“Amberd Amrots” Historical and Cultural Reserve was established by the RA Government Decision N 541-N dated May 18, 2017, and was included in the structure of the «Service for the Protection of Historical Environment and Cultural Museum-Reservations” SNCO. The historical and cultural reserve occupies an area of 45.07 hectares.
“Amberd Amrots” city fortress is located 7 km northwest of the village Byurakan of the region Ashtarak (Aragatsotn Marz, RA) on the southern slopes of Mount Aragats, at the confluence of the Arkashen and Amberd rivers, on a triangular promontory. The site of the fortress was chosen in accordance with the principles of castle construction adopted in ancient and medieval Armenia. The entire city fortress is situated on a triangular promontory with an area of 5 hectares which is surrounded by steep ravines on three sides.
It is not exactly known when Amberd was founded. Some scholars date it to the time of construction of Cyclopean fortresses, others to the Urartian and early medieval periods. Based on the excavations and historical-archeological studies Amberd dates back to the X-XIII centuries. According to historical sources, the construction of Amberd began in the VII century by the Kamsarakan princes. In the X century, it belonged to the Princes Kamsarakan and was one of the important military and defensive strongholds of the Bagratid Kingdom which was known as an inaccessible fortress due to its natural location and impregnability. It was responsible for one of the important roles in the defensive ring of the city of Ani.
Later Amberd passed to the Zakarids and then to the Vachutyants and became the administrative center of the princely house.
“Amberd Amrots” Historical and Cultural Reserve includes the following architectural structures: the citadel or the princely castle and the entrance to the castle, the walls of the castle, the gates of Arkashen and Amberdadzor, the Vahramashen Church (1026), the chapel, the oil mill, the drinking water network, and the cisterns, the bathhouse (X-XI cc.), the secret passages and other structures in the territory of the fortress.
The Castle – Based on the architectural and archaeological studies of the ruins of this complex built of basalt on the northwestern upland area of the city fortress and the castle windows it was concluded that the castle was three-story with inter-floor wooden beams. The castle was rebuilt and fortified many times. The first floor was intended for household needs, while the second and the third floors served for human habitation. The castle dominated the entire fortress and its surroundings thus providing their protection and emphasizing the importance of the castle in the complex. The territory of the fortress with an area of 1500 sq. m. is surrounded by high (15-16m) and massive (2-3m) walls, now in ruins. In the north they are pyramidal and in the south they are flat.
The bathhouse – is located 70 m from the castle, near the Arkashen gate, next to the eastern wall. It is one of the significant buildings built in the XI century by the Pahlavuni princes. It is built of hewn stones and hypocaust heating system. Along the longitudinal axis of the building, rectangular in plan there is a locker room, a bathhouse and a boiler room. On one of the walls of the rooms there are traces of frescos. The crunch system creates a transition between the domes covering the locker room and the bathhouse. In 1936 under the leadership of H. Orbeli excavations were carried out in the territory of the bathhouse and its vicinity and in 1972 on the initiative of the architect Yu. Tamanyan cleaning and restoration of the bathhouse was carried out. In 2005 the bathhouse was almost completely restored.
Chapel – is located about 9 meters from the bathhouse. It is believed to have been built no earlier than the X century.
Katoghike Church /Catholic Church/ (Vahramashen) – is located near the fortress wall of Arkashen, in the central elevated part of the city fortress. Vahramashen Church was built in 1026 under the auspices of Prince Vahram Pahlavuni. It is a rectangular, cross-domed structure and consists of a prayer hall, High Altar on the eastern side and 4 corner sacristies. The drum is internally round and outwardly 12 faceted which is decorated with paired pilasters and covered with an umbrella-shaped calotte (Arm. Veghar). The latter is remarkable and is the first example of such an overlap. Inside the church, on the wall an inscription is carved about the construction of the church. The external architecture is plain and lacks any decoration. There is a sundial in the churchyard. In 1970-1975 the church was reconstructed externally. The fortress had two passages that led to Amberdadzor gorge. They were 1.8m high and 1.5m wide. There was also an oil mill in the territory of the fortress where oil was produced. A number of archaeological excavations and works to strengthen and restore the monument were carried out in the past decades. In 1936-1940 excavations were carried out in the territory of the fortress by T. Toramanyan and academician H. Orbeli. Later in 1963-1972 the excavations were continued by the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography of the USSR Academy of Sciences under the leadership of N. Tokarski and S. Harutyunyan. Metal objects, weapons, silver jewelry, pottery, glassware, gold and copper coins, candlesticks, bronze candelabra and other archaeological material were unearthed during the excavations. Based on measurements made by K. Ghafadaryan, A. Zhamharyan, V. Harutyunyan, S. Kyurkchyan, A. Mirijanyan and under the reconstruction project created by Yu. Tamanyan restoration and strengthening of Vahramashen Church and the bathhouse were carried out in 1949-1972.
In 2005-2007 restoration and improvement works were also carried out in the territory of Amberd complex.