Metsamor (founded in 1969 as a settlement of the Armenia’s Metsamor Nuclear Power Plant, not far from the historic Metsamor ancient site, in 1995 was granted with the status of a town) is located at a road distance of 35 km west of the capital Yerevan and 6 km south-east of the provincial center Armavir.
The total area is 910.79 ha. The town is located at an average height of 855 meters above sea level. The population of the town is 9000 (on 2017), which is 3.4% of the total population of the region.
The name of the town is derived from the nearby river of Metsamor. It is composed of 2 Armenian words: “mets” meaning great, and “mor” meaning “mother’s”, being the genitive singular form of the word “mayr” meaning mother.
The city is famous for its Armenian nuclear power plant, which covers an area of 300 hectares; it is the sole power plant of this size and capacity in the South Caucasus. The construction of the nuclear power plant was launched in 1969. Unit 1 plant was commissioned on December 22, 1976, while unit 2 was commissioned on January 5, 1980>
However, it was temporarily closed in 1989 after the 1988 Armenian earthquake for safety reasons. Later, economic and transportation blockades imposed by Azerbaijan and its ally Turkey over the Republic of Armenia, created energy shortages in the country, forcing the Armenian government to reopen the plant in 1993. Unit 2 reactor was brought back into operation on October 26, 1995. Nowadays, the Metsamor plant generates 40% of Armenia’s energy needs.The plant was heavily modernized and redeveloped between 2003 and 2015. The construction of a 3rd unit is planned to replace the old reactors by 2026.
The master plan and public buildings were designed in 1967-1986 at the third studio of the Armstateproject Institute (now Armproject BBE) managed by architect Martin Mikaelyan. According to this plan, a waterpressure tower with platforms for observations and a museum dedicated to the atomic energy were going to be constructed on the territory from the public center to the north and up.
Two micro-districts, located on the central axis, are located on two sides of the city: in the east and west. Each micro-district includes several types of residential buildings, designed by the architect beforehand. These buildings are intertwined with each other to create a specific kind of chain. Schools and kindergartens are built in places where is relatively more open space. 5-storey residential buildings are allocated with 9-storey buildings, which are surrounded with service blocks to ensure equal accessibility conditions for both districts.
Due to the collapse of the Soviet Union, the construction of the city was not completed. Only the first micro-district and the main buildings of the center were built and exploited. Secondly, after the collapse of the USSR, the architect redesigned his project, dividing private homes to construction sites.
Metsamor has 2 public and art schools, a sport complex, a hospital and a Saint Lazarus Church (since 2001).
The archaeological site of ancient Metsamor is located about 4 km southeast of the town, near the village of Taronik. The site been populated starting from the 5th millennium BC until the 18th century AD, based on excavations conducted in 1965. Neolithic stone circles dating back to ca. 5000 BC stand within the historical site. In 1966, the tomb field site of Metsamor, the Royal City Observatory and a complex consisting of 7 sanctuaries were opened.
The Museum of History and Archeology at Metsamor Site was opened in 1968. It is the repository of more than 22,000 items, almost all discovered at the site.
Translated by Kristina Ghahramanyan