During the medieval period, the territory of Dilijan was known as Hovk, which was a favorite forest and a summer resort for the Arsacid kings to show their skills in hunting. The settlement of Bujur Dili was founded during the 13th century near the area of modern-day Dilijan.
The monasteries of Haghartsin and Goshavank were built between the 10th and 13th centuries. The monastery complexes have quickly developed and have served as cultural and educational centers. Haghartsin is one of the iconic examples of the developing Armenian architecture during the Middle Ages. Many other important religious and educational centers of the Middle Ages have survived in Dilijan, such as the Jukhtak Vank Monastery and Matosavank Monastery.
In 1666, the name “Dilijan” was mentioned for the first time in the notes of the French traveler Jean Chardin. Since the town fell under Russian rule in 1801, the population gradually grew. In 1868 the first public education school was opened in Dilijan.
Cultural development accelerated at the turn of the 20th century. Many theatre groups were organized during the 1890s and the first library of the town was opened in 1908.
In the second half of the 19th century Dilijan’s fame as a resort area grew. Clubs started opening in 1890s. The famous Rotonda was also built, an open-air theatre in that became the favorite place of Dilijanians, Russians based in town and intellectuals of Transcaucasia. Many outstanding people such as H. Abelyan, V. Papazyan, A. Hrachyan and others acted here’’.
The Rotonda opened in 1900 and remained in existence until 1936. Both a number of other timber buildings and the Rotonda fell victim to a landslide. In this same period home construction noticeably developed. Rich men from Tbilisi and other places of Transcaucasia began to build their villas in Dilijan. The house-building traditions and decorative elements of Dilijan and the Molokans living in the area appeared. The style is characterized by a gable tiled roof, wide patterned oriel and whitewashed walls. This style quickly spread all over the Aghstev valley and is in wonderful harmony with Dilijan green landscape.
At the turn of the 20th century blacksmithing, carpet weaving, arts, wood engraving and other folk crafts began to develop in the region. There is a peculiar carpet pattern unique to Dilijian, samples of which can be found in Dilijan museums.
In 1932 the State Theatre was founded in Dilijan. The artistic group managed by the honored artist of culture Hovhannes Sharambeyan functioned at Dilijan library . The School of Fine Arts was then opened and most of its graduates continued their education at the artistic and dramatic colleges of Yerevan, later becoming famous artists. The collection of the Historical and Cultural Preservation Museum includes works by Hovhannes Sharambeyan, M. Ghulian, Gh. Ghazarian, V. Amian, H. Asatrian, E. Haroutyunian and S. Davtian, devoted to the town. Master woodcutters such as Garnk Alikhanian and Revik Hovsepian made a great contribution to folk art development, and young master Grisha Hovsepian is a worthy follower of their works.
The music school founded in 1946 plays an important role in the cultural life of the town (now it is the State College of Arts). Most of its graduates received a lot of awards at various significant festivals.