Dilijan (Armenian: Դիլիջան; Persian and Urdu: دیلیجان also Romanized as Dilizhan, Dilichan, Dilidjan, and Tilichan) is a spa town in Armenia, located in the northern Armenian province of Tavush. It is one of the most important resorts of Armenia, situated in Dilijan National Park. The forested and reclusive city is home to numerous Armenian artists, composers, and filmmakers and features some traditional Armenian architecture. The Sharambeyan street in the centre, has been preserved and maintained as an "old town," complete with craftsman's workshops, a gallery and a museum. Hiking, mountain biking, and picnicking are popular recreational activities. The city's population is steadily declining from the 23,700 reported in the 1989 census, to 14,846 in the 2001 census, with an estimated 15,600 by 2009.
It is planned by the Armenian government to turn Dilijan into a financial capital of the whole region.
Dilijan town lies on the banks of Aghstev River with a length of more than 20 kilometers and at a height of 1500 meters above sea level. The valley is surrounded with the Lesser Caucasus mountains from the north, and the Semyonovka mountain pass from the south. The mountainous areas are all covered with thick forests which occupy a territory of more than 34,000 hectares. Reaching the highest peaks of the mountains, the forests turn to Alpine meadows. In addition to Aghsdev River, two more streams are flowing through Dilijan, Golovinka and Dilijanka rivers.
Nestled in the heart of the forests of northern Armenia, Dilijan is the epitome of quaint. Home to many famous composers, artists and cinematographers, this reclusive town of 23,000 boasts a historic refurbished city center with rows of houses with typical early twentieth century interiors and others displaying handicrafts or musical instruments. This popular vacation destination is like a piece of Switerzerland sequestered within the Armenian highlands.
According to some archaeological researches conducted in the 70s of the 19th century, the human kind has been living in the region since the Late Bronze and the Early Iron Ages. During the ancient times, the territory of Dilijan was known with the name of Hovk. Hovk was a favourite forest for the Arsacid kings to show their abilities in hunting. It is known that a settlement called Bujur Dili was founded in the 13th century, not far away from the current area of Dilijan town. In 1666, the name Dilijan was first mentioned in the notes of the French traveller Jean Chardin.
Starting from 1801, under the Russian rule, the town witnessed a major growth in its population. The first Armenian school in Dilijan was opened in 1868, while the first Russian school was opened in 1894. The town inaugurated its public library in 1908.
For the enrichment of the natural life of Dilijan, State Forest Reserve has been organized in 1958 by the decision of the Armenian SSR government. Later on in 2002 Dilijan National Park has been created on its basis. The woodland covers 94 percent of the park territory and it has about 40 types of trees and 18 types of bushes. Main tree types are oak, beech, hornbeam and many types of broad-leaved trees such as maples, willows, lindens, elms and others.The national park has a very rich fauna. Here one can meet mammals such as brown bear, wolf, marten, otter, lynx, sylvan cat, Persian squirrel, sylvan dormouse, hedgehog, chamois, european red deer, wild hog and other types. Typical avifauna representatives are pheasants, quails, common partridges, caspian turkeys, culvers, bald eagles, lammergeyers, pygmy eagles, golden eagles, hawks and others.The Lake Parz is one of Dilijan's most attractive natural sites. It is situated in the northern part of the town at a height of 1400 meters. It has an area of 2 hectares and an average depth of 8 meters. To the east of the Lake Parz, at a distance of 3 kilometers from Gosh village, the Lake of Tzlka (Gosh) is located at a height of 1500 meters. The Aghstev River with its tributaries gives peculiar charm to the general town landscape.
Dilijan has a rich historical and cultural heritage. During excavations in the prehistoric cemeteries of Golovino and Papanino near Dilijan, bronze items of almost three thousand years old were found, including armours, daggers, pitchers, ear-rings and others were found. All those items could be found either in Dilijan museum or in the Hermitage Museum.
Dilijan's most popular religious site is the Haghartsin Monastery, which is 12 kilometers east of the city and consists of three churches and a dining hall. The monastery was built in the Middle Ages. The oldest of the monastery's churches, St. Gregory, was built in the 10th century. The other churches, St. Stepanos and St. Astvatsatsin, date back to the 13th century. There are a number of khachkars in the complex.
Goshavank Monastery (or Nor Getik) of the 12th century was one of Armenia's prominent theological centres in the Middle Ages. It is 23 kilometers away from Dilijan.
Jukhtak Monastery of the 12 century, is 3 kilometers north-west of Dilijan. It has two separate churches, Surp Astvatsatsin and Surp Grigor with their surrounding cemeteries. The half-ruined Matosavank Monastery (12-13th centuries) is located near Jukhtak Monastery deep in the forested areas.
The Armenian government has applied a new vital plan since 2009 to turn Dilijan into a developed financial centre for the region. According to the officials, a considerable amount of operations of the Central Bank of Armenia will move the northern town-resort of Dilijan starting from 2013. Currently, many significant financial and cultural institutions are under construction such as the Dilijan regional financial and banking centre, the International School of Dilijan, the Old Dilijan-Tufenkian Centre and the modern building of Dilijan theatre.
Dilijan is among the most favorite destinations for tourists who are visiting Armenia. It has numerous luxury hotels and sanatoriums of high level, which create the chance to enjoy the beauty of nature and the historical sites. The town is also rich in its mineral curing water fountains.
There is an outdoor amphitheatre in the centre of Dilijan.
Dilijan has a municipal football stadium with a capacity of 2,000 spectators. The stadium which is called Dilijan City Stadium is the venue of the Armenian Premier League club Impuls FC Dilijan's home games.
The town has 5 public education schools and 6 kindergartens with 2250 students and 350 children respectively. A school of musics and another one for arts are also operating. Dilijan has a branch of Yerevan State Academy of Fine Arts and a branch of Yerevan University of Management and Information Technologies. There are 3 state intermediate colleges as well (medical, arts and crafts).
The third Human Rights Library Network (HRLN) library of the Armenian Constitutional Right-Protective Centre (ACRPC) was established in Dilijan in 1998.
"Dilijan International School of Armenia" is scheduled to be one of the greatest investments of the educational system in Armenia. It was announced that around US$ 100 million are to be invested. Dilijan International School is intended to become the first top level international boarding school in Armenia.