Akhtala (in the middle ages known as Agarak, since 12-13th centuries Pghindzavank, granted with the status of the town since 1995) is located in the Lori Region, along Shamlugh river, in the valley of Debed river and on the slopes of Lalvar mountain.
It is 186 km north of the capital Yerevan and 62 km north of administrative center Vanadzor, at a height of 740 meters above sea level.
Total area of community is about 299 km². Population is about 7423 people. The present Akhtala is divided into 3 neighborhoods: the old and the new town and the eastern neighborhood.
The main industrial branch is mining of (copper concentrate is produced). The area is rich with copper, lead and silver mines which are one of industrial importance and are being utilized.
The M-6 Motorway passes through Akhtala from south to east, connecting the town with Vanadzor at the south, and the Georgian border at the north. A network of local roads connect the town with the nearby villages of Lori. The Akhtala Railway Station was opened during the 1920s. It is 209 km north of Yerevan on the way to Tbilisi. There are 2 public schools.
The first mention of the city is found in the chronicles of Kirakos Gandzaketsi, who wrote that in 1214 Prince Ivane Zakarian died and were buried in the area of Pghndzahank. According to Gandzaketsi the son of Ivane also was buried in the area of a church in 1250. Pghindzavank or Akhtala fortress was built in 10th century by the Kyurikids․ In the area of the fortress was located Pghndzavank monastery (later Akhtala Monastery).
In the middle ages it became a religious center for Georgian-Armenians in Gugark. In Armenian-Georgian educational center they equally studied both Armenian and Georgian literature. Akhtala monastery is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site with protection status.
In 1763 Greek miners from Pontos’ Gumushane area were called by the request of Georgian King Erekle II who began extraction and allegation of silver and copper. Sometimes Akhtala was called Artsatahank because of its silver mine.
Translate by Tatevik Sahakyan