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Explore medieval history and local fish cuisine

Explore medieval history and local fish cuisine  image

On a short hike, discover a large collection of Armenian khachkars and carvings. (Photo by Areg Vardanyan, My Armenia Program)

The ancient settlement of Mtnadzor is a half-abandoned village in a quaint valley not far from Martuni and the southeastern edge of Lake Sevan. Avetik Grigoryan’s namesake restaurant Mtnadzor, on the Martuni river, could be a destination for its setting alone. However, Avetik also offers a deliciously illuminating experience for you to master the delicate art of preparing a traditional fish dish from Martuni cuisine while also discovering the ancient history of the area.

Due to many invasions and resettlements throughout its history, Martuni’s regional culture continually added new gastronomic traditions and flavors to the centuries-old local practices. Kapama made of sig whitefish is one of them. It aligns perfectly with the restaurant’s riverside location and Avetik’s ponds, where he raises fish for his restaurant. You may get your hands dirty from cleaning the fish, but in the process you will learn the subtleties of their natural flavors and how to get the most out of the fresh ingredients.

While the kapama cooks, Avetik will give you a taste of something entirely different—the time-honored history of Martuni’s Gomer, a medieval site where cattle farms and Mtnadzor village were once located. Follow Avetik along a path that includes the ruins of various fortresses. One of them, Heri Fortress, was an important fortification once upon a time, together with its caves and border walls. The hillsides also boast one of the finest and most venerable collections of famed Armenian khachkars or cross-stones, delicately carved and subtly embellished symbols of Armenian identity. During the hour-long walking tour, Avetik will weave together mesmerizing stories, including tragic tales and local legends that will leave you yearning to learn much more about the area’s history and folklore.

Endowed with remarkable architectural findings, Mtnadzor also stands out with its scenic natural landscapes that draw tourists looking to tread the road less traveled. Conclude your memorable journey with a steaming casserole of stewed kapama cooked in tomato sauce and flavored with deep notes of mountain thyme as a reward for a fulfilling day. Treat yourself with this staple delicacy, passed from generation to generation for centuries and revel in the picture-perfect landscape that surrounds Avetik’s pavilion and beyond.

Meet your host

Meet Avetik, your host in Mtnadzor and its scenic surroundings. He is that rare individual who not only vividly remembers his childhood, but also has brought parts of it back—by building Mtnadzor Restaurant in Martuni’s Gomer, where he once wandered with his grandfather and friends. As a child, Avetik had always wondered about the stones with inscriptions, the half-ruined walls, and the area’s earlier inhabitants. Today, he shares the answers to those questions about Mtnadzor’s intriguing history with his guests.

Photo by Areg Vardanyan, My Armenia Program

Photo by Areg Vardanyan, My Armenia Program

Photo by Areg Vardanyan, My Armenia Program

Photo by Areg Vardanyan, My Armenia Program

Photo by Areg Vardanyan, My Armenia Program

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