Vardenyac Caravanserai

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Location: Vayots Dzor region

Established: 1332

From Yerevan: 150km/2h



Vardenyats is one of the many caravanserais in Armenia. Caravanserais served as overnight shelters for loaded caravan, traveling from Europe to the East. It is located on the way, leading from Gegharkunik province of Syunik region to Vayots Dzor region, on the Southern slope of Selim pass, in the territory of Aghjadzor village. The exact date of the foundation is indicated in Armenian and Arabic medieval building records. According to the Armenian sources, the caravanserai was built in 1332, by the order of Duke Chesar Orbelyan.  


According to the legend, Kurdish leader Suleyma's son was in love with one of the beauties of Gegharkunik region and met with her very often. Once, in winter, when the roads were impassable, hardly had he passed half-road, when it became dark. He lost his road and was gone by the snowstorm. They say, the Kurdish leader, built a hostel near the pass, so that travelers could have some rest and then only continue their road. Since then the pass was called Selim. In that exact place today's caravanserai is built. Grand round trip to Armenia and Artsakh will help you to explore Selim pass and Selim Caravanserai. 


The length of the caravanserai is 35,5 m. The construction is built of treated basalt. The roof is covered with huge stone slabs, like roof tiles, which speaks about the mastery of the architect.  


The entrance to the caravanserai was the example of a new architectural style, forming in cities back them. The architects accented the image of the building: it should differ from the nearest buildings and attract attention. That is why facade design with its decorative means was of great importance. Architects used stalactite carving; its hardness expressed peculiar tinge due to the play of light and shadow. In Selim caravanserai such step-like decoration was on the arrow-like hole, on the upper part of the entrance.


Two bass-reliefs, located on the facade of the construction, symbolize coat of arm of Orbelyan dynasty. There are animal illustrations on both sides of the entrance of the medieval caravanserai: a bull on the Eastern part, a lion with human face and crown on head on the Western part; a snake attacks the lion.


Selim caravanserai was destroyed in the 15-16th cc. It was fundamentally renovated in 1956-1959. The roofing was completely rebuilt, Southern wall, the arches, cracked walls inside the building were restored as well. 

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