Mount Aragats – Geography, Mystery and Climbing Tours
Mount Aragats is the tallest mountain in the current Republic of Armenia. Notable for its four peaks, this mountain provides anyone who visits with the most stunning views and the most unforgettable experience.
If you plan on coming to Armenia soon, then you should add Mount Aragats to your list of destinations. It is so significant that the Armenian people even have legends and mysteries surrounding it.
So, without further ado, let’s talk about Mount Aragats and why you should add this place to your travel bucket list.
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If you were to look at a Mount Aragats map, you would see that it is located in the Aragatsotn region in the west of Armenia, very close to the town of Aparan. It is located at a height of 4,090 meters above sea level. The mountain is easy to reach if you plan on staying in Yerevan, as the nearby city of Ashtarak is only approximately 30 minutes away. When you plan on visiting Mount Aragats, there is so much for you to explore on the way and on the slopes of the mountain.
Places to Visit Near Mount Aragats
First, when you reach Ashtarak, there is a small village nearby called Artashavan. There is a small monument here dedicated to Mesrop Mashtots, the priest who reinstituted the Armenian alphabet. Here, you will find all the letters of the Armenian alphabet, and it’s popular for tourists to find the letter that their name starts with and pose for a picture.
Next, you can take a nighttime visit to the Byurakan Observatory, which is located on the slopes of Mount Aragats. It is due to this centre that Armenia was propelled into becoming one of the leaders of astronomy in the former Soviet Union. All the stars in the sky can be seen clearly here on a beautiful summer evening.
Perhaps the main sites that Mount Aragats is known for are the Amberd Fortress and the Vahramashen church. Both are virtually right next to each other and they carry significant meaning in the Armenian culture. The Amberd Fortress is the largest and best-preserved of the ancient fortresses in present-day Armenia. There was a fortress in this location since the Stone Age, but it was revamped and turned into what we see today in the 11th century by Prince Vahram Pahlavuni. He was the one who also built the Vahramashen Church in 1026. Both are still standing and make for great sites to see.
And finally, Aragats Lake Kari is another place you should make it a point to see when you visit. This lake is located at an altitude of approximately 3,200 meters and is the perfect spot for a light picnic. While it is a bit chilly, the views here are unbelievable, and definitely worth the experience.
The Mystery of Mount Aragats
Mount Aragats is also surrounded in mystery. It seems to many that this mountain defies everything we know about physics.
When you travel past Lake Kari on the slopes of the mountain, you will notice that it seems Mount Aragats lacks gravity. You get the illusion that water flows from bottom to top instead of from top to bottom and that your car seems to roll up the mountain. This is an unsolved mystery for many scientists. However, some say that this is due to the fact that you might get the illusion that the hill slopes upward, but it is, in fact, going downward. Keep an eye out for this when you go to Mount Aragats!
Climbing Mount Aragats
Mount Aragats remains one of the most popular places in Armenia for people who love to hike.
As we have already mentioned, Mount Aragats has 4 peaks, all of which provide wonderful opportunities for hiking. The main hiking trails begin from Lake Kari and the Aragats village. If you are a beginner, it is recommended that you try the path from Lake Kari to the southern peak. You will see the other three peaks from that point as well as the giant Armenian landscape.
People who are more experienced hikers and mountain climbers can try any of the routes to the other three peaks. The paths that start in the Aragats village are more so meant for people who are more experienced because these paths are more difficult in comparison.
For your safety and to avoid any possible issues, we recommend that you make use of the services provided by professional mountain climbing companies.
The weather on Mount Aragats is fairly mild in the summer, especially from the end of June to the middle of September. It is certainly possible to climb in the winter, but this is usually reserved for more professional climbers.
If you do choose to climb Aragats, don’t forget to visit some of the tourist attractions we mentioned above. In all, this will prove to be a worthwhile experience.
The Legend of Aragats
The name of Mount Aragats is surrounded in legend. As we said about Mount Ararat, the root AR has significant meaning in the Armenian language. However, the name Aragats means “the throne of Ara.” This is in reference to the legendary Armenian king, Ara the Beautiful.
Queen Semiramis of Assyria was captivated by how handsome King Ara was, and she thus declared war on Armenia and ordered her troops to capture him. But, one of her soldiers accidentally shot his arrow at the king, causing him to die. When the Armenian side received the news, they realized that they had to act fast in order to save civilians and the royal treasures. The treasures could not be captured under any circumstances due to the significance they bore. But no one could come up with an idea for the best place to store this treasure so it would not fall into the hands of the invading Assyrian army.
Then, perhaps miraculously, the king’s subjects decided that the throne and treasures should be hidden on the snowy mountain that can be seen directly across from Mount Ararat. This is where they hid the treasure and the civilians just in time. The invaders came looking for the treasure and for the people, but they could not find anything no matter how hard they looked. They searched all over Mount Ararat but were unsuccessful.
In return, Armenians named the mountain where they successfully hid King Ara’s throne Mount Aragats in his honour.