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Location: Aghtsk, Aragatsotn region

Established: IV c.

From Yerevan: 37km/40min

The village of Aghtsk houses the Sepulcher of the Arshakounis, the only monument left from the first Christian years. It has undergone transformations over centuries.

In 359, the gangs of the Persian King Shapouh seized Ani-Kamakh, leveled the cemeteries of the Armenian Arshakoimi kings and decided to take their relics to Persia. According to Bouzand, Persians were saying, 'We are taking the bones of Armenian kings to our country so that the glory, luck and valiance of the kings of this country follow their bones to our land.' The kings' relics were plucked from their tombs and put into iron chests. However, the Armenian cavalry made a sudden attack under Sparapet Vasak Mamikonyan and routed Persians. 'And the kings' bones,' again according to Bouzand, 'were buried in a strong village called Aghdzq, in Ayrarat Province which is situated in a narrow and impenetra-ble recess in Mount Aragats.'

The lower part of the stone, two-storey underground sepulcher, which has a cruciform plan, has been preserved. To the right and left of the semi-circular bema, as on a cross's wings, you may find stone-coffins. The legend has it that the pagan kings of the Arshakpuni dynasty were buried to the left of the entrance, while the Christians to the right. The narrow passage dug in the rock shows that the sepulcher was not intended for mass visits.

The sepulcher is a rare royal cemetery preserved on the soil of modern Armenia. Time has preserved this rare monument alongside its ornamented sculpting, which are 1650 years old. The sepulcher of the Armenian kings; is the only IV c. building in the CIS territory.

The sepulcher in Aghtsq is a unique document and a stone certificate confirming the ancient Armenian statehood. By restoring it, Armenia will restore its 'glory, luck and valiance.'

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