About Armenia

ARMAVIR REGION
ECHMIADZIN – The town of Echmiadzin  is a sacred place for the Armenians all over the world. The Mother See of the Armenian Apostolic Church and the residence of the Catholicos of All Armenians are situated in the town of Echmiadzin.
According to historians, Gregory the Illuminator had a vision of Jesus Christ who came down to Vagharshapat and with a golden hammer pointed to the place where the Mother Cathedral was to be built. For this reason, in 301-303 A.D. on the initiative of Trdat III and Gregory the Illuminator the best-known and one of the oldest Armenian Churches, Saint Echmiadzin (,,The place where the only begotten descended,,) was built. Echmiadzin is one of the first ancient and beautiful churches in the Christian world. Holy Echmiadzin has been the Mother See of the Armenian Church, the spiritual, cultural and, in the past, the political center of Armenia. Here is the residence of the Catholicos of All Armenians, the Gevorgian Theological Seminary, the Library and the Treasury. The monastic complex of Holy Echmiadzin occupies a large territory and has a beautiful architecture. Here, in this ,,Armenian Jerusalem,, all the major ceremonies of the Armenian Apostolic Church are held. 
THE CHURCH OF SAINT RIPSIME – in the eastern outskirts of the town is the famous Cathedral of Ripsime. The church of Saint Ripsime represents the perfect type of cruciform plan and central cupola’s Armenian church, with its square sacristies at each of its four corners. This cathedral was built by the Catholikos Comitas in 618. The central-plan composition is the result of experimental work on the part of several generations of Armenian architects. St. Hripsime church  was built on the sepulcher of a Christian nun Hripsime who fled from the Roman Empire and was killed in Armenia. This amazing building has stood upright from the day of its construction making it one of the oldest standing churches in the world 
THE CATHEDRAL OF SAINT GAYANE –was built by Ezr Catholicos in 630 . In 1652 the walls and roofing were renovated. In 1683 next to the facade a gallery (where remarkable church representatives were buried) was added. This church is an example of a vaulted basilica type. The constructive elements are (arches, quarters, tromps) created with great skill. On both sides of the main altar there are entries. The windows of the church are characteristic to the 7c. Gayane church, well known because of its simplicity and architectural-artistic style, impressive interior and convincing spatial forms.
THE CHURCH OF SHOGAKAT – The Shoghakat church is a mid-century architectural monument located in Echmiadzin. It was built at the location where the «rays dripped» upon Christian Hripsime’s martyrs. The current church («vaulted hall» type) was constructed in 1694 from the reddish black shaved toof.The scheme’s proportions and forms are characteristic to the mid-century monumental architecture, that is why, supposedly, it was erected on the foundation of the structure (dating back to the 6-7cc). There is a «hall-gallery» attached to the church from the west.
To the south-west of the Shoghakat church, after an excavation, ruins of the church (4c.) made with shaved toof were discovered. There is semi-circular base attached to the outside south wall, which supposedly completed the column-gallery. The entrances are from the both the west and the south. 
THE CATHEDRAL OF ZVARTNOTS –  This historical site once was a famous worshiping center in the pre-Christian period. During the excavation, there were discovered the basis of the Urartian cathedral, sacrificial altar, the cuneiform inscription written by Urartian king Rusa 2nd which mentioned about the construction of a canal which was built from the river Hrazdan.The ancient pagan temple was dedicated to the God Tir who was a God of written language and schooling. After adopting the Christianity the pagan center was turned into the Urartian building. And in 5-6th centuries, was built single-naved basilica.
According to the Historian Sebeos, the name of the cathedral came from the Armenian word "Zvartun" which means the heavenly soldier, thus the word means a group of the angels. The crowd of Heavenly Soldiers appeared in a dream of Gregory Enlightener. The other historians mentioned the cathedral as the Saint Grigor. Sebeos mentioned in his recordings that in this church regularly met Armenian King Trdat and Gregory. But the most interesting fact is that there are no historical recordings of the Zvartnots's destruction.Zvartnots Cathedral was built in 643-652 by Nerses Tayetsi Catholicos. The whole temple was flooded with light and when the sunlight was coming in through 80 arch and 32 round windows creating an impression of angels.But it stood until the end of the 10th century. In the beginning of the 20th century, the ruined church was underground until the excavations of Khachik Dadyan in 1901.In 1989 the cathedral was added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List.
METSAMOR – Metsamor has a history of 7000-years and it is one of the old towns of the world. Metsamor is an ancient fortress in the center of the Ararat valley, lying some 35 km Southwest of Yerevan. In Metsamor the regular excavation works which began in 1965 and is still in progress has yielded cultural layers dating to the Aeneolithic , three periods of the Bronze Age (early, middle and late), the early and developed Iron Age (Pre-Urartian, Urartian and Antique) and the Middle Ages.
SARDARAPAT – moving on along the road from Echmiadzin to the West through the Ararat valley, you will be able to visit Sardarapat, a memorial complex and a museum. Here, in 1918, the Armenian Army gloriously defeated the Turkish invaders. There is a museum of Ethnography is in the memorial complex Sardarapat, where a wide collection representing the traditional way of life and culture of the nation is displayed.
 
ARAGATSOTN REGION
Oshakan church is built over the grave of Mesrop Mashtots, the inventor of the Armenian alphabet, and one of the greatest benefactors of the Armenian people. There are few monuments from different centuries on the territory of the village. The excavations of Didi Kond hill in the center of the village revealed archeological monuments dated back to 2nd millennium BC -5th century AD.
 (Stone Lake)Once there was a conflict between Mountain Ararat and her sister Mountain Aragats over which one of them is more lovely and bigger, according to an old tradition. The mountain Maruta cursed them both in rage and separated them forever after vain efforts to reconcile them. As a consequence, on top of Aragats, a lake of tears developed. Lake Kari’s name (“Kari Lich”) is translated as “Stone Lake” from Armenian. It is situated at an altitude of 3200 meters and surrounded by snow most of the moment, so the lake’s water is quite cold. But swimming there is still feasible. The Institute of Physics laboratory founded in 1942 is located nearby where cosmic rays are studied. 
