Ashtarak is a city in Armenia, located in the Aragatsotn province. This city is one of the most important cultural and industrial centers of Armenia.
There are many cities in Armenia that are culturally, economically very active. Some of them are famous as resort, spa towns, some are famous for being industrial, some are historical. Here we’ll present you a city that is both industrious and cultural.
Though life in Ashtarak is not very active nowadays, it has very rich cultural heritage. This town is definitely worth visiting, so make sure you include visiting it in your “to do” list while being in Armenia.
Basic Information about Ashtarak
Location of Ashtarak
The largest city of Aragatsotn province is its center Ashtarak, which is about 13km to the northwest of the capital Yerevan. Ashtarak lies on the base of Mount Aragats. It is about 1100 meters above sea level.
Ashtarak is located on the both shores of the River Kasagh. There are 3 bridges crossing the river Kasagh, the oldest of which was built in 17th century and is used till our days. As a whole, Armenia is known for its water resources. This region is especially rich with drinking water resources.
Industry of Ashtarak
One of the biggest suppliers of milk products in Armenia is also situated in Ashtarak. It is called “Ashtarak kat” (Ashtarak milk). Though the name suggests that they produce milk, but company produces all kinds of milk products as well.
In autumn 2016, there were rumors about the dysfunctionality of the company. Almost everyone was talking about the final bankruptcy of the company, but those turned out to be only rumors.
“Ashtarak Kat” continues to function. Furthermore, it presented new line of products and still has primary role in Armenian milk product industry.
Population and Weather
The Population of Ashtarak is 18000. Ashtarak’s weather varies a lot during the different seasons of the year. The climate is mild in summers, and rather cold in winters.
The name Ashtarak means tower or fortress in Armenian. According to the famous Armenian historian Movses Khorenatsi, the modern-day Aragatsotn was settled by Aramanyak. Aramanyak was Hayk’s son, who is the legendary patriarch and founder of Armenian nation.
However, Ashtarak was first mentioned as a rural settlement during the 9th century. During its long history Ashtarak has survived many invasions and disasters and has changed a lot.
How to Get to Ashtarak?
Ashtarak is also a nice place to have a rest and forget about the hustle and bustle of crowded Yerevan. There would be no difficulty in getting to Ashtarak.
Never forget to ask the driver to stop at Ashtarak, otherwise they won’t. Those who prefer more comfortable way of transportation, can take a taxi.
There is also good news for those who are fond of extreme and traveling by bicycles. During recent years, Armenian bicycle sport is emerging. Lot of Armenians and why not also foreigners are fond of long rides in Armenia.
The mountainous area of Armenia adds more extreme to the rides. If you don’t have a bicycle you can hire it. There is no necessity of being a professional cyclist for taking part in such trips. Very often amateur cyclists form grouping and ride together somewhere out of the Yerevan.
You can be in touch and plan your bicycle trip to Ashtarak by becoming a member of “Federation of Amateur Cycling and Cycle Tourism”. This would be a rather healthy and enjoyable way of travelling.
Hitchhiking is also an option: Armenian drivers are mainly very kind, and they get even kinder with foreigners. They like to talk very much. So, don’t be surprised if after getting to your destination, you know everything about the driver’s family, kids and his political views.
Hotels in Ashtarak
As Ashtarak is a developing city for tourism, finding a nice hotel will be an easy task. One of them is the Ashtarak Hotel. This is a rather old hotel, preserved from Soviet times. Another nice and luxurious hotel is Caucasus Hotel, which is situated on Ashtarak highway.
Things to Do and See in Ashtarak
Here are several things in Ashtarak, which we consider are worth doing or visiting.
Things to Do and See #1: Karmravor Church
On the north-eastern side of city Ashtarak is situated St Karmravor Church, which was built in the 7th century. This is one of the oldest Armenian churches that have survived disasters and foreign invasions.
Karmravor used to be a monastery in past. The exceptional architecture, stone gates and well preserved carved walls are amazing. Outside the church, you can see lot of Khachkars (Armenian cross-stone) which is also a unique element of Armenian culture.
The word “Karmravor” means reddish. The church was called Karmravor, because the dome of church has a red color. Overall, the architecture of Karmravor church is very simple and modest. This simple style of architecture is typical to medieval period in Armenia.
This place is one of the cultural brilliants of humanity, besides it’s a perfect place for those who are looking for solitude and prayers in silence.
Things to Do and See #2: The Home-Museum of Perch Proshyan
This museum is dedicated to one of the outstanding writers of Armenian literature. The museum was founded in 1948, and later was rebuilt in 1990. You can get acquainted with the personal stuff of the great writer.
The house is fully decorated in a way it was when the actor was living in it. There is also a bakery and wine cellar in the territory of the museum. Various special events and performances are constantly organized there.
Things to Do and See #3: Airudzi Riding Club
This is a nice place for spending time with family and friends. Here you can ride a horse as much as you want. If you haven’t any experience in it, the professional riders will teach you how to ride a horse with great pleasure.
The riding club gives you an opportunity to know the behavior and peculiarities of horses closer which will once again prove that horses are the kindest and smartest animals.
Those who visit this place, leaves it with great enthusiasm. They say that the riding process gives them great positive energy, it helps to get rid of stress easily.
Things to Do and See #4: Walnut Festival
Taking part in the walnut festival will be great fun. Ashtarak is known for its best quality of walnut in whole Armenia. Every year on 3 October a peculiar festival is organized. You can enjoy nice and friendly atmosphere there.
All songs, competitions and games are about walnut that day. The games and competitions are very interactive, such as cracking as much walnuts as one can. The winners of the competitions are awarded with special prizes.
The purpose of the festival is to make the Armenian walnut known throughout the world. Very often citizens of Ashtarak like to ask jokingly: “what makes the other famous, Ashtarak to the walnut or vice versa?”
Things to Do and See #5: Van Ardi Winery
If you are fond of wine, then you will definitely be in love with this place. Van Ardi is boutique winery which is situated in Ashtarak. The place was chosen with special purpose. Ashtarak is historically considered as one of the ancient regions of wine production.
Van Ardi has its own vineyard estate. The soil, which is rich with minerals, and climate of Armenia foster the growth of quality grapes. Van Ardi company’s main aim is to preserve best Armenian traditions of wine production. The boutique hosts various tasting and events, which will help you understand which wine suits you perfectly.