Amberd Fortress is a magnificent dumb witness of the centuries-old and complicated history of Armenia. Built B.C.- in Urartian period or even earlier, the fortress served as protection against the Romans, Parthians, Byzantines, Persians, Tatar-Mongols, Turks ...
Like most of Armenia's fortresses, the town-fortress of Amberd was also built in an arduous and picturesque area- on a triangular cape on the slope of Aragats mountain, where the gorges of two rivers connect. The height of the cape is 2300 m, this gave additional protection to the fortress. And again, like other medieval fortresses, the pre-medieval fortress of Amberd was also built in the place of more ancient-megalithic fortress.
The construction of the fortress that reached us began in the VII century. In the X century, in the times of Bagratuni dynasty, Amberd was the most important defensive point of the kingdom's capital- Ani.
During the defensive wall construction, all the natural features of the area were taken into account. So the gorge of Amberd is impregnable, and because of this, the wall was built on its lowest point. From the side of Arkashen river, the gorge is steep, but not inaccessible, and because of this, a powerful wall was built here. From the northern part the area isn't protected by the gorge, but on the highest point of the fortress stands a wall, which protects the palace on that part. The fortress' walls are built from huge basalt pieces.
Three-storey palace occupied an area of about 1500 sq km. Despite the fact that it is half-destroyed, artifacts found during the excavations indicate that the palace was richly decorated.
At the beginning of the XI century, on the edge of the cape, the church "St. Astvatsatsin" was built. It is a modestly decorated church, rectangular- outside, cross-shaped- inside. Against the wall of the church, there is a khachkar of the VIII century.
History shows that one of the most frequent causes of the fortress' fall is the lack of water appeared during a siege. Amberd had a well-developed water supply set. Water got to the fortress through clay pipes, and in the fortress, there were water storage facilities, where it was collected from springs and melting snow. A secret passage led to Arkashen River, from where, during sieges of the fortress, water was taken.
Near the palace, there are preserved remains of a bath, which was built in the X-Xi centuries. Water got to the bath through clay pipes, and hot water was delivered to bath halls through metallic pipes. The “hypocaust” system invented in ancient Rome was used in the bath. The smoke from the stove passed through the bath's floor and went out through the wall chimneys, thus warming the floor and walls.
In different periods of history, the fortress of Amberd belonged to the famous Armenian princely families of Kamsarakan, Pahlavuni, and Vachutyan.
During the conquest by the Seljuk Turks and Mongols, the fortress was destroyed and restored several times. Amberd was finally destroyed during the invasion of Tamerlane.
The fortress of Amberd is attractive not only with its history but with the area's beauty, too. From May to July, near Amberd, blooms a variety of flowers, among which you can see quite rare types.