Aragatsotn, Armenia

Amberd Fortress


Amberd is a 7th century fortress located 6 kilometers away from Byurakan village on the slope of Mount Aragats. Some sources say that this castle used to be summer residence for Armenian kings; others assert that it was property of the noblemen from house of Kamsarakan. While this remains uncertain, it is known for sure that in the 10th century, Amberd was bought and rebuilt by the House of Pahlavuni. Besides fortifying the fortress, Prince Vahram Vachutian Pahlavuni built Surb Astvatsatsin Church in the inner yard of Amberd. In 1236, the fortress was captured and destroyed by Mongols. This beautiful site remained abandoned until the 20th century, when it was reconstructed and opened to public.





Aparan


Aparan (formerly known as Kasagh, Paraznavert and Aparanpol) is a town located in the Aragatsotn province of Armenia. The official population is about 6500 people. Aparan's history is very old; first references to the city were made by Greco-Egyptian writer Claudius Ptolemy in the 2nd century. Modern-day Aparan is built on the eastern slopes of Mount Aragats and due to that city has almost typical Alpine climate. There are a lot of sites of interest near Aparan, including Aparan Alphabet Park, Basilica of the Holy Cross and Monument to the Battle of Aparan.




Armenian Alphabet Monument


The Armenian alphabet monument was built in 2005 to honor the 1600th anniversary of Armenian alphabet creation. 39 giant Armenian letters designed by architect Jim Torosyan are placed near the final resting place of the man who created them, Mesrop Mashtots. The monument is located in Artashavan village, on the eastern slope of Mount Aragats.





Aruch


Aruch is a 7th century Armenian cathedral located in Aragatsotn province of Armenia. According to the manuscripts and wall inscriptions, Prince Grigor Mamikonian, governor of Armenia, constructed the building during the years 670 to 680. Aruch cathedral is one of the most important medieval Armenian architectural constructions. It is also one of the most beautiful ones - Aruch cathedral belongs to the "domed hall" type of churches, and it has large windows decorated with richly ornamented arches.




Ashtarak


Ashtarak is administrative capital of the Aragatsotn province of Armenia. The city's population is around 22.000 people. Ashtarak got its name from Armenian word for tower. Another popular version is that the word "ashtarak" was derived from Ishtar, the Assyrian goddess of fertility. The city is one of the oldest settlements in Armenia (it was part of the Ayrarat province of the Greater Armenia) and has many historical monuments. Probably, the most interesting of them are three ancient churches - Karmravor, Tsiranavor and Spitakavor. The 17th century Bridge on Kasagh River is another very interesting place to see.




Byurakan Observatory


The Byurakan Astrophysical Observatory is located on the slope of the Mount Aragats in the village of the same name. It was founded in 1956 by a Soviet Armenian scientist Victor Ambartsumian and was one of the main astronomy centers of the USSR. Byurakan observatory has discovered special star clusters – stellar associations, more than 1000 flare stars, and dozens of Supernovae etc. Today the observatory is operated by the Armenian Academy of Sciences.




Hovhannavank


Hovhannavank (Surb Hovhannes Vank) is a 13th century Armenian apostolic church monastery located in Aragatsotn province, on the edge of the Kasagh River canyon. The monastery is believed to be dedicated to John the Baptist, the patron saint of Armenia. The construction of Hovhannavank began in 1216 under the patronage of Prince Vache Vachutyan. Afterwards, Vache's son Kurt Vachutyan built a small gavit next to the western wall of the Cathedral. During five centuries (between 12th -17th) Hovhannavank was very important theological and educational center in Armenia. In 1918 the earthquake destroyed the dome and the southern wall of the monastery, but luckily both were completely restored.





Karmravor


The real name of this beautiful 7th century church is Surb Astvatsatsin, but because of the bright color of its dome it is often called Karmravor ("reddish" in Armenian). The church is located on the northeast of the town of Ashtarak, right next to the famous Pascal & Diodato coffee shop. According to the legend there once lived three sisters and the feel in love with the same man, prince Sargis. The two elder sisters decided to refuse from their chances for the happiness in order to help the youngest one. They both committed a suicide by throwing themselves into the gorge. One of the sisters was wearing orange dress and the other a red one. When the youngest sister found out what happened, she also threw herself into the gorge. She was wearing a white dress. Thus, three little churches named after the three sisters' dresses colors appeared at the edge of the gorge. Karmravor Church is also final resting place of the great Armenian poet Gevorg Emin.




Lake Kari


This fantastically beautiful lake is mostly formed by melting ice and snow. Lake Kari is located on a plateau under the southern peak of Mount Aragats, the highest mountain in Armenia (4090 meters). The lake has a perimeter of 1,150 meters. There is a small cozy hotel with a restaurant on the eastern side of Lake Kari.




Mount Aragats


Mount Aragats is a stratovolcano located in Aragatsotn province of Armenia, 40 km northwest from Yerevan. The mountain has four peaks, the highest of which the Northern (4090 meters above the sea level). This makes Mount Aragats the highest point in Armenia. According to the legend the mountain got its name from Armenian hero Ara Geghetsik. Word "Aragats" has probably originated from "Ara" (the name of the hero) and "gah" (throne in Armenian) and means "The throne of Ara".




Mughni


This impressive 14th century monastery located in Aragatsotn province of Armenia was built to keep some of the remains of Saint George (Surb Gevorg). The heart of the monastery is the Surb Gevorg church with its beautiful umbrella type dome. Besides the unique architecture, the monastery is also well known for its interior and especially numerous religious frescos painted by Naghash Hovnatan, who had also decorated the Etchmiadzin Cathedral.




Oshakan


Oshkan is a village located only 8 kilometers away from Ashtarak, in Aragatsotn province of Armenia. In times of the Greater Armenia Oshakan was part of Ayrarat province, the capital of Aragatsotn canton. In modern times, however, the village is best known as a final resting place of Surb Mesrop Mashtots. The legendary creator of Armenian alphabet was buried in the Surb Mesrop Mashtots Cathedral in 440 A.D. Another very popular sites of interest in Oshakan are Didikond Hill, Saint Sion church and Tukh Manuk Shrine with its beautiful khachkars (meaning "cross-stone" in Armenian).




Saghmosavank



The construction of this beautiful monastic complex located the village of Saghmosavan began 1215 and was finished six years after. Saghmosavank is situated at the top of the gorge carved by the Kasagh River. The Church of Zion is the main temple of this complex. It has a lot in common with the Church of Karapet in Hovhannavank. Both churches have cross-winged dome structure with two-floor annexes. The resemblance between these two churches has very simple explanation: they both were built by Prince Vache Vachutyan.




Talin


Talin is a little town located in the Aragatsotn province of Armenia. Its approximate population is around 5400 people. Talin is widely known for its magnificent 7th century Cathedral. Unique design and rich architecture make the Talin Cathedral one of the most impressive churches in Armenia. Other popular places to visit in Talin are Surb Gevorg church and Kuys Sandukht chapel.