The city of Kapan in Armenia: what to see in Kapan, what is it famous for and how to get there

Kapan city: Armenia's Bermuda Triangle on the border with Iran

Kapan city: Armenia's Bermuda Triangle on the border with Iran

Kapan is the largest city in the Syunik region of Armenia. In 987 - 1170 it was the capital of the Armenian kingdom of Syunik. Kapan today is home to about 40,000 people, many of whom are involved in the mining of precious metals. Here is one of the largest mines in Armenia with reserves of gold, silver, copper and zinc concentrate. There is so much raw metal underground that some areas can easily be called the Bermuda Triangles - compasses begin to go crazy there.

Another wealth of the city, besides its hard-working people, is its nature. Kapan seemed to have fallen into a giant trap and found himself sandwiched between high mountains. The name of the city confirms its position and comes from the Armenian word “kapel” - to lock. Residential buildings here are scattered along steep slopes, which provides their residents with toned calves and stunning views from their balconies.

The landscapes in this part of Armenia are indeed very beautiful, green and very different from other regions of the country. At the same time, unfortunately, this area is not popular among tourists due to its remoteness, but the Armenian government is making attempts to reverse this situation. The roads in that direction have already been put in order.


  1. How to get to Kapan
  2. What to see in Kapan
  3. Neighborhoods of Kapan
    1. Baghaberd Fortress
    2. Shikahoga State Forest
    3. Halidzor Fortress
    4. Ropeway "Wings of Tatev"
  4. Where to sleep in Kapan
  5. Where to eat

How to get to Kapan

Kapan is located in the southern part of Armenia, almost at the border with Iran - only 70 kilometers away. But the distance from Yerevan is four times greater - 280 km. There is no railway in that direction, and the local airport is not always open for passenger flights due to the unstable military situation.

You can get there by wheeled transport. By bike, the journey will take 15 hours and will help you lose weight by 81,713 calories.

Wealthy tourists can take a taxi. The driver will ask for about 45,000 drams. It will be much cheaper to rent a car in Move2Car.

You can also get to Kapan by minibus 611. It departs from the Yerevan bus station (Southern Bus Station) at st. Sevana, 93/1. Ticket price – 3,500 drams. It is better to check information on departure times at the ticket office by calling +374 10 575002. There is no clear schedule. Passengers are guaranteed only passes, steep descents and ascents, serpentine roads, stormy rivers and views of the snow-capped mountains of the Zangezur Range. Just in case, stock up on motion sickness pills.

It is better to go to the mountainous Kapan from July to September. In winter it is much colder here than in Yerevan, and can be down to -15 °C.

Along the way, you will meet other cities of Armenia that are definitely worth a look. Where and why to make a cultural “pit stop” was written here:

What to see in Kapan

The city is marked by an industrial Soviet past, in which Kapan was seen as a place of precious metals mining, rather than a cultural capital. Therefore, the city cannot boast of outstanding, vibrant sights. However, this quiet and cozy place has public gardens and a small amusement park.

Several statues and monuments tell the story of Kapan's glorious past. There is a monument to the Armenian commander, leader of the resistance against the Persian and Turkish invaders, David Bek. A statue of the national hero Garegin Nzhdeh, after whom one of the highest awards of the Armenian army is named.


The decorative statue of a bear with the Karajan Key at the entrance to the city also deserves interest. The monument to Clubfoot was originally different: for several years Toptygin’s mouth was empty. But the first secretary of the regional committee, Rafik Minasyan, once expressed his innermost thoughts to the sculptor: “The bear is too free, doesn’t talk about anything and doesn’t suggest anything. Let's add a key, comrade. This will be the key to the treasures of our land." In 1972 they did just that.


Neighborhoods of Kapan

In contrast to the city, its surroundings are full of interesting locations and historical sites. By devoting a few hours to Kapan, you can use it as a hub to explore other attractions.

Baghaberd Fortress

Built in the 5th century, this fortress was once the capital of the Syunik kingdom. But in 1170, under the onslaught of the warlike Seljuk Turks, it was defeated. After the destruction, no attempt was made to restore the fortification, so contemporaries can only see it in the form of ruins, lushly overgrown with greenery.

However, this is an excellent place for those who want to touch ancient history and feel the spirit of past centuries reigning here. There are two towers here that tourists love to climb for beautiful photographs. The fortress is located in an extremely picturesque place, and it’s nice to take a walk here on a warm sunny day.


Shikahoga State Forest

50 kilometers from Kapan on the northern slopes of the Meghri Range at altitudes of 700-2,400 meters is the Shikahogi (Shikaogsky) Nature Reserve. It was created in 1958 and covers an area of 10,000 hectares.

The untouched nature of Armenia with more than 1,000 plant species has been preserved here. Walking along the paths of the reserve, you will see alpine meadows with orchids, bluebells and tulips, lush hornbeam and oak forests and the Mtnadzor canyon.

The main object of protection of the Shikahoga Nature Reserve is the plant and animal communities of virgin oak-hornbeam forests growing at altitudes of 1,000–2,200 meters. There are yew and beech groves, as well as rare relict ferns that dinosaurs plucked.


Halidzor Fortress

Not far from Kapan, the 17th century Halidzor fortress hid in the mountains. It is famous for the fact that commander David Bek and his successor Mkhitar Sparapet held a siege against the Ottomans and Persians. Its clever location and powerful defense system once made it impregnable to enemies. Even after 400 years, Halidzor gives the impression of a mighty citadel - abandoned and forgotten, but not crushed.

David Bek met his end within its walls and was buried next to it. There is no inscription on his tombstone, only a flower is carved on the underside so that descendants can recognize the hero’s grave.


Ropeway "Wings of Tatev"

24 km north of Kapan, the longest cable car in the world was built several years ago. It connects the village of Halidzor with Tatev Monastery. In 15 minutes you will cover almost six kilometers at an altitude of 320 meters.

On the way, you can see the deep gorge of the Vorotan River and mountain slopes covered with dense forests. From a bird's eye view you will see Ararat, the megalithic complex of Karahunj, the Khor Virap monastery and the famous village of Areni with its fortresses, necropolises and the oldest winery in the world.


Where to sleep in Kapan

The city is not rich in hotels, and there are definitely no luxury apartments here. Most accommodation options are guest houses, hostels or family B&B hotels with prices starting from 10,000 AMD per night:

  • Darist;
  • Lernagorts;
  • Phoenix Complex;
  • Golden Kapan Hotel.


Where to eat

Most often, guests of Kapan have their meals at the hotel where they are staying. If you want to take a walk, try:

  •  Old Kapan on Shahumyan street, 2.

This is an authentic Armenian restaurant. The menu includes all the classics: from fresh zhangelov hats, cheeses and meat delicacies to dolmas, kyufta, Karski-style kebab and khash, cooked from beef legs and tripe and served according to all the rules;

Classic khash and how to cook it

  •  Tasty Corner on Yeghishe Charents Street, 2.

A good option to take a break from Armenian Neolithic cooking and remember that in the world there are cosmopolitan burgers, french fries, hot dogs and shawarma of all times and peoples. The small pavilion, painted in pistachio and lemon tones, offers takeaway food: everything here is fast, simple and with an emphasis on Indian and Pakistani street cuisine;

  •  Pub Maran on Melik-Stepanyan street, 4.

An excellent place with extremely tasty national food and a wide range of meat dishes. The place is clean, the waiters are polite, the owner is hospitable.

Have a nice trip to Kapan! And if you have already been there, and maybe even live there, then write in the comments what you like about the city, where else to go and what to see.

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Kapan city: Armenia's Bermuda Triangle on the border with Iran
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