KARMRAVOR   is  is the only one in Armenia preserved with its original roofing. It is located at the Ashtarak’s north-eastern highest place . It was constructed in VIIc.  From inside and outside Karmravor was a cruciform with vaulted ceilings. Inside there are some remnants of inscriptions. Thanks to the masterly chosen design, it feels as if the whole construction is made from one monolith. Around Karmravor there are many interesting cross-stones, the most popular being «Tzak-Kar», which received its name because of the hole in the pedestal (1268). In the old times Karmravor was a convent-monastery. Preserved till nowadays there are two remarkable relics. One of them is an Indian picturesque curtain, which was brought in 1798-1799 from Calcutta, and the other - the Shukhonts handwritten Bible, which was gifted by Shukhyants Ashtarak family.There is also a grave of the Armenian great poet Gevorg Emin.
 
  1. MARINE – The St.Marine church is located in the north-eastern part of Ashtarak . It was built in 1281 from brownish shaved toof. Its inside is erected from cruciform and is a rectangular vault from outside. The church has emphasized rising symmetry and is simple in development. The vault’s drum is circle-like from the inside and dectagon from outside. During 1838, a bell-tower was built on the south wing of the roof. The remnants of the wall around the church were made with massive rough bazalt.
 Byurakan is the cradle of astronomical achievements of the Armenian nation. The observatory was established in 1946, it is located at 1500 altitude above sea level. It is one of the largest centers in the world, and named after academician Victor Hambartsumyan. The observatory has a one meter diameter Schmidt Telescope, one of the largest ones in the world, as well as a 53 centimeter Schmidt Telescope and 50 and 40 centimeter mirror telescopes. The main directions of the scientific research are: Galaxy and its components , radio-astronomy, astral cosmogony, extra-galactic astronomy. The Byurakan Observatory is a branch of the National Academy of Sciences.
TEGHER MONASTERY  complex of the 13th century is located in the Tegher village.The vaulted church and the bell-tower are part of the monastery. According to the inscription the church was built by Mamakhatun (wife of king Vache Vachutyan), and by the architect Aghbayrik. The monastery is located on top of a small hill and is made of dark grey bazalt. To the west of the monastery, attached is a bell-tower with a size larger than that of the church. Original and unique is the north-western and south-western corners of the bell-tower’s roof with its vaulted altars. Those altars are in memorium of those who passed away, and who were buried in the bell-tower.The Tegher village was well-known because of its plentyful healing herbs, grown on its territory, and that’s the reason for its name «Tegher» (degher - medicine).
AMBERD   The history of Amberd goes back to the 7th century when Armenian princes Kamsarakan started there construction of the fortress. With the time, a small outpost turned into a well-protected fortress. However, the Kamsarakans had to pass this strategic point to another Armenian noble family Pahlavuni, who made it their residence. The great commander Vagram Pahlavuni, who lived in the 11th century, ordered to fortify the complex of Amberd and build there a church later named in his honor – Vagramashen.
Despite excellent protection of Amberd, it was invaded by Seljuks coming from Central Asia in the end of the 11th century. Later Mongols captured and destroyed this beautiful fortress. No later than a century, Amberd was reconstructed and served as an outpost for several hundreds of years, however today it has only its church preserved.The architecture of Amberd is simple. Walls of the fortress are made of massive basalt tiles that once served to protect from shells and siege weapons. In some places, thickness of walls reaches 4 meters. Foundations of construction and few walls had been preserved inside the fortress. Church Vagramashen was built in 1026 and reached our days practically in its original state. Church architecture is ascetic, as well as the entire fortress and its only exquisite detail is the southern door.Apart from that, archaeological research in the fortress of Amberd discovered some mysteries from its past. During the excavations, numerous underground walkways leading to rivers were found. It is now known that there used to be a water-supply system. But the most interesting finding in Amberd was Armenian lavash, dating back to the 12th century that was still edible.
AGHTSK – The village of Aghtsk  has been known by its tomb, which was constructed in the middle of 5th century. It preserved the ashes of the pagan and Christian kings of the Arshakuni dynasty. Referring to Pavstos Byuzand, the persian king Shapuh II, while occupying Ani-Kamakh, discovered there the tombs of Armenian kings. He tried to move them to Persia, because according to pagan - Persian beliefs, - tombs that contain the bones of the kings, their fame, fate and courage will follow too. However, general Vasak Mamikonyan, after defeating the persian army in Ararat field, took the relics back and burried them in Aghtsk.There, they have been preserved in a two-storey stonemade underground part of the tomb (length- 3.75m., width- 2,65m., height-2.60m.) with cruciform foundation. The tomb has vaulted cover, and inside it has horse-shoe-like arcs.
The monastery of Mughni has been a renowned holy site housing the relics of the famous Christian saint, St. George, and was mentioned for the first time in 1278 and 1280 in two manuscripts. The monastery flourished in the late medieval period when St. George’s church was built, which became one of the most celebrated architectural structures of the 17th century. 
HOVHANAVANK – this architectural complex is in the village of Hovhanavank in the Ashtarak district and it can be viewed from a remote distance. Its buildings rise along the edge of the picturesque canyon of the Kasakh river . It was built adjacent to a single naved church erected in the 5 th century. The later constructions dating from the 13 th century.
SAGHMOSAVANAK – They say that once, Saint Gregory moved to the Mount Aragats and built two chapels. In one of them were classes of psalm-singing and that’s why it was called Saghmosac chapel. “Saghmos” is Armenian word which means “psalm” - a spiritual song or lyric poetry. But actually, Sagmosavank is mentioned in historical sources only at the end of 12th century. The main church of the Saghmosavank monastery was built in 1215.
The complex was a famous educational center  and one  of the famous works of this center was  "Tcharentir' copied by Markos and Mkhitar writers. In 1267 Vardan Areveltsi founded a school where Gevorg Skevratsi copied "Tonapatchar" collection(nowadays is in Etchmiadzin cathedral). The monastery complex includes Saint Sion, and Saint Astvatsatsin churches, courtyard and writing house.
