Tour overview

The province of Shirak is located the most north-western part of Armenia. It shares borders with Turkey in the East and Georgia in the North. Shirak Province is classified as a mountain meadow. The capital of the province is the stunning city of Gyumri. There are parts of Shirak which are considered some of the oldest settlements in Armenia.

The Shirak Province offers a lot of attractions starting from city tours to hiking trails. Needless to say, about historical heritage of the Shirak Province.

Catch some of the best attractions and sights worth to visit in Shirak:

Since the main and popular tourist attractions are located in the capital city of Gyumri, most of the people think that there is nothing to do outside of the city.
One of the most popular things to see in Shirak Province for nature exploration is the Trchkan Waterfall. It is one of the most beautiful waterfalls of Armenia. The 23.5-meter high Trchkan Waterfall is situated in a picturesque area on the left bank of the Pambak River where many hiking trails are situated.

Trchkan Waterfall

There is no complete itinerary of a nature lover without a visit to the Lake Arpi National Park. Needless to say, that the park is one of the most favourite places for both locals and tourists. One of the best things about the park is that it is located an hour and half away from the city of Gyumri, and it has a variety of wildflowers, a gorgeous lake, rich and rare flora and fauna. The area offers its visitors a fishing, camping, hiking, and picnic facilities.

Lake Arpi National Park

There is a stereotype, that skiing in Armenia is only possible in the town of Tsaghkadzor (in Kotayk province); however, Shirak province offers way better facilities and options for skiing. The Ashotsk Ski Centre is apparently the most underrated spots, since it is known as one of the coldest places in Armenia during the winter season; however, it is an amazing place to learn how to ski and be inspired by the natural surroundings.

Ashotsk Ski Centre

As we mention above the Shirak province is rich with historical heritage, and the main one are located either in the city of Gyumri, or close.

The city of Gyumri
One of the most remarkable buildings in Gyumri

The city of Gyumri is definitely the gem the province, and of course, the entire country due to its charming streets and architectures. The city itself is quite historic, since it has seen a lot of historic formations.

Back in the 19th century, during the Russian empire era, the city used to be called Alexandrapol, and it had a significant meaning for the empire. As the times changed, the city changed its name and role as well, and it recalled Leninakan during the soviet period. However, during these times, when Gyumri experienced its ups and downs it didn’t lose it charm and enchanting beauty. Right in the city center, where the Vartanants Square is, there are two stunning churches of 19th century, Yot Verk and Amenaprkich.

“Yot Verk” Churh
The Holy Saviour Church in Gyumri.

Another must-visit site in the city is the Sev Berd or Black Fortress. It is a perfectly circular black fortress, which used to be a Russian imperial fortress back in the 19th century. It never underwent a siege, but was of strategic importance in victories over the Turks in subsequent wars that lasted through 1878. The fortress was downgraded to “second-class” status in 1887, after the final Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878 that saw Russia gain strongholds in Kars and Batumi.
Now the fortress in a tourist attraction, and there are a lot of event scheduling.

Black Fortress (The Main Entrance)

Gyumri is worthwhile to visit for its museums. One of the most popular and beloved is the Aslamazyan Sisters House-Museum, Mher Mkrtchyan’s memorabilia, The Museum of National Architecture, Hovahannes Shiraz House-Museum, Museum of Illusions, etc. Almost all of them are located in the central parts of the city.

Dzitoghtsyan Museum in Gyumri

One of the most favourite places for history and archaeology lovers is the Yereruyk Basilica. The Basilica was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List, it is known as one of the earliest surviving Christian monuments in Armenia. The basilica, as highest achievement of the early Armenian ecclesiastical architecture, is one of the classic examples built between the 4-5th century, made of fine orange tuff stone. The basilica is located in on the eastern banks of the River Araks, facing the historic city of Ani. The Yererouk Basilica has been badly damaged during the 1988 earthquake and is currently in a dreadful state. However, the beauty of the basilica is still noticeable.

Yereruyk Basilica

One of the most picturesque places of the Shirak province is inevitably the Harichavank Monastery. The Monastery Complex is one of the unique gems of Armenian medieval architecture. The Monastery is located in the village Harich and dates back to as early as the 7th-century. During a number of excavations, various working tools, tombs, the remains of the 3-5th century medieval castle, and luxury items were found nearby. Harichavank Monastery is definitely a must-visit, when you are in the province.

Harichavank Monastery

The Shirak province is one of the fewest ones where you can find a cultural or historical artefacts of foreign origin. The Muslim Cemetry of the Shirak province is located on a small hill between Zorakert and Lake Arpi. It has 100 painted and hand-carved headstones, but in fact, there are not painted, they just gained the colour naturally decades ago. When you are in area, you will find many vibrant symbols of Islamic religion carved on both fallen and still standing headstones.

Another historical monument of a foreign origin is the Zorakert Mosque. It is nestled on the northeast section of Lake Arpi in the small village of Zorakert. The Mosque was built in the 19th-20th century and was operating until the beginning of the Soviet era, during which it was closed and turned into a warehouse. If you are planning to visit there, all you can see are the abandoned ruins of the Mosque, which include 4 outer walls with arched windows. One of the walls still has the remains of the shrine, which in turn has Arabic inscriptions written over it.

The Ruins of the Zorakert Mosque

Close to the city of Gyumri, there is an amazing location to visit. It is the Gorge of Cherkez. The gorge was famous among locals and visitors since the 19th century for its unique nature, surrounded by shady trees and green hills. But the place is a must-visit not only for the nature, but also for the best fish you can taste around Gyumri.  Right in the gorge there you can find the ‘Cherkez Dzor’ restaurant with its own fish farm, where you can choose a particular fish, which will be caught and cooked especially for you. It’s one of the famous places for celebrations and rest for Gyumretsis.

Noteworthy to mention that the Shirak province has become one of the most favourite destinations both for locals and tourists due to its amazing combination of nature, history and more.

The Shirak province has a lot to offer its visitors, so make sure to add it on your travel bucket list, when you are in Armenia.