Dilijan: A Hidden Gem of Armenia’s Architectural and Natural Heritage

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Дилижан, a charming resort town nestled 100km northeast of Yerevan, is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered. The journey from Yerevan is an adventure in itself, as you pass through a 2.25 km (1.4 mi) long tunnel carved into the heart of a mountain. Emerging from the tunnel, you’re greeted by a breathtaking panorama that showcases Armenia’s natural beauty at its finest. Dilijan is a haven for nature lovers, with lush forests covering much of the town, boasting over 40 types of trees, including oaks, maples, and pine trees.

The town’s history is as rich as its landscape. Mentioned in historical texts, Dilijan is believed to have been founded by a medieval ruler in 1544. Excavations in the 1870s unearthed valuable relics from the late bronze and early iron ages, some of which are now displayed in various museums, while others are showcased in Dilijan’s geological museum. In 1921, Armenia’s first-ever sanatorium was established here, marking a significant milestone in the country’s healthcare history.

Dilijan’s architectural heritage is equally captivating, with notable structures dating back to the 10th to 13th centuries. The Haghartsin and Gosh monastery complexes, built during this period, were not only religious centers but also cultural hubs. The Jukhtak vank and Matosavank monasteries further contribute to Dilijan’s architectural legacy.

The Haghartsin monastic complex, dating from the 10th to 13th centuries, was a prominent cultural and educational center during the 13th century. Comprising three churches, two courtyards, a refectory, chapels, and khachkars, the complex is a testament to the architectural and artistic prowess of its time. Notably, a 350 kg pot with lion-shaped handles, dating back to 1232, was discovered here, underscoring the complex’s historical significance.

Goshavank, founded in 1188 by the monk Gosh, was a major religious, cultural, and educational center of its time. The complex, which includes St. Mary the Virgin church, St. Gregory church, St. Gregory the Illuminator church, a two-floor chapel, a small chapel, a courtyard, a bell tower, a school building, and a gallery, is a testament to the town’s rich cultural heritage. The small St. Gregory the Illuminator church stands out for its delicate elegance and unique charm, showcasing the finest examples of medieval Armenian decorative arts.

Jukhtak Vank, or Double Monastery, consists of two churches, St. Mary and St. Gregory, and an old graveyard. The two churches, built in the 11th and 13th centuries, respectively, are 15 meters apart. While the dome of St. Gregory church has collapsed, St. Mary church remains a testament to the architectural and artistic achievements of its time.

Matosavank, situated on the opposite mountain base of Jukhtak Vank, was built in 1205 with large blocks of rough stones. The complex, which includes two small churches and a courtyard, is a reminder of Dilijan’s rich architectural heritage.

In the early 20th century, an open-air theater called “Rotonda” became a popular gathering spot for locals, army personnel from the nearby military base, and the Armenian intellectual elite. Although Rotonda no longer stands, its ruins and several columns serve as a reminder of Dilijan’s vibrant cultural scene. Additionally, the early 20th century saw the construction of summer cottages by wealthy Armenians from the Caucasus region, adding a unique architectural flair to Dilijan’s landscape.

Cafes & Restaurants

Nested inside this picturesque town there are some lovely cafes and restaurants in Dilijan. Whether you’re passing through or visiting the town it’s worth stopping by one of these places to have some rest and gratify your taste buds with savory dishes.

Cafe #2

Cafe #2, Dilijan

You can find this cafe on the side of Dilijan highway in the city center. This cafe has started as a social initiative. As such Cafe #2 strives to be a point where tourists, locals, and International UWCD community meet, organize events or just sit there to the soothing music and beautiful scenery of the small lake and a mountain forest. Staff members are local teenagers possibly taking on their first-ever jobs in this cafe. in the anteroom, there’s a small souvenir stand with locally sourced souvenirs.

What Do People Like About This Place?
  • Beautiful lake scenery
  • Pleasant service
  • Comfortable and tasteful interior design
  • Crêpes, pahlava, cookies, coffee, and salads are delicious
  • Souvenirs corner
  • Soft ambient music

17/1, Maxim Gorky St, Dilijan

Cafe #2 menu

Cafe N2 interior

Kchuch restaurant

Kchuch restaurant, Dilijan

Kchuch restaurant features Armenian and international cuisine, local organic ingredients and traditional cooking in clay pots. Pizza from the wood-fired brick oven is something not to miss when you are there.

What Do People Like About This Place?
  • Traditional cooking style
  • Big choice of particularly delicious food
  • Courteous service
  • The portions are big
  • Steak, pizza and the rounded pork skewers
  • Creative menu

Myasnikyan St, Dilijan

Khuch restaurant open-air

Inside Kchuch restaurant

Kchuch menu

Kchuch menu

Carahunge

Carahunge, Dilijan

This is a nice place to eat, relax or play some games with friends in Dilijan. Some people use it as an internet cafe bringing over their laptops. It has a wine cellar, a large area with ethnic Armenian design elements on the first floor. The second floor houses a nice panoramic terrace and a bookstore.

What Do People Like About This Place?
  • Wine cellar
  • Diligent service
  • Nice atmosphere
  • Balcony upstairs
  • Giftshop and bookstore
  • Great food served in traditional plates 

Getapnya St, Dilijan

Inside of Carahunge

Inside of Carahunge

Caffeine Coffee Shop

A vibrant cafe run by 2 young girls. The coffee shop is uphill from Kchuch restaurant. Grab a cup of coffee and have some rest after a day full of activities.)

What Do People Like About This Place?
  • Incredible carrot muffin
  • Most delicious in-house roasted coffee
  • Meticulous attention to details
  • Cozy feeling and good music
  • Nice minimalistic design

38 Myasnikyan St, Dilijan

Caffeine Coffee Shop, Dilijan

Caffeine Coffee Shop, Dilijan

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