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.

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Smbataberd - Fortress

The fortress was protected by steep Artabun and Yeghegis river canyons, and rung by two to three meter thick walls with repeated guard towers. What remain are on the north end of the complex.

The fortress could accommodate a large population. At its upper part the fortress had two citadels meant for the ruling house. A wall divides the fortress into northern and southern parts in which the ruins of the citadels’ living area were discovered.

The main entry to the fortress is from the north. Two more entries can be found to the west and east. The main entrance of the fortress used a blind gate system, requiring those who entered to slow down or stop before entering, with guards on the towering walls. 

This kept close watch on the comings and goings of the fortress while allowing the guards to stop undesired entry in a very short time.

The citadel at Smbataberd was the focus of life in the region, the center of royal, military and economic life. It was where arsenals were kept, where soldiers slept, where grains and producer were stored, and where the treasure was kept, while also housing the royal family. 

A hidden source of water from Tsakhats Kar (more than 2 kilometers distant) supported a large population.

Historic forebears Armenian Bronze Age and Urartian settlements also featured fortified citadels. Citadels protected the ruling class, while also a place to store arms and soldiers. 

During times of revolt, the citadel was the place where sorties were led, and in times of invasion, the place of safety for the population. There are no recorded revolts featuring Smbataberd though southern Armenia did have revolts at Tatev.

Smbataberd’s citadel sat on top of a steep set of cliffs, and was massive; it covered the entire mount top. Excavations have thus far featured a small portion of the whole. 


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    Working period/season Year around

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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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