Aragatsotn Province

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For the village, see Aragatsotn (village).
Location of Aragatsotn within Armenia
Location of Aragatsotn within Armenia
Coordinates: 40°25′N 44°10′E / 40.417°N 44.167°E / 40.417; 44.167Coordinates: 40°25′N 44°10′E / 40.417°N 44.167°E / 40.417; 44.167
Country Armenia
and largest city
 • Governor Sargis Sahakyan
 • Total 2,756 km2 (1,064 sq mi)
Area rank 5th
Population (2011)
 • Total 132,925[1]
 • Rank 9th
Time zone UTC+04
Postal code 0201-0514
ISO 3166 code AM.AG
FIPS 10-4 AM01
Website official website

Aragatsotn (Armenian: Արագածոտն, Armenian pronunciation: [ɑɾɑɡɑˈt͡sɔtən]), is a province (marz) of Armenia. It is located at the western part of the country. The capital and largest city of the province is the town of Ashtarak.


Literally meaning "the foot of Aragats" (the highest mountain of the Republic of Armenia), it is named after the Aragatsotn canton of the historic Ayrarat province of Ancient Armenia, ruled by the Amatuni noble family under the reign of the Arsacid Dynasty.


The Arteni mountains (2047 m.)

Aragatsotn Province occupies the northwestern part of Armenia and covers an area of 2,756 km² (9.3% of total area of Armenia). It has domestic borders with Shirak Province from the north, Lori Province from the northeast, Kotayk Province from the east, Armavir Province from the south and the city of Yerevan from the southwest. The Akhurian River at the west separates Aragatsotn from the Kars Province of Turkey.

Historically, the current territory of the province mainly occupies parts the Aragatsotn, Nig and Shirak cantons of Ayrarat province of Ancient Armenia.

The northern part of the province are dominated by the Aragats mountain range. At the northeast and the east, it approximates the mountains of Pambak and Tsaghkunyats respectively. The mountains of Arteni dominate over the northeastern and the central eastern parts of the province. The tiny Akhurian valley occupies the eastern edge of Aragatsotn. At the south and the southeast, Aragatsotn occupies the northwestern parts of the Ararat plain.

The altitude of the province ranges between 950 and 4090 meters above sea level.

Mount Aragats (4090 m.) is the highest peak of Aragatsotn and the Republic of Armenia.

Besides the Akhurian river, the rivers of Kasagh, Gegharot and Amberd, are the main water resources in the province. Mountain lakes including Lake Kari, Lessing, Amberd, Tagavor and Kuraghbyur are found on Mount Aragats. The Aparan reservoir is located on the Kasagh river.

The climate of Aragatsotn is deeply diversified due to the wide range of diffidence in the altitude of the region. The annual precipitation level ranges between 400 mm (16 in) at the lower areas and 1,000 mm (39 in) at the mountainous territories.


Being situated at the heart of the Ayrarat province at the centre of the Armenian Highland, Aragatsotn was among the most strategic regions in the history of Armenia, especially since the establishment of the Kingdom of Armenia in 331 BC by the Orontid Dynasty. Later in 190 BC, the Artaxiad dynasty took over the reign of the Armenian Kingdom. During the 2nd century AD, the towns of Casala (the Hellenized version of Kasagh, now Aparan), and Talina (now Talin) were mentioned by Ptolemy during the reign of the Arsacid dynasty of Armenia. The territory of Nig canton including the area of Aparan was under the administration of the Gntunyan Armenian noble family, while the territory of Aragatsotn canton including the area of Ashtarak was ruled by the Amatuni noble family.

The Holly Cross Basilica of Kasagh of the 4th century

Following the partition of Armenia by the Byzantine Empire and Sassanid Persia in 387 and in 428, Eastern Armenian including Aragatsotn came under the rule of Sasanid Persia. The 4th-century Holly Cross Basilica of Kasagh located at the outskirts of modern-day Aparan, is among the earliest surviving samples of the Armenian church architecture.

In 658, Armenia was conquered by the Arab invaders. At the end of the 9th century, Aragatsotn became part of the newly established Bagratid Kingdom of Armenia. The Armenian noble families of Kamsarakan and Pahlavuni ruled over Aragatsotn under the Bagratid kings.

