Shirak is located in the North-West. It borders with Turkey in the west and with Georgia in the north by the state border, in the east it borders with the region Lori and with the region Aragatsotn in the south. It is under the pastor ship of the eparchy of Shirak of Armenian Apostolic church (the residence is in Gyumri), but there are many catholic Armenians as well as catholic villages in the territory of the region.
The storage lake Arpi, the Armenian part of Akhuryan reservoir and the reservoir of Mantash are in the territory of Shirak region. The field of Shirak stretches along the central and southern parts of the region as well as the plateau of Ashotsk in the north.
The city Gyumri is the regional center of Shirak. It is the second city of the Republic of Armenia. Gyumri is located not far from the state border of RA, in the central part of Shirak field, on the bank of the river Gyumriget, which is a stream of Akhuryan river. In the written sources Gyumri is mentioned as Kumayri and the Gyumri. It was renamed to Alexandrapol after the joinig the Eastern Armenia with Russia, but then during the Soviet times it was recalled Leninakan.
Artik and Maralik are the other two towns of Shirak region.
The sites of Shirak region:
Lmpatavank or St. Stepanos church of the monastery of Lmpat is an architectural monument located about 2km to the south-west from Artik. It is a building with a cross-shaped plan from inside and outside, as well as with an octahedral drum and a small cupola. The preserved data do not contain any information about the construction of the monastery.
Harichavank (or Ghpchavank in the past) is an Armenian medieval monastic complex. The oldest building is the church St. Gregory built in the 7th century. The main church of the monastery was built by the order of the brothers Zakare and Ivane in 1201; it is a domed crosswise building. This monument is one of the brilliants of the medieval architecture with beautiful ornaments. The monastery has also been a center of education. Avetik Isaakyan used to go to the famous school of the monastery.
The medieval monastery of Marmarashen is located 2km to the north-west from the village Marmarashen of Shirak region, on the bank of the river Akhuryan. It is formed from 2 groups of buildings: Big and Small (or Upper). According to the record of the southern wall the main Katoghike church was built by the lord Vahram Pahlavuni in 988-1029. The second church of the monastery is situated in the north from Katoghike and, probably, was built during the same period; it is the small imitation of Katoghike as with its plan as with the architectural details. The third church (XI century) is located in the south from Katoghike. It is a domed building with pawnshops in the four corners.
St. Astvatsatsin Yot Verk (Seven Wounds) church
It was built in 1874-1886. It is situated in the Central Square (now Vardanants square). This church is the primacy of the eparchy of Shirak. The real name of the church is St. Astvatsatsin, but it has been renamed to Yot Verk (Seven Wounds) in honor of the picture of Mother of God brought from the church of St. Nshan. St. Mary is depicted on that picture with her seven wounds. The church is made from black stones. There used to be a wooden chapel in the place of this church, where the above mentioned picture was. The seven wounds of that picture are the followings:
- Handing Jesus to the temple
- Run away to Egypt
- Loosing child Jesus inside the temple
- Carrying the cross
- Jesus’ death on the cross
- Getting back the body of Jesus
- Burial of Jesus.