- Beach / Seaside Resort
- Place or Religious Monument
Just outside the town of Sevan, at the end of a peninsula next to a lake of the same name, Sevanavank monastery stands proudly at the top of its rocky promontory, overlooking the lake which surrounds it. The 9th century monastery was severely damaged in the 1930s and today all that is left are two stone churches.
It is the most visited monastery in Armenia but I have to admit that, despite its incredible situation on the edge of the lake, I didn't like it as much as other monasteries in the country. A major Armenian tourist attraction, nowadays the monastery is surrounded by modern hotels, roads and restaurants which, in my opinion, really detract from the beauty of the environment. What I liked the most about Armenian monasteries is the way they are far from everything else, and I didn't find that at Sevanavank.
I've been left with quite mixed feelings about the visit I made to Sevananvank. It's quite a surprise when you first arrive. There were coaches and masses of cars in the car park that's been created just below the site. Next to the vehicles were stalls selling souvenirs and tents selling refreshments. The processions of tourist groups you see there seem more interested in the trinkets sold on the stands than they are in the monastic complex and the surrounding scenery.
It goes without saying, therefore, that you need to get away from the atmosphere this creates as quickly as possible – unless it's the sort of thing you enjoy – and concentrate instead on the monastery, filtering out the presence of the crowds. On top of a hill overlooking the dark blue-coloured waters of the lake you'll find two churches to explore, both built in the classic Armenian style, except for the fact they're constructed from black stone. Having survived the destructive events that occurred at the beginning of the 20th century, the two churches, when seen from the exterior, give the impression of being half abandoned, which only adds to their charm. So despite everything, therefore, the views you get from this monastic complex and the architectural interested presented by the buildings mean Sevanavank is definitely a place to see when visiting Armenia, or when spending time around the shores of Lake Sevan.