Stepanavan is a beautiful city in the Armenian Lori Province. The area of present-day Stepanavan has been inhabited since ancient times. It has been a hub of early mining industry and metallurgy.
Prehistoric sites in Stepanavan are dated back to the Stone Age. Stepanavan along with its surrounding areas was a part of the Armenian Tashir province since the days of the Artaxiad dynasty (2nd century BC).
In 385, after the division of Greater Armenia, Tashir – Stepanavan remained in the area of the Armenian Kingdom. Located on a major northern trade route, it would become a large craft and trade center in medieval Armenia.
In the 11th century, the population of the town exceeded 10,000 people. Since the 9th century, the Armenian Bagratuni dynasty ruled this area and united several neighboring provinces together to create the Kingdom of Tashir-Dzoraget in Lori under the rule of Kiurike I.
The greatest period for Tashir-Dzoraget fell between 980 and 1048 during the reign of King David I Landless (David I Anhoghin). The kingdom stretched along the Pambak and Debed Rivers and had the Lori Fortress (medieval royal palace complex) founded by David I Landless somewhere between 1005-1020 as its center.
Later, Stepanavan became a mansion of the Zakarid princely dynasty. It also served as a resting place for Armenian kings. As for the Lori Fortress, it was the beloved summer cottage of King Ashot Yerkat (the Iron).
Armenian poet Hovhannes Tumanyan (February 19, 1869 – March 23, 1923) received his primary education here in Stepanavan (called “Jalaloghli” back then). The school where he studied (school number 3) would be named after him. The halls of the school are now also decorated with a large mosaic wall depicting his fairy tales.
In 1923, the town-fortress was proudly renamed Stepanavan in honor of a Bolshevik Armenian revolutionary Stepan Shaumian. The town also became the administrative center of Lori.
Stepanavan and its surrounding villages have much to offer to tourists. It boasts many antique fortresses, churches, bridges, and sacred places to admire and enjoy.
One of the places to pay a visit to in the city is the house-museum of Stepan Shaumian, the Basilica of St. Nshan (11th century), the Lori Fortress, the ruins of the Shushanik fortress (10th-11th centuries), the Tormak Church (6th-7th centuries), the Stepanavan Dendropark (Botanical Garden), beautiful forests, steep mountains, and much more.
Photo of Tashir and Lori Province