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Smbataberd 3: Citadels. Map legend

Smbataberd: Citadels

In a fortification with bastions, the citadel is the strongest part of the system, sometimes well inside the outer walls but often forming a part of the wall itself for the sake of economy.

A citadel served as a refuge and safe house for storing military supplies, food and a residence for the reigning power.

Multiple citadels like Smbataberd are not unique in Armenia, though they are found at large Bronze and Urartian Age settlements. At various periods, and particularly during the Middle Ages, a citadel - having its own fortifications - was the last defense of a besieged army, often held after the town had been conquered. In time of war the citadel in many cases afforded retreat to the people living in the areas around the town. However, citadels were also used in times of revolt to protect a garrison or political power from the inhabitants of the town where it was located. Citadels were built to protect the inhabitants from both outer and inner attack (though there is no evidence of revolt in Smbataberd's history).

Smbataberd's two citadels are located at the top of the site, one atop the other, on steep ridges that roughly divide the site in half. Both were used as households. Not half of the fortress has been excavated. The original site once encompassed the entire mountain top.

Despite its strong fortifications, Smbataberd fell to Seljuk Turks.


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