One of the most beautiful places in Armenia is Sevan lake. With its heart-warming view it fell in love many people to her. It is not just a lake in the middle of mountains, there a big history began. For millenniums this place was feeding Armenian people to live and to create more of its immortal culture, which we have until these days.
The elevation of the Sevan lake are 1900 meters (6233.6 feet). It is the Gegharkunik region of Armenia. It is the second sweet water lake in the world by its elevation after Titicaca lake in USA.
The lake has 70 kilometers length (229.66 feet). The average depth of the lake is 47 m (ca. 154.199 feet) and the deepest point is 83 m (ca. 272.31 feet). Its surface is 1260 sq/km (ca. 4133858 sq/feet).
It has two parts small and big Sevans. 26 small and big rivers flow into Sevan, and one big river Hrazdan goes out of the lake.
The first visitors of Sevan lake
History keeps silence about the days before great flood. There is a lot of information about these times in the Bible and in the interpretation of the Books of Bible of Holy Fathers of the church.
After the great flood Noah’s Ark stood on the Mount Ararat and people started to spread all around the world from the Armenian Highland and the region up to Eutopia.
In those times was born Hayk, the pre-father of Armenian nation. Gegham (9th generation from Noah and 4th from Hayk) reached to the lake and called it “The lake of Gegham”, later it was renamed into “Sevan lake”.
The monastery of Sevan
For the good location of the island the first Catholicos (spiritual leader) of Armenia builds a church, calling it “Holy Resurrection”.
Unfortunately the church was ruined during the centuries. Now you can find the ruins of the ancient church in 10 meters up from the church of St. John the Baptist (built in 9th century).
In 874 princess Mary after the death of her husband vows to God to build 40 churches. In the Sevan Island she builds 3 of them (the third one was exploded during USSR period).
The battle of Sevan
Every monastery in Armenia was also being used for protective reasons. No monastery is built in the flat place, but on the heights of the mountains or in the impregnable forests.
The same is about this monastery, which was on the island, protected by the waters of Sevan lake and the mountains of Gegham.
History did not save every detail of this impressive place, but one story is saved for sure. In 821 king Ashot the Iron finds his shelter under the walls of monastery with his 250 warriors.
Soon the army of Arabs (est. 5000 soldiers) in the head of Beshir reaches the shore of Sevan demanding the king to surrender.
But the king was not the one to surrender so easily, so he secretly sent 180 soldiers to the shore and with the other 70 archers started to attack, sending also many empty boats (as the lake was misty) for making an imitation of a big army.
When Arabs saw this, they were scared. They lost their courage fully and started to run away when the other part of the army started to attack from the shore. They could not define anything, as the sun was hitting to their eyes.
During this battle Armenian army lost 50 soldiers and Arabic army 2000.
Sevan lake until the 20th century
From the ancient times until these days people try to build their houses as close as possible. So from the days of Gegham (2 millennium before Christ) Sevan attracts more and more people to her.
From the history we know that it was a delicious part for all the invaders. In 389 Armenia was divided between two empires of those times, Byzantine and Persia.
Byzantine’s part of Armenia passed to Osman Empire after the battle under the walls of Manazikert in 1071. From that day until 1639 Persian and Turkish armies never ceased their wars.
As usual the biggest part of their armies were hires soldiers, so after the end of wars big bandit groups were staying in Sevan and the territories next to it until no food was left, so the Armenian population around the lake would decrease more and more.
All the villages of these days mostly started their formation in 19th century. Archeological excavations prove, that this place was inhabited by people even in the 4th millennium B.C.
Drying of the lake as a result of big release
In the 1950s USSR government decided to dry the biggest part of the lake. They wanted to use the place for getting more harvest, but soon they understood awful consequences and canceled the project, but the lake was already down 20 meters.
A long tunnel from Arpa and Vorotan rivers was built to supply the lake with the water in 1981.