St Sion is the main church of the complex  founded  in 1215. It belongs to domed-style churches which has a rectangular hall with two two-storey vestries. The entrance is from the western part. The church facades are decorated with "Armenian holes"
The courtyard of the church is located in the western part of St.Sion. It is four-pillar building having an interesting roof system and considered to be a unique sample of Armenian architecture. The writing house is located in the main church and in the south-eastern part of the courtyard.
The founders were Kurd Vachuttyan and his wife Khorishah in honor of their dead daughter Mamakhatun in 1255. In the construction of the plan, this house differs from other writing centers. In the eastern part of the house is the altar and on the walls are holes. The only entrance of the house is from the western part.
St. Astvatsatsin Church is located in the southern part of St.Sion, near at the eastern part of the writing house. It is vaulted building and has a rectangular base with arched altar. The cemetery or churchyard is located in the northern part of the complex with many rare khachkars and monuments. Once the complex was surrounded by semi-circular pyramid gates.
APARAN – is one of the towns of the Aragatsotn region, which was first mentioned in the 2 nd century under the name KASAKH. In the 10 th century it was named APARAN (PALACE). Aparan was one of the summer residences of the pre- Christian kings. The basilica KASAKH is one of the oldest pre-Christian structures in Armenia, built no later than the beginning of the 4 th century. 
MASTARA – St. Hovhannes Church, also known as Mastara, is situated in the village of Mastara. The relics of St. John the Baptist carried from Caesarea by Grigor the Illuminator are buried here, according to historical sources. The village is therefore called Mastara (“mas” is translated as “relics” from Armenian). It was constructed in the VII century by priest Grigor under Bishop Teodoros Gnuni, according to the inscriptions preserved on the church’s south and east walls. However, judging by church architecture, it was constructed previously, in the fifth century, and only rebuilt in the seventh century. Several times the church of St Hovhannes in Mastara was rebuilt.
The exact date the mother cathedral of Talin or Kathoghike church was constructed is unknown and historical sources do not provide any evidence. Historians suggest that the church was built  in the second half of the 7th century. Presumably it was founded in the period when the Armenian Church was forced to adopt the Chalcedonian concepts. Unlike other churches of the same period, Talin's Cathedral is richly decorated. Talin's Cathedral was decorated with frescoes, however only a small part of them survived. Jesus Christ, Saint Mary and other saints were pictured above the main altar. The most famous frescoes are 'Lord in Majesty' and 'Entrance to Jerusalem'. Not far from Kathoghike church stands the church of Nerses Kamsarakan. According to the writing left its walls, St.Astvatsatsin was built in the 7th century by Nerses Patrik Kamsarakan and therefore is often referred to as Nerses Kamsarakan's church. The inscription also says that Kamsarakan built this church for the prosperity of his wife and son. The church is built from reddish tuff, with humble ornaments and a notable cornice. Kathoghike was severely damaged during earthquakes in 1840 and 1931 and its dome was destroyed. During various renovations and excavations remains of a single nave chapel were discovered. Supposedly, there was a cemetery at the lowest level of this building. Tetrahedral monuments and high-reliefs were also discovered here.
AROUJ –The Arutch temple (St.Grigor church) is a remarkable monument of Armenian architecture. By the dictate of Ghevond, Hovhannes Draskhanakerttsi and Stepanos Taronetsi, it was built by Grigor Mamikonyan in the middle of VII century. From inside the temple was covered with frescos dated during VIIc. (it is now mostly damaged), which were representing the Resurrection scene. At the vault of main altar (approx. 7m.) there is an image of Jesus, with a parchment in his left hand. Under the pedestal the name of the painter is scribed as Stepanos. It is also mentioned in the printed sources about the palace, constructed once again by Grigor Mamikonyan, which is situated at the south-eastern part of the temple. The palace has its rediscovery during 1941-1951, (period of excavation). This remarkable monument of the early mid-century architecture consists of two separate buildings, one of which has columns and which reminds us of its details and form of scheme consisting in the Catholicos’s palace in Dvin. The second building is located to the east of the first one. There are also remnants of the bronze century’s tombs, the old fortress and caravan-house preserved till today in Arutch.
One kilometer to the north-east from Byurakan  is the Artavazik church (6th century), with the cruciformed structure vault. The eastern part of which is a semi-circular and the others are rectangular. In the north-eastern corner the entry is not very large. Above the western wing of the church there is an added bell-tower (XIIIc). All the other wings were ruined.
At the eastern part of the church there is a cross-stone dated during the XIIIc.
 Astvatznkal mid-century monastery complex’s oldest construction, basilica church of Vc. has a horse-shoe bows and inner wall-columns with ancient type anchors. The roofing was ruined.
The next construction - the big «Catoghike» church is rectangular shaped from the outside and from the inside has a cruciform shape, and at the four corners it has the entry. Four columns are supporting the stalactite vault. On the south-east there is a separate column with an inscription, which says: «Hovannes… remember…», supposedly the name of the architect. According to «Catoghike» 1244’ inscription, the benefactors of the monuments were Vachutyan Kurd king and his wife Khorishah. There is also a small bell-tower (XIIIc.) with a cross-stone, which was used as a mausoleum. In the monastery yard there are the remnants of the cross and tomb-stones.
Near the village of Dashtadem, there is a famous monastery known as St.Khristаfor by the historical place named Kagheni within that territory, there is also a small 7th century church. To the north there is a square three storey bell-tower, and ruins of the habitats of the previous generations. There also exist fort walls made of jagged stones and a cemetery with cross-stones dating back 10th to the 14th centuries. To the south, the church appears to have a vault like a drum at its base. The sphere within the hollow mass is shaped like a drum with sails that transcend the drums. The south entrance is the only gateway implemented in the 7th century, the walls of which consist of black tuff which has protected the signatures of the masonry masters. The church was entirely overhauled in the year 1980.There is a vast complex of the Kaghenis castle on the south of the village. The date of the establishment is unknown. Estimates are that it was built during the Urartu era, during the reign of the Kamsars princes. Mention of the Kaghenis castle was made during the first campaigns of Arabs in Armenia during the 7th century. The old part of the castle - a triangular tower comprised of smooth shaved stones - was built in the year 1174 by the last leader of Ani, the Shadadid Sultan, Ibn Makhmud Ibn Shavuri. He built it as a polygonal half-circular tower. The Arabic writings about it were kept in the south tower. Later, perhaps during the Zakaryans, walls were built around the castles with the half-circular towers, remnants of which have preserved to this day. There is a small church near the north wall, the only entrance from the south, comprised of smooth shaved tuff, and preserved cross-stones in the village during the 9th century, where the walls of the church of St.Sargis with inscriptions dating back to the year 1018 were also preserved. On the way to Talin ruins of the coaching inn are also visible.
