Village of Ltsen and Mysterious Anapat – Armenia

Not many people know about the village of Ltsen in Syunik province, Armenia. It is located on the top of mountains and is surrounded by rocky hills, a dense forest, a waterfall, and partly deserted terrain.

The name Ltsen (Armenian: Լծեն) comes from the word ltse (Armenian: լցե, throw, cast in local Armenian dialect). In the past, Mongol troops repeatedly attacked Armenian lands, including Ltsen. Inhabitants of the village used to defend themselves by casting stones into attackers, which mostly lost their courage and fled away. This might be the origin of village’s name.

Today, roughly 18 families live in the village. Ltsen is one of the starting points of the trips to the Tatev monastery, a 9th century Armenian Apostolic monastic complex. According to Angin Harutyunyan, an old woman from Ltsen, trips on foot to the monastery are quite uneasy due to the rough terrain, but the environment is indeed beautiful. Tourists visit the Tatev monastery quite often.

A 1781 monastery, the Armaghan spring, and mysterious locality named Anapat (Armenian: Անապատ, English: desert) are among the places of interest in the village’s surroundings. Anapat is called so because the road leading to it looks like a desert, and one would need to make quite an effort to reach there.

As Angin said, Anapat is a sacred place. According to a superstition, it is impossible to get to Anapat without carrying water from the Armaghan spring. Angin herself has often visited the place, believing that the spirit of a healer lives there.

A little 1347 chapel stands in Anapat, partially submerged in soil. People used to light votive candles in it. Next to the chapel are two old trees, a pine and an oak. People of Ltsen believe that the roots of the pine bear negative energy as they have twined around the chapel, and do not advise others to touch it. The oak is considered to be a tree of wishes.

Two crosses are cut in the walls of the chapel. According to a belief, if one makes a wish and manages to attach a stone to one of the crosses, his want will come true.

But why is Anapat a mysterious place for locals? People of Ltsen believe that someone has lived there before. Some tell it has been a man-hunter, others think it has been a woman-healer. According to some hearings, sick people recovered after a trip to Anapat. What happened to the person living there then? People assume that he or she either left the chapel or died and was buried in Anapat.

There are khachkars in Anapat, but the inscriptions on them are unreadable as the steles have submerged in the ground. Maybe one of the khachkars is the gravestone of the grave of the chapel’s inhabitant.

Photo of Ltsen: from the collection of Armen Kirakosyan
Photo of Ltsen: from the collection of Armen Kirakosyan
Photo of Ltsen: from the collection of Armen Kirakosyan View from Latsen

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