We can rightly call Sevan the treasure of Armenia. This is one of the largest alpine lakes in the world and the second freshwater alpine lake- after Titicaca.
All other large lakes of the region- Caspian Sea, Van, and Urmia are salty lakes. Sevan has a volcanic origin and is surrounded by volcanic mountains.
Sevan is situated on the northern part of the Armenian volcanic plateau- in the central part of Armenia, in Gegharkunik region. It is situated at an altitude of 1900 m above sea level. Lake Sevan is divided into two parts by an invisible underwater cape- into Big Sevan and a deeper Small Sevan. The lake's Surface area is 1240 km2. 28 rivers and streams flow into the lake, and only one river- Hrazdan starts from Lake Sevan. The mountain ranges of Sevan- Vardenis and Geghama surround the lake from the northern and south-western sides. These mountains create not only a picturesque view around the lake but also, together with the lake provide a cool climate, which is especially valuable in hot Armenian summer's conditions. Due to this, Sevan is one of the most favorite places of Armenians, who come here for summer rest. Generally, in order to emphasize the importance of the lake for the Armenians, we can only mention that Sevan was called and is called the Gegham Sea.
There are lots of legends associated with the origin of the lake and its name. Here's a beautiful legend, about how Sevan was originated. In the lake's place, there was a land covered with forests, flowering meadows, and with fertile fields. Under one of the hills, there was a spring. People, living near to the spring, gathered water from this spring, and then covered it with a large stone. One day, a woman from the village forgot to close the spring with a stone after she had taken water. Water started to run, covered the surroundings and reached the village. People run away from the village cursing a woman- “May the one who forgot to cover the spring turns into a stone”. Immediately, the woman turned into a giant boulder. Becoming a peninsula, water flowed and flowed, filling the place where the village was located. So, according to the legend, Lake Sevan was originated at this place.
Around the perimeter, the shores of the lake differ with a variety of relief, you can see sandy beaches, enjoy the views of the rocky deserted shores, or the overgrown forests descending straight into the water. But, in order to enjoy the whole view of Sevan and the surrounding mountains, you have to climb the mountains. The best view opens from Mount Artanish, which is situated on the north-east shore of the lake. Water in the lake changes its color along with the movement of the sun and at different hours of the day. You can enjoy the view from Sevan Peninsula, which once was an island. From the top of the Peninsula opens a view to the lake, the surrounding mountains, to the horizon and the seagulls soaring above Sevan. One of the most important spiritual centres of Armenia is situated here. Another ancient church -Hayravank, stands on the other- rocky shore of the lake. Here, in Sevan you can also see other historical and pre-historical monuments. Only megalithic fortresses and ancient settlements around Sevan can be counted with several dozen.
In the middle of the XX century, the Soviet authorities decided to shorten the lake area by reducing the water level by 50 meters, as a result of which Big Sevan had to disappear. But after reducing the water level by 16 m, it became clear that Lake Sevan and a unique eco-system wouldn't survive such an intervention. As a result of reducing water in the lake, Sevan Island turned into a Peninsula. And, due to the fact that the decision was canceled and some actions were taken to preserve the water level, it was possible to save this unique lake.