Berd is a city in Northern Armenia.
Berd lies at the heart of the region known as Shamshadin, and is the only town in that rather remote corner of Armenia. This area is part of the same geographic zone as much of Karabakh, and the rolling green hills of forest and pasture, studded with monasteries much resembles that land, as do the hospitable, proud people.
Public transportation comes in through Ijevan, which is where you'll want to go if you're trying to catch a minibus or taxi. Otherwise from Yerevan you can head there via Ijevan, and then choose the good, longer road, or the bad shorter one. You can also get there via a beautiful stretch of mountain starting in the valley where Chambarak lies, if you have your own car, or bike.
Berd is relatively small, but mountainous. Walking around can be fun, but the edges of town might require a car or taxi.
There isn't much to see in the town, except for the small fort of Tavush high above the town, but in the rolling hills, there is some incredible scenery and monuments that few tourists have ever made it to.
Nor Varagavank and Khoranashat are the two most impressive monuments in the rolling green hills and mountains of Shamshadin. This corner of Armenia is completely out of the way, and few ever make it out here.
- 1 Nor Varagavank Monastery, Varagavan Village. This monastery on a forested hillside with views of Azerbaijan has one of the most intricate and beautifully carved portals in Armenia. The purple and green stone tiles are each carved differently, and set into a cream-colored church. Nor Varagavank underwent some restoration before the collapse of the Soviet Union stopped work. The greenish hued cream stones draw your eyes up the mountain before you get there, and most of the complex is in good condition. The views are great, the forest good for hikes, the grounds great for picnics, the road not so good. It's breathtaking work, out in the middle of the forest.
- 2 Shkhmuradi Monastery (6km southwest of Tsaghkavan Village). One of the lost monasteries of Armenia, Shkhmuradi is overgrown with lush vegetation, and may be a bit hard to spot in the shadow of an enormous rock. It's an incredible area to hike in, and the small monastery is fun to explore as well.
- 3 Khoranashat Monastery (1 km past Chinari village). 100-200 m from the border with Azerbaijan, this monastery is one of the gems of Shamshadin, but is not usually safe to visit due to Azeri snipers. Khoranashat Monastery is a mauve and gray complex with large interior spaces, beautiful stonework, and interesting carvings.
- 4 Srveghi Vank Monastery (1.5km above Aigehovit Village). This monastery was built with red bricks, which are exposed. If you're in the village, it's worth a visit.
The entire region is a hikers' and bikers' paradise. Camping works anywhere, locals are extremely friendly, and things are quite cheap.
This is one of the home brew mulberry (and other fruit) vodka capitals of Armenia. You should be able to find some for sale at the Shuka in Berd (or Ijevan), but strangely not usually at places that serve alcohol. Don't leave without trying it, but brace yourself for some seriously strong spirits!
- 1 Hotel Berd, 1 Levon Bek Str., Berd, ☏ , . Remodeled Soviet 4-story hotel, near the center of the town. The only real hotel in town, and very affordable.