Alaverdi (Armenian: Ալավերդի) (Persian and Urdu: اللهوردی) formerly Manes, is a city situated in the northeast of the Armenian province of Lori, not far from the border with Georgia. This mining and industrial city with approximately 16,500 inhabitants -down from 26,300 of the 1989- situated at the bottom of the Debed river gorge, is one of the commercial and industrial centres of the district.
At the end of the 18th century when the area was annexed to the Russian Empire, the Argoutinski-Dolgoruki family "imported" many Greek miners to start exploiting the copper mines in the area. Soon, about a quarter of all Russian copper was mined in Alaverdi. At the end of the 19th century, the concession to exploit the mine was sold to the French. During control by the Soviet Union through the 20th century, the city acquired today's typical socialist industrial appearance. The mine and metallurgical complex are now privatised and serve as a major employer for the city and its surroundings.
Alaverdi is situated at the only direct rail link between Armenia and Georgia, and one of the several important road connections between the two countries also passes through the city.
Alaverdi has a medieval 12th century bridge, however many important cultural monuments are situated in the vicinity of the town, including the monasteries of Sanahin, Haghpat, Kobayr, Akhtala, Khorakert, Khuchap, Ardvi and a basilica in Odzun.
Name of Alaverdi comes from "Al-vert" which means red stone. This fact also proves that now there are lot of stone mines on mountain Lalvar near Alaverdi where it is extracted so called "karmir qar"/red-stone/.
It was reported that city will be renamed "Lalvar" as proposed by historians, as an effort to re-establish the old Armenian name of the region.
During the Georgian rule over Alaverdi region, the Alaverdi Copper Smelter was founded in 1770, by the order of Georgian king Erekle II. At the end of the 19th century, the region was flourished even more through the new Russian and French investments in metallurgical business. In 1903, the amount of copper produced in Alaverdi region made around 13% of the total copper production in the Russian Empire.
By the end of 1909, the hydropower plant of Debed river was inaugurated in order to provide the developing metallurgical plants with sufficient energy.
During the Soviet rule, massive construction works were carried on in Alaverdi, including the surrounding areas of Sanahin and other villages. The Soviets made significant steps for the enlargement of the metallurgical industry in the region, which has turned Alaverdi from a small industrial settlement to a modern town within Soviet Armenia.
Recently, new plans were introduced for the expansion of copper production in Alaverdi Smelter and the development of new copper mines within the project "Armenian Copper".
Currently, 500 workers and administrative staff are employed in the copper factory.
The first educational centre in the area of Alaverdi was the University of Sanahin, which was opened in 966 AD by the efforts of the Bagratuni queen Khosrovanush.
Currently, Alaverdi is considered an important educational centre for the region. As of 2009, 10 public education schools are operating in the town with nearly 2,000 students, and 6 nursery schools with more than 400 kids.
The State College of Alaverdi offers an opportunity in pedagogical studies with the duration of two years while the Tumanynan branch of the Northern University, offers studyings in Nursing and Dental prosthesis.
A music academy named after Romanos Melikian and 3 schools of art are functioning in Alaverdi, with a total number of 600 students (2009).
The Alaverdi cultural complex was founded in 1997. It consists of a large theatre hall and a big public library.
In 2001, the church of Surb Grigor of Narek was opened in Alaverdi by the efforts of its citizens.
The house-museum of Hovhannes Tumanyan is located in Dsegh village near Alaverdi.
In 1936, Alaverdi's Metalurg football team participated in the first ever USSR football championship, representing the Armenian SSR, but with no any memorable achievements. After the independent, the club Debed Alaverdi participated in the Armenian Premier League for the 1992 season. Unfortunately the club dissolved in 1993 and is currently inactive from professional football.
In Soviet years the town was famous in the Armenian SSR for its strong handball players. Nowadays, a training academy named after USSR's handball star of the 1960s; Oleg Gorbunov, is still operating in the town since 1962. The school also has young basketball and wrestling teams with more than 100 kids.
In 2006 the town celebrated the inauguration of chess and boxing training schools.
In general, the sport organisations in Alaverdi are very poor but some steps are being taken by the Football Federation of Armenia towards the promotion of the game in the region of Lori, therefore the town's only stadium; the Alaverdi City Stadium, which is located deep in the forests, was recently turned into an all seater stadium with a capacity of 1,000 seats to serve some young football teams and sport-schools.
The Dzissen Kempo Federation of Armenia has an active branch in the town.
The area of Alaverdi city and the surrounding region is rich in historical monuments and gorgeous nature. The city itself is built in the valley of Debed river, surrounded with high mountains and green forests. Plenty of samples of Armenian architectural heritage are located near the city of Alaverdi:
- Odzun Church of the 5th century
- Horomayr Monastery of the 7th century near Odzun village
- Surb Hovhannes church of Ardvi (8th century)
- Kaytson Castle of the 9th century located near the shores of Debed river
- Sanahin Monastery founded in the 10th century
- Haghpat Monastery of the 10th century
- Church of the Forty Martyrs (11th century)
- The medieval bridge of Sanahin (near Alaverdi), built in 1195
- Kayan Berd, a black fortress built in 1233 near Alaverdi.