Ararat marz is an Armeian province in the south-western part of the country. It is famous for its gorgeous view of Biblical Mount Ararat as well as Khor Virap Monastery.
It doesn’t matter whether you are a native Armenian or a tourist who explores Armenia, you must have probably tasted apricot.
Ararat marz (province) in the south-western part of Armenia is home to the production of that world-famous sweet Armenian fruit. So, scrawl down and find out all about this marz and what you can do there during your visit.
Basic Information on Ararat Marz (Province)
The territory of province is divided into two parts – the plains and mountains. The plain part is about 10-15km which is located between the river Hrazdan and the state border of Armenia. The territory of modern-day Ararat Province is among the earliest cradles settled by the people of the Armenian Highland.
It basically covers the territory of 3 cantons of Vostan Hayots, Urstadzor and Arats of the historic Ayrarat province. Vostan Hayots was known during the times of the Artaxiad Kingdom of Armenia at the beginning of the 2nd century BC.
The two ancient Armenian capitals such as Artakhata founded in 176 BC, and Dvin established in the 4th century AD, were both located within the Vostan Hayots canton.
The other cantons of Urtsadzor and Arats were first mentioned in the 5th century AD by Yeghishe the historian in his “History of Vardan and the Armenian War” historical work.
Movses Khorenatsi the Armenian historian, writes that Ayrarat was one of the 15 provinces of Armenia Major. It was considered the central province of the Armenian Highland.
Population of Ararat Marz
Arax, Hrazdan, Azat and Vedi, are the 4 major rivers the flow through the province. The province has 4 urban and 93 rural communities. The urban population is 74,103. The provincial centre is Artashat. It is the largest urban community. Its population is 22,269.
Ararat, Masis and Vedi are other urban centers. With a population of 8,376, the village of Ayntap is the largest rural municipality of Ararat. Ethnic Armenians make the overwhelming majority of Ararat province. They belong to the Armenian Apostolic Church.
Specific Weather Conditions of Ararat Marz
The climate of Ararat is sharply continental. Winters are warm and sunny. However, spring hardly lasts long in Ararat.
It becomes hotter since the second term of May. This is how the dry Summer conquers its place and lasts till mid September. Especially sunny, windless and prolonged autumn is nice in Ararat, when fruits ripen in orchards and fields.
How to get to Ararat Marz
This province is quite near the capital Yerevan. It’s all about 67 km away. There are a lot of ways to get to Ararat Province.
Public transport stands first. So if you are in the center of Yerevan, you’d better get to the bus station by underground. Take either Republic Square or Yeritasardakan underground. It reaches “Sasuntsi David” railway station. It is from here that you take a minibus to reach Ararat Marz.
Another means of transport is the train. It’s quite comfortable and exciting at the same time.
Private taxis are always at your disposal if you don’t like waiting long! But if you are fond of doing everything on you own and you are sure to cope with the intercity roads of Armenia, then just rent a car.
What is Ararat Famous For
Armenian hospitality is a widespread fact! It goes without saying that cuisine of Armenia is one of the richest and most testy cuisine within Europe and Asia. Armenian desserts are tasty and sweet as well.
Fruits and vegetables filled with sun’s energy are particularly famous. Thus, Ararat Province, located at the fertile Ararat plain, provides most part of fruits. Orchards mainly produce grapes, apricot and peach.
Other products include pear, apple, melon, watermelon and eggplant. Grains and dry seed are also among the crops of the agricultural activities in Ararat.
By the way, Ararat is among the most industrialized provinces of Armenia with many large industrial firms. It currently has a contribution of 10% in the annual total industrial product of Armenia. Ararat produces alcoholic drinks as well which is among the leading spheres in Ararat with a large number of factories spread all over the communities of the province.
Besides, Ararat is famous for being a tourists destination, as the province is home to many protected areas of nature including the Khosrov Forest State Reserve, the Goravan Sands Sanctuary and the Khor Virap Wildlife Sanctuary.
The Khor Virap monastery is among the regular tourist destinations in Ararat Province. The ancient settlements of Artaxata and Dvin are among the attractive sites for archaeologists.
