Sevan is surely one of Armenia’s most idyllic beauty spots. Its viewpoint within the Geghama mountain range is admired and photographed by thousands of visitors each year. During the centuries the lake was called the “Geghama Sea.” It is said that the lake was formed from the volcanic eruptions of the Geghama mountain chain. The Persians and Turks named the lake “Geokcha,” meaning blue water. The lake is the highest and largest lake in the Caucasus. It stands 1900 meters above sea level. The lake is surrounded by mountains, the Geghama and Vardenis chains in the west and southeast respectively, which gives it its unique beauty. Around 2-3 million years ago these mountains were active volcanoes. Before the decrease of Sevan’s water level, due to its use in harnessing energy at hydroelectric plants, the lake was 75 km in length and 56 km at its widest. Sevan has parts were it is 99 meters deep. Twenty-eight rivers and streams flow into Sevan and underwater springs replenish the lake. Only one river flows out of Sevan, the Hrazdan, which helps to irrigate the Araratian Valley. Sevan is famous for its freshwater fish including, Ishkhan, Koghak, Beghlu and Sig.
Sevan’s peninsula, once an island, with two churches on the top provides a panoramic view and the guide’s story will take you to the times of the reign of the king Ashot Erkat (Ashot the Iron, X c.). In 862, Ashot Bagratuni, Lord of Shirak, who has earned the title “Prince of Princes” from the Arabs is crowned King of Armenia. Later in 874, King Ashot I and his daughter, Princess Mariam, build the Holy Evangelists’ Monastery (Sourp Arakelots in Armenian) on the island in Lake Sevan. The structure is cruciform in design and is built with roughly cut stones.
Now a peninsula, the former island is home to a larger church, the Church of the Holy Mother of God, which is found a few steps higher up the hill from the older, smaller monastery. The churches are excellent examples of the early medieval architecture and have quite interesting architectural plan. Many of their fine wooden capitals are now in the Museum of History in Yerevan and the Hermitage in St. Petersburg. You will find it an exciting place to visit and see one of the highest altitude lakes in the world.