The Lake Sevan in Armenia is a miracle of nature

Lake Sevan

Lake Sevan is a lake in Armenia, the largest and one of the most beautiful lakes in Caucasus. This natural wonder neighbors with the sky and is located in the middle of the vast mountains, 1916 m above sea level. Its water is clear and pure, because, according to legend, only the stars and the gods drank from it.

The eminent historians and travelers of the past spoke with admiration about Lake Sevan and called it “the lotus of the sky” – Narekatsi. Its area is about 5-10% of the total area of Armenia, and the national park of the same name, which also includes a water intake of the lake and several reservations, occupies 1/6 of the country.

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Video: Flying over Lake Sevan

Highlights

There are several hypotheses for the origin of Lake Sevan. Most likely, the lake was born several millennia ago due to volcanic processes in the surrounding Geghama Mountains.

Lake Sevan in winter

On the southern slopes to the lake are several dozens of geometric round craters filled with fresh water. Twenty eight rivers flow into Lake Sevan, all of them small, the largest, the Maerik, is not even 50 km long. Only the Hrazdan flows out of the lake. But it is impossible to restore the former reserve and the water level only with the waters of the inflowing rivers, for evaporation in the hot, treeless cauldron between the mountains accounts for 88% of water brought by the rivers. Therefore it was decided to permanently release additional water into Lake Sevan from the south, from the Arpa basin, through a 48 km long tunnel under the Vardenis Mountain Range, and afforest the surrounding mountain slopes.

The panorama of Lake Sevan

Origin of the name

The name of the lake is believed to be derived from the ancient temple of Sevanavank, which was built in the northwestern part of the peninsula in the 9th century. The name in Armenian means “Black Monastery,” and the temple was indeed made of black tufa. There is a version of an even more ancient origin of the name. The Urartians, who lived here before the arrival of the Armenians, called the lake Tsuni or Svini, from where it is not far from the pronunciation of Sevan. Tzuni as if it meant “water reservoir”.

Sevanavank Khachkar monastery – stone stele with carved image of cross

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Once the shores of Sevan were covered with dense forests of beech, oak and other valuable species of trees, which were used in shipbuilding. Now the area of forest massifs is impoverished, and therefore the forest plantations are intensively carried out in the coastal zones.

Lake size

At that time maximum length of the lake from Tsovagyugh village in the north-west to Tsovak port in the south-east was 75km and maximum width from Artunj bay shore in the north to Martouni regional center in the south was 37km. The minimum width from the lighthouse on the Shogel spit in the south to the Uchtash cape in the north was only 8 km.

The area of the lake on the west side of the narrow rift is called Maly Sevan and its maximum depth was 84 m there, and 51 m in the east side (near the exit of Artunj bay) and 58 m on the rift between them.

The area of the lake itself is 1,240 sq km, the basin is about four times larger – 4,850 sq km. There are two cities, two towns, about 100 villages with over 250,000 inhabitants.

Flora and fauna

Flora and fauna of this place is quite diverse: there are about 1600 species of plants and trees, there are almost 20 species of mammals, but especially many birds. These are rock grouse, mallard, eagle, gulls, and during the migrations pelicans, flamingos, mute swan, whooper swan, cormorants and others rest on the lake – up to 180 species in total, some of them also nest.

Sevan is the only fishery in the country where valuable species of fish are bred – kinds of trout, pike-perch, khramul, barbel, whitefish brought from Ladoga and others. The trout, called “prince-fish” (ishkhan), is now included in the Red Book, its population is maintained artificially in 4 fish-farms.

The lake is inhabited by endemic fish species: Sevan begloo (moustache), Sevan temple and Sevan trout (Ishkhan). The latter was earlier represented by 4 subspecies (as of today, the subspecies of winter bakhtak and bodzhak are extinct); it is endemic of Sevan, but its existence is threatened by competing fish species introduced or brought to the lake from other places. These are: whitefish, which were introduced from Lake Ladoga and Lake Peipsi, silver carp, and narrow-billed river crayfish.

Trout and crayfish A seagull flying over Lake Sevan

Fish farms were established on the shores of the lake for the artificial breeding of the ishkhan. While the ishkhan is in danger of extinction in Sevan, it appears to have become well established in Lake Issyk-Kul, where it was introduced from Lake Sevan.

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The lake is an important population center for the Armenian gull, whose number reaches 4000-5000 pairs here. Other birds that stop at the lake are American swan, Lesser white-fronted duck, Red-necked dive, White-eyed dive, and Black-headed gull.