Things to Do in Ararat Marz
Things to Do in Ararat Marz #1: Visit Fortresses and Archaeological Sites
If you are fond of ancient archeological sites, then take a trip to Ararat Province. Start your journey with the ancient capital of Dvin.
Of course, the city lies in ruins now, but you can figure out how the residents lived in ancient Armenia. The city was built by Khosrov III of Armenia in 335 on a site of an ancient settlement and fortress from the 3rd millennium BC.
The city was the primary residence of the Armenian Kings of the Arsacid dynasty. Dvin had a population of about 100,000 citizens who were handy with various professions, including trade, fishing arts and crafts, etc.
Kakavaberd is a fortress on a edge that overlooks the Azat river gorge at the Khosrov State Reserve. It is 1,516 meters above sea level. The walls of Kakavaberd are well preserved. It is inaccessible from three of its sides because of the steep terrain.
Towers at the northeastern side are 8 to 10 meters tall. The ruins of a church and other structures can be found within the fortress. The fortress was first mentioned by Hovhannes Draskhanakerttsi in the 9th-10th centuries.
Things to Do in Ararat Marz #2: Visit Khor Virap Monastery
It is enough to visit churches and monasteries scattered within the territory of Armenia to make sense about how rich and beautiful Armenian architecture is.
Aghjots Vank also known as the Saint Stephen Monastery of Goght is a 13th-century monastery. According to local folklore, the monastery was founded by Grigor the Illuminator upon the site of the martyrdom of Stepanos. Stepanos was supposed as a companion to Saint Hripsime during the time of Armenia’s conversion to Christianity in 301 AD. The etymology of Aghjots Vank is derived from the nearby abandoned village of Aghjots.
The Khor Virap monastery is another remarkable monastery located in the Ararat plain. Until the chapel was built Khor Virap served as a royal prison during Artashesid dynasty. Unfortunately, St. Gregory the Illuminator was imprisoned for years in Khor Virap monastery.
The legend states, that his dungeon was filled with snakes and other poisonous reptiles. However, he survived for 13 years. King Tiridates fell in love with a Christian nun named Hripsime, who refused to break her vows to God and marry the king.
The king ordered to kill her. After her death, the king went mad. The king’s sister released Gregory from captivity to heal her brother. The King survived and converted his kingdom to Christianity in 301AD, making Armenia the first nation to adopt Christianity as its state religion.
Things to Do in Ararat Marz #3: Khosrov Forest State Reserve
Armenia is a mountainous country and forests cover very little part of the land. Thus, it’s important to save the “lungs” of the country. Khosrov Forest in Ararat province is one of the state reserves in Armenia.
Khosrov Forest State Reserve is also known as the Khosrov Forest. It is one of the oldest protected areas in the world. The reserve has enjoyed a long-term reputation of a forest tract and a rich historical legacy.
Wildlife conservation and nature protection began in Armenia many centuries ago. The reserve was founded by King Khosrov III of the Kingdom of Armenia. He ruled from 330 until 339. Accordingly, the reserve is named after him.
The primary objective of the reserve was to improve the natural-climatic conditions of the adjacent city of Artashat in order to ensure conservation and enrichment of flora and fauna. He also ordered to plant trees on the high slope of the mountains.
Besides, it also served as a royal ground for hunting and entertainment. Later the forest was enriched with hunting animals brought in from other places. This reserve that Khosrov had founded was the first in the region. And he was the first Christian king as a ruler of state to establish a conservation reserve and was the only known monarch as a distant relation of Greek king Alexander the Great.
Things to Do in Ararat Marz #4: Visit Museums
Outstanding Armenians are born in every part of the country. Former prime minister of Armenia Vazgen Sargsyan and a famous poet Paruyr Sevak were born in Ararat.
So, you will find their house-museums in the province. Visit that museums and discover more about their life and activity.
Things to Do in Ararat Marz #5: Go Cycling
Cycling is a newly developing “lifestyle” in Armenia. Most towns and cities lack in cycling routs. However, you have got the chance to cycle in Ararat province.
Just google and discover all cycling routs and bike maps in and around Ararat province. You will find that routs in Artashat, Zangakatun, etc.