Ashtarak is one of the oldest well-known settlements in Armenia, located 20-22 km to the north-west of Yerevan, the capital. It lies downstream, on both banks of the Kasakh river, at the foot of Mount Aragats which has four peaks, at a height of 1100 meters above sea level. Ashtarak is the administrative capital of Aragatsotn marz (one of the country's regions), covering 42.5 km2 with a population of about 25 thousand.
Ashtarak was known in ancient times as a settlement. The first record of information about it dates from the 9th century. Until the middle of the last century Ashtarak was a small settlement, which received town status only in 1963. Some researchers think that the name "Ashtarak" comes from the name of Ishtar, the Assyrian goddess of love and fertility. Others, however, suppose that Ashtarak’s name is associated with the Armenian word for tower or fortress.
Natural and climatic conditions in Ashtarak are excellent. Average temperature in January is -3.90 C, in July - + 24.4 0C. The lowest temperature recorded was -290C, the highest - + 410C. The annual average precipitation is 342 mm.
The town's economic and geographical position is also favorable, as the roads connecting Yerevan to the north of Armenia (Yerevan Gyumri, Yerevan - Vanadzor) pass through Ashtarak.
Ashtarak is considered to be a scientific center of Armenia, as well as one of the largest food industry centers. The Institute of Radiophysics & Electronics, The Institute for Physical Research of the National Academy of Sciences of Armenia, and a number of scientific-production enterprises are located here. There are many gardens in Ashtarak, the town is full of orchards and vineyards. It is not a coincidence that internationally recognized high quality dairy products as well as various types of wine are produced here.
Ashtarak is an example of a modern Armenian town with ancient monuments, bright sunshine and cool nights, beautiful fruit orchards and luxuriant vineyards. In the summer heat a tired traveler will be treated here with a juicy peach which tastes like a drop of golden sun, with ripe shining grapes, with sweet and strong old wines. And the dishes that Ashtarak women prepare from life-giving grape juice /e.g. doshab/ and out of various fruits! And Ashtarak dried fruits are very popular and well-known outside of Armenia.
There are many examples of Armenian art and architecture in Ashtarak. Bronze and Iron Age sites - beautiful natural vacation spots - prove that this is an ancient settlement. Here one can see the best monuments of Armenian architecture from the early Christian period - Tsiranavor Church / 5-6 th centuries /, Karmravor Church / 7 th century /, St. Marine Church / 13 th century/. Also, there is an Ashtarak bridge built in the 16th century on the Kasakh river, which is considered to be one of the best examples of bridge design, as well as the Ashtaraki Dzor recreation area. Ashtarak is the birthplace of many scientists, poets and writers, artists, public figures and politicians, including: Catholicos Nerses V (Ashtaraketsi), the writer Perch Proshyan, poets S. Shahaziz, Gevorg Emin, and linguist Grigor Ghapantsyan.