Sanahin-Haghpat Hike

1960799_1404414203131407_8919080854450028645_o This weekend we joined a hiking group for one of their day drips –  people from all walks of life rent a couple mini-buses and leave town for lots of laughs and wonderful comaraderie. It was a great way to enjoy Armenia’s beautiful landscape together. We sang songs, walked up waterfall streams, and sang Armenian folk songs. We would have liked to do this every weekend! It was great fun, and we learned a lot about Armenians – some of them doctors, lawyers, programmers, etc. – who love nature and love to have a good time. IMG_0900 This time the group went to Debed Gorge in Lori province (near Georgia). We walked from Sanahin to Haghpat, two important 10th century university monasteries across the gorge from one another. In between was the Kayan Berd (fortress) built in 1233, and sacked by the Mongols.

Sanahin has a very neat scriptorium, and has this first example in Armenian architecture of a narthex, or meeting area before you enter the church. It’s impossible not to walk on graves – this is because people thought walking on graves was a good thing in the 10th century – it gave you the power and energy of the people buried beneath.


Ruins of a small chapel, where you can see the watchtowers signaling the Mongol invasion.
After a nice cool dip in the river, we walked to the edge of the gorge to the surprise entrance route to Kayan Berd fortress.
On the precipice of Debed Gorge. We took a nap in the fortress below.


On top of Kayan Berd, across from Haghpat monastery.

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Haghpat – I thought this one was slightly better than Sanahin. One room had holes in the ground (buried karas gourds) where monks stored food, honey, wine. Haghpat also has the first instance in Armenia of Jesus carved on a khachkar, with God staring down at him.

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Apparently these corner details are Seljuk in origin.
Separate bell tower. Still works.



4 thoughts on “Sanahin-Haghpat Hike

  1. Richard Byng

    Just back from Armenia and did the Haghpat Sanahin trail.
    Great thing to do but a couple of complications to avoid. There is a guide but I chose not to pay the 24 dollars. Could have been a mistake!
    Also organising ahead with the group of local guides described on the blog sounds great. I am writing this in case you decide to do walk alone.
    The main problem is getting up to the village of Akner from Haghpat.
    Go down the winding road and you will see a small building at the bottom and a faint path to the right diagonally across grass before going into the woods below the rocky cliff. I was lucky that a local pointed this out. You can also see a big pipe at the top of the woods back to the left with a path leading to the plateau above. This is your aim. Once at the bottom of the road cross the bridge behind the building and head up the diagonal path which them virtually peters out in the woods. Track round back to the left and keep going below the rocky cliff. Don’t be tempted to climb the rocks. There is another blog describing someone doing this so I tried and soon realised with loose earth and rocks I was not up to it so climbed back down! In stead keep tracking along bottom of rock face to left (overgrown, steep, rocky and muddy after rain but quite passable ) and you will soon find a path taking you up the past of the hill past the pipe. And come out onto a plateau with big field. A picnic shelter with gravestone (seems to be an Armnian thing) is nearby and walk across faint track to village ahead.
    Walk through/round village and down next road (all thus you can see on Google Earth) which goes round next valley. One over small bridge I took a grassy track up to left rather than the road and passed a pale blue barm and it then became footpath and led down to next valley and met the road again (thus meant missing the close up sight of an soviet substation!).
    From there you are virtually in Sabahin. The cable car is now brocken but regular local minivans take you back to Alaverdi.
    Going the other way the path avoiding the substation is just past the bridge of to right and v infustinct leading across grass into woods.
    Going on to Haghpat is probably easier – once on the field beyond Akner look for the picnic shelter on far side in middle and once there find the path leading steeply down initially by the pipe.

    1. andrew

      Thanks for the details Richard! I’m glad that part of the Armenia blogs prompted some adventuring there, even though I never thought of putting useful hiking details in…

      1. andrew

        More hiking posts to come, as we live in Tbilisi now. We did Khde Gorge, Panorama and Romanov trails in Borjomi, Lagodekhi waterfall, Birtvisi, and many many day hikes…

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