- Hiking / Trekking
- Place or Historical Monument
Goris seems lost in this mountainous landscape. I arrived in this town of 20,000 inhabitants a bit by chance, after driving for hours through the sparsely populated, mountainous province of Syunik, in the south of the country. I really liked the town, which has a delightful centre, old stone houses and plenty of sites in the vicinity.
In short, I highly recommend Goris as a stopover on the way to southern Armenia or Iran. It's a great base from which to explore the wonderful Syunik range, local monasteries and nearby natural reserves. No trip to Goris would be complete without sampling the local tipple, 'Oghis', which is made from fruits grown in the region.
On the frontier with Nagorno Karabakh, Goris is a small town close to the rocky heights that are lightly covered in vegetation. I wasn't particularly impressed by the town but managed to find what I need to buy in the way of food and equipment for the winter weather.
During a trip to Armenia, I had decided to explore the surroundings. Half an hour from Goris, is Tatev monastery and I certainly wasn't disappointed by this formidable building dominating the cliff. I really enjoyed exploring all the rooms of the monastery which were intact, so you could imagine the monks living in them. I fell in love with one of the secret passages which led out to the moutainside. I also loved the landscapes in the region, especially the Devil's Bridge, a canyon that is so deep the sun never reaches it.
Many tourist guides present Goris as a city full of charm. So I expected to discover an exceptional place. I admit that once I arrived, I was a little disappointed. Certainly, there are the stone houses, but the city hardly lends itself to wandering around (there really isn't that much pavement and driving is rather sporty), and Soviet urban planning has taken quite a toll.
Once you get past your first impression, you realise how lucky you are to be in a city lost in the depths of Armenia. Going to Goris means having access to the authentic Armenia, alternating between the splendour of the past and the uncertainty of the present. In addition, the only way to sleep there is to stay with a local. This is your opportunity to interact with the local population that's always willing to share some good advice.
Finally, after some nice encounters, a visit to an abandoned cave dwelling and discovering the local nightlife, I realised that Goris remains one of the most authentic moments of my stay in Armenia.