A perfect day in the mountains of Armenia
Amberd Travel Blog› entry 9 of 30 › view all entries
Yerevan may be one of the worldâ€™s oldest continuously-inhabited cities, dating back to 782 BCE, but there is relatively little of historic interest there today, and I was very happy to be leaving the city behind and heading up into the mountains of western Armenia. We drove up through the high plains, with a striking resemblance to the plains of Iceland, too cold for trees, with just sparse grass and rock. In winter the plains are abandoned, but with the spring grasses Yezidi Kurds had set up tent villages and were grazing their sheep and cattle. Further up it was too mountainous for grasslands, and in the absence of grazing beautiful wildflowers covered the hills, with vibrant reds, yellows, blues and purples.
It was a perfect day for wandering around on the mountain tops, with the warm sun, the brilliant wildflowers and the stunning scenery of deep gorges and distant rivers. The addition of the ruins of Amberd Fortress was the icing of the cake, a shell of a castle, founded in ~800 CE by the House of Kamsarakan and upgraded 400 years later by the House of Pahlavuni. A small church, the Church of Surb Astvatsatsin, was added in 1026. The castle was used as a summer residence for the Kings of Armenia until it was destroyed by the Mongols in 1236. We topped off a delightful day with lunch in Oshakan village, an afternoon swimming in Yerevan and dinner accompanied by the unique sounds of the Duduk.