Mount Aragats
Highest point
Elevation4,090 m (13,420 ft)[1][2]
Prominence2,143 m (7,031 ft)[3]
Isolation88.62 km (55.07 mi) Edit this on Wikidata
Coordinates40°32′00″N 44°12′00″E / 40.53333°N 44.20000°E / 40.53333; 44.20000
Mount Aragats is located in Armenia
Mount Aragats
Mount Aragats
Location in Armenia
ProvincesAragatsotn and Shirak
Towns/villagesArtik, Aparan, Talin, Oshakan and Byurakan
Parent rangeLesser Caucasus Armenian Highlands
Age of rockHolocene[1]
Mountain typeStratovolcano
Last eruptionUnknown[1]
First ascentJuly 1843
Khachatur Abovian and Moritz Wagner[4]

Mount Aragats (Armenian: Արագած, pronounced [ɑɾɑˈɡɑt͡s]) is an isolated four-peaked volcano massif in Armenia. Its northern summit, at 4,090 m (13,420 ft) above sea level, is the highest point of the Lesser Caucasus and Armenia. It is also one of the highest points in the Armenian Highlands.[a]

The Aragats massif is surrounded by the Kasagh River on the east, the Akhurian River on the west, Ararat Plain on the south, and Shirak Plain on the north.[2] The circumference of the massif is around 200 km (120 mi),[10][9] and covers an area of 6,000 km2 (2,300 sq mi)[11] or around 15 of Armenia's total area.[b] 944 km2 (364 sq mi) of the massif is located above 2,000 m (6,600 ft).[13]

Etymology and names

According to Armenian tradition, Aragats originates from the words Ara and gah, which translates to "Ara's throne", in reference to legendary hero Ara the Beautiful.[5][14] Aragats was mentioned by the early medieval historian Movses Khorenatsi, who in his History of Armenia claims that the mountain is named after Aramaneak [hy], the son of Hayk, the legendary patriarch of the Armenian people. Aramaneak called his possessions "the foot of Aragats" (Old Armenian: ոտն Արագածոյ, romanized: otn Aragatsoy or Արագածոտն, Aragatsotn).[15][16] The modern Aragatsotn Province, dominated by the mountain, was formed in 1995.[17]

A relatively modern name for the mountain is Alagöz (Russian: Алагёз), sometimes spelled Alagheuz,[18][19] which literally means "variegated eye"[20] in Turkish and Azerbaijani.[21][22] This term was widely used up until the mid-20th century in European,[23] Tsarist Russian,[24] and early Soviet[22][25] sources. Another version, Alagyaz (Ալագյազ), has been used in Armenian.[9][26][27][c] A village on the foot of Aragats is named Alagyaz.

Geography and geology

Mount Aragats, topographic representation
Aerial view of Aragats: a 2001 photo from the International Space Station

Aragats is isolated from Armenia's other mountain ranges.[29] However, it is considered part and the highest point of the larger Lesser Caucasus mountain range.[30][31] It has four summits, which are named according to their relative geographic position:[5]

Mount Aragats has a topographic prominence of 2,143 meters, more than some higher mountains, such as Dykh-Tau (5,205 m high) in the Russian part of Great Caucasus Range.

Situated 40 kilometres (25 mi) northwest of the Armenian capital Yerevan, Aragats is a large volcano with numerous fissure vents and adventive cones. Numerous large lava flows descend from the volcano and are constrained in age between the middle Pleistocene and 3,000 BCE. The summit crater is cut by a 13 kilometres (8.1 mi) long line of cones which generated possibly Holocene-age lahars and lava flow.[1] The volcanic system covers an area of 5,000 km2 and is one of the largest in the region. More recent activity in flank centers occurred in Tirinkatar (0.48-0.61 Ma), Kakavasar, (0.52-0.54 Ma), and Ashtarak (0.58 Ma), as well as Jrbazhan in the summit area (0.52 Ma). The magmas feeding Aragats are unusually hot for arc-derived magmas, resulting in long and voluminous lava flows.[32]


Shortly after World War II, observations noted the presence of firn fields and snowfields on the sides of the crater cirque as well as moraines and glaciers inside the crater. An analysis in 1896 indicated a surface area of 5.5-5.8 km2, but it rapidly retreated afterward. The glaciation has been retreating on account of insufficient snowfall and increasing temperatures. Glacial meltwater dominates the upper part of the rivers descending from Aragats but its importance decreases farther down the valleys.[33] Traces of prehistorical glaciation also exist including thick moraines in the summit area at an altitude of 2,600–3,000 m.[34]


