Hiking Tour 2.3

St. Astvatsatsin Church of Vanstan

Hiking trail 2.3*

Garni Visitor Center – Pokr Shen village ruins – Nerkin Vanstan village ruins – Valley of happiness- Rock temple – Garni Visitor Center

Length: 31,3 km
Duration hours: 8.30-9 hours (not counting the times of rest , food-breaks and vehicle transfer)
Difficulty level: Very Difficult
Minimum elevation: 1291 meters (4235 feet)
Average elevation: 1460 meter (4790 feet)
Maximum elevation: 1714meters  5639 feet)
Maximum slope: 21,7% -31,4%





Description: This trail passes through Garni and Kakavaberd districts and includes wonderful cultural-historical and nature monuments. It can be passed on foot or by horses and partially by car.

The trip starts from Garni visitor center by an off-road vehicle or a horse moving towards Pokr Shen village ruins. From the village starts the hike. Pokr Shen is located in the right side of the Azat river valley. The ruins of many buildings, large rooms with square layout, around which are rectangular barns and other adjacent buildings have been preserved in the village. The tumbledown church can be found in the eastern part of  Pokr Shen. According to the historical architectural analysis of the data it was built in the IV-V centuries. The abandoned village and the church are one of the best samples of early medieval architecture and they are very important in terms of studying the natural and historical heritage of the Khosrov reserve. From Pokr Shen the trail continues through the Azat river picturesque canyon towards Vanstan abandoned village. On the left side of the trail white traces are visible on the vertical cliffs which are the nesting places of white headed vultures. According to the data of historical-architectural analysis of the buildings preserved in Vanstan, the uninhabited village and church complex dated back in the 12th-18th centuries. The monumental complex was one of the richest monastic complexes of the Middle Ages. Besides the territory of uninhabited village also hosts archaeological monuments of prehistory which is important in terms of  the historical-architectural study of settlements. In the neighborhood there are five ancient dragon-relics/obelisks where various animal and bird images are engraved. Vanstan uninhabited village and church complex were destroyed during the earthquake in 1679. Most of the buildings are under the ruins.

This trail passes  through a number of ancient ruins, rock-carved churches which are inside Khosrov Forest State Reserve and they are of great historical and cultural value. Most of the ruins of the settlements in this trail are not well-researched, which makes the tour more mysterious and interesting. Some of the fruit trees along the trail are the remnants of the gardens of currently ruined settlements which were here in the past. The hike ends in Geghmahovit uninhabited village from where the tour will continue by off-road vehicle or horseback-riding towards Garni visitor centre. This trail offers good hiking opportunity that would be much enjoyed in combination with either horseback-riding or off-roading due to its length and complexity.

* Hiking – Guide is required