In the surrounding area of Shamiram and Arutch villages   there are historical-architectural monuments of the second half of the 2000B.C. and the beginning of the 1000 B.C. It includes the ruins of the old city, an artificial water reservoir, the remnants of residences, the group of tombs with megalith towers. The ruins are located on the cave between the two canyons. It stretches out approximately for about 10 hectarеs. From the side of the plain, the cave is divided by five walls which form three defense rows. The caves are also strengthened with the walls, made from rough large shaved tuff.
Preserved also are some remnants of the monumental constructions. At the edge of the cape there is a place, presumably used for worshipping. The city was destroyed approximately at the end of the 9th century or in the beginning of the 8th century B.C., because of numerous attacks. During the Hellenistic period the area was inhabited again. The dwellings were constructed at the edge of the cape, and the cemetery in the all remaining territory of the old city.
There is an old water reservoir that is still working, made with large tuff carts. Numerous tombs were discovered and excavated, around which are the carts with carvings on them, presenting horses, scenes of hunting, wild animals, and other such sceneries. Above some of the tombs were placed stone statues and phalluses. Inside the tombs iron and bronze weapons and jewelries were found. Separate group of tombs are located on the top of the canyon, where representatives of the high class were buried.
The excavations of Shamiram showed that in 10-9cc B.C. the iron culture was well developed in Armenia. It also shows the finalization of the society classes and the early development of city civilization.
Tziranavor church (5-7cc.)was built by Catholicos - Nerses II Bagrevandtsi. The church is a rectangular schemed basilica, with the horseshoe-like altar, and there are two chambers to the left and the right side. During the later centuries, the northern and western walls were doubled and strengthened. On the eastern facade of the church there are remnants of a teeth-like latrice.
The old basilica was surrounded by walls, which made the whole construction mansion-shape looking. Because the church was built at the edge of the Kasagh River canyon, it also played the role of a defending construction, and that is why it was also called Pokaberd.
 On the summit, 1km. to the west from Ushi, there is the St.Sargis monastery. Inside the whole complex there are two churches, surrounding fort-walls and the ruins of some dwellings, which were built along the fort-walls from the inside. The oldest construction, the church, dating back to 1203, was preserved on the top of the summit. The church’s only entrance is on the western side, and the walls are made of clean shaved black tuff stones.
On the southern side, there is the second church of the complex, which has comparatively bigger dimensions. Only several parts of the inner walls were preserved, and some other parts of the vault and letrice. From the south, next to the second church, there is a gavit-type of entry. The roofing is completely ruined, and only some parts of the western, eastern and southern walls (also the western entrance and the double large windows of the southern wall) were preserved. Surrounding walls for the monastery were constructed in 1654 by Voskan archbishop. The walls were made of basalt, which was strengthened with semi-circular and rectangular pyramids. In the village surroundings there is a fortress, and also an ancient settlement (Hin Ushi) preserved till today.
 
ARARAT REGION
. “KHOR VIRAP – on the southern slope of the hill near Artashat, once the capital of Armenia, one of the holy-places and sanctuaries of Armenians Khor Virap is situated. Khor Virap is located 50 km South of Yerevan. Its history is closely connected with the adoption of Christianity and with the whole process of the religious , cultural and educational development of Armenia. Because of his faith, Saint Gregory the Illuminator was imprisoned in one of its pits (,,khor virap,, sigh ,,deep pit,,) for 13 years. In 642-1660, a monastic complex was built here. For centuries it has been one of the holy centers of the Armenian ecclesiastical life. Khor Virap monastery is a shrine of Armenian Christianity and is place of pilgrimage for Armenians all over the world. The monastery is surrounded by tall walls and from here one can enjoy the magic view of Mt.Ararat, not far from the Arax river.
DVIN – Dvin is situated on a hill where a settlement, turned into a fortress in the antique epoch, it was found in the third millennium B.C. In the reign of Khosrov II (330-338) Dvin became the capital, and since the middle of the fifth century till the middle of the 13th century, it was a major trade, handicraft and cultural center of Armenia known in the countries of Asia Minor and Europe.
Excavations revealed the layout of Dvin which followed the pattern of Armenia's ancient fortified settlements. Double town walls were fortified with large round towers, and the citadel had a moat around it.
The rulers palace was situated on the top of a high hill which dominated the town, inside a vast citadel. The rectangular-base building was a two-storey one, with richly decorated presence and residence chambers in the first floor, and service premises, including a bath-house with men’s and women’s sections equipped like that in Garni, in the ground floor. This palace, just as the palaces of feudal lords (nakharars) and the suburban palace of King Khosrov II in the valley of the Azat river, are the pride of Armenian historians who say they are no doubt among the best civil buildings of fifth-century Armenia.
The palace of Katholikos - the head of the Armenian clergy - was in the central neighborhood to the west of the citadel, among the monumental stone structures of the city which formed one of the prominent architectural ensembles of Armenia of those times.
The ruins of Katholikos’ palace - an imposing edifice built in the 7th century - are very impressive. The front part, built under the influence of the architecture of the Armenian peasant home, had as its nucleus the central hall (11.4 by 26.7 m) with two rows of columns, with rectangular rooms adjacent to its lateral sides. Stone columns with the base shape of the antique type were crowned with eye-catching volute-like capitals. Their face side is adorned with coiled palm leaves, with two others rising from between them, as if from the column shaft.
The architecture of Catholicos’ palace in Dvin played a great role in the development of civil architecture in Armenia in early feudal times. A small vaulted church of 553-554 was situated east of the Katholikos’ palace in Dvin. The vestibule and a five-arc gallery on the northern side make it possible to date it back to the fourth-seventh centuries when the temples of this type were built in Armenia.