Climate data for Mount Aragats (3227 m) (1981–2010 normals, extremes 1929–2010)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 6.2
Mean daily maximum °C (°F) −9.3
Daily mean °C (°F) −12.4
Mean daily minimum °C (°F) −15.9
Record low °C (°F) −33.6
Average precipitation mm (inches) 72.8
Average precipitation days (≥ 1 mm) 7.9 9.2 9.3 11.3 10.4 8.1 7.0 6.1 5.0 8.0 7.9 7.3 97.3
Mean monthly sunshine hours 133.2 127.2 156.3 150.2 193.6 260.9 283.8 273.5 244.8 174.8 144.9 128.9 2,272.1
Percent possible sunshine 45 43 43 38 44 59 63 65 67 52 50 45 52
Source 1: WMO[35]
Source 2: ECA&D (average high and low, extremes)[36]



The volcano was constructed in four different phases. The first phase (possibly 2.5Ma) occurred in the main crater and subsidiary vents and was basaltic andesite in composition. It crops out in deep gorges. The second phase (0.97–0.89 Ma, by K–Ar) involved the main vent, and subsidiary structures and was basaltic and andesitic in composition with ignimbrites and pyroclastic, with tuffs and lava flows emanating from satellite centers. It was the most voluminous and included the Shamiram and Yeghvard subsidiary centres. The third phase (0.74–0.68 Ma) while similar to the second was more restricted in regional extent to the Mantash River basin. The fourth stage (0.56–0.45 Ma) involved mafic lava flows from parasitic vents in the southern parts of the volcano.[37]


Numerous engravings have been made around the volcano, including rock paintings portraying animals and human-like figures in the Kasagh River valley possibly dating to the early Holocene, and in Aghavnatun on the southern side of the volcano including petroglyphs showing animals that were possibly created in the 4th to 1st millennia BCE.[38]

According to an ancient Armenian legend, Aragats and Mount Ararat were loving sisters who parted after a quarrel and separated permanently.[39] Another legend tells that Gregory the Illuminator, who converted Armenia to Christianity in the early 4th century, "used to pray on the peak of the mountain. At nighttime an icon lamp shone to give light to him, the lamp hanging from heaven using no rope. Some say that the icon lamp is still there, but only the worthy ones can see it."[39]

In 1935, on the 15th anniversary of Armenia's Sovietization, around one thousand people climbed the summit of Aragats from five directions.[40] On May 28, 2005—the anniversary of the establishment of the First Republic of Armenia—around 250,000 people participated in a Dance of Unity (Armenian: Միասնության շուրջպար) around Mount Aragats in a mass display of national unity. The quarter million participants, among them then-President Robert Kocharyan and Defense Minister Serzh Sargsyan, formed a 163-kilometre (101 mi) ring around the mountain after a blessing from Catholicos Karekin II.[41][42][43] The organizers hoped the event would be included in the Guinness World Records.[44] Prior to the dance, some 110,000 trees were planted on the slopes of Aragats.[45]

Nearby settlements

The following settlements are located on the slopes or foot of Aragats: Ashtarak,[46] Artik, Aparan, Talin, Oshakan, Byurakan.

Main sights

Historic and cultural sites

Arshakid Mausoleum.
Amberd and Vahramashen Church.
Tegher Monastery.
Alphabet park.

Aragats has historically played a significant role in Armenian history and culture. Numerous historical and modern monuments are located on its slopes, some of which are listed below.[39]

The 4th-century mausoleum of the Arsacid (Arshakuni) dynasty is located in the village of Aghtsk, on the slopes of Aragats.[39]

The early medieval fortress of Amberd and the nearby 11th-century Vahramashen Church are located on the slopes of Aragats, at an altitude of 2,300 m (7,500 ft).[47] One source calls Amberd the "biggest and the best preserved fortress" in modern-day Armenia.[48]

The Alphabet Park (Tar’eri purak) is located near the village of Artashavan. It was founded in 2005 on the 1600th anniversary of the invention of the Armenian alphabet. It features sculptures of the 39 letters of the Armenian alphabet and statues of notable Armenians, such as Mesrop Mashtots (the inventor of the alphabet), Armenia's national poet Hovhannes Tumanyan, Khachatur Abovian (father of modern Eastern Armenian literature), and others.[49] In 2012, a 33-metre (108 ft) high cross, composed of 1711 large and small iron crosses, symbolizing the number of years since Armenia's conversion to Christianity in 301, was installed on a hill near the park. A cross is added on an annual basis.[50]

Scientific institutions

Lake Kari and the Aragats Cosmic Ray Research Station (in the background).

