Akhtala monastery is located 185 kilometers north of Yerevan. Being one of the very few orthodox monasteries in Armenia it was erected in the times of the Armenian Renaissance. Some historical data claim that the settlement was called Agarak. Some later inscriptions and manuscripts dating back to the 12th-13th centuries mention it as Pghndzavank. It was called so because of the rich copper mines found there. The name Akhtala is thought to be first mentioned in 1438. What does Akhtala mean? One suggestion is that the name has Turkic origin and means "white glade". The monastery's main church Surb Astvatsatsin (Holy Mother of God or Holy Virgin) was probably erected in the 11th-13th centuries. No exact data is known. The church carries religious significance because the cross with which John the Baptist is believed to have baptized Jesus Christ was being preserved there. Ivaneh Zakarian, however, sold it to the monastery of Noravank for a rather large amount of money.
Alaverdi (formerly known as Manes) is a town in the Lori province of Armenia, located not far from the border with Georgia. The population of Alaverdi is around 16,500 people. Back in ancient times Alaverdi was part of Gugark province of the Greater Armenia. In modern times however, the town was known mainly for its cooper mines. Many buildings and factories were built in here first by Georgians, than by Russians in period from 1770 to 1909. Alaverdi was flourishing town during the Soviet period of Armenian history. The area around Alaverdi is very rich with beautiful historical monuments: Odzun monastery, Sanahin monastery, Haghpat monastery etc.
According to the church records Surb Nishan founded Haghpat (Haghpatavank) monastery in the middle of 10th century. It happened during the reign of the king Abas I who was of the royal Bagratuni Dunasty. The monastery complex includes Surb Nishan Cathedral, Surb Grigor Church, Surb Astvatsatsin Chapel as well as some beautiful khachkars ("cross-stones" in Armenian). In 1996 Haghpat was included in UNESCO's World Heritage Site.
Odzun is a 5th-7th century church built in the village of the same name in Lori province of Armenia. The church got its name from catholicos Hovhannes Odznetsi, who was born in the Odzun and took major part in the reconstruction of church in 8th century. Odzun church is famous for its beautiful carvings of Christ, St. John and two angels and for the unique funerary monument (there is only two of them at the modern territory of Armenia – one in Odzun and another in Aghity village).
Sanahin monastery is located in the Lori Province of Armenia. It was built in 10th century. The complex includes the Surb Astvatsatsin Church, Surb Amenaprkich Church and Surb Grigor Chapell. Unfortunately, many buildings and gavits of the Sanahin were ruined first during the Seljuk invasion, then by massive earthquake in 1139. However, the monastery and its sights are still very beautiful and quite impressive. In 1996 Sanahin monastery among with Haghpat monastery was included in UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Stepanavan is a small town located in Lori province of Armenia, 139 kilometers away from Yerevan. Stepanavan was probably founded in the beginning of 12th century, though this site had been inhabited since the ancient times. Back in Middle Age, the city was capital of the Kingdom of Lori. During the Soviet period of Armenian history Stepanavan with its fresh air and beautiful nature was one of the most popular tourist spots of the USSR. There are a lot of interesting places to see when visiting Stepanavan. Dzoraget Canyon, Lori Berd, Lake Kyubishev and Surb Nishan chapel are definitely worth seeing.
Vanadzor (formerly known as Kirovakan) is the third largest city in Armenia. It is also the capital of the Lori province. Vanadzor's population is around 100,000 people. Modern area of the city has been inhabited since ancient times: Vanadzor used to be part of the Greater Armenia's Gugark province. During the Soviet times Vanadzor was renamed Kirovakan, after the bolshevik leader Sergey Kirov. Right after Armenia's declaration of independence the city got its old name back. Vanadzor is known for its mild climate and fresh air. Those qualities make Lori's capital a great place for the vacations. As for museums and monuments, we recommended you to visit Surb Astvatsatsin church, Vanadzor Botanical Garden, house-museum of Stepan Zoryan and Vanadzor Art Gallery.