Tumanyan (also often referred to by the old name of Dzaghidzor) is in Northern Armenia. The cute little town has a nice town square which has stunning views of the Debed Gorge's cliffs. The town square holds the quirky little Tumanyan Matchbox Label Museum, and the Soviet-themed Flying Samovar Cafe.
The town was founded during the Soviet period and some of the town is said to have been built by German prisoners-of-war. The neat little rows of houses, and polished town square speak to the once prosperous past of the city. Multiple stairways climb through the town, connecting the streets for pedestrians. Unemployment and emigration have been massive issues since the collapse of the USSR closed the clothing factory and the massive industrial ceramic factory, which together once employed almost everyone in the town. The population may have dropped to 1/3 of its high at the end days of the USSR.
Although the name officially changed to Tumanyan in 1951, locals in the region are still about as likely to call it by the previous name of Dzaghidzor (gorge of flowers) as they are to call it Tumanyan.
There is a shared taxi providing door to door service from Yerevan to Tumanyan (or the reverse) for 2000 dram. Seats should be booked at least 24 hours in advance. 091-511-811, 096-02-49-49, 077-97-49-49.
A public transport van goes to Vanadzor every day of the week in the morning at 09:00, and departs for Tumanyan again from Vanadzor at 14:00 at the main bus station.
A public transport van goes to Alaverdi each weekday in the morning and returns later in the day.
The central part of town is where most visitors will stick to and is quite easy to get around on foot.
- 1 Odzun Basilica Church, Odzun Village (8 km southwest of Alaverdi). A huge basilica, which has withstood the tests of time for 1,300 years, the church in Odzun is a beauty. There are also some interesting steles, placed there as a memorial, with carvings telling a story, and a large village surrounds the church.
- 2 Horomayri Monastery, near Odzun (this is an incredibly well-camouflaged monastery on the slope of the cliffs, just 1 km south of Odzun. To get there, climbing up from the highway along the Debed River is probably quickest, but hiking south across the cliffs from the last switchback to Odzun is easy as well. The tough and quick way is descending the cliffs from 1 km south of Odzun). The monastery is built in part at the top of the cliff, in part halfway down. At the top, there is a three-chambered chapel. Below, the walls of the canyon form one of the four walls of the structures. There are caves within the monastic complex, khachkars and carvings. St Mark's Church was built by the Princes Zakare and Ivane Zakarian in 1187. The other buildings were built by Abbot Samuel in 1206.
- 3 Kobayr Monastery, Kober Village (12 km south of Alaverdi). A 40-minute walk from the center of Tumanyan to this monastery on the cliffs, with its stunning frescoes and carvings. The partially collapsed church once had magnificently exposed frescoes - which are now being covered again as the complex is restored. The setting is really nice, as are the views. Well worth the 15-min walk up the slippery wet lush, green slopes of the canyon above the tiny hamlet of Kober.
- 4 Ardvi Monastery (St Hovhannes Monastery), Ardvi Village (5-6 km from Odzun village, 9 km from Alaverdi). Monastery built in 8-17th centuries consists of two small churches and a belfry surrounded by low-height walls. There is also a tetrahedral monument, khachkars (cross stones) and ruins of dwellings.
- 1 Tumanyan Matchbox Label Museum, 2nd Street, building 6 (Located in the town square). Quirky little museum with thousands and thousands of matchbox labels from all over the world. The labels come from different decades, with designs and themes that give an interesting perspective into their time and places. Free.
- Soviet Barber Shop. At the corner of the town square is an unmarked old Soviet barber shop where you can get a haircut for 1000 drams. You may need to call the phone number on the door for the barber to come down.
The following are some of the recommended trails connecting to Tumanyan:
- Odzun to Kobayr and Tumanyan. A spectacular hike along the canyon cliffs with great views, especially during afternoon hours. It goes by Horomayri Monastery, built against the cliffs, and then Kobayr, with beautiful frescoes and a spring inside one of the churches. Start your descend down the trail directly from Odzun. 6-7 km, 2 hr.
- Tumanyan to Dsegh. Pass the beautiful lost-feeling ruins of Surb Grigori Bardzrakash monastery on your way up the cliffs to the plain upon which Dsegh lies.
- Tumanyan to Tsater. Hike under and along the cliffs, starting at Tumanyan, and making your way up to Tsater, with stunning views of multiple river valleys along the way. A huge ancient trough fed by a spring coming out of a tunnel, and a cute chapel abutting the cliffs are found just under the village cliffs of Tsater, which also has a small old church with an interesting little bell tower of its own.
Many locals keep bees, and sell their honey to supplement their income. Ask around for some truly natural, unheated honey by the kilo. The price as of August, 2021 is 4,500 dram per kilo. The locals make homemade preserves (muraba) out of many fruits and berries, including sour cherries, cornelian cherries, regular cherries, apricots, quince, raspberries, blackberries, mulberries and many others. Homestill vodka (oghi) is also made from these fruits and others. Locals may sell some of their supply to you if you ask.
The homemade vodka (oghi) is potent and tasty. The local regional beer is called Alaverdi and is only available on tap. The stores carry this.
- 1 Artemi Guesthouse, 2nd Street, house 5, ☏ . 3 bedroom guesthouse in central Tumanyan with guest use of kitchen. Includes breakfast, and owner can make other meals upon request. Owner lives off premises nearby.
- 2 Tumanyan Bathhouse Hostel, 4 Kentronakan Street (At the end of the sports field). Attractive old Soviet bathhouse building converted into a hostel with dorm rooms, privates, common area, kitchen and shared bathrooms. The old character of the building has been preserved, with the old bath check-in window now serving as the reception, and many of the old rooms still having the old tile walls. Games available to play either indoors or on the sports field below the hostel. A stream flows by the common hangout area (with fireflies in the early-mid summer). 3000 per person (varies depending on room).