Discover Lake Sevan: A Jewel of Natural Beauty and Serenity

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Lake Sevan, nestled amidst the Geghama mountain range at an altitude of 1900 m (6,234 ft), is the largest freshwater lake in Armenia. It serves as the source of the Hrazdan river and is renowned for its stunning beaches, particularly during the hot summer months. While the water may initially feel cold due to its mountainous location, it’s perfect for swimming from June to early September. However, visitors should be prepared for occasional winds, especially in the evenings.

A must-visit spot on Lake Sevan is its peninsula, home to the 9th-century Sevanavank monastery complex. Originally situated on an island, the monastery became a peninsula due to the lake’s water drainage during the Soviet era. Founded in 305 AD by Gregory the Illuminator, the complex features two churches built by Princess Mariam in 874 AD. Renovated in 1956-1957, Sevanavank is adorned with numerous khachkars and houses an active seminary.

Nearby, on the western shore of the lake, lies Hayravank monastery, dating from the 9th to 12th centuries. Notable for its unique Armenian architecture, the monastery’s St. Stephan church is built with basalt stone and tufa stone arcs. The complex includes a 16th-century graveyard and khachkars, as well as the remnants of monks’ cells. Renovated in the 1980s, the monastery’s dome was reconstructed.

The Legend

According to a legend a religious leader of this church has saved the lives of many people held hostages by a Turco-Mongol conqueror Timur (Tamerlane). In 1381 when the atrocious leader set the villages to fire and kept thousands of Armenians as hostages the religious leader named Lazarus approached him and asked to set free as many people as his church can house. Tamerlane agreed. By the virtue of his prayer, he turned all the people entering into the church into pigeons. They then flew out of the church window. He saved thousands of people in this manner.

Lake Sevan is also known for its endemic Sevan trout, now endangered due to overfishing and water level changes. Along the highway near the lake, visitors can find locals selling fresh fish, including fried Sevan common whitefish and trout, in lakeside restaurants.

For dining options, Bashinjaghyan Restaurant offers traditional Armenian cuisine with lake views, while Collete Restaurant, located on the Sevan-Dilijan highway, is known for its fresh fish and kebabs. Tsovasar Restaurant, though challenging to find, offers grilled local fish and stunning lake views.

In summary, Lake Sevan is a treasure trove of natural beauty, history, and culinary delights, making it a must-visit destination in Armenia.

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