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Lori Fortress

The extant Lori fortress is a medieval fortress, with all the attributes characteristic of this time. But, like many, or almost all, medieval fortresses in Armenia, it was built on the site of an older fortress with its own settlement.

The road to the fortress (settlement) of Lori passes through the city of Stepanavan. The settlement is located five kilometers South-East of the city - on an elevation that is formed by the gorges of the Dzoraget and Urut rivers (Miskhana) and is located at an altitude of 1380m.

Favorable climatic conditions, fertile soil, forests, the presence of minerals (gold, copper and other metals), contributed to the settlement of this area since ancient times. Here were found tombs three thousand years ago, where were buried as representatives of the ruling classes and priests, and commoners.

The artifacts found here speak of advanced metallurgy, pottery, agriculture, and other crafts. 

The Lori metallurgical center was known for producing bronze – the quantity and quality of the metal. More than one archaeological site can not be compared to Lori in terms of the number of metal items found. Already in the middle bronze age, all types of bronze weapons of the region were known here. 

The ancient settlement that has come down to us was one of the suburbs of the Lori settlement. 

The fortress was rebuilt from the ruins of a megalithic fortress by king David Anhakht, around 1005-1020. like most medieval Armenian fortress cities, Lori consisted of a citadel, the city itself, and a suburb. The entire territory of the fortress occupied 33 hectares, of which 8.5 occupied the citadel. Originally founded as a fortress, Lori became the capital of the Tashir-Dzoreget Kingdom in 1065 and the development of the fortress city began. Lori was connected by trade routes with other major cities – Ani, Dvin, and Tphis. 

The fortress was impregnable due to its location and walls built between the gorges of Dzoraget and Uruta. 

The wall of the citadel stretched at the narrowest point of the hill and its length was 214 m. the Thickness and height of the remaining parts of the wall reach 22m and 25m, respectively. The North-Eastern part of the wall is relatively well preserved, with the remains of rectangular and circular crenellated towers. The wall is built of local basalt. To increase seismic stability, bars were placed along the walls, connected to each other in the longitudinal direction. At the North-Eastern edge of the wall, closer to the Urut gorge, was the only entrance to the citadel. The second line of defense stretched 600 meters from the citadel and had a length of 435 m. the Wall was designed to protect the city. The wall has not been preserved, but in its place there are earthen ramparts 1.5-2m high and piles of large, rough basalt stones. Additional protective structures were built in the most vulnerable parts. The fortress had a secret entrance leading to the Urut river. 

On the territory of the fortress there are the remains of two baths, one of which, a large one, is located 80m South of the entrance to the citadel, and the other - on the edge of The dzorageta gorge. Probably, the baths were built in the XI-XII centuries, during the heyday of the fortress city. Water supply to the baths was carried out through clay pipes. The heating of the big bath was carried out on the principle of hypocausts, as in the fortresses of Amberd, Ani and Garni. 

In the Central part of the citadel, a building has been preserved, probably intended for worship. The interior of this building is divided into six parts covered with domes. According to some signs, it can be assumed that the building was a mosque for a certain time.  

Roads leading to the suburb passed through bridges built over the rivers, one of which, on the Urut river, has survived to the present day, and the remains of the other – near the confluence of the two rivers.   

In 1105, the Seljuks took possession of the fortress, and in 1118, the Georgian king David the Builder was annexed to Georgia and transferred to the Orbelian family. Since 1185, the Zakarian family became the owner of Lori. They strengthened the walls, built a number of Church and city buildings, mosti, and so on. 

The fortress suffered during the Mongol attack in 1238 and then passed from hand to hand to the Turks, Persians, and so on until the XVIII century, when the dilapidated fortress lost its significance. In the XVIII century, refugees who were evicted from different places settled in the already destroyed fortress and founded the village of Lori Byrd (Lori Fortress). In 1926-30, residents left the village due to problems with water supply. Since 1969, excavations have been constantly carried out on the territory of the Lori fortress, which provide rich material about the centuries-old history of this place.  

In the gorge, there is an ancient bridge and the remains of a defensive structure, apparently there was one of the secret passages.

Also, a little further from the fortress there are low remains of two other walls that protect the fortress from the invasion of enemies.