Lake Sevan is the largest lake in Armenia and the Caucasus region and it is located in the Gegharkunik Province of Armenia. It is one of the largest freshwater high altitude lakes in the world. Perched at 1,900m above sea level, the great blue eye of Sevana Lich (Lake Sevan) covers 940 km², and is 80 km long by 30 km at its widest.
Along with Lake Van and Lake Urmia, Sevan was considered one of the three great lakes of the historical Armenian Kingdom, collectively referred to as the Seas of Armenia. Currently, Sevan is the only one that remains within the boundaries of the Republic of Armenia.
The name Sevan literally means “Black Van” referring to Lake Van. It was said, that long ago, when Armenians came from the areas around Lake Van to Lake Sevan, they saw that the lake was dark and almost black yet reminded them of Van, therefore the lake was called Sevan.
Lake Sevan is one of the highlights of a visit to Armenia. The lakeshore is lined with sandy beaches, some teeming with activity and resorts, offering water sports such as sailing, jet skiing and windsurfing, and some quiet and secluded. Lake Sevan’s proximity to Yerevan, coupled with its cooler summer temperatures, outstretched blue waters and historic sights make it one of Armenia’s key places to visit.
The most visited destination on the lake is the peninsula, known as Kghzi, which is home to one of the most notable samples of medieval Armenian architecture, the 8th century monastery of Sevanavank. Originally made from three churches, the monastery of Sevanavank was built on an island. Receding waters in the mid-20th century created the current peninsula. The island was uninhabited until the end of the 8th century AD, when monks built a chapel and a group of cells. The island monastery was, according to historians of the time, used both for worship and pilgrimage, and as a place of exile for the clergymen who had fallen into disgrace. The monastery continued to function until the 20th century: the last monk left in 1930. Today, the monastery is maintained by the Church, which also maintains a summer retreat for seminarians on the peninsula.