Things to do in Goris

10 places and experiences to see and to do for a weekend in Goris [2023 List]
It is no surprise that Goris has been around since the Stone Age, the whole city is made of stone! Even the name has its roots in ancient Urartu, Guria, from ancient Urartian. Located 254 km (158 miles) south of the capital, Yerevan, Goris is the second most populous city in the Syunik region. With so much history and beautiful scenery around every corner, it is no wonder that it is a growing tourist destination.

Old bells of Goris
Photo courtesy: Hike Armenia
The Old Bells of Goris memorial complex is of great importance to the town. Situated at the entrance, it reflects the shape of the Goris cave and blends in with the surrounding pyramidal rocks. Originally built in 1985 by the architect Sevada Zakaryan, it was unfortunately demolished. However, due to its sentimental value to the locals, it was rebuilt on the same site by the same architect.

What to eat in Goris
Photo courtsey: Araratyan cusine
You can't travel on an empty stomach. Goris is home to some of the best regional dishes such as piti, a lamb dish with chickpeas in a clay pot, their version of zhengalov hats, bread made with local herbs, and regional BBQ. Try restaurants such as Takarik, Saro's Restaurant in Tatev and Hatseni Tavern in the nearby region.

What to do in the city
Photo courtsey: Gayane Mirzoyan / Urbanista
The architecture around the city is unlike any other city in Armenia. Explore both the old and new Goris, divided by the Vararak River. Goris is considered to be the only city in Armenia where the local architectural style surpasses the Soviet architecture. The typical local houses are one- or two-storey buildings made of local basalt with round mortar patterns unique to Goris.

The old houses of Goris are built with inner courtyards and arched entrances intended for the entry of horses or horse-drawn carriages. Wooden or metal balconies and red roofs are an integral part of the architecture of Old Goris, which is why Goris is called the town of red roofs. There is also a cave city 4 km from the present town, where people lived until the middle of the 20th century. Spend some time in the beautiful town centre, enjoy a wild mountain tea in the local cafés and visit some of the town's museums.

Explore local museums
If you can't get enough of rocks, visit the Geology Museum, where you can see unique local rocks found only in such mountainous regions. Learn more about what makes the city magical at the Folklore Museum.

You can also learn about the traditional life and history of Syunik in the house museum of the famous Armenian writer Aksel Bakunts, who was suppressed and shot in 1937. The museum was opened in 1957, two years after the writer's rehabilitation, in the house where he grew up.

The Bakunts' house represents the traditional architecture of the region, furniture, and elements of the writer's everyday life have been preserved here. The famous Armenian artist Martiros Saryan once visited the house and, in gratitude for his hospitality, painted a portrait of Bakunts' mother in traditional Armenian costume. Today it is one of the museum's most valuable exhibits. Weather permitting, visitors can spend time in the garden of the house museum, where they are treated to fruit and tea from a samovar.

The Museum of Regional Studies is one of the important historical landmarks of Goris, founded in 1948 and originally located on the territory of St. Gregory's Church, it is located in the Gusan Ashot Cultural Centre in the centre of Goris at Mashtots 5. Among the museum's rich exhibits, the most valuable are a bronze ancient lion statue typical of the Urartu kingdom and the five-faced statue from the 2nd millennium BC. Ceremonial vessels, clay jugs, 19th-century carpets and many other items are displayed in the museum. The museum is open from Monday to Friday from 09:00 to 18:00.

Sero Khanzadyan's House Museum — just to mention for the best view of the city.

Goris is the home of many Armenian poets and writers. One of them is Sero Khanzadyan. This museum, opened in recent years, offers a comprehensive presentation of the writer's life, biography, and novels. For those seeking the best view of Goris, a visit to this house museum is highly recommended, as it offers not only stunning views of the city, but also the fascinating story of the famous writer.
More rocks and mountains to see
How can you get tired of seeing rocks everywhere? What if you could go inside the rock, be the rock. Head to the Goris Cave Dwellings, where you can see how cave people have lived almost continuously since the Stone Age. If you really want to get away from it all, you can visit two ancient abandoned villages, ancient Khndzoresk and Hin Khot.