The Aragats Cosmic Ray Research Station is a cosmic-ray observatory near Lake Kari, at around 3,200 m (10,500 ft) above sea level. It was founded in 1943 by the brothers Artem Alikhanian and Abram Alikhanov. The Nor-Amberd station, built in 1960, is located at 2,000 m (6,600 ft).[51]

The Byurakan Observatory, established in 1946 by Victor Ambartsumian, is located on the southern slopes of Aragats, near the village of Byurakan, at an altitude of 1,405 m (4,610 ft).[52] It made Armenia one of the world's centers for the study of astrophysics in the 20th century.[53]

The ROT-54/2.6, a radio telescope built in 1985 by the radiophysicist Paris Herouni in the village of Orgov, on the slopes of Aragats.[54]

Gravity hill

On the highway leading to fortress Amberd is a gravity hill,[55] which has become a tourist attraction, due to an optical illusion leading to a downhill slope appearing to be uphill.

Mount Aragats hike

Mount Aragats is a popular hiking destination[56] among locals and tourists. The southern, lowest peak is the most visited one. The hiking trail is approximately 5 kilometers long, and it typically takes between 2.5 and 3 hours to complete.[citation needed]

In culture

The obverse side of the 10,000 Armenian dram banknote depicts Aragats and poet Avetik Isahakyan.

Mount Aragats plays a special role in Armenian history and culture. Along with Ararat, it is considered a sacred mountain for the Armenians.[39]

Aragats is a male first name in Armenia,[57] used especially in areas surrounding the mountain.[d][citation needed]

Mt. Aragats is often associated with Gyumri, Armenia's second-largest city. The mountain is depicted on the coat of arms of Gyumri.[60] It is also depicted on the obverse side of the 10,000 Armenian dram banknote (in use since 2003) in the background of Avetik Isahakyan, a poet born in Gyumri.[61]

Numerous Armenian poets (e.g., Avetik Isahakyan)[11][62] have written about Aragats. Marietta Shaginyan compared Aragats to a "half-open bud of a giant pomegranate flower".[63] In one short poem, Silva Kaputikyan compares Armenia to an "ancient rock-carved fortress", the towers of which are Mount Aragats and Mount Ararat.

Numerous artists have painted Aragats. Some examples of paintings of Aragats are kept at the National Gallery of Armenia.[citation needed]

See also


  1. ^ Because the Armenian Highlands is not a well-defined area, sources vary greatly on where Aragats ranks. Some sources call it the second highest (after Mount Ararat in Turkey),[5][6] others the third highest (after Ararat and Süphan, also in Turkey)[7][8] and some the fourth highest (after Ararat, Sabalan in Iran, and Süphan).[9]
  2. ^ Armenia's territory is 29,743 km2.[12] 6,000 is its 20.2%.
  3. ^ A folk song from Shirak composed by Komitas is titled Alagyaz.[28]
  4. ^ Two examples of notable people named Aragats include Aragats Akhoyan, member of the parliament, born in Dzorap.[58] and Aragats Mkrtchyan, a veteran of the First Nagorno-Karabakh War, from Talin.[59] Both of these settlements are located in the Aragatsotn Province.


