An important bastion protecting the monastery of Haghpat and the surrounding villages, the Kayan Fortress (known as Kayanberd, or Aknaberd) is situated on a sheer cliff between the villages of Akner and Haghpat, rising high above the Debed canyon.

The deep gorges on the three sides of the cliff provide natural protection to the Kayan Fortress, which was additionally reinforced with mighty defensive walls and about 15 towers. Stretching for about 120 meters, the fortress is accessible from the southern end only; from here, a trail runs to the village of Haghpat along the side of the gorge and over River Sherek.

Ruins of several buildings and remains of pools and clay pipes that provided the fortress with water are found on the site. Kayan Fortress is also home to the St. Astvatsatsin (Holy Mother of God) church, also known as Dsevank.

Quick Info

Historical site
When to go
April - November
54 km (from Vanadzor)
How to reach
By foot only
Church of Mother Mary

What's Nearby

Haghpat Monastery (3.5 km)
Zarni-Parni Caves (2.5 km)
Akhtala Monastery (13 km)
Sanahin Monastery (11.5 km)
Mikoyan Brothers Museum (11.3 km)
Alaverdi Art Gallery (5.7 km)

An inscription above the entrance to the church that contains information on the construction of the site states that the fortress and the church were built in 1233 by the abbot of Haghpat monastery, Bishop Hovhannes, the son of the sister of the princes Ivaneh and Zakareh Zakarians.

Kayan Fortress was an important foothold in medieval Armenia. Thanks to its elevated location, the fortress was overlooking the surrounding canyons, and soldiers stationed here were able to easily detect approaching enemies, and warn the villages and, most importantly, the Haghpat monastery, of the dangers. The fortress was eventually destroyed in 1241 during the Mongol invasions of Armenia.