Akhtala is located in the Lori Region, along Shamlugh river, in the valley of Debed river and on the slopes of Lalvar mountain. It is 186 km north of the capital Yerevan and 62 km north of administrative center Vanadzor, at a height of 740 meters above sea level.

The city has a subtropical climate with cool, dry summers and mild winters. The present Akhtala is divided into 3 neighborhoods: the old and the new town and the eastern neighborhood.

History of Akhtala

The former names were Akhdala and Pghndzahank which is Armenian word meaning "copper mine". The first time the name of the city was mentioned in the recordings of Kirakos Gandzaketsi, who wrote that in 1214 died Prince Ivane Zakarian and were buried in the area of Pghndzahank.

According to Gandzaketsi the son of Ivane also were buried in the area of a church in 1250. That church was the Akhtala's monastery. In the medieval period was built also the famous Akhtala fortress, in the same are were found numerous historical sites, churches, monuments, chapels, and khachkars.

The archeological excavations discovered that Akhtala has been settled since the early Bronze Age. The excavations led French archaeologist Jacques de Morgan and who discovered bronze and iron objects, weapons, and ornaments in a historical cemetery, the items of which date back to the 8th century.

The  Akhtala Fortress was built in the late 10th century by the Kyurikids․ It is a high fortress with high gates, in front of the main entrance are raising cone-shaped three-story towers. In the area of the fortress was located Pghndzavank monastery(later Akhtala Monastery) which was consisted of three churches. Once the complex was one of the important educational centers of Armenia. The Akhtala Monastery (10th century) is located in Akhtala city and is considered to be one of the great samples of the Armenian architecture. The frescoes of Saint Astvatsatsin are well-preserved with beautiful design, it has Byzantine coloring and the Armenian designs. Some of the recordings were written in the Greek and Georgian languages.

There is an ancient church called Holy Trinity (13th century). The Frescoes of this church are colorful and very interesting and have a history of 800 years. The most interesting fact is that the frescoes haven't changed their colors until today. The secret is that they used a special blue dye which didn’t change its color.

The city also has a big celebration day, the annual  Armenian Barbecue Festival is celebrated in Akhtala. The first festival took place on the third Sunday of August, in 2009. During the festival, the participants prepare and present traditional barbeque and kebab with other national dishes. The celebration is accompanied by traditional Armenian songs and dances. So it will be very tasty and enjoyable to take part in this traditional festival.

The locals are busy in agriculture and copper mining because the area is rich with copper. "Akhtala Mining Plant" and "Metal Prince" company are the main industrial companies of the city.


Akhtala Monastery

Akhtala monastery complex was built in 10th century located in Akhtala town, Lori Region. The monastery is surrounded by natural barriers and the only entrance to the castle is from the north .

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