture make it not just a destination but an experience.