Kotayk Marz is the offspring of the
and Getar rivers. The
flow of the Hrazdan (formerly Zangi) river from Lake Sevan past Yerevan to the
Arax River cut a gorge through the twisted basalt formations of the foothills,
creating a micro-environment that attracted Paleolithic toolmakers. Since
Sovietization, the Hrazdan river has driven a long series of
hydropower plants, whose cheap electricity and water attracted in the 1940s-80s
a new breed of tool makers. The gorge of
the Hrazdan river remains striking for its varied climate and rock formations,
and in its northern reaches, mountains and forests are the setting for an array
of summer guest-houses and sanatoria. The
riven crater of Mt. Ara dominates the
western skyline of the marz.
Beyond the upland valleys of the Getar river basin E of Yerevan, the Geghama
range becomes a desolate but beautiful upland of
cones, almost uninhabited, while the Southern border is the dramatic gorge of
the Azat river and Garni/Geghard.
As a tourist destination Kotayk is rich indeed. Besides
the traditional attractions of Garni, Geghard, and Tsakhkadzor, the region
abounds in wonderfully sited paleolithic caves such as Mousterian-Mesolithic
cave sites Lusakert I and
prehistoric and urartian period fortresses and settlemens such
Berd (“Red Castle”) in Zovuni, fortified
impressive churches such as 5-6th
c. basilica in Yegvard, Zoravar chuch of 7th c.
c. church of Ptghni,
5th c. single-aisle
in Karenis, small
church of S.
Gevorg (7th c.)
small domed 6th c.
Astvatsatsin church of the 14th c. in Yeghvard, monasteries such as
or Getargeli S. Nshan in Arinj,
15th c. Matteos Arakyal (Apostle Mathew)
Astvatsatsin Vank of the 10-13th c. near Arzakan, Makravank of the
11-13th c. in Hrazdan, Teghenyats
of the 12-13th c. near Buzhakan and Meghradzor, medieval forts such as
Bjni, Arinj and
Sevaberd, and the splendid folk shrine of Kuys Varvara inside the Mt. Ara