The marz of Gegharkunik, or Gegharkunik Province, is situated at the foot of the Gegham Mountains in Eastern Armenia, and is the country's largest region, with some of the most beautiful natural scenery that Armenia has to offer.
The spectacular waters of Sevan Lake are hidden high up in the mountains and it's the area's most prominent landmark, spanning a quarter of the marz, and known to Armenians as the Geghama Sea.
[caption id="attachment_2337" align="alignright" width="300"] Serene natural craters formed on Mount Azdahak[/caption]
The natural landscapes of the Geghama and Vardenis Mountains are exquisite. The fireless volcanoes of Adzahak and Armagan have formed natural craters which host gorgeous mountainous lakes. The rock faces surrounding Mount Azhdahak have numerous ancient petroglyphs which exhibit intriguing hunting scenes and celestial bodies which were carved onto their surfaces. In 2009, a sanctuary was erected to preserve the ancient artworks.
Gegharqunik has a relatively mild climate making it a pleasant atmosphere as the "nearness of water brings into balance severe winter frosts and summer heat". On average, winter temperatures tend to reach – 9°C, with summers reaching up to 25°C.
Many ancient monuments from contemporary Gegharqunik have survived. Gegharqunik once occupied a part of historical Syunik which was a region of Great Armenia. The area is now scattered with fortresses, castles, and ancient settlements. The cuneiform writings of pre-Urartu and Urartu periods have been well-preserved and are still visible.
[caption id="attachment_2338" align="alignleft" width="300"] Hayravank Monastery[/caption]
The more frequented monuments of Gegharkunik are Sevanavank Monastery which was founded in 874 on the northwest shore of Lake Sevan, as well as the largest medieval age khachkars' cemetery, Noraduz. The cemetery stands in modern Armenian territory on the shore of the lake and dates back to the tenth century. There is also the well-known monastery complex of Hayravank, inhabited as far back as the ninth century.
Then there is Gavar, the capital of marz Gegharkunik, situated in a strategic spot for tourists. Located on the shores of the Gavaraget River, it is surrounded by the Gegham Mountains in the west and Sevan Lake in the east. Mount Azhdahak is only fifteen kilometers away, and it is situated only ninety-eight kilometers east of Yerevan, which makes for convenient travels.
Today it is fairly quiet with a population of just under 20,000 people, with many of the locals engaging in handicrafts and trade.