Photo courtsey: Anahit Minasyan / Urbanista
Khnzoresk is a village famous for its cave town, where people lived from ancient times until the XX century. The caves here served as a refuge during foreign invasions and wars.

The village in the cave resembled a huge multi-storey house, and some inhabitants climbed up with the help of ropes. In the 1950s, the villagers were moved to regular houses and ancient Khndzoresk became one of the most visited places in Armenia. In 2012, a 160-metre suspension bridge was built with the money of a local resident to connect the old and new Khndzoresk, and it immediately became a local landmark.

Hin Khot
Photo courtsey: Gayane Mirzoyan / Urbanista
Hin Khot is an abandoned village near the picturesque Vorotan Gorge has been dubbed the Armenian Machu Picchu. And although it has not yet become a popular tourist destination, interest in it is growing.

Ancient settlements in these places have existed since the second millennium B.C. Today, in the ancient village of Khot (translated as "grass"), you can see houses built in a complex relief, literally on top of each other: the roof of one house can serve as a terrace for another. A simple walk up the narrow lanes of the abandoned village gives an idea of the physical fitness of the locals. It is said that the people of Khin Khot were seldom ill and lived long lives.

In 1960, it was decided to move the village to a new site, where all the necessary infrastructure had been built. It was easier to organize the move than to rebuild an ancient settlement on problematic terrain. However, the villagers have not forgotten the village — they often come to pick mulberries, visit the abandoned chapel and remember their ancestors.

Old Shinuayr
Photo courtsey: Gayane Mirzoyan / Urbanista
Old Shinuayr is one of the oldest villages in the Syunik region. It is another abandoned village where natural and man-made architecture neighbor. Once there were centers of culture and writing in this village, and a parochial school operated in the church.

Le petit Paris
Photo courtsey: Gayane Mirzoyan / Urbanista
You will be surprised to see the mini Eiffel Tower in the heart of Goris! It's an unexpected sight that begs to be photographed. Take some fun pictures and watch your friends scratch their heads trying to figure out where you are. Trust me, this is a must-see attraction that will add a touch of whimsy to your visit. So don't forget your camera and get ready to capture some unforgettable memories!

Adventure Park — get in touch with nature and meet the local waterfall
Photo courtsey: Gayane Mirzoyan / Urbanista
There are many hotels in Goris, but if you are in Syunik in the warm season and prefer camping, you can visit the Tteni Ecocamp (14 Getapnya Street). Camping in the shade of mulberry trees is available from May to October. It can accommodate up to 16 people. There is a kitchen where you can order local dishes. You can also come here just for lunch without a tent.

A larger campsite — the Shahnazar Adventure Camp - is located in the village of Hartashen. You can spend the night in cabins or in a tent in this area surrounded by vineyards and orchards. The camp offers a lot of entertainment: horse riding, mountain biking, bird-watching, guided hikes (to the old Khndzoresk, Tatev and elsewhere). In the evening we can organize open-air cinema, campfire parties, tea from samovar. Local cuisine can be prepared on request.

Photo courtsey:
The Tatev Monastery is what tourists usually come to Syunik for. Built in the late 9th — early 20th century, Tatev Monastery was one of the most important scientific and educational centers in medieval Armenia. In the XIV century, Tatev University operated here, where philosophy, theology, grammar, physics, mathematics, astronomy, calligraphy, architecture and other sciences were studied.

The architecture of the Tatev Monastery in combination with the natural landscape makes a great impression. Among the natural monuments is the Devil's Bridge (Satani kamurj) — a natural arch bridge formed over several centuries as a result of the accumulation of travertine (rock) and hot mineral water. The bridge is surrounded by mountain springs that colour the canyon rocks pink, yellow and green.

One of the most interesting modern attractions is the Wings of Tatev cable car. It is the longest reversible ropeway in the world — 5752 metres, it was included in the "Guinness Book of Records". The ride over the picturesque Vorotan Gorge lasts 12 minutes.
Perfect weekend getaway
If you are trying to see the whole of Armenia, Goris is definitely a must. Try to spend at least a weekend in Goris to see it all and appreciate just how mountainous a region can be.