Smbataberd fortress was probably built during the reign of the Arsacid (also called Arshakuni) dynasty. According to historical evidence, a battle between the Armenians and the Persians took place near the fortress in the V century. The original name of the fortress is not known. People traditionally have called it Smbataberd, perhaps in honor of the prominent Prince Smbat Orbelian, who may have rebuilt the fortress. It is also possible to be called after the X-century Siuni Prince Smbat.
In the middle of the IX century the Siuni princes, making Yeghegis their political center, probably turned Smbataberd into a military base. Later the Orbelians fortified it (XIII-XV centuries). But in the XVII century, it was completely destroyed and abandoned after the invasions of Shah Abbas and the Ottoman-Persian war.
The fortress was built in compliance with all the rules of medieval fortification for long-lasting protection.
On the east and south Smbataberd fortress is surrounded by Yeghegis and on the west by Artabuynk gorges. It can be reached only from the North which is fortified by walls.
The fortress has nearly 1 km long powerful walls with half towers the height of which is about 8-10 m. The walls are built of large wedge-shaped basalt stones and lime mortar the sharp end of the wedge facing the wall which is 2-3 m thick. Inside the walls, along their entire length, the ruins of numerous habitable and farm buildings have been preserved.
The main entrance to the fortress is from the north meanwhile there are two more entries from the north ends of the eastern and western sides. The northern and eastern entrances are hall-like, built of hewn basalt stone and lime mortar․There used to be guardhouses and watchtowers on the roof of the hall.
The fortress is divided into southern and northern sections. It had both habitable buildings and cisterns. In the southern part residential buildings were located only in the citadel. Water for the fortress was brought through clay water pipes from the springs near the Tsakhats Kar, the traces of which can be seen on the side of the road, on the col of the mountain range.
In 2011 partial restoration of Smbataberd was carried out.
“Smbataberd” Historical and Cultural Reserve has been the branch of the “Service for the Protection of Historical Environment and Cultural Museum-Reservations” SNCO since 2018.