  1. ^ a b c d "Aragats". Global Volcanism Program. Smithsonian Institution.
  2. ^ a b Հայաստանի Հանրապետության Ֆիզիկաաշխարհագրական օբյեկտների համառոտ տեղեկատու-բառարան [Dictionary of Physical-Geographic Objects in the Republic of Armenia] (PDF) (in Armenian). State Committee of the Real Estate Cadastre. 2007. p. 15.
  3. ^ "High prominence mountains in Caucasus and Russia outside of Europe". Institutt for informatikk University of Bergen.
  4. ^ Ketchian, Philip K. (December 24, 2005). "Climbing Ararat: Then and Now". The Armenian Weekly. 71 (52). Archived from the original on September 8, 2009.
  5. ^ a b c "Արագած". (in Armenian). Armenian Geographic. 27 May 2015.
  6. ^ Aslani︠a︡n, A. T. (1973). "Yerevan-Southern Summit of Aragats Volcano". Guide-book of Excursions of the All-union Conference for the Study of the Quaternary Period: Armenian SSR. Academy of Sciences of the Armenian SSR Institute of Geological Sciences. p. 72. By its height among the highest peaks of the Armenian highland Aragats gives way only to Ararat — the famous biblical mountain that rises for more than 1 km.
  7. ^ Hewsen, Robert H.; Anania Shirakatsi (1992). The Geography of Ananias of Širak: Ašxarhacʻoycʻ, the Long and the Short Recensions. Reichert. p. 217. ISBN 9783882264852. The highest peak in the Armenian SSR, Aragac is the third highest mountain on the Armenian plateau after Ararat (16,916 ft. /5172 m), and Sip'an (Subhan, 14,543/4434).
  8. ^ Smith, Adam T. (2009). "Regional Investigations in the Tsaghkahovit Plain: Orientation and Methodology". The Foundations of Research and Regional Survey in the Tsaghkahovit Plain, Armenia. Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago. p. 95. ISBN 9781885923622. Aragats is the third highest peak in the Armenian Highland after Great Ararat (5,165 m a.s.l.) and Süphan Dağı (4,434 m a.s.l.).
  9. ^ a b c Nazarian, Kh. (1974). "Արագած (Aragats)". Soviet Armenian Encyclopedia Volume I (in Armenian). p. 677–678.
  10. ^ Adalian 2010, p. 3.
  11. ^ a b "Արագած (Aragats)". (in Armenian). Armenian Encyclopedia Publishing. Archived from the original on March 14, 2016.
  12. ^ "Armenia". The World Factbook. Central Intelligence Agency.
  13. ^ Martirosyan 2013, p. 127.
  14. ^ "Արագած". (in Armenian). Armenian Encyclopedia Publishing. ՙԱրագած՚ անվանումը, ըստ ավանդության, ծագել է ՙԱրա՚ անունից և ՙգահ՚ բառից: Ասել է թե՝ Արայի գահ (խոսքը Հայոց թագավոր Արա Գեղեցիկի մասին է):
  15. ^ Moses of Khoren (1978). History of the Armenians. Robert W. Thomson (translator). Harvard University Press. pp. 89–90.
  16. ^ Harutyunyan, Sargis [in Armenian] (1987). "Հերոսներ" [Heroes]. Հայ հին վիպաշխարհը [The Ancient Armenian Epic World] (in Armenian). Yerevan: Arevik. pp. 45–46.
  17. ^ Holding, Deirdre (2014). Armenia: with Nagorno Karabagh. Bradt Travel Guides. p. 159. ISBN 978-1841625553. Aragatsotn Province. The province whose name means 'foot of Aragats' comprises the land around Mount
  18. ^ "Americans Conquer Great Mt. Alagheuz; Succeed in Reaching Peak in Armenia Which Baffled Expert Climbers for Years". The New York Times. April 16, 1922.
  19. ^ Hovey, Edmund Otis (1904). "Southern Russia and the Caucasus Mountains". Bulletin of the American Geographical Society. 36 (6): 340. doi:10.2307/198884. JSTOR 198884. Toward the west the view is bounded by the colossal Alagheuz...
  20. ^ "Алагез (Alagez)". Small Brockhaus and Efron Encyclopedic Dictionary (in Russian). Алагез (пестрый глаз), потухш. вулкан в Ереванской губернии, 13490 ф. Богат. месторождения серы.
  21. ^ Barnett, R. D. (1982). "Urartu". Cambridge Ancient History Volume III (second ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 318. ISBN 0521224969. ...slopes of Mount Aragats (modern Turkish Alagoz).
  22. ^ a b "How Ordzhonikidze Helped Save a Framed Engineer". The Current Digest of the Soviet Press. 16. American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies: 15. 1964. In July, 1928, on an assignment from my editors, I was climbing the extinct volcano in Armenia [Mt. Aragats] that at the time still bore its Turkish name, Alagoz.
