Explore Armenia's abandoned cave city

Explore Armenia's abandoned cave city image

The historic village of Khndzoresk, located on the steep slope of a gorge, is comprised of both natural and manmade caves. These cave dwellings were inhabited until as recently as the 1960s, at which point local lore holds that Soviet officials deemed the caves unfit for habitation and forced the remaining villagers to leave. At its peak, the old cave village’s population may have been as high as 15,000 people.

The village had two stone churches and three schools. The churches and approximately 2,000 caves are preserved, some with the original furnishings intact. Since many of the dwellings were carved over and around each other, a complex system of ropes and ladders was required for people to reach many parts of the community.

After it was abandoned, the old village was mainly left as a livestock grazing and stable complex. In order to revive and preserve the old village, a local businessman born in the caves started the Khndzoresk Revival Foundation. The foundation has supported the construction of a swinging bridge and local vista point and renovated several caves to serve as a cafe and museum demonstrating the lifestyle of the old cave dwellers.

Today, the village is maintained as a tourism attraction by the Khndzoresk Revival Foundation. The foundation offers guided tours and other experiences at the caves. Khndzoresk is located in the southern region of Syunik, about 20 minutes from the city of Goris.

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