Amberd Fortress and the Church Vagramed on Mount Aragats
Most of the Armenian attractions are somehow related to religion. Standard set of any guide offers visits to the top10 monasteries and churches. They are certainly very beautiful and worth seeing if you travel through this Caucasian country. But you can diversify a little religious topic and go to look at the ancient fortress Amberd, built in the VII century. For fans of churches, too, there is something to see – the temple is prouded, erected for four centuries later citadel. Well, on the way back, you can look at the Burakan Observatory. Excursion to Amberd, one of the most unusual of those offering private guides in Yerevan. We went to Amberd on our own and never regretted your decision – this is one of the brightest sights of Armenia, which we have seen. On the history of the ancient fortress, we will tell in this article. Will not cost and without traditional useful information on how to get to where to buy an excursion and T.D. For easy navigation, use the content that is immediately after the first photo.
Amberd Fortress and the Church Vagramed on Mount Aragats
Where is Amberd and how to get from Yerevan
Amberd Fortress and Vagrmashen Church are located at an altitude of 2300 meters above sea level on the slope of Aragats Mountain. Distance from Yerevan is only about 55km, the road to the car takes about 1.5 hours, because a pretty serious part of the path goes in the mountains where you will not be accelerated. It is believed that visiting the fortress is possible only in good weather in the warm season (usually from May to October). We were there at the end of April in sunny weather, but local people say that it is rather an exception to the rules – in April the road to the fortress is still littered with snow. We willing to believe in it, because the giant heaps of the snow, which we saw on the side of the road, clearly confirm it.
Snow at the end of April on the road to Amberd
You can get to Amberrad in two ways:
- by car or taxi
- With excursion
Directly public transport you will not get. You can try the option to poke buses or partially use the Blablacar (you need to really try to match all the dates), but this option is for quite a fan.
In amberd on the car
We traveled on our car during our spring auto desk in Armenia in 2019, but you can take a car to rent and go on it. Most lovers of independent travel and do. Car rental in Yerevan stands:
For the mechanics (with rent for 4 days) for the machine (with rent for 4 days)
The price for rent for a longer period is reduced, and smaller, respectively, increases.
Serpentine is not big, but snow even at the end of April
Yandex knows this place perfectly, so the best way to introduce a name in the navigator and go, following the instructions. If the navigator is not for you, then from Yerevan go along the M1 highway and head towards the city of Ashtarak (a normal asphalt road). Circle it around the district and in the area of the city of Agarak (not the one that on the border with Azerbaijan, the other) turns on the Burakan, and then according to the signs for Amber.
Here the road is worse, at the end both serpentine. In the summer, the road must be trouble-free, in the winter there, if you can drive, then only on the SUV and on normal winter tires. At the end of April, at the edges of the road lay more large drifts, after it cleared it, but we drove on summer wheels without problems.
Time on the road is at least one and a half hours (Yandex usually says that about an hour, but here he is deceiving). If a car rental is not for you, then a taxi option for half a day, but usually a taxi costs more or in the same money that an individual tour to Amberd’s fortress.
Order Excursion to the Ambard Fortress
Guides in the center of Yerevan actively offer group excursions to Amberd for quite acceptable money. Individual we failed to find, but we think that the question is exclusively the price. In online services, the choice, unfortunately, is also not very big, but taking into account the popularity of the site, most likely the number of proposals will increase:
(Amberd Fortress, Sagmosavank Monastery, Kari-Lit Lake, Sv Tomb. Mesard Mashtots). Price: € 174 for excursion for 5 people or 30 € if the wak is more. Please note that in the winter in the fortress Amberd, the excursion does not go, but replacement for no less stunning places. Lunch and tasting of Armenian wine paid separately. This tour does not include Ambernd Fortress, but, perhaps, by agreement guide can change the route, as they still go to the Lake Kiri-Lich. Price: € 140 for 3 people. The price includes the "master class" on the preparation of kebabs in Tanda. (Sagmosavank Monastery, Amberd Fortress). Price: € 125 for three people or € 200 for seven. Additional cost: tickets to the fortress (3 € per person), lunch (approximately 10-15 € per person)
Excursion Group in Amber
Hotels in Mount Aragats
There are several options to inspect Armenia by car. You settle in Yerevan and make friends daily at interesting places for you, but you can just go and spend the night in different cities. We tried both the other option. Everyone has their pros and cons. On the one hand, the charm of small hotels and savings of gasoline and time, on the other hand – find the hotel is sometimes very difficult, especially if you place certain requirements for hotels. As our experience showed, prices are very rarely lower than on Booking (usually more expensive), so you can look after good hotels in advance. Here are some excellent options on Mount Aragats next to Amberd’s fortress, they can become a great place to relax in the inspection of both the fortress and neighboring monasteries.
– from $ 50 per day for two without breakfast. – from $ 45 a day without breakfast – from $ 38 for two with breakfast – from $ 25 per day for two with breakfast
Cost of visits and opening hours
In April 2019, visiting the fortress was free, for the parking lot they also did not take anything, but judging by the reviews, in the summer of the parking lot you will have to give 200 drams ($ 0.42 or 27 rubles). The fortress is open daily from 9 am to 8 pm from April to October exactly, in the winter it may be unavailable.
