Sights of Goris, Armenia

A medium-sized town in the rolling hills of southeastern Armenia, Goris makes a good base for exploring the region.

Old Khndzoresk

This ghost town of sorts is a former cave city on the side of a canyon below new Khndzoresk. While abandoned as recently as 1931, after an earthquake, there isn’t much left other than caves and some ruined structures. To reach the site take the dirt road marked “Swinging Bridge” as you enter Khndzoresk. The rough track leads to a parking lot where there is a long wooden staircase down to a suspension bridge over the canyon. On the opposite side is the abandoned town.

Once across the bridge to the left is a well-travelled path that winds through the forest to a church in good repair. This was the popular route on a Sunday afternoon for Armenian families. To the right of the bridge I found the structures more interesting with better afternoon light. Back across the suspension bridge continue past the vendors in the opposite direction of the parking lot to a viewpoint overlooking the canyon and the entire cave city. You could spend a fair amount of time poking around the cave dwellings but we saw most everything we wanted to see in one and a half hours not including getting to the cave site, about a 20-minute drive from Goris.

Tatev Monastery

Wings of Tatev Aerial Tramway whisks passengers over the Vorotan River Gorge to the Tatev Monastery. It’s the most dramatic way to arrive at the monastery. Unfortunately it is open Tuesday through Sunday and we arrived on Monday. We therefore drove to the monastery instead of taking the tramway.

If you want to avoid crowds, however, Monday morning is a good time to visit the monastery. We arrived shortly after the 10am opening time and parked near the entrance. At this hour there were just a few foreign tourists and a group of Armenians, all dressed in white, participating is some sort of pre-wedding ceremony or baptismal.

The restored monastery has a number of rooms to explore, such as an example of a furnished monks quarter, the old kitchen and refectory. They also have a display of well-preserved khachkars (carved crosses). There are three churches in the complex – the main church, St Paul and Peters Church; a small chapel next to the main church, St. Gregory the Illuminator’s Church; and a chapel built into the fortress wall, Holy Mother of God Church. The earliest construction is from the late 9th century. While the interiors are rather plain the outsides of the structures have numerous khachkars and other decorative carvings. The front of the St Paul and Peters Church is best lit in the afternoon.

Tatev Monastery is about an hour’s drive from Goris. The Wings of Tatev Aerial Tramway is about 30 minutes from Goris.

Old Goris Walk

On the east side of town, above the cemetery, is an area of rock pinnacles and cave dwellings, a poor man’s Cappadocia of sorts. The HIKEArmenia app has a good interactive map of a 1.5 hour trail that winds through the pinnacles to a view point overlooking Goris. Despite the easy rating, the trail is steep, slippery on loose dirt and not well marked. You, however, can’t get lost as you have the cemetery in view the entire hike.

On the route are a couple of caves as well as a primitive chapel. For the ambitious there are other side routes and caves to explore. As this is mostly a west facing hillside, if you want good views over Goris, morning is better. If you want more of the pinnacles nicely lit, afternoon is better.

Mirhav Hotel

Mirhav Hotel is a quality smallish hotel in central Goris consisting of two buildings with good sized rooms, some with mountain views, a pleasant garden for dining or just hanging out and a good restaurant. The rooms are clean and modestly furnished with a comfortable bed, desk and wardrobe. The bathroom is also moderately sized with a roomy shower with good hot water and pressure. The water was turned off during the early afternoon hours during our stay due to some unspecified repair work. Amenities include a hairdryer but no safe or hot water boiler. You can, however, get coffee before the stated 8:30 breakfast hour. The Wi-Fi connection worked well. There were a couple of small tour groups staying at the hotel during our stay, but generally only about 6-8 in a group. There is no air conditioning but we didn’t need it either. There is limited parking on the property but street parking is available and there is a second lot behind the hotel.


A buffet breakfast is served in the dining room. You can also eat in the garden just off the dining room. The buffet included a nice selection of Armenian dishes such as pancakes with a number of toppings – cheeses, creams and honey – cheese and cold cuts including beef tongue, cereals, nuts and dried fruit, bread and butter, omelet and fried eggs, cucumbers and tomatoes, melon and cherries. Filtered coffee, tea, milk and juice are also available. The buffet items are of good quality and nicely presented.


On a pretty summer evening we chose to dine on their garden terrace. Most guests, however, were dining inside. The extensive menu includes mostly Armenian and regional specialties. We ordered a red bean (local Goris bean) salad, eggplant rolls (stuffed with a sour cream mixture that included walnuts), grape leaves with a veal mint mixture, potato wedges and a local trout (Ishkhan) from Lake Sevan. Everything was well prepared and tasty. I didn’t care for the fish because it had a river mud taste, but Don thought it was fine. It was presented with vegetables and lemons. Service was slow to start because our server was attending to other patrons but once the meal got going it all worked out.

Drive from Noravank to Goris

The two hour drive winds through the mountains on a good two-lane paved road. The mountainous landscape started out dry and suddenly became green rolling hills about 30-45 minutes into the drive. The second week in July there were plenty of wild flowers. On a Sunday morning there was some traffic and trucks but not so much you were stuck behind slow vehicles for long periods of time.

July 10-12, 2022