Amberd Castle

The exact date of foundation is unknown. Some researchers consider it a Bronze Age settlement, while others link it to the Urartian period and the Early Middle Ages. Excavations, historical and archaeological studies suggest that the structure dates to the 10th-13th cc.

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Amberd Castle

10th-13th CC.

Amberd fortress-town is situated in Aragatsotn district of Greater Armenia’s Ayrarat province. Located in the southern foothills of Mt. Aragats, Amberd sits on a triangular promontory near the confluence of the Arkashen and Amberd rivers.

The exact date of foundation is unknown. Some researchers consider it a Bronze Age settlement, while others link it to the Urartian period and the Early Middle Ages. Excavations, historical and archeological studies suggest that the structure dates to the 10th-13th cc.

Historical sources say the Kamsarakan princes began the construction of the castle in the 7th c. In the 10th c. it belonged to the Pahlavuni princes and was a key defense in Bagratuni Kingdom of Armenia.

In the 1070s Seljuk Turks invaded Amberd and turned it into a military base. In 1195 Amberd was liberated by the joint Armenian-Georgian army led by amirspasalar Zakareh I Zakarian. In the early 13th c. the fortress became the seat of power for the Vachutians.

In 1236 it was captured and destroyed by the Mongols and Tatars. The Vachutians reconstructed it in the late 13th century. Amberd was abandoned in the late 14th c. as a result of the Timurid invasions.

The area includes the citadel-palace (10th-13th cc.), domed St. Astvatsatsin (Katoghike) church (commissioned in 1026 by Vahram Pahlavuni), a bath (10th-11th cc.), a chapel (dated to the 10th c. at the earliest), a secret paved walkway to the Arkashen river.

Archaelogical excavations, reinforcement and restoration works were carried out here over successive periods, with academician H. Orbeli responsible for the first stage of excavations in 1936. 

The next stage of excavations was conducted in 1963-1972 by the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography of the Academy of Sciences of Armenian SSR, led by N. Tokarski and S. Harutyunyan. The excavations uncovered metal artifacts, weapons, jewelry, pottery, coins and other items.

The complex witnessed another stage of restoration works in 2005-2007.

 

 


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    How to reach Amberd is about 1 hour north of Yerevan, on Mt. Aragats. Take the M-1 highway north past Ashtarak, then take the Biurakan exit and follow our signs marking the way to the site. From the highway it is about 24.9 km to the complex.

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