Lake Sevan National Park

Sevan National Park was established in the Lake Sevan basin in 1978. It includes four nature reserves and ten sanctuaries. In total 150,100 hectares are under the protection of the park, including buffer zones, of which only 24,800 hectares is land surface. The Sevan National Park is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Nature Protection and research works are conducted on its territory, mainly for conservation and restoration of Lake Sevan ecosystems.

View of Lake Sevan

For tourists .

Tourists can travel around Lake Sevan in different ways: by bicycles, motorcycles or cars on a roundabout route or by rowing or sailing boats along the shore. The length of the journey by any means around Lake Sevan is now no less than 200 km.

Lake Sevan is known for its cultural monuments and recreational resources: mineral springs, clean air, beautiful nature. On the shore of the lake grows an artificial forest (pine, broad-leaved species and buckthorn).

Lake Sevan is not only a reserve zone, but also a recreation zone. Modern hotel complexes and cottages with all necessary infrastructure are built in specially allotted vacation spots. Around Sevan there are about ten kinds of beaches, some of them are wild and others are equipped, there is also a common town beach.

With the rise in the level of Lake Sevan, of course, some of the traditional sand and pebble beaches were covered by water, but new ones appeared. There are plenty of water amusements on Sevan: pedal boats, yachts, catamarans, motor boats and pleasure boats, water trampolines, surfing.

Sevan Coast Bathing Season – July-August

The season of active swimming is about two months – July and August, the water warms up to 19-20 degrees. However, do not forget that the mountain sun is insidious enough and can burn your skin in a few hours, for this reason it is necessary to observe safety precautions, to use special creams, to cover the body with a cloth under the open sun. Many hotels, there are also separate large pools for lovers of warm water.

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Recently, Sevan is not only a place for eco-tourism and beach holidays, but also a ski resort. On the mountain north of the lake opened a new, modern cable car, with a hotel Akhtamar. From the top of the mountain opens unforgettable panoramas of the mountain lake.

Lake Sevan in literature

In 1928 famous Russian writer Maxim Gorky, who visited Armenia and saw Sevan for the first time, said:

“Yes, it is amazingly beautiful! The mountains seem to embrace and protect the gorge with the love and tenderness of living beings. The air is unusually clean and transparent and seems to be painted in a blue softly shining tone. Softness is the prevailing impression. The deep bed of the gorge is filled with silence, the greenery of the gardens… and as if everything is quietly floating towards the direction of Lake Sevan. Southern Transcaucasia is stunning with its variety and richness of colors. This valley is one of the most beautiful ones.

A rose-colored sunset over Lake Sevan

Avetik Isahakyan, a classic of Armenian literature, said about the beauty of Lake Sevan:

“Sevan is so beautiful, that one wants to drown in it”.

Lake Sevan has always inspired poets and writers and many of them have dedicated their poetry to it. Here is how Armenian poet Gevorg Emin described Sevan:

“Not yet having met you, I loved for a long time the mirror-like splendor of your water, framed by the old mountains, your grey boulders and the first flowers of spring on the peaceful shore About them I used to repeat your story many times, your daughter Zangu.

Lake Sevan, a beautiful landmark of Armenia

Lake Sevan - Armenia's landmark

Lake Sevan, the most beautiful lake among the alpine lakes, is located in the middle of the mountains, 1916 m above sea level. Its water is clear and pure, and according to a legend only the stars and the gods used to drink from it.

Lake Sevan, Armenia, landmarkLake Sevan, Armenia, landmark Lake Sevan, Armenia, landmark

One of the most beautiful sights in Armenia is Lake Sevan and its surroundings. There are several hypotheses about the origin of Lake Sevan. Most likely, the lake was born thousands of years ago, due to volcanic processes in the surrounding Geghama Mountains. On the southern slopes of the lake are several dozens of geometric round craters filled with fresh water. Twenty eight rivers flow into Lake Sevan, all of them small, the biggest of which, Maerik, is less than 50 km long. Only the Hrazdan flows out of the lake. But it is impossible to restore the former reserve and the water level only with the waters of the inflowing rivers, for evaporation in the hot, treeless cauldron between the mountains accounts for 88% of water brought by the rivers. That’s why it was decided to permanently release additional water into Lake Sevan from the south, from the Arpa basin through a 48 km long tunnel under the Vardenis Mountain Range and afforest the surrounding mountain slopes. The area of the lake itself is 1200 sq.km, and its basin is about four times bigger, 4850 sq.km. There are two cities, two towns, about 100 villages with more than 250,000 inhabitants.