Spring in Ambernda
History of the fortress Amberd
Amberd is considered one of the largest surviving Armenian fortresses. Personally, it seemed to us that the fortresses of Erebuni and Lurie was larger, but perhaps this visual deception and Amberd is really the biggest fortress of Armenia.
There are several versions of the emergence of the Fortress. According to one of them initially, the strengthen was called "Anberd", and the Amberd version appeared much later. This fact indirectly confirms medieval historians who used exactly the first option in their writings. Most likely, the letter "H" was replaced by "M" in the process of assimilation of the language. G. Gafancyan believed that "An" means "God" in the ancient language of the URAR region, "Berd" in translation from Armenian means the fortress. Thus, "Anberd" – literally "the fortress of God". But this version challenges critics: firstly, the urants were pagans, secondly, during their existence there was not yet the fortress. So the most common version of the title value is "Fortress in the clouds". Personally, we really like this name.
Ambard Castle in Armenia
If there is still some clarity with the title, then with history – complete confusion. According to one data, the castle-fortress was built in the XI century, on others earlier. When you start to compare the rules of Armenian dynasties, which were allegedly owners of Ambernd, then you understand that the centuries and people exist separately from each other and often do not intersect.
Gateway to Amberd Fortress
According to one of the versions of Amberd was founded by the princes of Kamsarakan in the VII century, by the X century he passed into the possession of Vagram Pahlawani, and then he sold the fortress of the Bagratuni dynasty, which turned the castle to the main outpost of his kingdom. Most likely, bugger built their castle on the ruins of the more ancient fortress, which is why here you can see the cyclope masonry more characteristic for the V-VII centuries.
Now in Amberda you can see the ruins of a three-story castle, a renovated church Vagramausheny, bath, chapel, water residues, secret moves to the river. The castle had a water supply, a central heating system, in general, was a rather powerful autonomous structure with an area of nearly 1500 square meters. When excavations, many carpets were found, which allow us to conclude that many rooms of the castle were removed by carpets.
Amberd Castle from the inside, only walls remained from the old splendor
Armenian fortress amberd
The view from the castle to the church
Out of the fortress towards the church
In the XI century, the castle was captured by the Seljuk Turks, which turned Amberd in the parking lot for troops. In 1196, joint Armenian-Georgian troops liberated the castle at the head of the order I Zakaryan. And the fortress went into his possession, the truck itself was released almost the entire territory of Armenia, after which the period of peace and prosperity occurred when monasteries, churches and castles were built and expanded everywhere. In the 12-13 centuries, Amberd was reinforced with a powerful fortress siege staircase, and the castle and other buildings were renovated.
View of the castle from the church is vagramushen
In 1236, the castle captured and completely destroyed Tatar-Mongols, but he was again restored by Vacutian at the end of the XIII century. Wachutian and his wife Mammakatat very actively supported the monastery of Saints, Sugmosavank and Hovhannes, and the fortress of Amberd also did not throw.
The once mighty fortress of Amberd finally collapsed and lost its value at the end of the XIV century during the reign of Lenkhemure and stood in the launch until XX.
The first archaeological excavations and work on strengthening and restoring monuments in Ambernd were held in 1936 under the leadership of Academician and. Orbel. In 1963-1972, the excavation continued the Institute of Archology and Ethnography of the Academy of Sciences of the Armenian SSR Gender by. Tokarsky and S. Aratunyana.
During the excavations, metal items, weapons, decorations, ceramics, coins were discovered. But the most interesting find became Lavash, discovered in the layer dated XII century – it was preserved in perfect condition. It was quite possible to twist and consumed in food, despite the fact that he was almost 800 years old.
Last restoration work in Amberd was held in 2005-2007.
Next to the fortress there is a small neat church, built in 1026 by the Vagram Pahlava. This fact is reliably known, as it is described on the northern door of the temple, in fact, the name of the church is advised at the name of the founder. But the architect of the temple is unknown.
The church is advised in Amber
Main entrance to Vagramushen
Second entrance to the temple
The church is built from the basalt blocks polished from all sides, which mined immediately nearby. The temple has almost no windows, "almost" – because there are four narrow holes downstairs and two wide holes in the drum of the dome, but they can be called them with a large stretch.
Church in Ambernde
In 1936, Vakhramashen was renovated, re-restoration was produced in 1970. Unfortunately, we were not lucky to get inside the temple and all our acquaintance was limited to inspection outside.
View of the temple from the castle, in the foreground Refailed chapel
Our review of visiting
In conclusion, according to the tradition, I would like to share my personal impressions from visiting the castle of Amberd and the Church Vagramushen. Amberd is one of the most beautiful places in Armenia, which we visited. It may affect the absence of a mass number of tourists, such as, for example, in Noravanka and Choir Virape, and maybe we were lucky with the mood of this trip. Some impressions added the road that became like a separate landmark. The ancient fortress and the church in the middle of the gorge and around neither the soul on many kilometers – what can be more beautiful for lovers of nature, architecture and history.
Flowers in spring in Amber
Spring in Ambernde and Wild Iris
Amberd – an unusually beautiful and bright place. If you are traveling in Armenia by car, then this place is just a must see. If you choose an unusual excursion – then this is also a great choice to visit in an unexpressed (yet) tourists place. We really enjoyed in Ambernde, and we strongly recommend it to a visit to all our friends who go to Armenia, and many times they go there.