St.Grigory Cathedral was more monumental and Armenia’s biggest one (30.41 by 58.17 m). Built in the third century as a three-nave heathen temple with seven pairs of inner supports, it was rebuilt in the fourth century into a Christian church. In the middle of the seventh century the cathedral was rebuilt into a cross-winged domed temple with apses protruding on the lateral facades.
The altar apse was decorated with a mosaic of vari-colored cubes of smalt and tufa representing the Holy Virgin (the 7th century). That was the most ancient mosaic depiction of the Holy Virgin on the territory of Armenia.
KHOSROV FOREST – In presenting the treasures of Khosrov’s reserve, it is impossible to overlook the historic importance of this true embellishment of nature. This marvelous piece of land, singled out by King Khosrov during the 3rd century, in 330-338, served as a hunting ground for the Armenian court.
The notes about this forest found in Movses Khorenats’s work (Armenian history) are not the only indications of the great importance of this land. The crossed stones, tombstones, and especially St. Stephan’s church preserved here, prove that this reserve enjoyed particular attention  since times immemorial. Perhaps this is the reason why today, Khosrov’s reserve is not only of natural importance for our country, but also a historic one too. This Caucasian reserve, despite its modest size, can boast unique flora and fauna. This is largely due to the peculiar geological construction of our country
​In the heart of the Ararat province, 1,516 meters above the sea level, you’ll be able to find the fortified walls of the Kakavaberd fortress. Located in the middle of the Khosrov State Reserve, the fortress is first mentioned in 9th century, yet it’s estimated that it was built long time before the first record. Kakavaberd is also known by the names Geghi Berd, Keghi Berd or simply Kegh. 
According to a legend, once a priest healed the conqueror of Tamerlane. As a token of gratitude, Tamerlane promises to fulfill one humble wish of the priest. The latter asks him to release as many prisoners as he could fit in this little church. Tamerlan agrees, but when the liberated entered the church, the priest turned them into birds and they flew away. Hence the name of the monastery Kakavaberd (Kakav translates as partridge from Armenian and Berd as fortress).
Due to the steep terrain surrounding the fortress, it’s only accessible from one side, the other 3 are rather dangerous. The fortress is one of the few ones in Armenia that managed to stay well preserved despite its age. The remaining walls of the fortress are 2.5 meters thick and the towers are 8 to 10 meters tall. Once inside of the structure, you’ll be able to find ruins of an old church. The medieval fortress of Kakavaberd was first mentioned by Hovhannes Draskhanakerttsi (9th-10th centuries) as the premise of house of Bagratuni. In 11th century the Kakavaberd castle passed to the house of Pahlavuni, and after to the Proshyan noble family in the 12-13th centuries.
Despite the astonishing visuals, the journey to the fortress is a challenging one. It’s no coincidence that the fortress was considered to be one of the most impregnable of Armenian medieval fortresses. Kakavaberd can only be accessed by foot, yet it still remains a popular tourist destination especially during the warm season.
Aghjots Vank (Monastery) is located in Ararat Province of Armenia, 7 km south of Geghard. According to legend in the beginning of the IV century Grigor Lusavoritch (Illuminator) founded a monastery on the burial place of Stepanos priest who escaped from persecutions of King Trdat III, so why the other name of the church is Surb Stepanos.

The present monastic complex consisting of two churches and a vestibule was built at the beginning of XIII century. The main Surb Stepanos church was built in 1212-1217 by Father Superior Abel under sponsorship of Grigor Khaghbakian (Khachentsi). The church is cruciform inside with two-storey side-chapels in each corner. The dome of the church was destroyed during the earthquake. The vestibule (1217-1234) is attached to the church from the west. Only a few walls and thick blocks of stones remained. Its vault once was comprised of two pairs of intersecting arches.

Vaulted St. Peter and St. Paul church is joining the Surb Stepanos church from the north. It was built in 1270 under Father Superior Eremia by Prince Vasak Khaghbakian. There are side chapels on both sides of the altar. The portal of a roofless nave is flanked with two full-length 14th-century reliefs of Apostles Peter and Paul. This peculiar stylistic element, commonly found in Romanesque and Gothic Churches, is not typical for Armenian architecture.

The walls of the church are inscribed with vegetable and geometric ornaments and sculptural carvings of the scenes from Old and New Testament (Day of Judgement, Daniel in the lions` den etc.).

A number of manuscripts were created in Aghjots Monastery in XV century. Relics of St. Stepanos and St. Aristakes I (Partev) were kept there. At the beginning of XVII century, during shah Abbas invasion, the monastery was ravaged and the relics of St. Aristakes were stolen and taken to Tabriz. Later an Armenian merchant redeemed them and returned to Aghjots Monastery. Now these relics are kept in St.Echmiadzin.

Aghjots Monastery like many others was destroyed by 1679 Garni earthquake. Later it was restored and served till the middle of XVIII century. After the last Lezghin invasion the monastery was abandoned.

GEGHARKUNIK REGION
Lake Sevan is located in the north-eastern part of the Armenian Highland, in Gegharkunik Region. Sevan is considered to be one of the three ancient and biggest lakes of the Armenian Kingdom. It was called the “blue eyes” of Armenia and is surrounded by Geghama, Vardenis, Pambak, Sevan and Areguni mountain chains. The blue beauty of Armenia situates at an altitude of 1900m above sea level and the total surface area is about 5000 km2. It was famous with the names of "Geghama Tsov(in English sea), Gegharkunyats Tsov".Sevan is one of the largest freshwater high-altitude lakes in Caucasus, nearly 28 rivers spill into it. The research revealed that it was originated in the 3rd century which has a very rare and endemic type of fish called “Ishkhan”, in English “Trout” with its four types; unluckily the fish is at the edge of extinction and registered in Red Book. The other species of fish are “Sig” and “Koghak”.The Lake consists of two unequal parts called Big and Small. In the north-western part is located the Sevan’s Peninsula which is famous for its medieval monasteries and khachkars(cross-stones)
In the northwest part of Sevan Lake, on a narrow rocky peninsula, there stands one of the most prominent examples of medieval Armenian architecture – Sevanavank Monastery.
