Ashtarak is located 20 km northwest of Yerevan on the banks of the Kasakh River. The city is mentioned for the first time in the 9th century as a fertile and productive village and sometimes town. Many ancient monuments and works of art remain standing in Ashtarak that suggest that the city has been around longer that mentioned. Since the early Christian period, the Tsiranavor Church has been constantly renovated and added on to. In the 18th century, surrounding walls were added in order to keep the grounds clean. Locals call that area “Bertatagh”, meaning “neighborhood of the fortress.
The Karmravor Church is one of the few 7th century churches that have brick tiles on its roof. Marine Church is located at the northeastern end of town. There used to be a monastery called Spitakavor Church (13th-14th cc.) located at the top of a cliff. A large bridge was constructed out of red tufa stone across the Kasakh River next to which the remnant of another bridge built between the 12th and 13th centuries is located. The cemetery is full of monumental gravestones and cross stones.