27 October 2013

Cavorting in the Caucasus: Amberd Fortress

Amberd Fortress is located on the slopes of Mount Aragats; when we visited the mountain, we also passed by this fortress ruins, and hiked around it. It is a little out of the way, but the spectacular locations of the things worth seeing in Armenia never fail to amaze me, and this one is no exception.

The name Amberd actually means "fortress in the clouds" and sure enough, this is a very high place. It has an elevation of 2,300 meters, which is not very high, but still, the scenery provides spectacular views of the surrounding valleys. You can see that on my photos above.

As always, there is a church nearby. The Vahramashen Church is close by, and sits near the edge of the cliff. We also visited this one, and as expected, it has a dark and musty interior. This seems to be the pattern for Armenian churches. I have this feeling that Armenian churches are not necessarily impressive when it comes to the interior, but their geographic locations are definitely mind-blowing. As it turns out, people here believed that one would be closer to heaven if one built their churches in spectacular mountainous locations, rather than on the lowlands.

Of course, we didn't just gaze at the fortress ruins. We also went inside. The entrance was a little tricky, as it was hidden behind some thick grass areas, but otherwise, it was just a series of climbs on a few sets of staircases. I found it interesting though that there were several mounds of horse droppings, which makes me wonder how horses (or was it another type of animal) were able to climb to these places.

Overall, I think this is one of the more off-the-beaten path destinations within Armenia. It is probably hard to reach by public transportation, and therefore I visited this by joining a group tour that allowed me to visit this site as well as others in a long day trip. That seems to be the more common way of visiting Armenia.


  1. Seriously, thank you for the spotlight on this place. I've heard about Armenia (and its struggles) but I really wouldn't know what it looks like! Makes me wanna go.

    1. Zhu,

      You're welcome! I tend to prefer off-the-beaten-path destinations, so it has been a great trip, visiting Armenia and Georgia (whose entries are coming soon). Not a lot of people visit this place, but those that do get rewarded for these awesome sights.