Vayots Dzor, Armenia
One of Armenia’s most dramatic fortresses, hugging a high ridge between two canyons, lies not far from the medieval town of Yeghegis. First constructed in the 5th century in protection during the Vardavank War, Smbataberd was used even more extensively during the 10th through 13th centuries when it belonged to the Princes of Syunik and then later the Orbelian’s. On a strategic location overlooking vast stretches of land, yet very difficult to reach, Smbataberd grew as one of the strongest castles in Vayots Dzor.
It has a unique appearance as it’s long walls with numerous round towers snakes around the mountainside. Inside, barracks and citadels have been uncovered in the rubble. Reaching it today is a popular activity for those in the region, but it requires a long hike or a 4x4 excursion.
Approximately 5 kilometers west of Yeghegis in Vayots Dzor, high on the hills overlooking the village.
Likely first constructed in the 5th century, though it was in most use during the 10th through 13th centuries.
To guard and protect the town of Yeghegis, former capital of the region.
It sits in ruins for hundreds of years, though recently have become a popular spot for locals and travelers to hike and explore.
From our base in Yeghegis, we set off to make the hike up the mountain to the walls of Smbataberd. From Yeghegis the fortress can be seen, but the distance is quite deceiving. It took us a few hours (we have a toddler and a baby remind you) in the hot sun to reach it, but it was well worth it. Zion loved exploring the walls and towers (I had just as much fun). Coming back down was a breeze. Overall, we found it to be one of the most memorable hikes in Armenia, and a great way to explore the medieval remnants of the country. Like most places in Armenia, there is not entrance fee to the fortress.