Lori is one of Armenia’s most beautiful regions, thanks to the magnificent Debet River Valley, the forests and forested mountains of Gugark and Stepanavan, and deep gorges and cliffs. Sochut Dendropark near Stepanavan is the most popular resort and is located next to an arboretum.
Pomegranates, apricots, peaches, pears, apples, plums, kinglet persimmons, and even kiwis grow in the Debet Valley. Gathering berries and wild plants are popular because they are ingredients in the local dishes, which include ghapama, korkot, pork barbecue, rosehip soup, cornel soup, dried fruit soup, pumpkin and bean dishes, and konchol. Also popular in the villages are breads baked in stone ovens, gata, nazuk, bagharj, agdak, and bishi. Traditional crafts still practiced include textile and carpet weaving, embroidery, woodwork, khachkar making, and stonework.
The region’s population is ethnically diverse, thanks to Greek and Russian settlements. There are also Molokans who have distinctive religious beliefs, cultural practices, and lifestyles.
Those interested in historical and cultural heritage may wish to visit Lori Fortress to see the Bronze-Iron Age settlement and the medieval town-fortress. Other historical and architectural attractions include the famous Odzun Monastery and its adjacent monument of the sixth century, the frescoed monasteries of Kobayr and Akhtala, and the medieval monasteries of Sanahin and Haghpat, which are inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
The village of Dsegh is especially famous, thanks to its beautiful natural surroundings and the house-museum of the great Armenian poet Hovhannes Toumanian.
Lori’s regional center is Vanadzor, which became a modern industrial town in the late 1920s following the establishment of the Soviet regime. The town developed as both a recreational area and an industrial center. The surrounding forests featured resorts, while the town developed light, heavy, and chemical industrial enterprises. Today, Vanadzor contains many abandoned industrial buildings or scraps of waste metal, which form an integral part of the landscape and have become one of the most recognizable parts of the town.