Known as Yelenovka (after the daughter of Russia’s Tsar Paul I) until 1935, Sevan was renamed in honour of the high-altitude lake that it overlooks. It’s surrounded by the rugged mountains of Sevan National Park and is home to a botanical garden where the region’s unique flora is on display.
Things to do in Sevan
Green thumbs shouldn’t miss a visit to the Sevan Botanical Garden, which was established in 1944 by the Armenian National Academy of Sciences. It’s set 2,000 metres above sea level and experiences hot summers and cold winters that make it ideal for showcasing plant species from across the globe. In addition to a large number of native trees, the gardens feature plants from as far as the Himalayas and North America.
Perched atop a peninsula that extends into Lake Sevan is Sevanavank, a historic monastic complex that comprises the churches of Surp Arakelots (“Holy Apostles”) and Surp Astvatsatsin ("Holy Mother of God”). Take note of the black tuff that was used to construct the 9th-century buildings and admire the intricate carvings of the khachkar stone, which features the image of Christ with distinctly Mongol features.
Lake Sevan and its surroundings are protected within Sevan National Park, which is home to more than 1,000 plant species, several of which are endemic to the region. Snow-capped mountains ring the lake while wolves, jackals and foxes inhabit the slopes. Aside from being one of the largest freshwater alpine lakes in Eurasia, Lake Sevan is an important source of fish and crayfish for the rest of Armenia.
Getting around Sevan
Sevan is around an hour’s drive from Yerevan and 1.5 hours from Zvartnots International Airport. Buses connect Sevan to towns and cities across Armenia and travel throughout the town itself.