AMBERD FORTRESS

Amberd medieval fortress, located on the southern slopes of Mt. Aragats in the historical province of Aragatsotn, is nestled on the connection of Arkashen and Amberd rivers at the height of 2.300 meters. In accordance with studies of the history of Armenian architecture carried out by a prominent Russian scientist Nikolai Tokarsky, the castle and some parts of the wall were built in the 7th century

Impregnable Amberd fortress belonged to Pahlavuni Dynasty and thanks to its natural position and defensive structures it was an important military stronghold in the kingdom of Bagratunis. The fortress had a form of irregular triangle and vulnerable sections that were fortified with tower walls, built in consideration of peculiarities of the location. Their prudent position over the roads created an invisible defense system. Amberd fortress was assigned with the role of a defensive ring of Ani city.

The inaccessible fortress was dated back to 10-13 centuries according to historical studies conducted in 1939 by an Armenian orientalist and archaeologist Hovsep Orbeli and in 1963-1972 by N. Tokarsky and S. Harutyunyan. Some metal objects, weapons, silver jewelry, ceramics, glassware, gold, copper coins, bronze candlesticks and other archaeological items were revealed and dug out during the excavations.

This splendid defensive construction comprises of a number of historical and architectural monuments, such as fortress walls, the gates of Arkashen and Amberd gorges, a palace, water reservoirs, a chapel and residential buildings and Vahramashen, a Catholic Church, built under the auspices of Vahram Pahlavuni in the center of the upland next to Arqashen wall. The church has a cross-domed form. The rectangular planning incorporates the chapel with a circular shaped interior and with the exterior decorated with 12 facets each made of a pair of pillars covered with an umbrella-like laying.

There is an inscription about the construction of the church on the inside wall. Amberd has survived countless foreign invaders and overcome many other challenges since its foundation, but in 1236 Mongols captured and almost completely destroyed it. Despite continuous invasions, the castle was rebuilt over and over again and was even more fortified. In the 13th century the fortress was totally rebuilt by Vachutyans.

However, the fortress witnessing many catastrophic events of our history lost its significance after Turkish-Tatar invasions and deserted during the reign of Tamerlane at the end of the 14 th century. The ruins of Amberd fortress and its walls, the church, the bath and remnants of other constructions have been preserved. Yu Tamanyan who was an architect of the 1949-72 period proposed a renovation projection within the scope of which Vahramashen Church and the bath were restored and fortified, whereas in the years of 2005 to 2007 the monuments of the complex were fundamentally and thoroughly renovated.