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Vanadzor City landmarks

Vanadzor skyline • Pambak River
Holy Mother of God church • Russian church of the Nativity • Lori Province administration • Hayk square
Panorama of Vanadzor


Coordinates: 40°48′46″N 44°29′18″E / 40.81278°N 44.48833°E / 40.81278; 44.48833

Country  Armenia
Marz Lori
Founded 1820s
 • Mayor Samvel Darbinyan
 • Total 32 km2 (12 sq mi)
Elevation 1,425 m (4,675 ft)
Population (2009)
 • Total 104,800
 • Density 3,300/km2 (8,500/sq mi)
Time zone GMT (UTC+4)
Area code(s) 322
Website Vanadzor official website
Sources: Population[1]

Coordinates: 40°48′46″N 44°29′18″E / 40.81278°N 44.48833°E / 40.81278; 44.48833 Vanadzor (Armenian: Վանաձոր) is the third largest city in Armenia and the capital of the Lori Province in the northern part of the country. It is located around 128 kilometres (80 miles) north of the capital Yerevan. As of the 2009 estimate, the city had a population of 104,800, down from 148,876 reported at the 1979 official census. The city was known as Gharakilisa (Karakilisa) during the Russian rule. After the fall of the Tsar, Vanadzor was briefly known as Martunakan. After the Sovietization of Armenia, the city was renamed Kirovakan (Armenian: Կիրովական) in 1923, after the Bolshevik leader Sergey Kirov. With the independence of Armenia in 1991, Kirovakan was renamed Vanadzor.

The city is in a picturesque setting, with an attractive planned town centre. Mostly crumbling Soviet-era chemical factories dominate much of the valley below the city.


Much of the city's history is unknown. The human settlement in the region of present-day Vanadzor possibly dates back to the Bronze Age, with interesting tombs and many other remains found in the nearby hills of Tagavoranist and Mashtots.

The area of modern-day Vanadzor belonged to the Tashir canton of Gugark; the thirteenth province of the Kingdom of Armenia (Armenia Mayor), until the end of the Artaxiad Dynasty's rule over Armenia in the 1st century AD. Later, the settlement was ruled by the other Armenian dynasties of the Arsacids and the Bagratunis. By the end of the 10th century, the area became part of the Kingdom of Lori (Kingdom of Tashir-Dzoraget) until the beginning of the 12th century. With the invasion of the Seljuk Turks, the region became under the rule of the Great Seljuk Empire. The town was called "Gharakilisa" by the Seljuks possibly as early as the 13th century, from the black-stoned Armenian church of the Holy Mother of God, on the nearby hill.

In 1801, it became part of the Russian Empire along with the Georgian state, a fact that made the city one of the strategically important points for the Russian defensive forces on the border with Persia. In 1826, Gharakilisa was totally destroyed by Hasan Khan during the Russo-Persian war. In 1849, it became part of the Yerevan Governorate within the Russian Empire. The city enjoyed considerable uplift through the opening of the railroad to Tbilisi in 1899. The vicinity of the city was the site of the Battle of Karakilisa when in May 1918, General Tovmas Nazarbekian's outnumbered troops, led by Garegin Nzhdeh successfully defended it from the invading Turkish Army, pushing them back just a few days after the crucial battle of Sardarapat, thus allowing the First Republic of Armenia to come into existence.[2] On the North side of the Spitak-Vanadzor highway, about 2 km (1 mi) West of the city, there is a little shrine in the ruins of a church, site of a planned monument to that battle.

According to Khachatur Abovian, the population of Gharakilisa was not more than 600 dwellers in the 1820s, mainly migrants from Yerevan. After becoming part of Yerevan Governorate, the town was flooded with many hundreds of Armenian families, migrated from Kars, Ardahan and Western Armenian cities of Karin and Daroynk (Doğubeyazıt).

The first city development plan of Vanadzor initiated by architects Karo Halabyan, Mikayel Mazmanyan and Gevork Kochar, was adopted in 1929–1930. Under the new plan, the town was enlarged towards the eastern and western parts. In 1939, the new re-building plan created by architects N. Zargaryan and A. Minasyan has remodeled the city creating an industrial district and a summer-resort area. The Vanadzor city centre was redeveloped during the 1950s. The central town square was opened surrounded with government and administrative buildings.

Vanadzor, like Gyumri and Spitak (25 km (16 mi) west), suffered a considerable amount of damage from the 1988 Spitak earthquake when 564 residents died in the city. Unlike the two other cities, the majority of buildings in Vanadzor were unscathed from the earthquake.

Geography and climate

Vanadzor, the capital of Lori Province, is located 128 km (80 mi) north of Yerevan and 64 km (40 mi) east of Gyumri.

At a height of 1425 meters above sea level, Vanadzor is located in the valley of Pambak River, on the point where the rivers of Tandzut and Vanadzor join the Pambak river. The city, is surrounded with the over 2500-meters high mountains of Bazum and Pambak. The southern and eastern regions are densely forested while to the north and west are only covered with bushes and plants.

The climate of Vanadzor is characterized with cool summers and relatively mild winters. The average temperature in winter is −4.2 C, while in summer it reaches up to 20 C. Vanadzor's climate is classified as humid continental (Köppen climate classification Dfb). The amount of precipitation is around 650 millimetres (26 in).

