Vacation Armenian Style: Falling in love with Dilijan at the Casanov
July 30, 2004

Vacation Armenian Style: Falling in love with Dilijan at the Casanova

By Zhanna Alexanyan
ArmeniaNow reporter

The snake-like road that passes through Dilijan sometimes offers
glimpses of buildings. Most, though, are unseen behind the thick green
cover of nature that has made the town a favored holiday retreat.
Here, in the Tavush region, land slides leave trees askew, jutting out
toward the road at unexpected and amusing angles, as if the forest were
drunk. Passing four kilometers of that road, and 95 kilometers north of
Yerevan, you reach the Casanova Guest House.

Veranda with a view . . .
The three-story stone building offers one of Dilijan’s best views of the
Aghstev river valley and of the Pat-sar Mountain. There is little to do in
Dilijan except enjoy such views. And that is exactly the point.
But in a region of restaurants and guest houses named for historic Armenian
figures, why Casanova?
It is actually the name of one of the verandas, given years ago by a guest
who, after an evening in the guest house bragged to its owner: “Doctor, last
night I think Casanova’s spirit, his passion, penetrated into my body . . .”
Well, claims of romantic enhancement aside, nature lovers may indeed feel
inspired by the rest offered here.
While natural beauty maintains itself outside, inside guests are treated to
artwork, such as the upcoming 40-piece exhibit of Japanese paintings
expected to open in September.
What is now “Casanova”, started out as a rest house for scientist Gerasim
Aghajanyan. Soviet authorities gave the doctor the property as reward for
his contribution to balneology (the study of mineral bathing for therapy),
which helped to enhance the region’s reputation for mineral baths, etc.
”My father would come here to read lectures and examine patients. This
tradition was also passed to me,” says Ivan Aghajanyan, chief urologist of
the Garo Tertzakian Urology Center in Yerevan. “Sometimes I come to Dilijan
to perform free treatment. Dilijan needs charity. People don’t have money
for receiving medical treatment. We must develop this city. It is not enough
just to say that Dilijan is the Armenian Davos.”

. . . on both sides
Still, it is the “Armenian Davos” that for decades has attracted guests.
And many have found the Casanova guest house to be the perfect choice for
rest. It is designed for six guests and includes a gym and sauna. It also
has a well-stocked bar that includes the best Armenian cognacs, plus aged
“It is a health hotel, tired people must come here and regain their strength
very quickly,” says Aghajanyan, enjoying a 12-year old Scotch. “If a visitor
pays, then he must leave this place recovered and fresh.”
Health food is a part of good rest.
”I am a doctor and I want my business to be proper. Food should be given to
visitors in accordance with caloric content so that it couldn’t damage
people’s heart and liver. Here people will be given food with low caloric
content and rich of vitamins,” says Aghajanyan.
The climate is soft in Dilijan. Evenings are calm with gentle wind.
An anti-tuberculosis dispensary was built in the town in 1921. And in 1968
Soviet authorities made a decision to turn Dilijan into a mountain health
resort. And, unlike in other cities and towns, the Soviets spared Dilijan
from industrialization so that its air might stay clean. Aghajanyan hopes to
maintain the health-conscious attitude by putting a urology center in
Dilijan and says he would allow members of charity organizations to stay
free at the Casanova.