Ashtarak audio tour: Bari galust—that’s welcome in Armenian—to the historic town of Ashtarak

Bari galust—that’s welcome in Armenian—to the historic town of Ashtarak

Walking Tour

40 mins

About the Tour

Lovely, historic Ashtarak is just 40 minutes north of the capital, but a whole different world—a slice of real, every day Armenia where kids play outside until way past dark, housewives can and preserve harvests from their gardens and men sit by the road over backgammon boards.

Its setting is dramatic, on the southern flank of 4,095-meter Mount Aragats—the country’s highest peak—bisected by the deep, cliff-lined gorge of the Kasagh River Gorge, flowing from the snowy north. On the high banks of the river is one of the country’s best collections of historic churches, including the Three Sisters: Karmravor, Spitakavor and Tsiranavor, dating from the Middle Ages, but built on the foundations of much earlier pagan temples. It’s the home of Armenian poet Gevorg Emin and novelist Perch Proshyan, celebrated at the graceful Proshyan House Museum.

This winding little walk takes you past all the major sights and through some of Ashtarak’s most charming neighborhoods. We start in the town center, home of the provincial government, city hall and statue of Nerses V Ashtaraketsi, a 19th century Catholicos of the Armenian Apostolic Church.

The fiddle music was recorded by my friend Lorrie Wilkes, a Peace Corps volunteer here in Armenia. It's a well-loved old Armenian folk song by the composer Komitas.

Tour Producer


Susan Spano

Susan Spano is a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer who teaches English at Proshyan School in Ashtarak. Before moving to Armenia last year she was a travel writer who launched the still-running “Frugal Traveler“ column for the New York Times, then joined the staff of The Los Angeles Times which sent her to the City of Light from 2003 to 2006 to start the popular travel section blog “Postcards from Paris.” After that she spent six months in Beijing studying Mandarin and researching stories in the run-up to the 2008 Olympics and then moved to Rome--her favorite foreign posting--where she wrote on everything Italian, from Caravaggio to mozzarella. Her articles have also appeared in the Financial Times, Chicago Tribune, Smithsonian, National Geographic Traveler and Redbook. She is the author of French Ghosts, Russian Nights & American Outlaws: Souvenirs of a Professional Vagabond, came out in May, 2015, from Roaring Forties Press.

Major Landmarks

  • Saint Mariane Church

  • Karmravor

  • Spitakavor Monastery

  • Tsiranavor Church of Ashtarak

  • Saint Sarkis Church of Ashtarak

Directions to Starting Point

You start at the traffic oval in the Ashtarak town center on the right bank of the Kasagh River. A taxi from Yerevan costs about 3,000 drams ($6); shared vans leave Kilikia Station in Yerevan and cost 250 drams (about 50 cents).

Show Directions
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Places to stop along the way

Pascal & Diodato, an al fresco café across the road from Karmravor. The Old Mill and Bridge for pictures of the Kasagh River Gorge.

Best time of day

It is best done in daylight and very nice around sunset.


There are few sidewalks and the pavements are very uneven, so make sure to watch where you are stepping. Though there are occasional crosswalks, cars in Armenia assume they have the right of way.


Bari galust—that’s welcome in Armenian—to the historic town of Ashtarak