Stepanavan is a beautiful town in the Lori Province of Armenia. The area of present Stepanavan was inhabited since the ancient times and was the focus of an early development of mining and metallurgy. Prehistoric sites in Stepanavan date back to the Stone Age. Stepanavan with surrounding areas was part of the Tashir Province and was included in the Artashesian Dynasty, and later part of Arshakunyats Kingdoms. In 385, after division of Greater Hayk Tashir Province, Stepanavan was left in the area of Armenian principality. Located on the northern trade route, it was a large craft and commercial center in medieval Armenia. It had a population of more than 10,000 in the 11th century. Since the 9th century, Shirak’s Bagratuni Dinasty have governed the area and joined several neighboring provinces together to create Tashir -Dzoraget Province of Lori Kingdom under Kyurikians. The greatest period of the Kyurikian Kingdom was from 980 to 1048 AD, during the reign of Davit Anhoghin and after him, Kyurike, when the area was expanded. The kingdom stretched along the Pambak and Debed rivers with the center being Lori Berd (a medieval royal palace complex). This medieval town-fortress was founded by one of the powerful kings of Armenia, David I Anhoghin, between 1005–1020.
Later on, Stepanavan became the mansion of the Zakarian Dynasty. It also served as a summer resting place for Armenian kings. As for Lori Fortress, it was the Armenian King, Ashot Yerkat’s (the Iron’s) favorite summer home. History shows that by the end of the 13th century, a branch of the Prince of Khachen, Hassan-Jalal Dola’s Dynasty and 110 families inhabited the town plateau. The residential area was named Jalaloghli, after the Jalal Dynasty, when it was officially founded in 1604 by Armenian refugees running from Persian ruler, Shah Abass, during his Armenian campaign.
The Armenian poet, Hovhannes Tumanyan, also received his primary education here, writing about the area in his later life. His school (school number 3) is currently named after him and exhibits a large mosaic wall depicting his fairy tales in his remembrance. Seven hundred years later, on behalf of the Bolshevik Armenian, Stepan Shahumyan, the town was renamed Stepanavan and became the administrative center of the region.
Stepanavan and its surrounding villages have a lot to offer to visitors. There are many fortresses, churches, bridges and sacred places to admire and enjoy. One of the places to visit in the town is Stepan Shahumyan’s House-Museum, St. Nshan Basilica (XI c.), ‘Lori Berd’ Fortress Town, ruins of Shushanik’s Fortress (X-XI c.), Tormakadur Church (VI-VII c.), Stepanavan Dendropark (Botanical Garden) beautiful forests, steep mountains, and much more. Situated approximately 1375 meters above sea level, the town of Stepanavan is pleasantly warm in the summer and bright and cold during the winter months.
Bellow more images of Stepanavan district and surrounding areas: