Kotayk Marz is the offspring of the Hrazdan 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 eroded volcanic 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 II in Argel, prehistoric and urartian period fortresses and settlemens such as fortress of Karmir Berd (“Red Castle”) in Zovuni, fortified settlement of Dovri, impressive churches such as 5-6th c. basilica in Yegvard, Zoravar chuch of 7th c. in Zoravan, 5-6th c. church of Ptghni, 5th c. single-aisle  basilica in Karenis, small church of S. Gevorg (7th c.) in Karashamb, small domed 6th c. church in Arzni, S. Astvatsatsin church of the 14th c. in Yeghvard, monasteries such as Dzagavank or  Getargeli S. Nshan in Arinj, 15th c. Matteos Arakyal (Apostle Mathew) in Karenis, Neghutsi S. 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 volcanic crater.