The mountainous Vorotan River rises in the northern part of Syunik Province. It stretches for 178 km before emptying into the Araks River at the border between Iran and the Republic of Artsakh.
The river flows through deep canyons, in particular, through the beautiful gorges of Tatev Monastery, which along with its adjacent areas and Tatevi Anapat Monastery were added to the tentative list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1995.
Since the Middle Ages and up until the years of the Karabakh Khanate (1748 – 1822), the river had been called Vorotan before being renamed Bergushet. In the years of the Russian Empire, the upper flow of the river was called Bazarchay and the mid and lower flows were called Bergushet. Since the Soviet years, the river has been called by its original name, Vorotan, though the upper and lower flows of the river still retain their old names.
The 18-kilometer tributary of Vorotan Shaki River along with the gorgeous Shaki Waterfall are also located in Syunik Province 6 km north of the town of Sisian. The canyon area of the waterfall is a unique treasury of archaeology. It is established that in this small area, ancient humans developed exceptionally quickly. Tens of antique grots containing traces of ancient inhabitants have been discovered in these environs rich in steep slopes, and many scholars from all around the world argue that this area should be turned into a reserve.
On Vorotan River stand water reservoirs and the Vorotan Cascade with its three hydroelectric power plants located in Spandaryan, Shamb, and Tatev. The river is also connected to Lake Sevan through a 21.6 km tunnel, the purpose of which is to increase the lake’s volume. The construction works of the tunnel began in the 1980s but stopped in 1988 due to the outbreak of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The tunnel was finally completed in 2003.