Armenian Alphabet Monument, Oshakan, Aragats, Amberd


Mount Aragats is an isolated four-peaked volcano massif in Armenia. Its northern summit, at 4,090 m above sea level, is the highest point of the Lesser Caucasus and Armenia. It is also one of the highest points in the Armenian Highlands. Mt. Aragats plays a special role in Armenian history and culture. Along with Ararat, it is considered a sacred mountain for the Armenians. The name of the mountain is less often spelled Aragatz. According to Armenian tradition, Aragats originates from the words Ara and gah, which translates to "Aras throne". Ara refers to the legendary hero Ara the Beautiful. Aragats was mentioned by the early medieval historian Movses Khorenatsi. In his History of the Armenians Khorenatsi claims that the mountain is named after Aramaneak, the son of Hayk who is the legendary father of the Armenian people. A relatively modern name for the mountain is Alagöz, which literally means "variegated eye" in Turkish. This term was widely used up until the mid-20th century.


Amberd is a 7th-century fortress located 2,300 meters above sea level, on the slopes of Mount Aragats. The name translates to "fortress in the clouds" in Armenian. It is also the name incorrectly attributed to Vahramashen Church, the 11th-century Armenian church near the castle. The site started as a Stone Age settlement. During the Bronze Age and Urartian periods, a fortress had been built that is now obsolete. Some sources say that Amberd used to be a summer residence for kings. Four centuries later the fortress and surrounding lands were purchased by the House of Pahlavuni and rebuilt by Prince Vahram Vachutian Pahlavuni. Vahram built the Church of Surb Astvatsatsin in 1026, fortified the complex with thicker stone walls, and added three bastions along the ridge of the Arkhashen canyon. Despite being unusual for a military installation, a bath house was built in the same period and has remained moderately intact along with the water supply system.

Armenian Alphabet Monument

When Mashtots began working on an Armenian alphabet, it was under great pressure so that it could be used to create a bible for the newly Christian kingdom. Elegantly planned, Mashtots laid out the structure of the alphabet around the religion. To honor his work, Armenian architect J. Torosyan created the stone carvings of every letter near Mashtots final resting place in 2005. Set against the backdrop of Armenias Mt. Aragats. The letters and a statue of Mashtots pay tribute to the complex and language, a national point of pride of Armenia.


Oshakan is a major village in the Aragatsotn Province of. It is well known to historians and pilgrims of the Armenian Apostolic Church. During the Arsacid Dynasty of the Kingdom of Armenia, it served as the main town of Ayrarat province and the capital of its Aragatsotn canton from which the Amatuni noble family ruled. However, Oshakan is best known for the Saint Mesrop Mashtots Cathedral which is the burial place of Saint Mesrop Mashtots, the creator of the Armenian alphabet. The church houses his grave and was rebuilt by Catholicos George IV in 1875. Wall paintings on the interior were done in 1960 by the artist H. Minasian. Saint Mesrop Cathedral is the seat of the Aragatsotn Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Just to the south of the town is the Didikond Hill, where excavations have uncovered a fort and five palaces built around the 7th to 5th centuries BC.

DestinationArmenian Alphabet Monument, Oshakan, Aragats (Lake Kari), Amberd

* The unused portions of the itinerary are not refundable.

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