Aleksan Nersisyan: "I definitely have to do something that will be an amazing example for others"


I am from Aghavnavank - it is important to emphasize this (laughs). I was born and raised here. As a child, I saw the residents of Aghavnavank leave here after graduation, because they think that there is no so-called "brilliant future" here. In fact, this is not the case: Aghavnavank forms a certain system of values in people. Despite this, people leave our village: they go to study, and after graduation they find a job and stay in other cities.

What value system does Aghavnavank form? If you look at school-age children in Aghavnavank and beyond, they have different ideas. That is, local children are more friendly, the warm atmosphere of the village of old times has been preserved here: people help each other, do not pass by indifferently, etc. Ahavnavank has preserved the old flavor of the village. I would like my future children to live and be brought up in Aghavnavank.

It is not true that it is impossible to earn and create in the village. No one will serve you anything on a platter. You can change your environment yourself and bring it in line with your wishes. There is such an expression: "While the villagers are getting poorer in the cities, the citizens are getting richer in the villages" - it is true.


Internally displaced persons from 1988 live in Aghavnavank. My parents came here during the Sumgait pogroms. People from 17 different districts of the country live here. 350 residents in a small village - all speak different dialects and maintain a friendly atmosphere. Wonderful people live here. For example, there are migrants from Gandzak, Dashkesan, Vardashen, from the "village of marshals" Chardakhlu. The village itself is very old, there are traces of a settlement of the 9th century, there is a monastery of Aghavnavank of the 11th century.

Why is it important to me that I am from Aghavnavank? I want to stay here and live and do something that will be an amazing example. Thoughts about the development of the village visited me from a young age. Since 2017, I decided to take tourists to Aghavnavank - I just left ads on Facebook. I note that there was no infrastructure in the village at that time. And I didn't have any money at all.

What activities did I come up with for tourists in the village? I took them to visit the locals: we went to Aunt Anush to bake lavash, went hiking or organized a truck tour, then came to eat in one of the houses of the village. This concept has interested many.


The kitchen of Aghavnavank has its own peculiarities. For example, here they bake bread that is not baked anywhere else. We call it "losh" - it's not pita bread and not a loaf. "Losh" is thicker than pita bread and thinner than a loaf. It is prepared with sourdough and baked in a tandoor, which has the shape of a barrel - this is the tandoor of Vardashentsis. The local tandoor is made waist-high so that a woman can safely work standing up. It is necessarily heated with the help of the wood of homemade fruit trees. This is a very delicious bread - so much so that after a sandwich with "losh" and cheese, you no longer want to eat other dishes.

After a certain time as a guide, I realized that it was possible to open my own small restaurant, because it was inconvenient to take tourists to the villagers' houses every time. So there was a small restaurant "Aghavnatun" (translated from Armenian "house of pigeons"). Initially, it looked pretty bad. Now, when I look at old photos, it becomes funny to me. Even then it was popular - we had a lot of guests. Of course, they were interested in quality food, wine, but most of all - the environment and the history of this place.

Why did I call this place "Aghavnatun"? Pigeons are constantly landing on the roof of our building (laughs). I hope that people, like pigeons, will return to their abandoned homes. Previously, when people asked, "Where are you from?", I said, "From Aghavnavank" - they did not understand where it was. I was very upset: is our village so insignificant that no one knows where it is. Gradually, Aghavnavank became more famous - there were no tourists here at all before, but now there are quite a lot. Many people from Armenia and other countries have started making investments in the village. It pleases.

When the war started in September 2020, I went as a volunteer. War changes a lot of things in the mind. After returning, I decided that there should be serious progress in Aghavnavank - in memory of friends who are no longer with us. I imagined everything in my head how it should be, there just wasn't enough money to do it all.

The main thing was to start. So, on January 4, 2021, I demolished the roof of Aghavnatun. I said to my father, "Let's go tear down the roof, I want to build a second floor." My father thought I was crazy and refused to help me (laughs).

I started the construction of the building only in the fall of 2021. Before that, I had been clearing snow from the roof of Aghavnatun for months - there was a heavy snowfall here until spring - so that it would not melt and get inside. As you can see, construction and repairs are still ongoing. But we are close to completion!


Our guest house Aghavnatun is the first in the village. I hope that many more such projects will appear. And we also have a winery. At first we produced 2500 bottles and sold them in our restaurant, and now we are already exporting. The wine is called "Kinea" (translated from Armenian as "female creation"). When the branding was created, I told the designers to have a female silhouette in one line - so that it reflects the prudence of the Armenian woman, her sincerity, tenderness and strength. I think we did it.

Why "Kinea"? Wine is an alcoholic drink that gives emotions.. If you don't know a person, you drink wine - and it becomes clear to you who produced it: wine reflects everything that is in a person. Despite the fact that wine production is widespread in Armenia, most people choose settlements, vessels, grape varieties, etc. as names. I wanted our name to differ from the generally accepted standards.

Our village compares favorably with many others by the careful attitude of residents to nature. There has never been deforestation here, you will not see stumps here. No one litters in Aghavnavank. The streets are clean, the road to the temple is clean. That's why I say that the locals are special. There is a system of values.


I created jobs for the locals. Before the start of construction, I had 4-5 people working as permanent staff. Everything is on pause now, but we plan to open soon. I will have 6-7 jobs on a permanent basis. During the grape harvest season, we invite large groups of people to work, we have 10 employees each. We go to pick grapes, bring them here and process them. White grapes are harvested from the Tavush region. It is called "lalvari" - it is an endemic variety, the main homeland of which is Noyemberyan. Lalvari has a unique taste and aroma. We bring red grapes from the village of Bambakashat, Armavir region. It is also an endemic variety. In total, we have six varieties of wine.

We have 5 rooms in Aghavnatun, each with its own bathroom, heating and a picturesque view. Downstairs there is a tasting room and a winery, outside there is a restaurant. We came up with the whole design and created it ourselves using natural materials. Once, in the process of pouring wine in precipitation, we noticed different shades of red. We decided to apply it to the wood and see what happens. So there was an idea to make red finishes on the walls. In my opinion, it turned out very well. The decor also includes a vine and grape brushes. We made the lamps from dried and treated with soda and salt mushrooms, there are also bear cherry bushes. We made a glass ceiling in the rooms so that our guests could admire the sky at any time of the day. It is very cozy to sleep here, the walls breathe and there is no need to ventilate the room.


Aghavnatun promises to be a paradise in the middle of the forest. I put my whole soul into this place. I am waiting for everyone to visit and I am sure that here you will be able to relax with your soul and body.

Aleksan Nersisyan - Founder and Director of the Traditional Hospitality Center "Aghavnatun"

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