  23. ^ Lynch, H. F. B. (1901). Armenia, travels and studies. Volume I: The Russian Provinces. London: Longmans, Green, and Co. p. 122.
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  25. ^ "Алагез [Alagez]". Soviet Military Encyclopedia Volume I (in Russian). 1932. p. 387. Алагез (армян. Арагац), изолированный горный массив в ССР Армении к С.-З. от г. Эривань.
  26. ^ Der Nersessian, Sirarpie (1969). The Armenians. New York: Praeger. p. 11. ...the Alagoz (Aragats, 4180 m.) to the North of Mount Ararat...
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  30. ^ "Mount Aragats". Encyclopædia Britannica. The highest point in both Armenia and the Lesser Caucasus range...
  31. ^ Encyclopedia Americana: Cathedrals to Civil War. Scholastic Library Publishing. 2005. p. 86. ISBN 9780717201389. The highest point within the Armenian part of the Lesser Caucasus is Mt. Aragats...
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  33. ^ Davoyan, M.O. (1971). "Area of modern glaciation on Mt. Aragats and the diminution of firn basins". International Geology Review. 13 (4): 530–533. Bibcode:1971IGRv...13..530D. doi:10.1080/00206817109475464. ISSN 0020-6814.
  34. ^ Maisuradze, G.M. (1989). "Anthropogene of the anticaucasus". Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology. 72: 53–62. Bibcode:1989PPP....72...53M. doi:10.1016/0031-0182(89)90131-4. ISSN 0031-0182.
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  36. ^ "Custom query in ASCII". European Climate Assessment and Dataset. Retrieved February 18, 2023.
  37. ^ Chernyshev, I.V.; Lebedev, V. A.; Arakelyants, M. M.; Jrbashyan, R. T.; Gukasyan, Yu. G. (May 2002). "Quaternary geochronology of the Aragats volcanic center, Armenia: Evidence from K-Ar dating". Doklady Earth Sciences. 384 (4): 393–398.
  38. ^ Khechoyan, Anna (24 May 2007). "The Rock Art of the Mt. Aragats System". Centro camuno di studi preistorici.
  39. ^ a b c d e Abrahamian, Levon (2007). "Dancing around the mountain: Armenian identity through rites of solidarity". In Grant, Bruce; Yalçın-Heckmann, Lale (eds.). Caucasus Paradigms: Anthropologies, Histories and the Making of a World Area. Berlin: Lit Verlag. pp. 167–188. ISBN 9783825899066.
  40. ^ Sekoyan, V. (1987). "Տուրիզմ [Tourism]". Armenian Soviet Encyclopedia Volume 13 (in Armenian). Yerevan. p. 324. 1935-ին, Հայաստանում սովետական կարգերի հաստատման 15-ամյակի կապակցությամբ, ավելի քան 1000 մարդ 5 տարբեր կետից բարձրացել է Արագածի գագաթը։((cite book)): CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  41. ^ Stepanian, Ruzanna (30 May 2005). "Thousands Dance To Mark Armenia's Independence Holiday". RFE/RL.
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  44. ^ Vardanian, Gegham (2 June 2005). "Armenia's Big Dance". Institute for War and Peace Reporting.
  45. ^ "Մի ֆոտոյի պատմություն. միասնության շուրջպար". (in Armenian). Public Television of Armenia. 28 May 2015. Archived from the original on April 29, 2016.
  46. ^ Kaeter, Margaret (2004). The Caucasian Republics. Infobase Publishing. p. 68. ISBN 9780816052684. In between Gyumri and Yerevan lies Mount Aragats, the highest mountain currently in Armenia, at about 14,000 feet. Ashtarak, the closest town of any size, has 20,000 people...
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  56. ^ Pahlevanyan, Elen (January 6, 2022). "Top 5 Highest Mountains to Hike in Armenia".
  57. ^ As of 2022, there are 161 people named Aragats in Armenia's voters list. "Արագած (Aragats)". (in Armenian). Archived from the original on 5 January 2023.
  58. ^ "Aragats Akhoyan". National Assembly of the Republic of Armenia.
  59. ^ "Յուրաքանչյուր մարտ մի քանի րոպեում ես հաղթում. Արագած Մկրտչյան". (in Armenian). Armenian Ministry of Defense. 23 August 2013.
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  62. ^ Արագածին
  63. ^ Mikhaĭlov, Nikolaĭ Nikolaevich (1988). A Book About Russia: In the Union of Equals: Descriptions, Impressions, the Memorable. Progress Publishers. p. 109. Aragats, the highest mountain in Armenia, rises with its split white cone, like the half-open bud of a giant pomegranate flower, to use the words of the well-known Soviet writer Marietta Shaginyan.