Orbelian Caravanserai: Exploring The Mountains of Armenia

Orbelian Caravanserai is a 14th-century ancient structure, located high up in the mountains of the Vayots Dzor Province in the modern-day republic of Armenia. This is historic site is often regarded as the “most well-preserved caravanserai in Armenia”

Orbelian Caravanserai is nestled among the Vardenis Mountains and it stands at an altitude of 2410 meters (7906 feet).

The view of the surroundings of Orbelian Caravanserai

Like any other caravanserai, Orbelian Caravanserai as well served the purpose of providing shelter, food and protection to the travelers, merchants and caravans passing by.

Up until 2014, the caravanserai was also known as the “Selim Caravanserai”. However, the name was officially changed to “Orbelian”.

Moreover, the name of the Selim Mountain Pass, along which the caravanserai can be found, was changed to Vardenyats Mountain Pass.

Inside the caravanserai
The inscriptions in Armenian carved onto the walls of the entrance hall

The History of the Orbelian Caravanserai

Orbelian Caravanserai was built in the year of 1332, by the prince Chesar Orbelian who was a member of the Orbelian Dynasty, which was a noble family in medieval Armenia.

Inscriptions in Armenian and Persian were discovered at entrance hall of the caravanserai. However, the Persian text had been damaged acutely by the vandals.

The Armenian inscriptions were intact and they read:

“In the name of the Almighty and powerful God, in the year 1332, in the world-rule of Busaid Khan (Ilkhanete ruler at that time), I Chesar son of Prince of Princes Liparit and my mother Ana, grandson of Ivane, and my brothers, handsome as lions, the princes Burtel, Smbat and Elikom of the Orbelian Dynasty, and my wife Khorishah daughter of Vardan [and …] of the Senikarimans, built this spiritual house with our own funds for the salvation of our souls and those of our parents and brothers reposing in Christ, and of my living brothers and sons Sargis, Hovhannes the priest, Kurd and Vardan. We beseech you, passers-by, remember us in Christ. The beginning of the house [took place] in the high-priesthood of Esai, and the end, thanks to his prayers, in the year 1332.”

Some text in Armenian with the dates of 1940 and 1962 on the walls of the structure
A religious painting left on a small pocket on the wall in the caravanserai

Where is Orbelian Caravanserai?

Argun Konuk
Argun Konuk

I am a 25-year-old Turkish travel & history enthusiast, sharing my travel experiences in Turkey and different parts of the world!

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