Smbataberd Fortress

Smbataberd is mentioned in connection with the 5th century Vardanank War. It belonged to princes of Syunik in the 9th-11th centuries and was donated to Orbelian princes in the 13th century for the support during the liberation of Vayots Dzor from Seljuq Turks.



Smbataberd  (“Smbat + berd” or “Smbat’s fortress”) is often assigned to King Smbat who is buried in the nearby village of Yeghegis and who is believed to have rebuilt the fortress.

Another possibly more accurate theory is the fortress got its name from the 10th c. Prince Smbat of Syunik, mentioned by the medieval historian Stepanos Orbelian in his “History of Sisakan”:

“When in 922 upon the order of Yusuf amira of Atrpatakan, general Nsr attacked Syunik, ruling Prince Smbat organized resistance in Yeghegis. Seeing they are unable to bring down the defenders the enemy retreated. Meanwhile, wise Smbat was quietly sitting in Vayots Dzor Province.”

The fortress is protected from the east, west and south by natural cliffs, which are strengthened by tall and wide sloping walls. The fortress is accessible only from the northern side. It is possible the fortress was enlarged by Smbat II Tiezerakal (“Master of the World”) Bagratuni.

Legend suggests that Smbataberd may be the same fortress mentioned as Symbace in Greek geographer and historian Strabo’s work “Atropatene.”

Smbataberd was a part of the Roman era district of Atropatene (ca. 1st c BCE-3rd c). In Greco-Roman sources referred to as the “At’rpatakan Protectorate.”

Smbataberd is one of the oldest and largest fortresses in historic Syunik Province (since divided between Vayots Dzor and Syunik). It’s current edifice is thought to predate the 5th century, while records show it was enlarged and fortified by the Orbelian dynastic family. 

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    How to reach Take M-2 highway from Yerevan for about 125 km, go to M-10 and then North to Shatin village and follow our road signs to reach the fortress.

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