Goris is a town in Syunik Province located 254 km (158 miles) from Yerevan. Situated in the valley of River Goris, the town is the second-largest city in the region, and it offers historical and medieval landmarks to visitors. Similar to its neighboring town Tatev, Goris has a limited number of sights, but each is very impressive and worth a two-day visit. Here are the best things to do in Goris.
The Medieval Goris Cave Dwellings were inhabited by locals until the mid-twentieth century. Forests and rocks surround this unusual site that is only accessible by a swinging bridge. Once you cross the bridge, you need to ascend steep stairs in order to reach this abandoned settlement. Stroll down through those dwellings and admire the work that went into the construction.
Literature lovers will enjoy their visit to the Museum of Axel Bakounts, an Armenian prose writer, translator, film-writer, and a public activist who was murdered during Stalin’s 1937 assassinations. Bakounts was always outspoken, and his first publication, a satirical story of the Goris mayor, had him imprisoned in 1915. Afterward, he served as a volunteer in the battles of Kars, Erzurum, and Sardarabad. This lovely villa with its timber veranda, stone walls, and courtyard garden was his home. It showcases his personal memorabilia and furniture from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Kotrats Caravanserai dates back to 1319 when it was built by the Orbeliani family (a Georgian noble family that branched off from the royal family of Bagrationi), as a stopover point on the Silk Road. Caravanserais used to be places where travelers and merchants, who traveled along the biggest trade road, would stop to overnight, rest for a couple of days, and sell or buy different products. The Armenian writing over the door is hardly readable, but the Persian phrase looks intact. It should be noted that there’s another caravanserai (also built by the Orbeliani family) in Armenia, located in Selim Pass.
The city of Goris is surrounded by rocks that locals call the Goris Stone Pyramids Forest. The stones create amazing labyrinths of colorful pyramids, columns, cones, and towers. The area offers completely different views of the town depending on how sunbeams fall onto the ground. This forest is simply mesmerizing and should be at the top of your Goris itinerary.
Gregory the Illuminator is the patron saint of Armenia and was the first head of the Armenian Apostolic Church. There are several churches dedicated to the patron, but the one in Goris is especially important. During the Soviet era, this and many other churches in the country were closed. Until the 1960s, this church was used as a geological museum and a grain storage facility. In 1989, the church was reopened, and seven years later, the seat of the Catholicos of All Armenians (chief bishop) was moved here.
Bringing a souvenir from the town you visited is always a good idea, especially when the souvenir is handcrafted. Goris Crochet is an organization that produces a wide variety of handmade high-quality items. Their products are mostly toys, animals figures, and bags that feature Armenian vegetables, fruits, and other cultural items. If you are thinking of bringing something back home from Goris, look in the different shops and souvenir stalls.
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