Located on the left bank of the Debed river, on the slopes of Mt. Lalvar, the town of Akhtala is known for its copper mines, for which it was called Pghndzahank (Copper Mine) in the past. In 1763, experienced Pontic Greek miners settled in the area to mine copper and silver. Archaeological evidence suggests that the area of today’s Akhtala has been populated since the early Bronze Age. French archaeologist Jacques de Morgan conducted excavations in 1887-1889 and discovered an ancient burial site with items made of bronze and iron, including weapons dating back to the 8th century BC.
Today, the town consists of three neighborhoods: the old town, the new town, and the eastern neighborhood on the shore of Debed river.
The town has an elevation of 740 meters above sea level, the summers here are cool and dry, and the winters are mild.
Akhtala is one of the must-visit destinations in the north of Armenia for it’s home to a unique 10th-century fortified monastery complex, with its main church featuring incredible frescoes.
Other sites here include the 13th-century Holy Trinity church, St. Gevorg and Ayanes churches, a number of chapels and cross-stones. Located not far from the Akhtala monastery is the Nurik center, where visitors can participate in various workshops or enjoy a delicious meal.