Vayots Dzor (ArmenianՎայոց Ձոր) is a province (marz) of Armenia. It lies in the south-east of the country, bordering the Nakhichevanexclave of Azerbaijan in the west and the Azerbaijan in the east. It covers an area of 2,308 km². With a population of only 53,230 (2002 census), it is the most sparsely populated province in the country. The capital is Yeghegnadzor.

Vayots Dzor is situated in the south-eastern end of Armenia. It is the most sparsely populated province in the country. During the excavations the archaeologists found some objects that belonged to the primitive man, as well as diggers, bracelets, rings and buckles from the Bronze Age. All of these findings come to prove that the region has been settled since prehistoric times. They also found many carvings on the cliffs depicting scenes of hunting and animals. In 2008, another discovery made by an international archaeological expedition proved one more time that Vayots Dzor has been a resident for more than 5000 years. As a result of excavations carried out in the Birds’ cave archaeologists found a leather shoe which is 5500 years old. That is the oldest model of a shoe ever found in the world and is now exhibited in the History Museum of Armenia. They have also discovered some remnants of compresses grapes and a range of jugs (vine production) in the cave. It’s quite possible that it’s the oldest wine production in the world.

Vayots Dzor was first mentioned in the Armenian history by Movses Khorenatsi. Already in the 8th century BC today’s area of Vayots Dzor was involved in the Kingdom of Urartu. Then it became a part of the Mets Hayq Kingdom forming the Vayots Dzor region of the province Syunik. It used to be a residence for many princely stocks, and especially flourished under the dominion of the Zakaryan, Proshyan and Orbelyan families (12th-14th centuries). In the history of the 13th century Stepanos Orbelyan mentions the names of 94 settlements. A lot of significant churches, monasteries, bridges end caravansary were built during these centuries and today they have become important touristic spots and silent witnesses of the rich history of Vayots Dzor. In the middle ages the Great Silk Way passed through the area of Vayots Dzor. Now it is the roadway that links Martuni with Yeghegnadzor.

The period spanning from the 15th to 17th centuries is considered to be the worst in the history of Vayots Dzor. This is when the armies of the Turkic and Iranian tribes destroyed the prosperous villages and displaced the population. After joining Russia it was a part of the Sharur-Daralagyaz region of Yerevan province. In 1918-20 it was involved in the area of the First Republic of Armenia. In 1920-21 it joined the Soviet Armenia.

During the administrative division in 1929-1930 today’s area of the province was divided into the regions of Yeghegnadzor and Azizbekov (now Vayq). In 1991 it became a part of the Independent Republic of Armenia and underwent the last division in 1995 when the above-mentioned regions united the Vayots Dzor province. During the Middle Ages, Vayots Dzor was a principality of the Kingdom of Syunik. The name literally means "Valley of Woes" because the area was devastated by several earthquakes during its history. Vayots Dzor was part of Sharur-Daralagez uyezd of Erivan Governoratebefore the foundation of the Democratic Republic of Armenia in 1918.

Monuments in Vayots Dzor have always attracted philologists, archaeologists and topographers.

Gndevank, Herheri Sion, Shativank, Knevank or Khotakerats Vank, Argyazi St. Khach and a number of other churches and gravestones were built during the 9th and 10th centuries.

One of the masterpieces of the Armenian architecture-Noravank, as well as a group of churches adjacent to it, the hotel, the celestial chapel, monuments of Eghegis, gates of Srkghunik and Arpa, Selim caravanserai, Arpa and Agarak bridges were built in the 14th century. Sculpture, painting and miniature painting also developed along with architecture.

Areni church.jpg

Areni church XIVs


Djermuk town


Yegegnadzor town


Noravank XIIIs


Caves of Areni