Area: 2,038 km2
Administrative center: Hrazdan
Distance from Yerevan to Hrazdan: 50 km
The Kotayk Region boasts some of the most astounding nature in Armenia, replete with scenic beauty and fabled monuments. Situated north of Yerevan, with its administrative center Hrazdan, the Kotayk region is one of the popular destinations for local as well as foreign tourists in Armenia. The name of the region goes back to ancient times, to the period of Kot Patriarch. One third the region is forested, and the Hrazdan River is the dominant waterway in the area.
During the early Middle Ages, the locale of Kecharuik was the royal hunting ground for the House of Arshak. In the 10th century, ownership changed hands and Kecharuik was renamed Tsakhnots. Today this area, the jewel of the region, is called Tsakhkadzor, or canyon of flowers. This small winter resort town is a popular tourist destination, located on the eastern slope of Teghenis Mountain 2000 meters above sea level. A relaxing wooded hilly getaway in the summer, Tsakhkadzor is even more popular in the wintertime as a winter resort and its excellent ski slopes.
The village of Arzni, famous for its therapeutic mineral waters, is situated in the picturesque Hrazdan canyon. In recent times, the health spas and treatment centers of Arzni have earned attention as destinations for cardio-vascular treatment.
Hrazdan is the region’s most developed industrial center, yet is nevertheless rich with archeological and medieval monuments. Northwest of Hrazdan, perched on a mountainside of the Pambak range, the Kecharis monastery (11-13 cc.) can be admired. This pearl of Armenian architecture was a renowned religious and educational center and underwent development in the 11th century under the supervision of Grigor Magistros Pahlavouni, the famous Armenian politician, military commander, diplomat and scientist. He founded the Monastery of Kecharis, built the churches of St. Grigor the Illuminator and of Surb Nishan.
The village of Garni is situated on the edge of the Azat canyon 35 km south of Yerevan. Although the village is most well known for the 3rd century BC temple of the same name, the area is rich in Christian monuments as well, including numerous cross-stones, tombstones, and the frescoed churches of Sourp Astvatsatsin or Mashtots Hairapet, Saint Sargis (17c.). Of architectural significance is the 10th-12th century bridge spanning the Azat river, connecting the Armenian highland with the Ararat valley.
Nearby Geghard may very well be the most astonishing architectural wonder in Armenia. Hewn from the solid rock of a mountainside one can freely walk into a large church dating back nearly 9 centuries. The name Geghard dates back to Biblical times, and is named after the legendary lance said to be the one used to pierce the body of Christ. The lance itself was long kept at the church prior to it being moved to the museum of the Cathedral at Echmiadzin.
South of the town of Abovian along the Hrazdan River lies the town of Yeghvard, famous for its unique assemblage of 4th century stone-crosses (khachkars), a two-story church-mausoleum dating back to 1301 and a great number of settlements that stretch up to the village of Aragiugh. The Tegheniats Monastery (initial construction in the 6th century) and the churches and fortress of Dovri the Zoravor Monastery (7th century) are further examples of architectural wonders shrouded away in the dense forests of Kotayk.
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19 Hrachya Kochar street, #39 Yerevan 0012, Republic of Armenia