Sevan: city of the "Geghama Sea"
Sevan city is located on the north-western side of the lake with the same name, at height of 1,900m above sea level. Its population is over 23,000 people. Sevan is a resort city and also an administrative center of Sevan district of Gegharkunik region in Armenia.
The city’s history begins from 1842, when Russian settlers-molokanes (a special group of the orthodox Russians) set up a small colony at the riverhead of the Razdan (flows from the Sevan lake). Initially the colony was named as Yelenovka after the wife of Russian Emperor Nikolai I. On 3 January 1935 by the decision adopted, the village was re-named to Sevan in honor of the lake. In the second half of the XX century, Sevan obtained a status of a city and began to develop fast due to the construction of main traffic arteries and industrial undertakings. Today Sevan is one of the most important industrial centers of Armenia.
One of the city’s main places of interest is the Sevan Lake itself. The lake’s area is 1,240 km²; its maximum depth is 80 m. Sevan National Park was set up on its lakeside in 1978. The Sevan is a lake of tectonic origin. It is surrounded by several mountain ranges. The Sevan is the world’s second lake in fresh water deposits and also the largest one in the Caucuses. In sunny days the lake, like a mirror, reflects the blue sky and snowy mountains and in overcast days represents a roar and violent picture.
The name of Sevan came from the ancient times. There are several theories connected with its etymology (origin). A great while, it was believed that its name originated from the name of the Sevanavank Monastery, but archeologists managed to discover an ancient inscription on a stone dated by the IX century BC which gave its Urartu ancient name “sunia” translated as “a lake”.
Another place of interest in Sevan is the medieval Sevanavank Monastery, located on a peninsula, 3 km from the city. The Monastery is a complex of small buildings constructed in the IX century. The monastery’s history begins from the time when several monks settled down on the isle and built several cells and a chapel. Step by step the number of the monks increased and that is why in 874 Princess Mariam, a daughter of king Ashot I Bagratuni ordered to build a monastery. The monastery is also known as a place where king Ashot, the Iron stayed before a battle with the Arabs, while the battle itself took place not far from the monastery’s walls. Up to date there only survived several small churches and fragments of cells from the whole monastery.
To the south-west from Sevan city there is one of the most ancient archeological monuments of the Urartu period of Armenia – Lchashen. It is famous for its archeological complex consisting of a fortress, mounds and ruins of the ancient city. The archeological excavation of the complex started only in the middle of the XX century, when the lake got beneaped, because before, it was under water. The most ancient occupation layers, revealed under the city dated back to the III millennium BC.
Sevan city is interesting not only with its history and sights. It is one of the most developed Armenian tourist centers. It is the place where hotels, various recreation centers are located. By no means unimportant is that the city is considered to be one of the centers for development of water and beach sports, such as valley-ball and windsurfing. Furthermore an Aqua-Park was built in the city. An equestrian club for equestrian sport fans and modern tennis-courts for tennis-players were also built there.