Dilijan is the "Little Switzerland" of Armenia. A major summer resort since Soviet times, its refreshing climate is scented with pine. It is set in the deep wooded gorge of the Aghstev River and the town itself is surrounded by a nature preserve bordered by the Minor Caucasus Mountains. About a hundred kilometers from Yerevan, it is easily a day trip, but a stay in the area will allow you to enjoy hiking or exploring the surrounding lakes, forests, springs and villages right up to the Georgian border area for the adventurous. Perhaps you'll come across a Molokan village, a sect of Russian Old Believers who shun technology, much like the Amish in America.
For those interested in history and medieval architecture Dilijan offers a feast! Old monasteries abound in this region and several are well preserved; Haghartsin and Goshavank being the most popular. Hidden in old forest, Hagartsin Monastery took 300 years to build and is a treasure of architectural styles thanks to generations of master masons. Goshavank was constructed in 1191 and the monastery became the country's biggest cultural center in the 13th century. One of the most famous khachkars is here, dating back to 1291. Splendidly carved, its patterned surface seems like lace when seen from a distance.
In the Middle Ages, Goshavank was one of Armenia's most famous cultural centers. The disciples of the monastery later founded new schools and monasteries in different parts of Armenia. The Goshavank monastery complex consists of the St. Virgin's Church (1191-1196), St. Gregory's Church (1208), Illuminators Church (1237-1241), the Library of Manuscripts, dining hall and bell house.
Dilijan's main street – Sharambeyan has been preserved and is maintained as an historic area, as it was in the 19th century. Two-storied tiled wooden homes with carved balconies are preserved including one designated a museum. Here you'll find craftsmen's' workshops, a museum and a gallery. This is the place to find expert woodworking and carpet weaving and a chance to savor traditional Armenian fare in a setting of Old World charm.