The Gegharkunik Province is in the East of Armenia. It Is probably the most overvisited provinces among the other ones both by locals and tourists. Gegharkunik is the largest province in Armenia, however, 24% of the territory is covered with Lake Sevan. The capital of the province is the town of Gavar.
When you think of Gegharkunik, Lake Sevan is the first thing that comes to mind, and for a good reason. This astonishing lake is one of the largest freshwater lakes in the entire region, noteworthy to say it has a significant and vital meaning for a mankind.
Lake Sevan is a high-altitude lake surrounded by the Geghama Mountain chain, where it is possible to see the amazing landscape, ancient churches situated on the top of the hills and rocks facing the lake.
One of the most visited spots around the lake is definitely the Sevanavank Monastery. It is a 9th century monastery, and the highlight of this fascinating area, and the most famous historical and cultural monument in Gegharkunik region. The monastery is located on the peninsula of Lake Sevan, on the top of a hill that overlooks the lake. Worth to mention the north-western part of the lake used to be an island and during the Soviet period, the lake was drained a bit, creating a peninsula out of the former island. The monastery is surrounded by outstanding views and many khachkars (Armenian cross stones). The monastery is a great place to spend some time.
Another astonishing extension to the visit of Sevanavank is the Hayravank Monastery. It is a mesmerizing 9th century monastery located right on the edge of the Lake Sevan, near the village of Noratus. This is probably the most underrated ones in the entire region; however, its doors are open to its visitors, and there are still holding weddings and other spiritual ceremonies. Overall, it is a fantastic stop off of the main highway.
Another place to visit near the Lake Sevan is the Noratus Cemetery, the largest cemetery in the world. It is a home to the largest collection of cross stones. This cross-stone field has a significant meaning both for historians and archaeologies; however, it is truly a sight to behold for everyone. The present-day village was founded in 1829. There are two churches in this area: the first, dedicated to the Mother of God, is situated in the center of the village and was founded in the 9th century by the prince Sahak. Noteworthy to mention this astonishing field is added to the UNESCO list of intangible Cultural Heritage.
Did you know that Sevan is a home to one of the Sevsar Ancient Astronomical Observatory? Recent studies suggest the birthplace of naming constellations and the creation of the zodiac is in the Armenian plateau. One of such places used for star observation is located on the western slopes of Mt. Sevsar, east of the Martuni-Selim Pass. An ancient observatory with a unique image of bolide carved on a huge stone block, astronomical calendars and pictograms from 3rd – 1st Millennia BCE are easily noticeable. There are all together 15 pictured rock-pieces within an area of 50 by 20 meters. There is a theory that the big round image represents a bolide, and the adjoining pictures are constellations. Here, an assumption can be made that this is a stellar map, which shows a sector of the sky from which the bolide descended.