The Shirak marz is located in the northwest part of Armenia, with its largest city Gyumri situated 115 km from Yerevan.
Area: 2,643 km2
Administrative center: Gyumri
Distance from Yerevan to Gyumri: 115km
Mountains: Pambak Range, Ashotsk Plateau, Ampasar, Harsnakar
Lakes: Paghakn, Akhurian, Arpi
Rivers: Akhurian, Mantash, Ashotsk
Sites: Artik, Harich and Lernakert Cities, Marmarashen Monastery
The Shirak marz is located in the northwest part of Armenia, with its largest city Gyumri situated 115 km from Yerevan. The first recorded Urartian inscriptions can be found on the stone cliffs near Gyumri, which was once known as Alexanderpol.
A road heading west from Gyumri takes you to the Marmashen Monastery situated close to the border with Turkey. 1,000 year-old apricot-colored churches remain beautifully canonic in harmony which were partially restored during Soviet times.
Artik, a small historic town in southern Shirak, shelters the historic churches of Surb Astvatsatsin and Surb Gevorg (of the 5th and 7th centuries respectively); whilst the larger Harichavank lies off the beaten track to the east – with multiple chambers and fine carvings, the nicely sited monastery is a blessing to experience.
The spectacular ruins of Medieval Ani, the former capital of Armenia, was once one of the largest cities of the world. However, due to countless earthquakes and invasions, it was abandoned in its present state. It sits just across the river delineating Armenia’s current border with Turkey. Arrangements can be made, through a tour agency or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to see the great panoramas offered of the many churches and the myriad of ruins of Medieval Ani from a viewing area in a restricted military zone.