Armenia is called an open-air museum, and Lori Marz is one of the beautiful exhibition halls of this museum. Vanadzor, the largest and most glorious monument in Lori Marz, is the third-largest city of Armenia after Yerevan, the capital, and Gyumri. Vanadzor is famous for its lush nature, historical and cultural monuments, educational and cultural centers, museums, and holiday resorts. The botanical garden is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Vanadzor. It has a diverse plant collection including many trees and bushes from various countries. Here one can see Thagavoranist (Hill of Kings), a Bronze Age ancient settlement, Tairov Chateau, the Church of the Holy Mother of God, built in the 13th -14th centuries, and rebuilt in the 18th century.
Vanadzor is located in the northwest of Armenia, at a height of 1350 meters above sea level, in the valley of the Pambak river, one of the tributaries of the Debed river, on the point where the Tandzut river joins the Pambak river.
The southern side of the city is surrounded by the high Pambak mountains, covered with forests. The botanical garden is located here, continuing the natural forests. The northeastern part of the city is surrounded by the Bazum mountains. The peak of Maymekh Mountain, towering over the city, lends it a fascinating beauty.
The climate in Vanadzor is mild and temperate, with sufficient humidity. Winter is relatively warm and snowy, spring is cool and rainy. Summer is dry, warm and sunny, and autumn, which usually starts at the end of September, is rainy, however not cold.
Average temperature in winter is -4.20 C, the lowest temperature recorded was -320C. The average temperature in summer is +17.70C, the highest temperature recorded was +360C. The annual average precipitation is 650 mm.
Due to sufficient humidity, prevalence of sunny days during the year, mild weather, large tracts of forest and other favorable conditions, Vanadzor has developed into an excellent health and vacation resort.
Present-day Vanadzor was settled on the area of a Bronze and Early Iron Age site.
Here one may see the remains of Cyclopean fortresses dating from 2,000 BC. Various artifacts found inside the ancient tombs during mid-20th century excavations indicate a high level of cultural development during that period. Though the area was most likely always settled, it was not mentioned in early Armenian or foreign manuscripts, probably because there was no occasion to mention the settlement.
In the Middle Ages the settlement was called Gharakilisa ("black church" in Turkish) because there is an Armenian Church made of black tuff situated here. In the 19th century Gharakilisa was a rather populous settlement, and the railway connecting Armenia and Georgia, which passes through Vanadzor, contributed to the development of the city.
In May 1918 Gharakilisa became one of the most important centers where the Turkish army, having invaded Armenia, was defeated.
In Soviet times, starting from 1920-30 the city developed and became one of Armenia's largest industrial centers. In 1935 the city was renamed Kirovakan. The city grew, its cultural life developed, industry flourished. However, the earthquake of 1988, and the economic crisis of the 1990s negatively impacted the development. The earthquake that devastated cities, towns and villages in northern Armenia, destroyed more than half of Kirovakan’s dwellings - industrial, cultural and household buildings. From the date of Armenia's independence and the ensuing economic blockade, almost all of the industrial plants stopped their operations. Withing ten years the population of the city shrank by almost 1/3.
After Armenia gained independence, Kirovakan was renamed Vanadzor and became the administrative capital of Lori Marz. Having overcome the difficulties of the economic crisis of the 1990s, Vanadzor slowly but surely is being reconstructed and rebuilt, It has turned into a modern, comfortable, green and beautiful city. The earthquake’s aftermath has been mostly tackled, the city’s infrastructure has been rebuilt, and new cultural centers, parks,and playgrounds have been constructed.
Today Vanadzor serves as an important transport hub for northern Armenia, as it lies on the road and rail routes between Georgia and Yerevan. Vanadzor is full of cultural life. Here one may visit the Museum of a famous Armenian writer, Stepan Zoryan, which was his summer house. The museum collection contains items related to the writer's life and work, publications and translations of his books, photographs and documents.
There is also the Vanadzor Museum of Fine Arts, containing about 2000 works of art. The Museum of Fine Arts is one of the most important cultural institutions in Lori Marz. It exhibits works of Armenian classical and contemporary art.
There is also a Music School, as well as the State University named after Hovhannes Tumanyan. The University has five Departments and it is considered to be one of the largest higher educational institutions in Armenia. Vanadzor is also known for modern resort complexes meeting international standards, and restaurants providing wonderful conditions for visitors.
The fascinating beauty of Vanadzor, clean air, abundance of sunshine, mild winters and cool summers contribute to the city's popularity among tourists. Here you can find the best conditions for vacations where one can enjoy nature, visit cultural centers, see monuments of art and architecture. And the hotel complexes will satisfy even the most demanding tourists.