Sevan (Armenian: Սեվան; until 1935, Elenovka or Yelenovka Russian: Еленовка) (Persian: سوان ) is a city and a popular resort in Armenia, in the Gegharkunik Province, lies on the northern shores of Lake Sevan. The town is founded on a height of over 1900 meters above sea level, 66 kilometers north-east of the capital Yerevan, and 40 kilometers north of Gavar, the administrative centre of Gegharkunik region. It was founded in 1842 as the Russian village Yelenovka and was known under this name until 1935. Sevan is surrounded by the Sevan National Park which is extended from the north-eastern side of the city to the south-west, while the Lake Sevan forms the natural borders of the town from the east.
The town was founded as Yelenovka in 1842 by exiled Russian schismatics. Since its foundation until 1935, the town of Sevan was known as Yelenovka, named after the wife of Tsar Nicholas I, and was. The town remained all Russian until the end of the 19th century. Only 1 kilometer north of the town, the cyclopean fortress of "Metsep" stands. On a hill just south of the village of Tsamakaberd, to the east of Sevan's centre, a cyclopean fortress is found.
The Sevan peninsula, which is located 3 km east of the town is home to one of the most notable samples of medieval Armenian architecture, the Sevanavank Monastery of the 9th century. The monastery was mainly intended for those monks from Echmiadzin who had sinned. Today, the monastery consists of two churches: Surb Arakelots (Holy Apostles) and Surb Astvatsatsin (Holy Mother of God) with many types of khackars (cross-stones). Initially the monastery was built at the southern shore of a small island. After artificial draining of Lake Sevan, which started in the Joseph Stalin era, the water level fell about 20 meters, and the island was transformed into a peninsula.
Another important religious structure in the peninsula is the Vaskenian Theological Academy of Sevan which was opened in 2004.
Sports and recreation:
Sevan is home to soccer club Akhtamar Sevan. During the brief summer Sevan is a popular beach resort. Many professionals and amateurs visit the city to practice their favourite types of sports on the shores including beach soccer, beach volleyball, wind-surfing and other types of water sports through numerous swimming beaches and facilities along the entire Sevan shore, such as the aqua-park, the horse club, the tennis courts, the mini football and basketball fields.
Sevan National Park was established in 1978 to protect Lake Sevan and the surrounding regions. It occupies the territories of the Lake Sevan comprising the bed of intermontane concavity of Sevan and those freed from its bed. The area comprises 1501 square kilometers, of which 24.9 thousand hectares are lakeside land. It is surrounded with the slopes of mountain chains of Areguni, Geghama, Vardenis, Pambak and Sevan. Some 1600 plant and 330 animal species are found here. The park is divided into 3 zones: a reserve, a recreation zone, and a zone for economic use.
The official census of 2001 showed a decline in the population of Sevan, which went down from 27,000 as was reported in the 1989 census to 21,422. Nowadays the population is around 22,000, most of which are involved in agricultural activities, fish-hunting and some tourism services, especially during the summer season.
The village of Gagarin with its 1,200 dwellers, is also considered a part of the Sevan community, although being formed as a separate village, thus making the population of all the community around 23,200.
The community of Sevan has 8 public education schools with one of them operating in the village of Gagarin. As of 2008, there were 4 nursery schools in Sevan and 1 in Gagarin.
One of the Human Rights Library Network (HRLN) libraries of the Armenian Constitutional Right-Protective Centre (ACRPC) is located in Sevan.