LAKE SEVAN

“Sevan is like a piece of the sky that has descended to the earth and been placed among the mountains” Maksim Gorky, a Russian writer. To the northeast of Ararat valley in the region of Gegharkunik, poetically described as “sea adorned region”, glorious Lake Sevan has been spreading its gorgeous beauty for many centuries and it is a silent witness of numerous events of the ancient history of Armenian people. In ancient times it was called Geghama Sea, Gegharkunik Sea or Likhinitis Sea. Lake Sevan is the second largest fresh water lake in the world situated at a high altitude, as the first one is Titicaca located in South America between Peru and Bolivia. Sevan combined with uprising and high mountains give rise to a giant triangle, in the northeast encompassed by Areguni and Sevan mountain chains and divided by Masrik valley from Vardenis mountain chain. The Lake is circled by Pambak mountain chains where Hrazdan valley lies between Geghama and Pambak mountains.

In ancient times, Lake Sevan occupied 1,250 sq. km and was named as a “monastery lake” by the locals. The promontories of Lake Noradus and Artanish divide the Lake into Small and Big Sevans, which are respectively of 50 and 100 meters depth. 28 small and big rivers such as Gavaraget, Argichi, Masrik, Dzknaget and others stream into it, whereas only Hrazdan River starts from the lake. In 1830, a number of migrants from Western Armenia mainly from Bayazet, Diadin, Maku and Alashkert settled in Sevan province. In 1924 a whitefish species were imported from Ladoga and Chad Lakes, Russia. Nonetheless, Lake Sevan has always been famous for its trout and the four species, called gegharkuni, summer and winter and bakhtak, as well as other fish species were in its waters for almost 25 thousand years.

There once used to be an island in Lake Sevan and it was a sacred place since those ancient times. Nevertheless, as a result of the water level lowering, it became a peninsula, where Sevanavank was later founded. There are two historic churches preserved as of today that are located in the peninsula of Sevan and they are St. Arakelots (Apostles) and St. Karapet, whose establishment is linked with the proclamation of Christianity as a state religion in Armenia. Lake Sevan has a majestic and captivating panorama from Tsovagyugh hill.