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Smbataberd 2: Lower Complex. Gates. Map legend

Smbataberd: Lower Complex

Smbataberd's location was so perfectly placed no invader was able to penetrate the keep. It was protected by the Artabun and the Yeghegis canyons and further enhanced by a long stretch of 2-3 meters thick walls, the surviving remnants of which are mostly at the northern end. They are substantial, with a series of round towers jutting from the thick walls of smooth stone.

The entire ridge was surrounded by walls; enough space for hundreds of inhabitants, and there are two citadels at the very peak, where a large castle was reserved for the prince and his retinue.

The fort is divided by walls on both the northern and southern sides, where the ruins of the citadels' military barracks, dwellings and water-pools have been preserved. The water originated from natural springs and canals at Tsaghatskar monastery.

An underground pipe carried water from the monastery to the fortress, some 2 km away and it is said that only when invaders used a horse to sniff out the buried pipe were they able to force inhabitants to surrender. Remains of the reservoirs and water lines can be seen near the mountain neck at the edge of the path. Clay pipes are exhibited at Yeghegnadzor’s regional museum.

In addition to the main northern entrance, there are also entrances from the northern edges of the east and west sides. Guard posts and watch-towers stood on the roof of the wall but are now gone. Three watch-towers remain: two on either side of the road leading to the fort, a second about 1 km east of the fortress itself and the third located 800 m west of the fort on a mountain ridge, near medieval Vostink (“Hostun”) village.


An entranceway creates problems in warfare, as it is the weakest point on any wall. They must be able to be open enough to allow supplies in yet also block attackers.

Smbataberd's location on top of a steep crevice allowed it to forgo the moats and ditches popular with other medieval castles. Its main entry is a form of barbican (a fortified outlook) where the steep walls and cliffs forced those who entered to slow down their approach, while soldiers above were able to carefully watch their movements.



Map Legend

1. Main Gate
2. Gate
3. King's Gate
4. Walls
5. Lower Complex
6. Upper Complex
7. Lower Citadel
8. Upper Citadel