We drove around the largest lake in the Caucasus (1240 sq km) and one of the largest freshwater high-altitude lakes in the world, set at 1900m above sea level. Its colors and shades change with the weather, forming dazzling azure to dark blue hues. We stopped near the elevated site overlooking the lake, where Apagan temple was replaced with the now-ruined church from 305. Two other churches, Surp Astvatsatsin and Surp Arakelots, were built in the 9th century. Legend tells us that St Mesrop Mashtots had a vision of 12 figures walking across the lake, who showed him where to find a church. Queen Mariam, the wife of Vasak of Syunik, built the churches in 874, which were heavily restored in the 17th century. In the 19th century, the monastery was a place to reform errant monks – there was a strict regime, and no women were allowed. Views from the top of the hill are spectacular.
Parking location – Sevan Lake: 40.565730N 45.005739E (🚻)