In ancient times, the peninsula was stand-alone island. It was separated from the shore by 3 km of transparent water full of fish, which were caught by the monastery. The monks first arrived there at the end of the 8th century, and they built a small chapel and few cells. The island position was so convenient that the growing monastic brotherhood started to build a monastery there. First they cut a ledge in the rock and laid big stone blocks on it. Very soon the wall gained a watch tower, and little gate surrounded the island. Later three churches, cells and other structures were constructed.The remnants of the monastery that was constructed in the 9th century include only two temples – Surb Arakelots and Surb Astvatsatsin, standing among numerous khachkars. The church buildings were constructed from black tuff, which probably gave the monastery its name Sevanavank - “the Black Monastery”. The churches are cross-shaped buildings. They are distinguished by their masonry, featuring cut stones in combination with encasement of the drums and similar eaves and arches.
Inside the main remaining church is an interesting khachkar. Not only is this khachkar one of the handful that features Jesus Christ, but the carving is intricate and detailed (despite the toughness of the stone). The image of Christ has distinctly Mongol features, since it replicates the style that was common in the 12th-13th centuries. At that time, Mongol armies were coming into Armenia, but they wouldn’t touch the churches if they saw that the images of holy figures looked like Mongols. The rest of the designs tell stories from the Bible, and heavily feature motifs from carpets.
In the end of the 9th century the monastery was a ground of the great battle between Armenian King Ashot and Arab armies, whose purpose was to conquer these territories. Ashot then fought the Arabs in an open battle and defeated them. The island with the Black Monastery was repeatedly attacked by other invaders: Tamerlane's hordes, Persians and others. The monks fought off the raids and the monastery lived on. In the 16th and 17th centuries Sevanavank lost its walls, though. The monastery ceased to exist in 1930, when the last monk left the island.
Today the two black temples of Sevan stand deserted like two guards of this ancient lake.
Lchashen is a complex of archaeological monuments of different periods. The village is a museum under open sky. It is a pre-Urartian settlement, surrounded by enclosures. During the excavations, held in the territory, prehistoric castle-fortresses, cemeteries and separate obelisks were found.   Military chariot, carriages as well as lots of archaeological materials are the rare treasures of the History Museum of Armenia. Today constructions of Urartian period (a kingdom in Armenia), ruins of cyclopean fortress and Ishtikuni city, located 2 km South of the village, are preserved, as well as cuneiform of Argishti the First about the capture of Ishtikuni city, found in the center of the settlement. 
Famous cyclopean fortress and the surrounding settlement are located on the hill rising in the Southern part of  Lchashen village. The settlement occupies a territory of 55 ha and stretches on 15 hills, their slopes and canyons. The fortress had 2 acropolises, 22 small and huge stone hills and towers. The fortress is covered by great number of ruins. The fortress doors were built on the highest slopes of the hills, including inaccessible cliffs.   
42 families lived in the territory of the settlement. The deserted location was gradually widening and in the end of the 19th century it became one of the biggest villages of Sevan basin. According to historians, it was attacked for many times; approximately every invader, being in Armenia, tried to capture the location. The hardest attack was held by Shah Abas. The village was deserted, so different Muslim tribes inhabited it. After Russian-Turkish and Russian-Persian war the village was inhabited again. Comers were mostly from Baku, Bazrgyan village and Diaden
The settlement got its modern name in 1946. 
Makenyats Monastery is located in the village of Makenis in the Vardenis region of Gegharkunik Province, 15km south-east of Vardenis, on the shore of the river Vardenis. The complex consists of 37 monuments, the main of which is the Church of St. Astvatsatsin, the courtyard, two churches, a one-nave church, the cemetery and the wall. The bibliographical sources and the inscriptions is mentioned as Makenoc, Makeneac, Makenatsots, Makestanic etc. 
HAIRAVANK –Monastic complex Hayravank is located on rocky plateau of Hayravank village. The first church with four altars was founded in 9-13 cc. In the 20th century the parish was attached to it. Castle «Spitak Berd» («White Fortress») is situated 1 km of the monastery. According to the legend, Hayravank was once connected to the castle with underground way, and that is why it was called Ayrivank («Cave Monastery»). In 1211 brothers monks Hovhannes and Nerses restored the church and built double column parish with lighting aperture («yerdik») and octagonal dome, decorated with stalactite. In a small garden of Hayravank, protected by stone walls, there are lots of ruins of 6th century gravestones and cross-stones («khachkars»), and ruins of cells and many other constructions outside the fence. Hayravank functioned until 9th century. In 1980 the monastery was restored, and the dome was rebuilt. Name «Mardaghavnyats» («aghavni» is translated into Armenian as «pigeon») of «Hayravank» is connected with the legend, which we have got from Catholicos Ghazar A Jahketsi. According to the legend, in 1381, during Tamerlane invasions, mentor Hovhan could turn people into pigeons and let them free from the church. In the 13th century Tamerlane was trying to conquer Armenia and massacred people by all possible means. When he reaches Hayravank, the mentor threw himself into the sea, so that not to see the destruction of the monastery. Nevertheless, on God's will, he did not sink. Instead, he started to run on the surface of the sea. Impressed Tamerlane ordered the monk to come and promised that he would make his any wish come true. The mentor asked Tamerlane to give him as many people as the monastery could house. Tamerlane did as the mentor wished. People stared to walk in; the monastery could suite absolutely everybody, no one was in the street. Then amazed Tamerlane noticed that people were turned into pigeons and could escape death. From then on the monastery was called Hovhannavank or Hayr Hovhan Monastery («Father Hovhan Monastery») after mentor Hovhan, «Mardaghavnyats» (People-Pigeons Monastery» lit.transl.) and later – Hayravank («hayr» - father)... 
Noratus is situated near the legendary lake of Sevan. Here is the world’s biggest khachkars collection, as well as the oldest Armenian cemetery covering an area of 7 hectares. Noratus ‘ amount of khachkars reaches nearly 1,000 copies from the 13th-17th centuries. Each of them has their own distinctive design made of ornamental or life scenes. “Khachkar” implies “cross stone” in Armenian translation. It is a monument with complicated sculpted patterns, clusters of grapes, solar disk and a cross. Noratus ‘ oldest khachkar was built in the 5th century.
