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Ashtarak is the capital city of Aragatsots region of Armenia. It is located on the left bank of Kasakh river 22 km (13.7 mi) away from Yerevan. The city has 4 districts: Old Ashtarak spread over the right bank of the river, Dzakhap (lit. “Left Bank”) – on the left bank, Gitavan and Bagavan. The village of Mughni which hosts St Gevork (George) Monastery is within Ashtarak’s municipality. There is a beautiful canyon of river Kasakh going right through the city and a 17th-century bridge over the river near St Sarkis church.

Architectural Heritage

According to a legend 3 sisters have lived in Ashtarak who have collectively committed suicide for an unknown reason. Three churches were built in their memory. The churches were named according to the colors of the dresses sisters wore – Spitakavor (lit. “Whitish”), Karmravor (lit. “Reddish”) and Tsiranavor (lit. “The Color of Apricot”).

Karmravor (St Mother of God) Church

The church was built in the 7th century. Of the 3 churches, this is the best-preserved one with the original reddish dome. There are khachkars around Karmravor of historical value. The most famous of khachkars authored in 1268 is called “Tsak-Kar” (lit. “Pierced Stone”) because of a hole on its pedestal. Karmravor used to be a monastery of nuns. To this day 2 notable relics are kept here. The first is a painted Indian curtain brought from Kolkata in the years of 1798 – 1799. The second one is a handwritten Gospel donated by the local Shukhyants family in 1873.

Tsiranavor Church

Built in the centuries of 5th – 6th AD Tsiranavor is a triple-aisled basilica-type church. Currently, it stands without a roof and the southern wall. The short description plaques on Tsiranavor and Spitakavor churches are misplaced, locals will tell better which one is which.

How To Get There

If you have a GPS device here is the exact location on Google map. Across the historical bridge is the St Sarkis church but it’s easier to get there from neighboring streets.

Spitakavor Church

This is a small cruciform type of church built in the 13th century. Only the walls made of tufa stone are currently standing without a roof over them.

How To Get There

It is very close to the Tsiranavor church. Here’s the exact location on Google map

Saghmosavank Monastery Complex

Saghmosavank (lit. “Monastery of a Psalm”) is a 13th-century monastery complex. The monastery complex is situated on the top of a steep gorge carved by Kasakh river 14km (8.7 mi) away from Ashtarak. The monastery got its name from the psalms sang there. Maybe the Psalms sounded particularly impressive here because of the acclaimed acoustic qualities of the building. The main church of the complex – St Zion – was built in 1215. South to St Zion is St Mother of God (Astvatsatsin) church built in 1235. The architect has creatively used colors in its construction. Besides using red and black stones here and there some parts were painted white and yellow which is not common in Armenian church architecture. Interestingly enough the only entry into St Astvatsatsin church is through a library. Saghmosavank was one of the richest and well-known monastery complexes in medieval Armenia.

Cafes & Restaurants

OME anti-cafe

This is the only anti-cafe in the town. It is situated in the picturesque area of Ashtarak. Events are organized here almost daily: board games, seminars, movie screening, discussions and so on. There is a library, nice ambient music and the staff is absolutely friendly.

What Do People Like About This Place?
  • Friendly atmosphere
  • Creativity
  • Wonderful people

Old Ashtarak Restaurant

Old Ashtarak is a family-run restaurant in the center of the town. The building was built in the 19th century. It used to belong to a priest then was turned into a makeshift hospital in WW2, then became a winery, a military base and eventually it was purchased by a Syrian-Armenian family who turned it into a splendid restaurant preserving the historical spirit.

What Do People Like About This Place?
  • Superb service
  • Authentic and remarkable food
  • Mini garden
  • Outstanding staff
  • Good location with a spectacular view
  • Traditional Armenian music

Pascal & Diodato Cafe

Pascal & Diodato is close to Karmravor church. This is a nice place to grab a coffee after a long tour, sit back and relax. The first floor features an outdoor cafe. There is a playground for kids upstairs. This cafe is named after 2 Armenians who allegedly started the cafe culture in Europe in the 17th century. Being Armenian ourselves we knew nothing about these fantastic individuals. If you’re curious, ask the owner for more details.)

What Do People Like About This Place?
  • The great Mediterranean and European food
  • Pleasant terrace
  • Handmade chocolate boutique nearby
  • Excellent coffee
  • Cosmopolitan feeling

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