Shirak marz

Territory: 2681 square km
Agricultural land: 165737 ha
Including arable land: 84530 ha
Population: 243,200 (as of 2016)

The marz of Shirak is situated on the left bank of Akhurian River. It is famous for its rich fertile soil and cool climate. The climate, while continental, in general varies from freezing cold in winter, to blistering heat in summer. It is in a seismic risk zone of 8-9 grades Richter Scale. The marz center is Gyumri, located in the center of Shirak highland, on the height of 1550m above sea level. The archeologists confirm that the Gyumri area was inhabited around a million year ago. The excavations that have revealed skeletons of pre-historic elephants, bulls, camels, horses testify to the fact.
The first indication of Gyumri can be met in the Marmashen cuneiform inscription (VIII c. B.C.)
The marz is rich in monuments and gorgeous sights that attract tourists attention. The town of Artik is known as the center of tuff mines. Armenian tuff is famous for its around forty color shades.
Not far from Artik, extended on three plateaus there is an ancient location of Bronze Age, where during the VII-VIII cc. the monastery complex of Harichavank was built.
On the left bank of Akhourian river you can find the monastery complex of Marmashen built in 988-1029.
The Spitak earthquake of 1988 caused much suffering and damage, but due to strong will and spirit of the Armenians, a lot of reconstruction activity has been carried out in the marz since then.