However, between the 11th and 15th centuries, Aragatsotn along with the rest of the historic territories of Armenia suffered from the Seljuk, Mongol, Ag Qoyunlu and Kara Koyunlu invasions, respectively. At the beginning of the 16th century, Aragatsotn became part of the Erivan Beglarbegi within the Safavid Persia. During the first half of the 18th century, Aragatsotn became part of the Erivan Khanate under the rule of the Afsharid dynasty and later under the Qajar dynasty of Persia. It remained under the Persian rule until 1827-1828, when Eastern Armenia was ceded by the Russian Empire as a result of the Russo-Persian War of 1826–28 and the signing of the Treaty of Turkmenchay.

Abaran battle memorial

After the fall of the Russian Empire in 1917, the Armenian, Georgian and Muslim leaders of Transcaucasia united to form the Transcaucasian Federative Republic and proclaimed Transcaucasia's secession. However, it was a fragile short-lived federation that collapsed in May 1918, while the Turkish army was advancing towards Eastern Armenia through Gyumri, Aragatsotn and Sardarapat. On May 21, 1918, the Turkish forces attacked through Aparan in Aragatsotn trying to reach Yerevan. The Turks were opposed by the Armenian forces under the command of Dro at the outskirts of Aparan. After three days of fierce fighting, the Armenians launched a counter-attack on 25 May, and the Turkish troops were forced to retreat back to the north on 29 May. As a result of the decisive victories over the Turks in the battles of Sardarabad, Abaran, and Gharakilisa, the Armenians declared independence on May 28, 1918.

After 2 years of brief independence, Armenia became part of the Soviet Union in December 1920. From 1930 until 1995, modern-day Aragatsotn was divided into 3 raions within the Armenian SSR: Talin raion, Aparan raion, and Ashtarak raion. With the territorial administration reform of 1995, the 3 raions were merged to form the Aragatsotn Province.


Oshakan is the largest village in Aragatsotn

According to the 2011 official census, Aragatsotn has a population of 132,925 (66,738 men and 66,187 women), forming around 4.4% of the entire population of Armenia. The urban population is 31,376 (23.6%) and the rural is 101,549 (76.4%). Aragatsotn has the highest percentage of rural population in Armenia.

The province has 3 urban and 111 rural communities. The largest urban community is the provincial centre of Ashtarak, with a population of 19,615. The other urban centres of Aparan and Talin have a population of 6,451 and 5,310 respectively.

With a population of 4,780, the village of Oshakan is the largest rural municipality of Aragatsotn.

Ethnic groups and religion[edit]

The province is primarily inhabited by Armenians who belong to the Armenian Apostolic Church. The regulating body of the church is the Diocese of Aragatsotn, headed by Bishop Mkrtich Broshyan. The Saint Mesrop Mashtots Cathedral of Oshakan of is the seat of the diocese.

However, there is a significant presence of the Yazidi minority. The 20 following villages of Aragatsotn are almost entirely populated by Yazidis: Alagyaz, Arevut, Avshen, Charchakis, Ddmasar, Hako, Jamshlu, Kanch, Kaniashir, Metsadzor, Mijnatun, Mirak, Otevan, Rya Taza, Sadunts, Shamiram, Shenkani, Sipan, Sorik and Tlik.[2][3] The villages of Arteni, Oshakan, Vardenut and Voskevaz have a significant Yazidi population as well. Yazidis are also found in the towns of Aparan and Talin.

The village of Alagyaz is also home to a small number of Kurds.



The rural population of the province is 3 times bigger than the urban. Thus, the majority of the population are involved in agriculture, including farming and cattle-breeding. Being a major agricultural region, Aragatsotn contributes with 9.7% in the annual total agricultural product of Armenia.

Around 79% (2,178 km²) of the total area of the province are arable lands, out of which 25% (542 km²) are ploughed. With an approximate areա of 240 km2 (93 sq mi) of farmlands are occupied by grains and dry seeds. Around 40% of the 47 km2 (18 sq mi) of orchards in Aragatsotn are occupied by grapes. Potato farms occupy around 16 km2 (6 sq mi), while vegetables are spread over 10 km2 (4 sq mi) of farms.[4]

Around the highlands of Mount Aragats, particularly in the regions of Aparan and Talin, cattle-breeding is more common in the rural communities. Beekeeping farms are also found at higher woodlands. There is a large poultry farm in Ashtarak.


