GORIS & KHNDZORESK

Goris is a town in the southern Syunik Province of Armenia. Located in the valley of river Goris (or Vararak), it is 254 km away from the Armenian capital Yerevan and 67 km from the provincial center Kapan.

Goris “Kores” means a rocky place. There was a dwelling in the ancient times in the same area of the town. The humankind has settled here since the Stone Age. Goris was first mentioned in the history of the Urartian period. King Rusa I (8th century BC) left a cuneiform, where he mentioned that among the 23 countries conquered by him, “Goristsa” country was one of them.

Goris is an inevitable stop between Yerevan, Stepanakert (Nagorno-Karabakh) and the Iranian border. Boasting fine stone houses with arched windows and balconies on tree-lined avenues, a couple of museums and a busy little shouka – Goris is a great place for strolling around. The surrounding mountains are famous for their medieval cave-dwellings carved out of the soft rock in the southern and eastern portions of the township. It’s worth making a trip to the cave city on the other bank of the river and equally majestic sets of volcanic pillars, that spear through the steep grassy slopes above town. The old town is home to the 4th century basilica of St. Hripsime, and the cathedral of St. Gregory the Illuminator is the seat of the Diocese of Syunik of the Armenian Apostolic Church.

The village Khndzoresk is located to the right of Goris-Stepanavan Highway, on the steep slopes of Khor Dzor (The “Deep Gorge” in Armenian), from which it got its name. New Khndzoresk (the current inhabited area) was built in the 1950s.

Khndzoresk is widely renowned for its canyon with picturesque rock formations and ancient cave settlement. The artificial caves, some of which are currently used as stables and warehouses, used to be inhabited till the 1950s. At the bottom of the gorge there is the St. Hripsime Church, dated back to the 17th century. On the right side of the gorge there is an Anapat (hermitage) with the tomb of Mkhitar Sparapet. The cave church of St. Tatevos can also be found nearby.