Sanahin Monastery, Kayan Fortress, Haghpat Monastery

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Sanahin Monastery, Kayan Fortress, Haghpat Monastery is a 11.4 kilometer moderately trafficked point-to-point trail located near Sanahin, Kotayk', Armenia that features a waterfall. The trail is rated as moderate and primarily used for hiking, walking, and nature trips.

11.4 km
451 m
Point to Point


nature trips





wild flowers


historic site

Overview This hike is located in Lori, which was the historic Tashir region of Greater Armenia. The starting point of the hike is the Sanahin Monastery in Sanahin village. The hike will then lead to the hilltop Kayan Fortress before proceeding to the Haghpat Monastery (one of the most beautiful sites of interest for tourists). The Haghpat and Sanahin monasteries are UNESCO World Heritage Sites - not visiting them would mean missing something very important in northern Armenia! The discernible trail of the hike promises quite an enjoyable journey. In the distance, on high cliffs, settlements, villages, outlines of foggy forested mountains, canyons, waterfalls, and deep gorges can be seen. The autumn is just heavenly in this area, with its vivid colors and foggy mountains. There are lots of yet unexplored hikes in Lori, which will be introduced to visitors when they are ready. Cultural and Historic Monuments Sanahin Medieval Monastery is located in its namesake village, and was founded by King Ashot III, the Merciful in 966. Between the 10th - 11th centuries, it was a great cultural center, with a high school and rich library. At the end of the 12th century, Sanahin became the summerhouse of the Zakaryan family, but later returned to being a cultural and scientific center that acquired extensive estates through donations. The Sanahin complex includes the Surb Astvatsatsin (St. Holy Mother of God) and Surb Amenaprkich (St. All Savior) churches, Surb Grigor (St. Gregory) small church-chapel, three narthexes, a scriptorium, a belfry and an academy. Kayan Fortress is located between the Haghpat and Sanahin villages, to the right of the Armenia-Georgia highway. The fortress was built in 1233 by Bishop Hovhannes, the leader of the Haghpat monastery. Nowadays, the monastery is also known as Aknaberd. The arched gate entrance of Aknaberd is from the south. Numerous ruins of buildings, water basins, and clay pipes have been preserved inside the fortress. The St. Astvatsatsin church of Dsevank is located in the monastery. Numerous interesting stories about the Kayan fortress have been preserved in nearby villages. Haghpat Monastery was formerly a university. It was founded in the second half of the 10th century and was one of the religious and cultural centers of Armenia during the 10th-13th centuries. Its’ economic, cultural, and structural growth lasted from the second half of the 12th century up to the end of the 14th century. Its school and library were extremely well-known in the 11th -13th centuries. Philosophy, rhetoric, theology, music and other subjects were taught here, and inscriptions were copied and illustrated (Manuscript repository, school, and gospel of Haghpat). The monastery was repeatedly subjected to invasions and earthquakes. In the midst of the 11th century, Haghpat was destroyed and robbed by the Seljuks. In 1105 it was attacked by Ghzl Amir’s army, in the 18th century by the Lezghins, and in 1795 it was ransacked by Agha Mohammad Khan. In order to protect itself from frequent attacks, fortified walls were built around the monastery, and defensive bases (Kayan, Atorik), shelters and dwellings were built in the nearby canyons and cliffsides. An important historical fact is that the popular troubadour, Sayat-Nova, spent many years of his life in the Haghpat monastery, and died while defending it in 1795. Flora The forests of the Lori region are abundant in tree species, counting about 60 tree species and 90+ bushes. The most frequently encountered species in these forests is the Oriental Beech tree (Fagus orientalis Lipsky), which is quite demanding on soil and humidity. Other commonly encountered species are the Oriental and Georgian Oak, Georgian Maple, Caucasian Lime, and common hornbeam. In spite of having a relatively small area, the Republic of Armenia is famous for its variety of flora species due to its favorable geographical position. There are about 100 species of flora on 1km2 of territory (one of the highest scores in the world). The entire Lori – Pambak area is located about 490-3,196 m above Sea Level and is distinguished by its diverse landscapes. The lowest point of Lori is in the lower stream of the Debed river (490 m from Sea Level) and the highest point is the summit of Achkasar (3,196m). Fauna Lori is also distinguished by its diverse fauna. Especially typical to the area are rodents like the field mouse, jerboa, blind mouse, hamster, marten, ground squirrel, as well as animals like the grey wolf and fox. Some of the common bird species are ducks, partridges, European robins, sparrows, quails, woodlarks, martins, magpies, eagles, and falcons. Because of cattle breeding in the territory, wolves are frequently “guests” here. The fauna in the province of Lori have become quite poor because of human activity. There are animal species that have disappeared or are on the brink of extinction.