Armavir Marz is located in the Arax (Yeraskh in historical times) river valley, and has some of the richest and most fertile land in Armenia, made up of the three Soviet regions of Ejmiatsin (the basin of the lower Kasagh river), Armavir (the Metsamor, formerly Kara Su or Sevjur- "Blackwater"-basin), and Baghramian, the rocky western upland. Jewel in the touristic crown is Ejmiatsin, the mother church of Armenia, with its treasury and outlying early medieval churches (S. Hripsime, S. Gayane), including the ruined Zvartnots Cathedral. S. Astvatsatsin church of 14th c. in Bambakashat has also an architectural interest. The Sardarapat battle monument includes a splendid, recently refurbished ethnographic museum worth a separate visit. The Neolithic-Eneolithic tells of Khatunarkh in Gay, Teghut near Vagharshapat, in Tsaghkunk, Aratashen, the Early Bronze/Iron Age site/museum of Metsamor in Taronik and Early Bronze Age settlement of Mokhrablur in Vache, with temple remnants, a prominent circular tower of Iron Age in Aghavnatun, Urartian/Hellenistic city of Argishtihinili/Armavir, Hellenistic city of Yervandashat (both ancient Armenian capitals) and fortress of Aragats, Targmanchats ruined monastery of 7th c. in Aigeshat, are of considerable archaeological significance, though somewhat mysterious to non-specialists. Inhabited since the Neolithic period, and of great importance in Urartian and Hellenistic times (Armavir and Yervandashat were ancient Armenian capitals), under Mongol, Turkish and Persian occupation these fertile river lands were too tempting to the conquerors, who pushed the Armenian population into the foothills. Only around Ejmiatsin, where the Armenian church held on to rich estates, did the Armenian people retain a majority in the Arax valley before the 20th century population transfers. Thus, medieval Armenian remnants are fairly sparse.  Nor has Russian/Soviet rule been kind to the monuments of Armenia’s subsequent Persian overlords. Though flat, the country is intersected by streams, ponds and canals, with rich bird life. Swifts dart along the road at evening, and storks soar sternly overhead.