Ara Ler (Mount Ara) is located on the border of two provinces − Kotayk and Aragatsotn. The cone-shaped mountain rises to an altitude of 2585 m above sea level. This mountain of volcanic origin is about 10 million years old. According to an Armenian legend, it was named after the Armenian king Ara the Beautiful, who lived on the slopes of the mountain before the war against the Assyrian queen Shamiram began, and he died in one of its valleys. He did not betray his country despite threats. Shamiram was in love with Ara and wanted to found a powerful kingdom by uniting the two countries. As Ara loved his homeland and his wife Nvard, he refused Shamiram’s love and the war between the two countries began. Ara fell in the battlefield. Shamiram wanted to revive him with the help of Aralezs, but all her efforts were useless. According to legend, the spirit of Ara is still there. For this reason, the mountain bears his name. Another interesting fact about the mountain is that it has the shape of a man lying along the valley.
The legend about Ara was and is a source of inspiration for many Armenian artists. There are many works of literature and pictures dedicated to this legend. On the foot of the mount rises Tsaghkevank, meaning the monastery of flowers. The inhabitants of the surrounding villages come here to celebrate Christian and pagan festivals. There is a spring water in the monastery, which is able to heal various kinds of diseases and even cure eyes. This phenomenon is related to the fact that the spring water is rich in zinc. Noteworthy is also the biodiversity on the slopes of the Mount Ara: about 20% of the Armenian flora and fauna can be unveiled here. There are about 650 plant species. Many plants also have healing properties. The smell of the flowers can be felt from afar. As you climb from the slope to the peak, more and more flowers appear on your way. You can find snowdrops, yellow and blue bellflowers, chamomiles, yellow narcissus, violets and other flowers.
The ecosystem is well preserved, except for some small pastures. The mountain also harbors a wide variety of bird species, including golden eagles, lesser spotted eagle, Caucasian black grouse and others. For this reason, the area was recognized as an important birdwatching area. Brown bears also live here, who are fed by a large number of ants and vitamin-rich juicy plants. The climate is continental, the annual precipitation is 300-400 mm. The dry steppes turn into grassland as you climb higher. The rare spieces of oak groves and thickets grow on this mount.
Mount Ara is only 40 kilometers from Yerevan. The town of Zoravan and a nearby church, Gharghavank, are situated on the lower slopes of the mountain, and the town of Yeghvard is situated at the southern feet of the mountain. During the spring and summer months, the weather on the slopes of Mount Ara is mostly warm and not windy. The grass is lush, rocks are mighty, and the mountainsides are peaceful. The road extends through two rocks. The mountain is also suitable for paragliding and is favorable in terms of tourism or hiking in the winter months. Many people come here to ski and enjoy winter landscapes in the regions of Aragatsotn and Kotayk. The area is a very popular place with climbers. A number of routes lead up to the peak, each of them offering stunning natural panoramas and views over its summit.This is an ideal place for those who want to visit mountains and nature while traveling in Armenia.