Kotavank is a church located in the Gegharkunik Province of Armenia. A large medieval cemetery surrounds the church with numerous khachkars. A modern cemetery adjacent has started to encroach upon the old one, leaving many of the khachkars and ancient tombstones upturned in a pile, moved from their original locations. Upon a hill adjacent to the modern cemetery is yet another ancient cemetery with many khachkars. Within the village is a small ruined basilica called "Jam" by the locals with ancient khachkars and tombstones built into its walls, and not far away is a small shrine. There are also two large stone forts from the Middle Ages located 2 km to the east and 3 km the west of the village. Other khachkars may be seen along the main road leading to the hill where Kotavank rests upon. In early medieval years it was the capital of the region known during that time as Kot. Both Kotavank and Kot were partially destroyed during invasions in the 10th and 11th centuries and later by an earthquake.
Odzaberd, the "Serpent Fortress" or "Fortress of the Princes", is located in Geghargunik Province, on the southeastern shore of Lake Sevan. Odzaberd lies at an altitude of 1,921 meters. It is an important archaeological site, as it was once a fortified city of the Urartian Kingdom dating back to 735-713 BC which was founded by Rusa I. It is considered the best preserved Urartian fortress in the Sevan Basin. Between the remains of the fortress, the stone foundations, parts of the city wall and gates can be unveiled. There is also an entry to a small cave on the western side of the hill within the ruins of Teysheba. On the rock wall, on a low cliff of the hill, one may find an old cuneiform engraved by Rusa I. It reports that the city was dedicated to the god Teysheba and states about the conquest of the twenty-three nations by Rusa I. The etymology of Sevan was also discovered in the carving and is known to be the first such mention of the word, which now tells about the lake Sevan, where the ruins are located.
Vanevan Monastery is an Armenian Apostolic Monastery complex in eastern part of Artsvanist village of Gegharkunik province of the Republic of Armenia. It was founded in the early Middle Ages. According to the construction inscription, the main St. Gregory the Illuminator Church of the monument was built by the Armenian Commanding Shapuh Bagratuni in 903. The main church is built of basalt, and the arches and the dome are made of tuff. It has a four-storey interior, with two oriental vestries in the east. According to the inscription on the wall, the commander gave the monastery four villages and mills.
KOTAYK REGION
Garni Temple (77 A.D.) is the only standing heathen temple in the whole post-Soviet area. The temple stands on a high plateau overlooking the Azat river gorge. It is also home to the roman bath house with the mysterious mosaic, made out of 30,000 pieces of natural stones, as well as the ruins of the royal palace, dating back to 3rd century A.D. Garni Temple, which is a synthesis of cultural elements of Hellas and Asia Minor built right in the center of Garni Fortress . The presumable date of the fortress’s construction is the 3 rd century B.C. and was restored in the 77 A.D.
In the canyon at the River Azat, the Garni bridge was built in the 11 th century. The bridge connects the village with the Havuts Tar chapel on the opposite bank of the river and is still operational
Geghard, cave monastery (UNESCO) architectural complex (12-13th centuries), carved out of one monolithic rock. Due to the extraordinary acoustics, when the local monk begins to sing in this chamber it is hard to believe a large choir isn’t singing.The complex is a representation of 13th Century Armenia, which is considered to be the Golden Age of the country’s architecture.
Tsaghkadzor – a small Olympic town not far from Yerevan. It is also called the Armenian Switzerland, as it is surrounded by dense mountain forests.  Tsaghkadzor(  Gorge of flowers  ) is considered to be the gemstone of the region, one of the favorite holiday resorts of Armenia both for summer and winter. This is a place, where one can have a real rest during all seasons of year. The climate here is calm and mild due to the fresh mountain air. It is famous for its sports complex, richly equipped with various sports facilities necessary for summer and winter sports, a swimming-pool and a skating rink. Tsakhkadzor is recognaized as the Olympic training center, which accepts many tourist every year and provides them an opportunity to stay at comfortable rest houses, camps for children, at the great Sport Complex.   There is also great funicular railway consisting of five parts and is 2300m high.
 BJNI – is one of the villages in Hrazdan district, is famous for its beautiful nature and is a big center of mineral water springs.Historical monuments of Bjni are quite valuable for Armenia. The fortress and the church (the Blessed Virgin Mary) have been built in the 11 th century. Of the impregnable fortress of Bjni still remain fragments of the north and the west fortified walls, the secret passage and some buildings. There are some beautiful cross-stones in the churchyard. 
KETCHARIS – In the picturesque town of Tsakhadzor are gathered the magnificent monuments of Ketcharis, built between the 11 th and 13 th centuries. The monastery complex built on the high ground of Tsakhadzor by the side of the road that leads to the forest, harmonizes well with the scenery. 11th century monastic complex of Kecharis is built by the royals to honor the 1000th anniversary of Jesus Christ. 
Havuts Tar
The Havuts Tar monastery complex (located to the east of Garni, on the left shore of the Azat River) was a remarkable midcentury religious and cultural center of Armenia. According to Mkhitar Airivanatsy, in the 10th century Gevorg Marzpetuni built the St.Amenaprkich church. And according to the inscriptions, it was rebuilt once again in 1013 by Grigor Magistros.
The rising of Havuts Tar occurred during the 12-14th centuries and ruined by the earthquake of 1679. In the 18th century the monastery was reconstructed by Catholicos Astvatsatur. The monastery complex consists of two groups of structures. The main church (13th century) which is of the western group, is a crussiform type from the inside and rectangular from outside. It is built from reddish shaved tuf. The roof and the vault are ruined. From the south there are two attached chapels (now half-ruined).
The eastern group was reconstructed in the first half of the 18th century, the stones for which were used was from the entry and Grigor Magistros’ church. On the ruins of this church in 1721 the St.Karapet church by Catholicos St.Astvatzatzin (Holy Virgin) was built, which remained unfinished because of Lezgin’s invasion. On the north side there are livable rooms attached to the fort walls, and from the south-west side a guest-house. 
