59 Tumanyan Street, Ալավերդի 1701, Armenia.
253 km from Yerevan.
Recommended: APR to OCT.
|Classification:||Natural Bridge Tufa Deposits Karst Spring Rimstone Pool|
|Dimension:||L=30 m, W=50-60 m, H=100 m, A=1020 m asl.|
|Guided tours:||self guided|
|Address:||Satani Kamurj, 59 Tumanyan Street, Ալավերդի 1701, Tel: +374-44-110863.|
|As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.
|1972||rest-house built at the mineral springs.|
|OCT-2010||cableway across the gorge built.|
Սատանի կամուրջ (Satani Kamurj, Devil’s Bridge) is a natural bridge across Vorotan River which was formed by tufa deposited by a karst spring. The name is a result of the idea, that such a bridge could impossibly be constructed by ordinary humans, so it must be the work of the devil. This type of natural bridge is rare, but definitely a karst feature. Most natural bridges which are karst related are simply the remains of caves which collapsed. Tufa deposits grow, forming protrusions, when the bed of the water changes, they change the direction they gro, but reaching the river they cannot grow where the river flows, becaus the river removes any deposited limestone and keeps the space open. But it can grow above the tree, protruding, and if it is stable enough to not collapse, it may reach the other side of the gorge, like it did here.
Some say a natural bridge is only a bridge, if it is crossed by a road. That's not the official definition, but in this case even this is the case. The road H45 crosses the bridge, and as the bridge is not visible from the road, most people drive the road without even recognizing the unique place. Most cross the bridge on the way to or from the famous nearby Տաթևի վանք (Tat’evi vank’, Tatev monastery). Its only 2 km from the bridge, as the crow flies, but it's a 6 km drive in serpentines and a height difference of 500 m.
The bridge looks like a short through-cave, through which a river flows, it is 100 m height difference from the river to the road on top, 30 m long, 50-60 m wide. It is wide enough for the road and a parking lot, and there is a steep trail down into the gorge, with many stairs and railings. The trail was built at the end of the 19th century, when rich Armenians spent the summer at the bridge, and ends at artificial pools which collect thermal springwater. The river below and even inside the bridge is a popular and spectacular bathing spot. But to get there requires climbing down the rocks with only a steel rope and iron ladders. But it also is a quite spectacular cave, which contains huge rimstone pools and numerous stalactites and flowstones. The springs are karst springs, but it is also thermal water with a temperature of 25 °C, which is warmer than normal karst water. This is the reason why there is so much growth of tufa or travertine. So inside the cave its possible to bathe in huge rimstone pools with warm water or in the river below, which is cooler. It's also possible to cross the bridge swimming, though this works only during low water level, especially in August and September. And another reason why the bridge was thought to be built by the devil: a small and cold river flows into the cave, and comes out as a deep river with warm water.
The Vorotan Gorge is a 500 m long section of the river, where the 100 m high walls are only 20 to 25 m apart, forming a narrow gorge. It is the most impressive, deepest and most scenic gorge in Armenia. The gorge is inhabited by rich wildlife, including Golden Jackal, Badger, Indian Crested Porcupine, occasionally Brown Bear, Gray Wolf, Eurasian Lynx, and Wild Boar. It is also home to various species of reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates. On the eastern side a single land gravel road branches off which leads down to the southern entrance of the gorge. However, there is only the Barev trail through the southern end of the gorge. On the western side a single lane road leads to a newly erected spa north of the bridge
The proximity of the famous monastery is the result why there is another, quite unique way to see the bridge. Its called the Wings of Tatev and is with a length of 5,752 m the world’s longest reversible ropeway. Built in 2010 this cable car runs across the gorge and allows a great view on the gorge, the bridge, and the monastery.