Lake Sevan, Armenia
Standing majestically on a narrow peninsula in Lake Sevan, a series of ancient monasteries dot the green landscape. The first was thought to be established in 305 AD by Gregory, the father of the Armenian church, while the other structures were established in the 9th century. Only the foundations of the early church remains, though the later churches still stand proudly over the endless blue expanse of Lake Sevan. During the Soviet period of Armenia, Lake Sevan was drained excessively and thus significantly lowering the water levels of the lake. The complex of Sevanavank, for what was once on an island for centuries, suddenly become connected to the mainland via the newly forms peninsula.
Few monasteries in Armenia can compete with the setting. Add the fact Sevanavank can be reached at an hours drive from Yerevan, it can become quite crowded. Nonetheless, with the right timing either at dawn or dusk, the site may only need to be shared with a few others. That I assure will leave a lasting effect for years to come, as this location truly exhibits a harmonious blend of natural beautiful and austere craftsmanship.
Our first visit in 2018 saw us exploring the complex at sundown, with the golden light casting itself on the lake and the monastery. It really created a lasting image that we couldn’t wait to return in 2023. We had the opportunity to stay in the Soviet Writers House just adjacent to Sevanavank on the peninsula, allowing us to experience the site at dawn and dusk as well. I highly recommend that, as it midday when the tour busses arrive the serene atmosphere somewhat disappears. Like all monasteries in Armenia, no entrance fee is collected. A taxi can be hired from Yerevan for 10,000 dram, taking 1 hour.