Neghuts St.Astvatzatzin monastery is located to north-west for 1km from Arzakan village. It consists of church, vestibule and separate chapel. The church was built in X-XI cc. and has a domed look. The eastern side is trimmed with triangle Armenian niches.The walls of vestibule have conserved notes dated in XIIIc. Its foundation has a rectangular shape with four columns standing independently. The middle of the cover ends with a dome with six arches interlacing with each other. The vestibule has two finely faced  entrances, the main of which is the southern one.There is a graveyard nearby the monastery, which is abundant with khachkars. Arzakan in medieval is mentioned as Artavazdakan. The village is also famous for its hot springs.
Mayravank ​The Medieval Armenian architectural monument  is located on the front hill of Solak village. Hovhaness Mayrevanetsi built the spectacle in the 7th century; later St. Astvatsatsin church of Mayravank was built between the 11th and 12th centuries. Church St. Astvadzadzin  is made of durable basalt, it represents from itself a hall with a dome, on the west side there is a couple of columns and sacristies on both sides of sanctuary. There is a khachkar near the scene wall. On north, west and south sides some ruins of fellowship buildings have preserved.
First Mayravank was mentioned in VII century linked with Hovhan Mayravanetsi. Catholicos Ezr Parajnaketsi the First, in order to humiliate opposing him Hovhan renamed the monastery to Mayragom (cowhouse) and Hovhan to Mayragometsi.
After the conference in Chalcedon in 451, Christian church was severed and influence of Byzantine church on Armenian weakened. The idea of unity was offered by Byzantine king, he aimed to unite severed churches and to renew the lost influence. In 633 during Karin conference Catholicos Ezr had to accept the idea of unity. The idea was not of Armenian origin, it was always considered Chalcedonian. Hovhan Mayragometsi was the only one to oppose Catholicos.
Monastery complex Makravank
(13th century) is situated in the western part of the town Hrazdan. The main church St.Astvatzatzin (Holy Virgin), is of the avaulted hall construction type. To the south another church is attached to the St.Astvatzatzin through a square-shaped entry. The foundation of the church is still in existence. Tо the east of the monastery there is a small cemetery with richly decorated cross-stones.
Near the village of Arinj of the Kotayk district, ruins of the fortress are preserved. The lower parts of the fortress’s walls were generally made from untreated stones. On the top of the entrance there are two carved figures and two dragons (work by stone-master Manvel in 1501) entwined together. On one of the walls an eagle is pictured with wide-spread wings, next to it - the creator is referenced: the painter - Hovhannes archbishop (1501). Inside the fort there are ruins of the church and other buildings.The church of Surb Astvatzatzin (Holy Virgin), built in 2000, stands near of fortress.
Dzagavank’s Getargel
monastery is a midcentury famous Armenian center. It is an architectural monument located to the east of the village Arinj .The monastery’s main church - St.Nshan (7c.), is composed of the three-altar, small cruciform vaulted construction type. There are two small chapels close to the north and south of the church. To the east of St.Nshan church, there is a second church of the monastery, one composed of two-storys made with shaved brownish tuff in 13c., but the second storey wasn’t preserved.
According to the legend, Arab invaders were intending to plunder the village and slaughterer the entire population. Once the villagers discovered this plan, they gathered in the monastery and asked God to save them. When the Arabs were approaching the monastery, the nearby tiny lake unexpectedly started overflowing and drowned the entire Arabic army. That is the reason the monastery carries the second name - Getargel.
Petroglyphs
In Geghama mountains on the slopes of Aragatz and Ukhtasar were found many rock carvings, the oldest of which were about 9000 years old.The main theme of the pictures are animals, that lived in those areas, on some of them there are figures of humans. On the others some scenes of human’s everyday life can be seen, hunting, fishing, battles, rituals and so on. Some show the symbols of worship of ancient times.These carvings give a good conception about life of ancient Armenians, their traditions and culture, they are very significant as primary source of history.In Geghama mountains pictures were made on blue stones. They got this color because of lightning strikes, the surface color of stones sharply differs from internal color. So this makes the pictures very distinct, especially when you look at them under right angle of sunbeams.
Ptghni monastery was built by Manuel Amantuni in the end of VI c. and the beginning of VII c. The church is quite big and gorgeous, it has many architectural values.In 606 Ptghnavank resident Israel signed a document which confirmed union between Armenian bishops and abbots.The church has a hall with a dome and columns on both sides. It is ornamented with various plants and geometric figures. The cornice is very specific, it has carved pictures of jugs. In the middle of arch on the south entrance is depicted Mother of God with angels on both sides. On the sides there are also apostles, three of them on the left, three on the right, other six probably were placed on the west entrance.On the horizontal part of the arch, on the south entrance there is an image of Manuel Amatuni on a horse and fighting a lion with a bow in his hand. On the right side his son Sahak Amatuni is fighting a lion with a spear. On the north side there are pictures of various birds made by very skillful hands. A lion sitting under a palm also should be paid attention.
The Teghenyats Monastery is located in a forested fold of the Tsaghkunyats mountain range. It’s set between two streams, with a distant view of Mt. Ararat. The monument has sheep and horse-shaped tombstones, an impressive half-intact gavit (narthex) next to the ruined sanctuary (12th century) and parts of a monumental dining room (13th c.). Most sources mentioning Teghenyats Monastery claim the monastery was built in the 11th or 12th century A.D. However, a more recent excavation of the monastery, done during 2001 – 2008 sheds a different light on its history.
During the excavations, ceramic materials were found. The ceramic materials were divided into two groups: habitual & constructional. The habitual pottery consists of non-glazed and glazed potteries related to the 12th–17th centuries. 
Surb Zoravar church
The Zoravar church (Eghvard Teodoros’s monastery) is located in the Kotayk district, 3 km to the north-east of Eghvard city. It was built by Grigor Mamikonyan the ruler during 661-685. The southern part of the church and the vault are no longer in existance. The church was constructed with cinnamon-colored shaved tuff. The church’s make-up bears the Zvartnots influence.