Mount Aragats is the highest peak of Armenia. It is the most beloved mountain in the Republic of Armenia and is the number one travel destination for adventurous tourists.
Do you know what’s the highest peak of Armenia? It’s Mount Aragats. Traditionally Armenians always speak about Mount Ararat as the holy mountain and consider it Armenian, but technically Ararat is in Turkey’s territory.
Unlike Ararat, Aragats is actually within Armenian borders and makes Armenia a desired travel destination for hiking and climbing lovers.
Let’s discover what’s unique about this mountain. We’ll also give you some tourist information about available tours to Aragats, means of transportation, weather and many more.
Basic Information about Mount Aragats
Aragats is the highest four peaked volcano in Aragatsotn and Shirak provinces of the Republic of Armenia. It is also the highest point in the Transcaucasian region and the fourth highest in the whole territory of Armenian highlands.
Mt. Aragats is a four-peaked volcano massif, the highest summit of which is the Northern peak reaching 4090 m above sea level and the lowest peak is the Southern summit, 3879 m above sea level (Eastern – 3,908 m, Western – 3,995 m above sea level).
Mt Aragats covers an area of 6000 km2, which is in total around 1/5 of Armenia’s territory.
Mount Aragats is surrounded by two rivers:
- Kasagh River in the East
- Akhurian River in the West
- On the south, it is surrounded by Ararat plain
- On the North by Shirak plain
The Etymology of the Name of Mount Aragats
The etymology of the name Aragats varies, as the scientists still argue what the real origin of the name is.
Aragats was mentioned in Movses Khorenatsi’s “History of the Armenians”, where Khorenatsi claims that it was named after Hayk Nahapet’s (the legendary patriarch and founder of the Armenian nation) son Aramaneak.
Aramaneak called his possessions “the foot of Aragats” (ոտն Արագածոյ, votn Aragatsoy ), which is the reason why the province was later called Aragatsotn.
According to another Armenian legend, Aragats refers to the Armenian king Ara the Beautiful (or Ara the Handsome, Արա Գեղեցիկ) who was a legendary Armenian hero, originating from Hayk Nahapet’s lineage.
According to legend, Ara Geghecik was so handsome that the Assyrian queen Semiramis fell in love with him and declared war against Armenia to get him.
So, according to this version of the word origin, Aragats was formed by the following Armenian word: Ara (Արա) and gah (գահ), which in English means “Ara’s throne”.
It is also worth mentioning that Aragats was formerly called Ալագյազ, Alagyaz. This is a relatively modern name for the mountain, which in Turkish (Alagoz) means “variegated eye” there is also a village in the Aragatsotn province of the same name.
Mount Aragats in Armenian Culture
The beauty of Aragats mountain is an inspiration for many poets, singers, painters and even common people. Aragats has played a great role in Armenia’s both cultural and historical life.
The Armenian nation has a very beautiful legend about Aragats. At the nightfall, when the gleams of twilight fade, a long glitter drops into the mountain, between its four peaks. It symbolizes the hopes and the dreams of the Armenian nation, about which wrote the National poet of all Armenians Hovhannes Tumanyan in his “the Illuminator’s lantern” poem.
Other poets also mentioned Aragats and wrote about it in their works. Among them are Avetik Isahakyan, Silva Kaputikyan, Marietta Shaginyan and many-many others.
Besides being mentioned in literature, Aragats found its place in art and became an inspiration for many artists. Some of the paintings of Aragats are now kept at the National Gallery of Armenia, including the paintings of:
- Gevorg Bashinjaghian
- Yeghishe Tadevosyan
- Grigory Garegin
- Hmayak Hakobian
- Panos Terlemezian
Speaking of Aragats it is impossible not to remember the Dance of Unity. On May 28, 2005, on the anniversary of the first Republic of Armenia, around a quarter million participants gathered, forming a 163-kilometer ring around the mountain and danced the Dance of Unity (Միասնության շուրջպար).
Nowadays, Aragats is depicted on the coat of arms of Gyumri, the second largest city in the Republic of Armenia (considered to be the cultural capital of Armenia).
It is also depicted on one side of the 10.000 Armenian dram banknote, in the background of famous Armenian poet Avetik Isahakyan.
Tourist Information about Mount Aragats
Speaking about the beauty of Aragats and giving information about it would be useless if you are not going to see it yourself. Nowadays there are many organizations and tour agencies, which provide hiking and climbing tours to mount Aragats.
Now, in winter only professional climbers are recommended to climb mt. Aragats, since the slopes are covered with heavy snow. The most suitable period for non-professional climbers is from June to August when the mountain trails are dry and safe.
There are always many opportunities to go on a hiking tour to mt Aragats, but if you have the chance to see the volcanic beauty of Armenia even once, you will surely remember that your whole life!
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