Kotayk is the central province of Armenia. it is the only one that has no borders with foreign countries. Kotayk province is probably one of the only provinces in Armenia that has a lot of historical sites within it. The province is home to many ancient landmarks and tourist attractions, including the 1st-century Hellenic Temple of Garni, the medieval Bjni Fortress, 11th-century Kecharis Monastery and the 13th-century monastery of Geghard. Kotayk is also home to the popular winter sports resort and the spa-town of Tsaghkadzor and the mountain resort of Aghveran.Catch some of the best attractions and sights worth to visit in Kotayk:
The Monastery of Geghard is probably one of the gems of the province. It has become a favorite tourist attraction for both locals and tourists over the years. This stunning monastic complex surrounded by rocky and lush mountainous landscapes, was founded back in the 4th century; however, it was reconstructed and re-established in 13th century, since the monastery, with historic ups and downs, has been trough a lot. Geghard Monastery is one of the most fascinating monasteries in Armenia, so fascinating that it was included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site list. Noteworthy to say that the monastery has a lot of artefacts; however, the most important and special artifact was the spear (Holy Lance) brought by Apostle Thaddeus, a Roman legionary who nailed Jesus Christ on a cross. The word Geghard means spear and the Geghard Monastery means “Monastery of the Spear”. Today, the spear is kept in the Holy Etchmiadzin Church museum and it’s available for everyone who wants to see it.
No tours to Geghard monastery are completed without a visit to the temple of Garni. It is an amazing combined route where you can see two remarkable Armenian sights in one day. The Temple of Garni is one of the most iconic sights in Armenia. The temple of Garni was built during the era when Armenia practiced belief of many gods and paganism. It was built in the 1st century by Tiridates I, as a king’s summer holiday residence, right on the edge of the breath taking Azat Gorge (UNESCO World Heritage Site). The temple is the only survival of the Hellenic epoch in the whole territory of the Caucasus. The architecture of the Temple of Garni is an ancient, classical Greek style that is often associated with the 7th-century BC. Next to the pagan temple of Garni you can find ruins of a Christian church from the 7th-century. In addition, the construction is recognized by UNESCO.
There is another mesmerizing natural monument all the way down to the village of Garni and Garni gorge, where the temple is located. It is the Symphony of the Stones. It attracts its visitors with its unique resemblance of his natural monument is the result of the collapse of the volcanic rocks. It considered to be one of the must-visit places in Armenia.
All the way down to Yerevan there is another stop. It is the Miracle Cave, a miraculous subterranean cave of 21 meters’ depth. After descending 80 stairs you find yourself in a round hall, in a pavilion decorated with candles. Each person should enter here individually and making a wish they should light a candle. As the master used to say, a candle lit here by all means serves its purpose and the wish comes true. It took more than two decades to the Master to build this cave-shrine. This cave is often compared with the Noah’s Ark and considered to be the second ark which is to save the humanity not from flood but from fire.
Beside the cultural things, the Kotayk province offers wide range of recreation facilities. The province has its mineral-rich springs, called Arzakan Hot Springs, which is one of the favorite places for locals and tourists to visit.
If you ever wonder where do people go for skiing in Armenia, here is the answer. It is impossible to imagine the Kotayk Province without the popular spa town of Tsaghkadzor, which is a home to the most popular ski resort in Armenia. It is Tsaghkadzor, home of skiing, snowboarding, and other winter activities. Tsaghkadzor is worthwhile to visit, because it has so much to offer, then just winter activities. The town is one of the most famous health resorts in all of Armenia along with Jermuk, Arzni, Bjni, and Aghveran. Tsaghkadzor is surrounded by mind-blowing mountains and gorges with lush green forests, and of course, full of flowers during the shoulder season, since the town’s name literally means ‘’Gorge of flowers’’. When you’re in Tsaghkadzor, make sure to visit the Kecharis monastic complex, which Is a 11th century stunning monastery, located all the way down from the Tsaghkadzor city centre. Kecharis Monastery is a great place to get in touch with another side of Tsaghkadzor. Beside it, it is noteworthy to say, that Tsaghkadzor is a home to Open International Chess Tournament, which is an annual tournament where the players are chosen from hundreds and span across 20 different countries. So if you are a chess lover, Tsaghkadzor is happy to host you during this period; however, make sure the dates of the tournament is quite changeable, and the only thing here left to do, is to follow up the official website (tsaghkadzoropen.chessacademy.am), to see the different dates.
Another local water body in the province is the Lake Akna, which is a crystal-clear lake, located in the Kotayk province in the range of the Geghama mountains and it is one of favourite places for hikers, campers, and nature lovers. The Akna Lake is located in an altitude of 3032 meters.
The Kotayk province has a lot to offer its visitors, so make sure to add it on your travel bucket list, when you are in Armenia.