Climate data for Vanadzor
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 1.5
Average low °C (°F) −18.0
Precipitation mm (inches) 18
Avg. precipitation days 7 9 11 13 19 17 12 9 10 10 8 7 132
Source: World Meteorological Organisation (UN)[3]


The industrial booming of Vanadzor started by the end of the 1940s. The city is dominated by large chemical plants including: "Prometey-Khimprom", "Vanadzor Chemical Plant", "Vanadzor Khimprom" and "Vanadzor Chemical Fiber Plant". Another huge enterprise is the "Vanadzor Thermal Power Plant of 1961.

The chemical industries have deep roots in the history of Vanadzor. The first chemical plant was founded in 1929 and started to introduce. its products in 1932.

In 1996, a new plant was opened for the production of gemstone cutting machines and tools.

In 1999, Russian chemical giants started to enter the Armenian chemical industrial market through large investments in the existing plants of Vanadzor. After 2001, the chemical plant and the thermal power plant of the city regained their highest capacities of production after a decade of interruption caused by the economical crisis in Armenia in the 1990s.

Many other industrial firms in Vanadzor produce several types of building materials (tufa, basalt, clay, etc.)

Tourism and attractions

Vanadzor is a town-resort due to its mild climate, clean air and mineral springs. Many modern hotels are built in the city and the nearby countryside. The city is connected with other major cities of Armenia with a railway and a motorway.

Sites of interests

  • "Mashtots hill" archaeological site: home to many remains from the 4th millennium BC.
  • The old church of the Holy Mother of God: also known as the Black Church or Gharakilisa, rebuilt in 1831.
  • The Nativity of Virgin Mary Russian Orthodox church, built in 1895.
  • Lori-Pambak archaeological museum.
  • House-museum of Stepan Zoryan.
  • Vanadzor Art Gallery, opened in 1974.
  • Vanadzor Botanical Garden.
  • Vanadzor Central park.
  • Sayat Nova park.
  • Vanadzor sanatorium.



The population of Vanadzor has grown gradually since 1849, after becoming part of the Yerevan Governorate.

The population iof Vanadzor increased significantly after the Second World War, when Stalin allowed an open immigration to Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic with a promise of better life in historical homeland. More than 150.000 Armenians from different parts of Europe and Middle East, most being survivors of the Armenian Genocide immigrated and settled in Vanadzor (Kirovakan). Due to harsh conditions apposed by Soviet's intelligence and Ministry of Interior, many of the immigrants were sent to labour camps in Siberia or elsewhere. The reason for such disrespectfully treatment towards the Armenian immigrants was because almost all were more educated than the local community, spoke more than 3 languages, some were open believers of Armenian major religious sects (Apostolic, Evangelical and Catholic) which was considered as a threat to national security by Stalinist Government.

Despite the difficulties more Western Armenians immigrated in Kirovakan in following years.

Most of the immigrants left Vanadzor and went back to Cyprus, Lebanon, Greece, France and USA. Today there is approximately 2000 Western Armenian settlers living in Vanadzor, most of which still use the Western Armenian dialogue at home.

The majority of the city's population are ethnic Armenians with minor Russian, Ukrainian and Greek communities.

Here is a population chart of Vanadzor city throughout the history:[4]

Year Population

Education and Religion

Vanadzor is home to many educational institutions serving the population of the city and the residents of Lori and Tavush provinces. The city has two major educational centers: the Vanadzor State Pedagogical Institute named after Hovhannes Tumanyan and Mkhitar Gosh Armenian-Russian International University. Branches of Yerevan State University are also operating in the city. As of 2009, 6 technical intermediate colleges, 30 public education schools and 20 nurseries are operating in the city.

Being one of the prominent cultural centres of Armenia, the city has a municipal art gallery, a dramatic theatre named after Hovhannes Abelyan, a puppet theatre and many other cultural institutions.

The majority of the population belongs to the Armenian Apostolic Church. Vanadzor is the seat of the Diocese of Gougark of the Armenian Apostolic Church, serving the population of Lori and Tavush provinces.

  • The church of the Holy Mother of God of 1831, also known as Gharakilisa (meaning the Black church) is one of the oldest preserved churches of the city. It was renovated in 1999.[5]
  • The city's tiny Russian Orthodox community is served by the church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, dating back to 1895.[6]
  • The Surb Sargis church of Vanadzor was built in 2000, near the prelacy building.
  • The groundbreaking service for the new cathedral of the diocese of Gugark took place in May 2002. Later in 2003, His Holiness Karekin II; the Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, conducted the blessing service for the foundation of the cathedral. The construction of the cathedral was completed in 2005 and named after Saint Gregory of Narek, to commemorate the 1000th anniversary of his Book of Lamentations.
  • The chapel of the Holy Children was opened in the Tsitsernak children's camp of Vanadzor in 2006.


The most popular sport in the city is association football. FC Lori Vanadzor founded in 1936 is one of the oldest football clubs in Armenia. The team had represented the city in the domestic competitions from 1991 until 2006, when it was dissolved due to lack of financial resources.

The largest sport venue of the city is the Lori Stadium with a capacity of 5,000 seats, mostly being used for football matches. A renovation plan was scheduled in order to redevelop the stadium to meet the requirements of the UEFA.[7]

Other favourite types of sports for the citizens of Vanadzor include: handball, footsal, volleyball, etc.

Vanadzor has special sport schools for swimming, athletics, weightlifting, chess, gymnastics, table tennis and badminton.

Notable people

International relations

Twin towns – Sister cities

Vanadzor is twinned with:



  • GEOnet Names Server
  • National Statistical Service of the Republic of Armenia
  • World Gazeteer: Armenia –

External links

  • More information about Vanadzor
  • American Corner Vanadzor
  • Useful Guide to Vanadzor
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