Armenia has a long history of battles and invasions. No wonder that among some of the most popular Armenian destinations are its fortresses. The Armenians had to protect themselves against the Persians, the Turks, and the Arabs, trying to take over cities.
The largest and the most known fortress in Armenia is Amberd fortress. It’s located on the hillsides of Mount Aragats, where Amberd and Arkashen rivers meet, in Aragatsotn province. The name of the city is translated as “fortress in the clouds”; the name is pretty accurate, because it’s at an elevation of 2,300 meters. The construction process was extensive and took a few centuries, that’s why the complex is comprised of a diversity of buildings: churches, baths, chapels. Architectural style of Amberd very simple; the walls are made of basalt. It doesn’t have any dainty decorations, but was very practical and served its main purpose: protection.
You’ll be amazed not only by complexity of the fortress, but, also, by picturesque location. Mount Aragats exposes travelers to exceptionally beautiful views. The complex is protected by gorges and has only one road leading to it. Its story began in 7th century, when Armenian noble family Kamsarkan started the construction. However, Kamsarkan family had to give the fortress to Pahlavuni family. It was the residence of Pahlavni family, but was destroyed by the Seljuks and by the Mongols. It was restored and continued functioning, but, eventually, became abandoned. Among interesting archaeological findings of Amberd are water system and Armenian lavash that dates back to 12th century! Many underground tunnels that were found led to the rivers. Vishapakars or “dragon stones” were found near the rivers. These are mythical creatures carved from one piece of stone; the purpose of vishapakars haven’t been found.
One-hour drive from Yerevan will take to this magnificent fortress on of Mount Ararats; it’s beautiful all year around. In the summer it’s surrounded by colorful fields of flowers, in the winter you’ll be able to try traditional armenian dish called “hash”. According to traditions it can be eaten only in early mornings and during months that contain letter “r”.