Its not a surprise that Armenia is known as one of the ancient countries of the world. During the long history of Armenia not once have these capitals cities been changed removed and even fully diminished.
Yes, sometimes the crossroads of history have been too cruel to Armenia.
You may be surprised that Armenia had its capital even when most of today’s countries and societies didn’t even exist.
In this article, you’ll know more about all historical Armenia capital cities: when they were formed and where history lead them.
Historical Armenia Capital Cities #1: Van (832 BC-590 BC)
Tushpa or more known name, Van, is the oldest historical Armenia capital city founded in 9th century BC. Van was the capital city of Urartian kingdom, which has been considered the first Armenian Kingdom.
The archeological excavation has shown that the first habitants of Van come from early 5000 BC. The ancient ruins of Van is in the borders of Turkey now, near Van Lake.
Despite an extremely old age of this historical Armenia capital city, history appeared to be kind and preserved one of its ancient fortresses, which is a real cultural treasure. The fortress of Van is a huge fortification built between 9th to 7th century BC.
Van used to be one of the cultural centers of Armenia for a long time. Even at 19th century Van was an important trade center of Western Armenia. Unfortunately it was completely diminished by Ottoman Empire during Armenian Genocide.
Historical Armenia Capital Cities #2: Armavir (331-220 BC)
On contrary to Van, Armavir is one of Historical Armenia capital cities, that is located in the borders of today’s Armenia.
The ruins of this ancient capital is situated in the today’s Armavir province. There is a huge hill in this province near the village Haykavan,.
You can see the ancient fortress, temples and lot of other buildings preserved from this city.
Armavir used to be major cultural and religious centre. The role of Armavir in Armenian pagan history and culture was really immense.
Historical Armenia Capital Cities #3: Yervandashat 210-176 BC
Another vivid example of Armenian rich history is the city Yervandashat. This city was built by the last representative of Orontid Dynasty Orontes IV.
According to ancient historians, the king has chosen especially that place for building the new capital where the two rivers Akhurian and Aras mingled.
Ancient Armenian historian has written in his pages “History of Armenia” that Yervandahsat was especially a beautiful city, full of nice buildings and amazing nature.
Historical Armenia Capital Cities #4: Artashat 176-77 BC and 69 BC-120 AD
Artashat is Historical Armenia capital city that has been remained in the borders of Armenia. Moreover, being situated in the Ararat province, Artashat is the capital town of that province.
The city Artashat was founded by the representative of Artaxiad dynasty Artaxias I. So, very often the town is also called Artaxata.
Artashat used to be not only one of the most developed, but also one of the largest capital cities of the history of Armenia.
The Hellenistic era in Armenia coincided with the period when Artashat was the capital city of Armenia, influence of Hellenistic era in Armenia especially in the archeological excavations of this city.
Being located at the crossroads of international trade, Artashat has soon become one of the most developed economical and trade centers. By the way, Armenia’s first theatre was built in Artashat!
Historical Armenia Capital Cities #5: Tigranakert (77-69 BC)
Tigrarakert is the legendary capital of Armenian Kingdom. Tigranakert was named after is founder Tigranes the Great, the most powerful king of Armenian history.
During this period, Armenia used to be on its peak of development. During its history Armenia has also 3 other cites named Tigranakert, However only this one has been one of the Hisrorical Armenia capital cities.
Historical Armenia Capital Cities #6: Vagharshapat (120-330)
According to Armenian history Vagharshapat has been inhabited from unmemorable times.
Vagharshapat belongs to those historical Armenia capital cities, where you can see the history and development of Armenian Christian culture.
This is because one of the oldest Christian temples of the world Etchmiadin Catherdral was built in Vagharshapat in 4th century.
Though Vagharshapat is not the capital of Armenia today, it’s the 4th largest city and the spiritual centre of Armenia.
Historical Armenia Capital Cities #7: Dvin (336-428)
This historical Armenian capital city was built by Khostrov III of Armenia, one of the greatest Armenian kings of all times.
Soon after it was declared the capital city of Armenia, replacing Vagharshapat, it became a completely new and prosperous spiritual and cultural centre of Armenia.
Dvin used to be a large commercial centre in the medieval period as well. Nowadays Dvin is nothing more an abundant hill, not far away from Ashtarak.
Unfortunately the excavations weren’t successful there because the material part of history was completely diminished.
Historical Armenia Capital Cities #8: Bagaran (885-890)
During the period of Bagradit dynasty, Armenia had 4 capital cities. Bagaran was one of them. Bagaran used to be the capital city of Armenia for a rather short period.
The ancestral mausoleum of Bagradit Dynasty is situated in Bagaran.
Historical Armenia Capital Cities #9: Shirakavan (890-929)
Shirakavan was also accepted to call Yerazgavors. After Bargadit king Smbat I moved from Bagaran to Yerazgavors and made it the capital city of Armenia, he renamed the city as Shirakavan.
One of the ancient treasures of Armenia was the church Surp Prkich situated in Shirakavan.
Armenian Kng Smbat I was crowned in this church. Shirakavan is now in the borders of Turkey. Once prosperous city is hardly recognized today.
Historical Armenia capital cities #10: Kars (929-961)
Another prosperous historical Armenian capital city which is situated in the borders of turkey nowadays: Kars is a rather large inhabited city today.
Kars was known with its unique architectural solutions, which are unfortunately not preserved.
Historical Armenia Capital Cities #11: Ani (961-1045)
Ani is probably the most beautiful historical Armenia capital city. Ani was especially known as a cultural treasure with its magnificent architecture.
This city was also called “City of 1001 churches”. For its rich culture, various cathedrals, churches and extraordinary beautiful buildings, Ani was known throughout the world.
Unfortunately history appeared to be cruel towards this city. There were several invasions and an earthquake in this city. Though the great part of the city is diminished today, some ruins of Armenian churches are preserved.
Even today, Ani is a great touristic centre. However seeing the most beautiful capital city of Armenia is not an easy task for Armenians, as it’s located in the borders of Turkey today.
Historical Armenia Capital Cities #12: Sis (1080-1375)
Sis used to the capital city of Armenian Kingdom of Cilikia.
Sis is a huge fortified complex. Its unique geographical position made Sis almost impossible to conquer as the city was built on the rocks at the shore of the sea.
Historical Armenia Capital Cities #13: Yerevan (1918–1920 and 1991–present)
Finally! Yerevan is todays capital of the Republic of Armenia. Besides being the capital, Yerevan is also the largest city of Armenia.
The history of Yerevan dates back to 782 BC. At first Yerevan was known as Erebuni. The remaining of ancient Unrartian history is carefully preserved in this city. You can also see the Erebuni fortress founded by King Argishti I in 782 BC in Yerevan.
Yerevan is one of the ancient cities of the world. It has faced lot of invasions and hardships during the history of Armenia. Yerevan has been under Arab rule, Iranian rule, Russian rule etc.
Successfully coping with all the invasions and hardships, Yerevan is the capital of today’s independent Armenia. Very often Yerevan is called a pink city as the majority of buildings is made of pink tufa stone.
There are quite a lot of cultural treasures in Yerevan both preserved from ancient times and new ones. You’ll see the influence of different cultures when Yerevan was under the rule of other Empires. In other words, Yerevan is incomparably unique city, which needs special attention.
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