A bakery in Aparan using the traditional tandoor

In general, Aragatsotn has poor industrial structure compared to other provinces in Armenia. It as only a share of 2% in the annual total industrial product of Armenia. The existing firms industries are mainly based on food-processing, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, mineral water and dairy products.

The "Ashtarak-Kat" company which is the leading ice-cream and dairy products producer in Armenia is located in Ashtarak. Aparan has two major firms for food products, one is for beverages and mineral water products, and the other is for cheese and dairy products. The village of Aragatsavan is also home to a cheese factory. Minor dairy and bakery enterprises are also found in Talin and Aparan.

Aragatsotn has many large producers of alcoholic drinks including the "Golden Grape Armas" factory (wine) in Nor Yedesia, the "Armenia Wine" factory (brandy, vodka and wine) in Sasunik, the "Hayasy Group" (beer, brandy, vodka and juices) in Voskevaz, and the "Great Valley" factory (wine) in Oshakan.

Many large and middle-size enterprises for building materials products are also found in the province, including a cooperative in Ashtarak, a plant for perlite and crushed stone in Aragatsavan and a company for paints and other chemical materials in Sasunik.


Mount Aragats and Lake Kari at the Aragats Alpine Sanctuary

Aragatsotn is a major centre for ecotourism and the lovers of extreme tourism. Aragats is the highest mountain of modern-day Armenia. It is a single extinct volcano consisted of 4 peaks: the northern (4090 m.), western (4080 m.), eastern (3916 m.) and southern (3879 m.) peaks. Thus, it frequently attracts hikers and adventure travelers, with its mountain lake of Kari situated at a height of 3250 meters.

The well-preserved ancient monasteries and medieval fortresses are also among the main attractions of the province.

Luxury hotels are found in Byurakan, Aghtsk and Ashtarak.

The Aragats Alpine Wildlife Sanctuary is listed among the protected areas of Armenia.


Radio telescope at the Ashtarak Institute of Radiophysics and Electronics

As of the 2015-16 educational year, Aragatsotn Province has 123 schools, out of which 119 are operated by the province administration, while 4 are under the direct supervision of the Ministry of Education and Science.[5] The total number of the schools includes the 20 schools that are designated for the ethnic Yazidi and Kurdish minorities. As of the end of 2015, the number of the students in the schools of the province is 17,010.[6] There is also one school for special needs in the province.

The town of Ashtarak is home to 2 major research institutions: the Institute of Physical Research and the Institute of Radiophysics and Electronics.

The village of Byurakan is home to the Byurakan Observatory operated by the Armenian National Academy of Sciences.

The house-museum of novelist Perch Proshyan founded in 1948 in Ashtarak, is among the most significant cultural centres of the province.[7]


Football is the most popular sport in Aragatsotn. The province was represented at the Armenian Premier League by FC Mika of Ashtarak until 2007 when they were relocated to Yerevan.

The Kasaghi Marzik Stadium in Ashtarak is the largest sports venue of the province. There is also minor stadiums in Aparan and the village of Parpi. It is planned to construct a modern sports complex in the village of Parpi including several sports facilities.

At a height of 2000 meters above sea level, the town of Aparan has an ski resort served with ski lift.[8]

The town of Ashtarak is home to the "Ayrudzi" horse riding club.


Fortresses and castles[edit]

Dashtadem Fortress of the 9th-century

Churches and monasteries[edit]

Saint Christopher Monastery of the 7th-century
Yeghipatrush Church of the 10th century


The Byurakan Observatory


The province of Aragatsotn consists of the following 114 communities (hamaynkner), of which 3 are considered urban and 111 are considered rural.[9]

Towns or urban communities[edit]

Image City (town) Region Founded Land area (km2) Population (2011 census)
Aparan cropped.jpg Aparan Aragatsotn 2nd century (first mentioned) 3.5 6,451
P8252523 Ashtarak.JPG Ashtarak Aragatsotn 9th century (first mentioned) 7.5 19,615
Talin town.jpg Talin Aragatsotn 2nd century (first mentioned) 7 5,310

Villages or rural communities[edit]

Non-community villages[edit]

Former villages[edit]


See also[edit]


External links[edit]