The Fortress of Akhtala was built in the tenth century by Gurgen (Kyurikeh) Bagratuni. It was erected on a large promontory.
Located in the depths of Lori province, you’ll find the Akhtala fortress which was built in the late 10th century. The walls of the fortress were built on top of Bronze and Iron Age foundations by the Kyurikids branch of Bagratunis. This branch is said to have originated from Gurgen (Kyurikeh) Bagratuni. Under him and his brothers the Bagratuni Kingdom of Armenia reached the peak of its prosperity.
The Akhtala fortress is considered to be one of the most notable architectural monuments in Armenia. It was built from blue basalt and was considered to be unapproachable by the enemies. The deep canyons and the rocky
mountains surrounding the fortress have played the role of a natural barrier.
As for the accessible areas, they were protected by towers and gates. The fortress has only one entrance that is located in the Northern part. Inside the fortress is located the Akhtala monastery that consists of 3 churches (main one being St. Astvatsatsin), a bell tower and stone-made dwellings. The monastery complex was built during the Renaissance era in Armenia and is considered to be one of the most outstanding architectural structures in the territory of Armenia. The churches are known for their frescos that portray different chapters of the Old and New Testaments. It is said that the frescos used to be so vivid and colorful that It would distract the people visiting the monastery from the Mass. As a result, a priest ordered the walls to be covered with lime.
One of the most important aspects to consider when visiting this architectural complex is the weather. The weather in Lori is subtropical: summers are dry and cool while winters are light. As the fortress is located quite far away from the capital, you need to plan your trip accordingly. If you depart from Yerevan it will take you approximately 4 hours to get there. The best way to get there is with a rental car or as a part of a tour, yet taxis
and buses are also a good option.