Constructed on a ridge above the confluence of the little gorges of the Amberd and Arkashen streams, this majestic stone fortress dates back to the 7th century but its current buildings date from the 12th century. It’s easy to see why the site was chosen – at 2300m above sea level it commands a position above the farms and trade routes of the Ararat Plain. The ruins of a chapel, 13th-century bathhouse and cistern stand downhill from the fortress.
The fortress is about a two-hour hike from the scout camp near the very end of Byurakan village, offering spectacular scenery along the footpath. Walk along the Mt Aragats road until you reach the ski house. Then take the left-hand fork of the road (the fortress can be seen from a distance, but you have to walk around a steep valley before reaching it). Although the fortress is geographically close to Byurakan, the paved road makes a 15km-long circuitous route.
The first part of the road heads uphill towards Kari Lich (Kari Lake) and then branches off to the left 5km before the fortress. As you walk or drive through this landscape look for the large green or white tents owned by Armenian shepherds who graze their flocks here in summer.