Lori Berd Fortress

Stepanavan Travel Blog

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People I met here who contributed to, and improved my trip: Julia (Russia)

It was already getting dark when we arrived into Stepanavan and as we had never really planned on coming here, i didn't really know what to expect. The main reason we had opted to pay the place a visit, was due to a tip off from a couchsurfer called Elvira, who emailed us to tell us to go and see Lori Berd, which is a fort located a couple of kilometres outside of the town. She had also recommended us to contact a lady called Armine, who was a friend of hers and ran the tourist information centre.

Without a map we decided to try and find a phone so we could call Armine and also a hotel, and a kind guy in a currency exchange booth let us use his mobile for free. I had actually gone there to swap some money, but he told us of an ATM located nearby, which LP had inadequately failed to mention - now there's a surprise! Whilst Julia was on the phone, a guy came to talk to me and when he saw the guide book which reads “Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan”, he started signaling to eliminate Azerbaijan, you just can't beat a bit of ethnic hatred! I smiled and nodded, not wanting to admit i liked the Azeri's, for fear of a swift reprisal.

The hotel turned out to be a pricey 10,000 Dram ($33) for just a room, but when we spoke to Armine she said we could stay at her house for 8,000 Dram ($26) including breakfast and use her kitchen to make Dinner. Sold.

Julia cooked Dinner for us whilst i played with Gina the dog and then Armine's 15 year old daughter came to speak with us. She spoke excellent English and if i didn't know better i could have sworn she was an American teenager! It had been a long action packed day and by 23.30 we were both ready to call it a night.

Armine had breakfast ready for us at 09.00 and after wolfing this down we made the 4.5km walk to Lori Berd fortress. Exiting town we passed a statue of Stepan Shahumian, from whom Stepanavan got its name. Stepan was a Communist agitator who was born here, but suffered a horrible fate when captured by the Tzar's forces, as he was sent with 26 other comrades to the Turkmen desert and then left to die.

Whilst the weather was quite bleak, at least the clouds in the sky added to the beauty of the landscape, which consisted of impressive mountains and a wonderful canyon. Lori Berd is actually situated where the Dzoragets and Urut Canyons converge, making it almost an impregnable defensive site. Therefore how this place actually fell to the Mongols is a story that the Armenians would probably best forget. To sum it up, they liked to drink their fair share and on one over excessive occasion, the Mongols took advantage and captured the fortress.

Down in one canyon was a picturesque 14th Century bridge, whilst the other canyon boasted an impressive waterfall. Scattered remains existed across a fair sized patch of land, with the most interesting been a partially restored Church.
A bird of prey hovered above, adding to the windswept isolated feel of the place. Having poked around for some time, we realised that we had to make a move back to town, so as to be in time to catch the midday bus to Vanadzor.

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photo by: Deats