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Lake Sevan, Armenia, landmarkLake Sevan, Armenia, landmark Lake Sevan, Armenia, landmark

It is believed that the lake got its name from the name of the ancient temple Sev vank, built on the northwestern peninsula in the IX century. This name means “Black Monastery” in Armenian, and the temple is really made of black tufa. There is a version of an even more ancient origin of the name. The Urartians, who lived here before the arrival of the Armenians, called the lake Tsuni or Svini, from where it is not far from the pronunciation of Sevan. Tzuni as if it meant “reservoir”.

Lake Sevan, Armenia, landmarkLake Sevan, Armenia, landmarkLake Sevan, Armenia, landmark

Once the shores of Sevan were covered with dense forests of beech, oak and other valuable species of trees, which were used in shipbuilding. Now the area of forest massifs is impoverished, and therefore the forest plantations are intensively carried out in the coastal zones.

Lake Sevan, Armenia, landmarkLake Sevan, Armenia, landmarkLake Sevan, Armenia, landmark

At the same time, the maximum length of the lake from the villages. At that time the maximum length of the lake from the village Tsovagyugh in the northwest to the port of Tsovak in the southeast was 75 km and the maximum width from the shore of Artunj Bay in the north to the regional center of Martouni in the south was 37 km. The minimum width from the lighthouse on the Shogel spit in the south to the Uchtash cape in the north was only 8 km.

Lake Sevan, Armenia, landmarkLake Sevan, Armenia, landmarkLake Sevan, Armenia, landmark

The area of the lake on the west side of the narrow rift is called Maly Sevan and its maximum depth was 84 m there, and 51 m in the east side (near the exit of Artunj bay) and 58 m on the rift between them.

Lake Sevan, Armenia, landmark

Flora and fauna of this place is quite diverse: there are about 1600 species of plants and trees, there are almost 20 species of mammals, but especially many birds. These are rock grouse, mallard, eagle, gulls, and during the migrations pelicans, flamingos, mute swan, whooper swan, cormorants and others rest on the lake – up to 180 species in total, some of them also nest.

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Lake Sevan, Armenia, landmark

Sevan is the only fishery in the country where valuable species of fish are bred – kinds of trout, pike-perch, khramul, barbel, whitefish brought from Ladoga and others. The trout, called “prince-fish” (ishkhan), is now included in the Red Book, its population is maintained artificially in 4 fish-farms.

Lake Sevan, Armenia, landmark

Tourists can make a trip around Sevan in different ways: by bicycles, motorcycles or cars along the ring road or by rowing or sailing boats along the shore. The length of the journey by any means around Sevan is now at least 200 km.

Lake Sevan, Armenia, landmark

The lake is inhabited by endemic fish species: the Sevan begloo (Barbus goktschaicus), the Sevan temple (Varicorhinus capoeta sevangi), the Sevan trout (Ischan, Salmo ischchan). The latter was formerly represented by 4 subspecies (as of today, the subspecies of winter bakhtak and bojak are extinct); it is endemic of Sevan, but its existence is threatened by competing fish species imported or brought into the lake from other places. These are: whitefish (Coregonus lavaretus), which were introduced from Lake Ladoga and Lake Peipsi, silver carp (Carassius gibelio) and narrow-billed river crayfish (Astacus leptodactylus).

Lake Sevan, Armenia, landmarkLake Sevan, Armenia, landmark

Fish farms were established on the shores of the lake for the artificial breeding of the ishkhan. While the ishkhan is in danger of extinction in Sevan, it appears to have become well established in Lake Issyk-Kul, where it was introduced from Lake Sevan.

Lake Sevan, Armenia, landmark

The “Sevan” national park with four nature reserves and ten wildlife sanctuaries was established in the Lake Sevan basin. The lake is an important population center for the Armenian gull (Larus armenicus), the number of which reaches 4000-5000 pairs here. Other birds that stop at the lake are the American swan (Cygnus columbianus), Lesser white-fronted duck (Anser erythropus), Red-breasted duck (Netta rufina), White-eyed duck (Aythya nyroca), and Black-headed gull (Larus ichthyaetus).

Lake Sevan, Armenia, landmark

Lake Sevan is known for its cultural monuments and recreational resources: mineral springs, clean air, beautiful nature. On the shore of the lake grows an artificial forest (pine, broad-leaved species and buckthorn).

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