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CULTURAL MUSEUM-RESERVATIONS

“AMBERD FORTRESS”
HISTORICAL – CULTURAL
RESERVATIONS

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“Amberd fortress” historical-cultural reserve was established based on the decision N 541 (May 18, 2017) of the Government of the Republic of Armenia, by being included in the in the Service for the Protection of Historical Environment and Cultural Museum-Reservations, SNCO. The area of the historical-cultural reserve is 45.07 hectares.

Amberd fortress-walled city is located 7 km northwest of Byurakan village of Ashtarak region of Aragatsotn province, on the southern slope of Aragats, at the intersection of Arkashen and Amberd rivers, on a triangular promontory. The site of the fortress was chosen according to the principles of fortress construction adopted in ancient and medieval Armenia. The triangular canyon with a surface of 5 hectares, on which the entire walled city is located, is surrounded by gorges on three sides.

The exact time of the establishment of Amberd is unknown. Some scholars attribute it to the Cyclopean period, and others to the Urartian and pre-medieval periods. Based on excavations and historical-archeological studies, Amberd fortress dates back to X-XIII centuries.

According to historical sources, the construction of Amberd began in the 7th century by the Kamsar princes. In the X century, it belonged to the princes of Pahlavuni and was one of the most important military bases of the Bagratuni kingdom, which had a reputation of an inaccessible castle with its natural position and defensive structures. I was entrusted with one of the responsible roles of the Ani city defense section.

Later Amberd passed on to the Zakarians, then to the Vachutians, during whose time it became the administrative center of that ruling house.

            Amberd Fortress Historical and Cultural Reserve includes the following architectural structures: the citadel or the fortress and the castle entrance, the walls, the gates of Arkashen and Amberdadzor, the Katoghike Vahramashen Church (1026), the chapel, the olive grove, the drinking water network and reservoirs, the bathhouse (X-XI centuries), underpasses, and other structures inside the territory of the fortress.

Castle – Based on the archeological-architectural studies carried out on the territory of this basalt structure located on the northwestern highland of the fortress, as well as the windows of the castle, it has been concluded that բերդաքաղաքի հյուսիսարևմտյան that it was three-storey, in some parts four-storey, with superfluous inter-floor coverings and was repeatedly rebuilt and reinforced. The first floor was allocated for economic purposes, and the second and third floors served as living quarters. It has a dominant position over the entire castle and its surroundings, thereby ensuring its protection and emphasizing its importance in the castle complex. Its 1500 sq m area is enclosed in tall (15-16 m) and thick (2-3 m) now demolished walls. They are pyramidal on the north side and flat on the south.

 

The bathhouse – It is located near the castle and the gate of Arkashen. About 70 m from the castle, near the eastern fence. It is one of the most famous buildings built by the Pahlavunis in the 11th century. The bathhouse was constructed with polished stones and underground heating system. The monument has a rectangular layout with a wardrobe, a swimming pool and a heating system sequentially aligned to the longitudinal axis. On the wall of one of the rooms there are traces of frescoes. The bathrooms and the wardrobe are covered with dome-shaped trompe switches. In 1936, under the supervision of academician H. Orbeli, the bathhouse and its surroundings were excavated, and in 1972, based on the project of Yu. Tamanyan, cleaning and reconstruction works of the bathhouse began. In 2005, the bathhouse was almost completely restored.

             Chapel –Located 9m away from the bathhouse. It is assumed that this chapel was constructed not later than the X century.

Katoghike (Vahramashen) – Vahramashen Church, built in 1026 near the fence of Arkashen, in the central eminence of the fortress, sponsored by Vahram Pahlavuni. The church has a cross-domed structure. In the rectangular layout is the prayer hall with a table on the east side and 4 corners of the porch. The all-round, exterior 12-seater drum is decorated with a pair of poles and covered with umbrella-type hood. The letter is unique and the first example of such a cover. Inside the church, on the wall, there is a construction record of the church. The exterior architecture of the church is simple and unpretentious. There is a sundial in the churchyard. In 1970-75 the church has been renovated from the outside.

            The fortress also had an underpass which went all the way to Amberdadzor. The underpass is about 1.8 m high and 1.5 m wide. There was also an olive grove where the oil was produced.

A number of archaeological excavations and monument restoration works have been carried out in Amberd over the past decades. The excavations were carried out by Toros Torosyan and academician H. Orbeli in 1936-40. The excavations were continued by the Institute of Archeology and Ethnography of the Armenian SSR in 1963-72 under the supervision of N. Tokarsky and S. Harutyunyan. During excavations, metal objects, weapons, silver jewelry, ceramics, glassware, gold, copper coins, candlesticks, bronze candlesticks and other archaeological items have been found.

In 1949-72, based on the measurements made by  architects K. Ghafadaryan, A. Zhamharyan, V. Harutyunyan, S. Kyurkchyan, A. Mirijanyan, and restoration project created by architect Yu. Tamanyan, restoration works of Vahramashen church and the bathhouse have been carried out.

Restoration and improvement works of Amberd complex have also been carried out in 2005-2007.