Aragatsotn is one of the regions of Armenia formed in April 2, 1995. Its center is Ashtarak city. Aragatsotn region descended its name from the province of Aragatsotn of the historical Airarat world. Its territory is 2.753km, population – 141 thousand. In the rank of RA regions it takes up a middle place by its size and exceeds only Vayots Dzor and Tavush regions by the population. An important specifity of the geographical location of this region is that it is situated between the capital Yerevan and the highest mountain pick of RA Aragats.
A large part of the region surface is formed from different type and essence volcanic lava. Here are situated the plateaux of Talin, Karmrashen, Aparan. There are many sources of cold springs which feed small rivers. The cardinal pulse of this region is the river Kasakh with the main streams Gegharot and Amberd. The reservoir of Aparan is built on the river Kasakh. Three highways of state meaning are passing across the territory of this region: Yerevan- Ashtarak –Talin –Gyumri, Yerevan –Ashtarak –Aparan- Spitak and Yerevan –Armavir –Karakert –Gyumri. In this region there are many monuments as natural as historical and architectural.
In Oshakan village, which is situated by the regional center, there is the tomb of St. Mesrop Mashtots the creator of the armenian letters. There are many well-known churches such as Amberd, Talin, Saghmosavan, Ashtarak. The famous observatory of Byurakan, which was founded and leaded by the scientist Victor Hambardzumyan, is also situated in this region.
Ashtarak, Aparan and Talin are the main towns of Aragatsotn region.
Ashtarak is situated on the bank of the river Kasakh 1100km above sea level. The word ”Ashtarak” is of iranian origin, which in armenian means ”a strait rising construction”, ”a tower of a fortress”, ”a slender overhanging building”.
There are 4 churches in Ashtarak:
1. St. Mariane built in 1218 from brown tufa.
2. Karmravor or St. Astvatsatsin (Mother of God) built in 7th century.
3. Tsiranavor church built in 5-6th centuries.
4. Spitakavor church built in 5-6th centuries.
Aparan is located on the eastern foot of Aragats massif.
Talin is situated on the southern foot of Aragats massif near the mountain Arteni. It used to have the following denominations: Talina, Talin Big, Upper Talin, Hayi Talin. It’s renamed to Talin in 1978. There are different legends about Talin. They say that there was a girl named Talin and she was a princess. She loved a peasant boy. Her father wanted his princess daughter to get married to a prince. He married her off the prince, but the girl couldn’t forgive her father and was casted herself from the rock.
There is retained a church of 7th century –Katoghike.
In Talin there is also a monument in memory of the victims of wars.
The sights of the region are:
Aghtsk (Aghdzk) village was situated in the state Ayrarat of Greater Armenia (now in Aragatsotn). It is famous for the tomb Arshakuni built in 5th century. According to the citation of Pavstos Buzand, the king of Persia Shapuh II after capturing Ani-Kamakh opened the graves of armenian kings and tried to transfer their remains to Persia as, by pagan persian’s imagination, with those bones of kings they would transfer to Persia their glory, fortune and courage. Sparapet Vasak Mamikonyan won a victory over persians, retook that remains and buried in Aghtsk. There is retained the underground part of a stony two-floor dugout tomb with a cross-shaped plan (length-3,75m, width- 2,65m, height- 2,60m). The facade stones of the rectangular niches and both sides of the western entrance are covered with ornaments of early Christian period (lion, dog, deer, wild boar, roe, bull and etc.).
Amberd was a medieval fortress-town and castle. It has been built (X century) in the historical Aragatsotn province 7km north of Byurakan village (on the southern slope of Aragats) on the junction of the rivers Arkashen and Amberd, on a triangular cape on the elevation of 2,300m. There are retained the ruins of Amberd castle, its fortress, church, bath-house and the ruins of some other constructions. The castle had a form of an improper triangle. In the vulnerable sectors walls were strengthened with pyramids. The church of Amberd was built by Vahram Pahlavuni in 1026. It is one of those churches which had double-floor pawshops in the four corners of the cross wings. The church has several records, one of which concerning its construction, is inside on the northern wall.
Near the south-western wall of the castle is situated the well retained bath-house (X-XI centuries). It is a bush covered stony building with a small cloak-room, a wide swimming-hall, with double-floor sections in the western end where the reservoir and boilers were placed. The water had been brought to the bath-house through the clay tubes and hot water- through the iron pipes. The stove smoke passing under the floor came out through the wall chimneys warming the swimming –hall, the floor and the walls. The water used to reach to Amberd through the clay tubes from the distance of 4-5km. The first excavations of Amberd castle were done by H. Orbeli in 1936.
It is a monastical complex in the central part of the historical province Nig (now it is between the villages Yerndzatap and Hartavan in Aragatsotn region) built on during 4-13 centuries. Monastical complex of Astvatsnkal is located on the right bank of the river Kasakh, on the high triangle form hill. Handmade constructions built in different centuries assimilate with the surrounding nature being native and in harmony with it. On the right side there are precipitant rocks, on the left one- cut inclined slopes coming down to the river Kasakh. On the bottom there is a gorge where flows Kasakh and on the left bank of it is the medieval castle.
