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Explore Old Khndzoresk - Armenia's abandoned cave city

Explore Old Khndzoresk - Armenia's abandoned cave city image

Old Khndzoresk. (Photo by My Armenia Program)

Hike through the historic village of Old Khndzoresk, located on the steep slope of a gorge, and explore natural and manmade caves. Fully inhabited around the 17th and 18th centuries with more than 8,000 residents—and partially inhabited until 1958—Old Khndzoresk once boasted homes, schools, cheese factories, churches, and even a bar where villagers could socialize at night.

You will catch your first glimpse of the historic cave city when you meet your local guide on the swinging bridge that leads you into the heart of Old Khndzoresk. There you will be able to visit one of the village’s two stone churches and several of the approximately 2,000 cave dwellings, some remarkably preserved with the original furnishings intact.

Each of these cave dwellings might have housed between 12 and 25 people, depending on the family’s economic status. The size of each dwelling depended on the family’s needs and the position of the rocks. As you explore the different rooms of the house, you should admire the work of master cave-builders who were highly respected craftsmen in the community.

Because many of the dwellings were carved over and around each other, the inhabitants needed a complex system of ropes and ladders to reach many parts of their community. As you navigate the narrow pathways, you will learn how the villagers lived in harmony with their natural environment. Your guide will point out rock features that have become part of local folklore, as well as many herbs and plants used in teas and cooking.

Stop for lunch and meet Vardan, the keeper of a small museum collection of Old Khndzoresk and who produces mulberry vodka. Old Khndzoresk is one of many abandoned villages in Syunik. Visitors may explore these little-known villages with My Armenia local guides.

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