Area: 5455 km2
Population: 200 125 (2013)
The province of Aragatsotn (literally meaning "foot of Aragats") is located in the western part of Armenia and is surrounded by mountains from three sides; one of which is Mount Aragats - the highest peak of Armenia (4,090 m). The capital and largest city of the province is the town of Ashtarak. Other towns are Talin and Aparan.
The name of Aragats is associated with Aramanyak - the son of Hayk. According to another version, Aragats was named after God Ara which means Ara's throne (Ara and gah (throne). Mount Aragats, being the highest peak in the South Caucasus, attracts the permanent attention of mountaineers and naturalists who want to explore it. From the top of the mountain, you can see most of the Lesser and Greater Caucasus Range.
With its unique nature, Aragats has subalpine and alpine zones and one of the biggest craters in the world, created by a volcano eruption in the distant past. The right period for climbing Aragats is from June until August when mountain trails are dry and safe. In winter, when slopes are covered with snow, only professional climbers on skis top the mount.
Hiking tourism has been gaining ground in Armenia over the past years. It is no surprise as this «mountainous island» is an irresistible country for those who like conquering natural heights.
The climate in the Aragatsotn region is very diverse due to the differences in height. For instance, at the highest peak of Aragats, almost all year round is winter, and in the valley, the summer lasts until October.
The region boasts many intact and dilapidated medieval monuments: Amberd Fortress and the medieval monasteries of Saghmosavank and Ohanavank. The tomb of St. Mesrop Mashtots, the founder of the Armenian alphabet, is in the village of Oshakan not far from the Aragatsotn region's centre. The place has become a national shrine for Armenians.
The well-known Byurakan Observatory, which was founded and headed by the eminent scientist and astronomer Viktor Hambadzumyan, is also in the Aragatsotn region.
According to the official census, the population of Aragatsotn consists of 132,925 people. Besides Armenians, Yazidis and Kurds also live here.
Ashtarak is the administrative centre of the Aragatsotn region. It is located on the left bank of Kasagh River. The name of the city was first mentioned in the 9th century. Ashtarak is not far away from Yerevan, so it is easy to get there by your own car or by taxi.
The first place you should visit in Ashtarak is the city square. There you will see the beautiful statue of Nerses Ashtarakeci. Recently, tree-fountains were placed in the centre of the square. The statue of the Armenian great writer Vardges Petrosyan is also nearby the square.
The city market is not far from the bridge. Here you can see the process of traditional Lavash making. There are lots of restaurants, resort houses, and pools under the Ashtarak Bridge where you can have a really good time.
If you want to know the town better, you can visit Perch Petrosyan's house-museum, and then stop by "Tonratun" at the gallery, and enjoy real Armenian lavash. In this part, you will see the oldest houses in the city, and of course, the three ancient churches at the edge of the Ashtarak gorge: Karmravor, Tsiranavor, and Spitakavor.
Before leaving the city you should also visit an "Ayrudzi" riding club to ride a horse or just to communicate and feed them. Be sure, this place is unforgettable.
Saghmosavank is a medieval church, one of the important cultural and spiritual centers of Armenia.It is located in Aragatsotn region on the right bank of Kasakh River.Read More