The main monastical complex of Arutch village is the church of St. Gregory, which is situated on the slope of the mountain Aragats, in Aragatsotn region. The cathedral of Arutch (St. Gregory) is an armenian sacred and architectural famous monument. According to the record the church of Arutch was built by Grigor Mamikonyan in 60-s period of the 7th century. Although the temple is standing but it is in dilapidated condition. Before, the inside had been covered with murals representing the Ascension scene, which now have almost disappeared. In Arutch have also retained some ruins of the Bronze Age tombs, of an old fortress, a caravanserai and other monuments. Christ is depicted on the cupola of the senior vestry on the height of 7m with a scroll in his left hand. On the bottom of the pedestal is written the name of the painter- Stepanos. The palace mentioned in the literary sources, built by Grigor Mamikonyan in the south-eastern side of the cathedral, has been opened during the excavations in 1948-1951. This group of monuments, belonging to the early medieval architecture, includes two separate buildings, one of which is columnated and with its plan and details (columns, base, capitals) is like the cathedral of Dvin.
Artavazik is an armenian church of the 8th century in aragatsotn region near the village Byurakan. Nearby there is an enormous Khachkar of the 13th century. In the 8th century the belfry with slender symmetries was added to the roof of the western cross wing. The vaults of the rest wings and the cupola are destroyed.
Catoghike church of Talin
Catoghike church of Talin (the great cathedral of Talin) is a triapsidal domed basilica type church in the north-western part of Talin. It is an original parabolic model of basilica type and crosswise churches. There hasn’t retained any bibliographical and lithographic evidence about the temple construction but the analysis of planning and dimensional setup, architectural-artistic expressions and its structural singularities are making consider that the church has been built in the second half of the 7th century. The construction of it refers to Kamsarakan family. The outside sizes Talin’s temple are 17,8x34,3m and the sizes of praying hall- 15,8x27,0m. The temple has a wide and solemn but disjointed internal space. From inside the walls had been covered by a thin layer of clay on which here and there are retained some pieces of one-time wall-paintings.
St. Astvatsatsin church of Karbi
St. Astvatsatsin church is an armenian apostolic steadfast church in Karbi village of Aragatsotn region. The construction of the basilica was finished in 1691-1693 and the belfry was built in 1338. St. Astvatsatsin church is a trihedral basilica. The belfry is situated in front of the eastern part of the church. In Karbi was born Catholicos of All Armenians Hovhannes Karbetsi.
Karmravor or St. Astvatsatsin church was built in the 7th century by Grigor and Manas priests. It is located in Ashtarak town of Aragatsotn region. Karmravor is the only church in Armenia which red tiled roof is retained by now. There are many interesting khachkars around Karmravor from which Tzak-kar (stone in holes) is more known, it has got its name because of the hole in its pedestal. In the ancient times Karmravor had been a convent-monastery. 2 remarkable antiquities are keeped there by now. One of them is an Indian illustrated curtain, which has been brought from Calcutta in 1798-99, and the other is a handwritten Gospel presented by the family of Shukhiants from Ashtarak in 1843. The door of the church is made of wood ornamented with engravings and singing angels, it was made by national master Sargis Poghosyan in 1983. Near Karmravor in a graceful corner is the grave of an armenian poet Gevorg Emin.
St. Stepanos church of Kosh village
The village Kosh had also been known as Gosh, Kavash, Kvash Kvashavan, Kuash. There are many ancient monuments around Kosh, more ancient of which belong to the Iron Age such as ruins of a habitat and a tower form construction built from big basalt stones. In the gorge slope from north- west of the village is the church of St. Stepanos (7th century) made from yellow-red and brown tufa.
St. Gevorg church of Mughni
St. Gevorg is a church of the 14th century situated in the village Mughni. This church used to be a place of pilgrimage as for Christians as for Muslims. The church was reconstructed in 1661-69 by the order of the priest Hovhannes. In 1999-2000 the church was generally restored.
It was built in the 13th century by Vache Vachutyan and his family the partials of Ayrarat Partiality. Around the monastery, in the tombs and inside of other constructions there are retained many gravestones, a part of which have an aspect of ornamented khachkars.
According to the legend our forefather Noah and his family saw the village Oshakan after they came down from the pick of Masis and exclaimed ”Osh akan” which means ”blessed are our eyes”. The territory of Oshakan is rich of ancient monuments. On the left bank of the river Kasakh there had been tombs with the age of several decades built from big stones. In the center of Oshakan is standing Mesrop Mashtots church, which was built in 1875-79 by Gevorg III in the place of the church founded by Vahan Amatuni in 443. Under the vestry of the church is the tomb of Mesrop Mashtots (443). The following chapels of the 8th century are situated around Oshakan: Apostol Thaddeus, St. Gregory, St. Sargis, hewn in stone St. Astvatzatsin, Tukh Manuk. By the entrance of Oshakan there is a monument erected in 1962 on the occasion of 1600 birthday of Mesrop Mashtots. It has a form of an opened book and on the left slab of it there is carved the Armenian alphabet.