Aragatsotn Marz consists of the huge volcanic shield of  Mt. Aragats  (formerly  Alagyaz,  whose main cone rises 4090 meters above sea level) and its system (Mt.-s Arteni, Tsaghkasar, Irind). The high uplands provide grazing in summer for shepherds, as well as the clear air for Armenia’s  observatories. The rocks, wildflowers, and views make the ascent of Aragats unforgettable. A favorite site for the summer cottages of affluent Yerevantsis due to its proximity and cool climate, the S slopes of Aragats are also the subject of tentative efforts to develop skiing (via snowmobile) and other winter sports. The remote medieval fortress of Amberd is a memorable destination once the snows melt in May. The eastern part of the Marz is laid out along the Kasakh river gorge, which cuts deep into the rock and forms the backdrop for a chain of spectacular monasteries. The western uplands of Aragats, a bleakly beautiful landscape of volcanic boulders and green grass overlooking the Ararat Valley, are dotted with villages, each athwart a stream gorge, most with medieval churches and fortresses of the Bronze and Early Iron Age. The paleolithic open air workshops around Mt. Arteni and Tsaghkunyats range, fort of the 7th-5th c. B.C. with 5 palace complexes on Didikond hill in Oshakan, Aghtamir Bronze and Iron Age fortress near Voskevaz, Iron Age fort in Bazmaghbyur, Bronze Age fortresses near Ghazaravan, Bronze Age graveyard of Verin Naver and large archaeological site of the Eneolithic through medieval periods near Agarak, Bronze Age cyclopean fort in Orgov, Iron Age cyclopean fortification walls in Avan, substantial fortress and settlements of the Bronze Age through medieval periods, with wealthy tomb-fields in Shamiram, and Ashtarak, Tsiranavor basilica (5th c.), Spitakavor (13th c.), Karmravor S. Astvatsatsin (7th c.), S. Mariane(1281) churches, bridge of 1664 in Ashtarak, the last resting place of Mesrop Mashtots (founder of the Armenian alphabet) with a church above his grave, S. Sion Mankanots church of the 7th c. with the pillar of Byzantine emperor Mauricius and the bridge of 1704 in Oshakan, the ruins of the 5-7th c. Badali Zham church near Voskevaz, remnants of a 14th c. church in Voskehat, the 5th c. Tsiranavor, Targhmanchats domed (7th c.) churches and a fine cave with a working stone door in Parpi, S. Hovhannes church of the 5-6th c. and ruined mosque in Agarak, S. Hovhannes basilican (10th c.) and Artavazik (7-13th c.) churches in Byurakan, early khachkars in Antarut, impressive monastery in Tegher of the 11-14th c., 4th c. grave monument complex in Aghtsk, medieval monuments (13th c. Kosh castle, 7th c. S. Stepanos church and substantial ruines of the Koshavank monastic complex, as well as Large kachkars) of Kosh, remains of a 7th c. domed church and various medieval remnants in Verin Sasunik, single-aisle 5th c. basilica of Astvatsatsin in Avan, Cathedral church of S. Gregory (7th c.), remains of basilica church (5th c.), remains of the Mamikonian palace, ruined walls of the 4-16th c. fortress and 10-13th c. caravansaray in Aruch, ruins of the Karakala fort near Nerkin Bazmaberd, 12-13th c. church and fortress remains in Baysz, 7th c. octagonal church in Irind, the "Chknavor" rock-cut shrine and khachkars in Karmrashen, Cathedral church (5th c.) and S. Astvatsatsin church (7th c.) in Talin, Medieval caravansaray, Bronze Age through medieval settlement and Kristafor monastery of the 7th c. in Dashtadem, Urartian-medieval huge fortification atop of the Mt. Arteni near Areg, 7th c. octagonal church near the town of Aragats, 7th c. S. Khach church in Zarnja, 5-7th c. S. Hovhannes church and 13th c. large khachkar in Mastara, S. Amenaprkich (5th c.) and S. Astvatsatsin (7th c.) churches in former village of Shenik near Zovasar, S. Gevorg church of the mid 7th c. in GarnhovitS. Gevorg monastery in Mughni of the 14-17th c., Ohanavank monastery of the 5-13th c. in Ohanavan, S. Sargis Vank monastery of the 7-13th c. in Ushi, 7th c. Amenaprkich church in Artashavan, Saghmosavank monastery of the 13th c. in Saghmosavan, Astvatsnkal monastery of the 5-13th c. near Hartavan, Poghos-Petros church and chapel of S. Vardan Zoravar (both 5th c.) near Aparan Reservoir, 10-13th c. S. Astvatsatsin church in Yeghipatrush, Bronze Age settlement site with cave complexes in the gorge of Kasakh river and 5th c. Kasakh Basilican church in Aparan, ruined  church of the 4th c. and Tukh Manuk chapel of the 7th c. in Lusagyugh, 5th c. church in Mirak, zoomorphic (animal shaped) tombstones in Rya Taza, Late Bronze Age through Urartian period castle of Kalachi Amrots in Tsaghkahovit, ruins of an Urartian period fortress and 5th c. church in Hnaberd, ruined church of the 5th c. in Derek, the medieval castles of Amberd and Nerkin Talin (Dashtadem) are all well worth a separate expedition.