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Shirak Province with the center in Gyumri occupies an area in the northwest of the nation and has a population of 281 thousand inhabitants. The temperature of the region in winter falls well below zero, which makes it the coldest region in the country.
In addition to Gyumri there are two cities Artik and Maralik and 116 rural communities.
In December 1988, when happened a devastating earthquake, the province was hardly damaged.
Since ancient times, Shirak was amongst the fifteen historical provinces of Armenia.
So here all aver you can see the abundance of monuments, monasteries and historical places. Monastic complexes Marmashen, Arichavank and Lmbatavank refers to the times of the Middle Ages. For example, Marmashen consists of three temples, which unfortunately are in ruins, and was constructed between the tenth and thirteenth centuries. While complex Lmbatavank older, of sixth century.
In Shirak also has several natural attractions, as is the National Park of Lake Arpi
The lake Arpi is mountainous and located near the frontier with Turkey and Georgia. Here are some species of flora and fauna threatened with extinction. The lake is widely used for irrigation and electricity production. The lake with the surroundings are part of the National Park.
The magnificent natural environment, recreational areas and numerous historical monuments make the region an appealing place for tourism.
The first settlements in the vicinity of the lake belong to the eighth century BC. The lake is also widely used for fishing and irrigation.
The province of Shirak is a birthplace of the famous mathematician, astronomer and geographer Anania Shirakatsi, which is the creator of the Armenian calendar, and many other valuable works.
After years of study, he gained fame and reputation in all Armenia and abroad. The calendar was created by them in the year 667, at the request of the Armenian Apostolic Church.
Marmashen convent complex is disposed 8 km from Gyumri, near the orchards along the river Akhuryan. Here tourists can visit three churches built of tufa of beautiful apricot color.
The biggest of them built between 988 and 1029 years, the Church of St. Stepanos. On the ancient stones used for its construction, you can see an abundance of complex carved figures.
Equally important from the standpoint of historical heritage are the Astvastatsin Church and the ruins of the Church of St. Peter. Recently conducted excavations have revealed the remains of pre-Christian era of some buildings. The complex is characterized by domes and ventilation system, which is very rare in Armenian architecture.
Unluckily, the earthquake of 1988 caused enormous damage as churches and monasteries.
You can also find the bridge of the tenth century, near the river Akhuryan.