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Tours! -- Monuments in Nagorno Karabagh
The Nagorno Karabakh Republic (NKR), also known as Mountainous Karabakh, or Artsakh in Armenian was proclaimed on September 2, 1991. It is a landlocked region in the South Caucasus, lying between Lower Karabakh and Zangezur and covering the southeastern range of the Lesser Caucasus mountains. The region is mostly mountainous and forested. Due the incline, almost all the rivers of Nagorno Karabakh flow from the western and southwestern mountains to the east and southeast into the Artsakh valley. Over centuries, these fast-flowing mountainous rivers formed deep canyons and picturesque valleys.
Size: 11.458,38 sq. km
Population: 137.762 (data 2005)
Ethnic Composition: Over 95% Armenian, 5% minorities (Assyrians, Kurds, Greeks)
Religion: Armenian Apostolic Christian, with some Orthodox, Evangelicals and Jews
Neighboring States: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iran.
Time Zone: UTC+4
National Currency: Dram (abbr. AMD)
Government: Independent Republic
Head of State: President of the Republic
Head of Government: Prime Minister
Administrative division: districts
Symbols: We and our Mountains by Sargis Baghdasaryan is a monument located in Stepanakert. The sculpture is widely regarded as a symbol of the de facto independent Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh. It is a large monument from tuff of an old Armenian man and woman hewn from rock, representing the mountain people of Karabagh. It is also known as "Tatik yev Papik" (ևՊապիկ) in Eastern Armenian. The sculpture is featured prominently on Nagorno-Karabakh's coat of arms.
The flag of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, is derived from the flag of Armenia, with only a white pattern added. The flag was adopted on June 2, 1992. This symbolises the Armenian heritage, culture and population of the area and represents Nagorno-Karabakh as being a separated region of Armenia by the triangular shape and the zigzag cutting through the flag. The pattern is also similar to the designs used on rugs. The flag is of clear reference to show Nagorno-Karabakh Republic is of Armenian land and governed by Armenians by the Armenian flag being the prominent focus, rather than the white zigzag.
Coat of Arms: The emblem of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic consists of an eagle wearing an ornamented crown. On the chest of the eagle is a shield with a panorama of a mountain range under a vertically set flag of Nagorno-Karabakh. Over this are the two stone heads of "Granny and Gramps" (Տատիկ և Պապիկ, Tatik yev Papik) from the We Are Our Mountains monument in Stepanakert, the capital of Nagorno-Karabakh. The eagle's feet clutch various agricultural products including wheat and grapes. The outer rim is made up of a golden circular ribbon bearing inscription "Lernayin Gharabaghi Artsakh Hanrapetoutioun" (or "Artsakh Republic of Mountainous Karabakh") in Eastern Armenian".
Nagorno-Karabakh has a total area of 4,400 square kilometers (1,699 sq mi) and is an enclave surrounded entirely by Azerbaijan; its nearest point to Armenia is across the Lachin corridor, roughly 4 kilometers across. Approximately half of Nagorno-Karabakh terrain is over 950 m above sea level. The borders of Nagorno-Karabakh resemble a kidney bean with the indentation on the east side. It has tall mountain ridges along the northern edge and along the west and a mountainous south. The part near the indentation of the kidney bean itself is a relatively flat valley, with the two edges of the bean, the provinces of Martakert and Martuni, having flat lands as well. Other flatter valleys exist around the Sarsang reservoir, Hadrut, and the south. The entire region lies, on average, 1,100 metres (3,600 ft) above sea level. Notable peacks include the border mountain Murovdag and the Great Kirs mountain chain in the junction of Shusha Rayon and Hadrut. The territory of modern Nagorno-Karabakh forms a portion of the historic region of Karabakh, which lies between the rivers Kura and Araxes, and the modern Armenia-Azerbaijan border. Nagorno-Karabakh in its modern borders is part of the larger region of Upper Karabakh.
Nagorno-Karabakh’s environment vary from steppe on the Kura lowland through dense forests of oak, hornbeam and beech on the lower mountain slopes to birchwood and alpine meadows higher up. The region posseses numerous mineral springs and deposits of zinc, coal, lead, gold, marble and limestone. The major cities of the region are Stepanakert, which serves as the capital of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, and Shusha, which lies partially in ruins. Vineyards, orchards and mulberry groves for silkworms are developed in the valleys.
Climate: The Nagorno Karabakh Republic's climate is mild and mostly subtropical. The annual average temperature is 51 F (11 C). The hottest months are July and August, when the average temperatures are 72 F (22 C) and 71 F (21C) respectively. The warmest parts of Nagorno Karabakh are the lowlands of Varanda and Jraberd provinces. During the winter, in the months of January and February, the temperature fluctuates between 32-30 F (-1-0 C).
Nagorno-Karabakh falls within the lands occupied by peoples known to modern archaeologists as the Kura-Araxes culture, who lived between the two rivers Kura and Araxes. From around 180 BC and up until the 4th century AD — before becoming part of the Armenian Kingdom again, in 855 — the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh remained part of the united Armenian Kingdom as the province of Artsakh.
Armenians have lived in the Karabakh region since Roman times: Strabo states that, by the second or first century BC, the entire population of Greater Armenia—Artsakh and Utik included—spoke Armenian, though this does not mean that its population consisted exclusively of ethnic Armenians. Tigran the Great, King of Armenia (ruled 95–55 BC) founded in Artsakh was one of four cities named “Tigranakert” after himself. The ruins of the ancient Tigranakert, located 30 miles north-east of Stepanakert, are being studied by a group of international scholars.
By the early Middle Ages, the non-Armenian elements of Caucasian Albanian population of upper Karabakh had completed their merger into the Armenian population, and forever disappeared as identifiable groups. Armenian culture and civilization flourished in the early medieval Nagorno Karabakh— in Artsakh and Utik. In the 5th century, the first-ever Armenian school was opened on the territory of modern Nagorno-Karabakh—at the Amaras Monastery—by the efforts of St. Mesrob Mashtots, the inventor of the Armenian Alphabet
The Armenian meliks maintained full control over the region until the mid-18th century. In the early 18th century, Persia's Nader Shah took Karabakh out of control of the Ganja khans in punishment for their support of the Safavids, and placed it under his own control. At the same time, the Armenian meliks were granted supreme command over neighboring Armenian principalities and Muslim khans in the Caucasus, in return for the meliks' victories over the invading Ottoman Turks in the 1720s. In the mid-18th century, as internal conflicts between the meliks led to their weakening, the Karabakh khanate was formed.
Karabakh became a protectorate of the Imperial Russia by the Kurekchay Treaty, signed between Ibrahim Khalil Khan of Karabakh and general Pavel Tsitsianov on behalf of Tsar Alexander I in 1805, according to which the Russian monarch recognized Ibrahim Khalil Khan and his descendants as the sole hereditary rulers of the region. Its new status was confirmed under the terms of the Treaty of Gulistan (1823), when Persia formally ceded Karabakh to the Russian Empire, before the rest of Transcaucasia was incorporated into the Empire in 1828 by the Treaty of Turkmenchay.
In 1822, the Karabakh khanate was dissolved, and the area became part of the Elisabethpol Governorate within the Russian Empire. After the transfer of the Karabakh khanate to Russia, many Muslim families emigrated to Persia, while many Armenians were induced by the Russian government to emigrate from Persia to Karabakh.
The present-day conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh has its roots in the decisions made by Joseph Stalin and the Caucasian Bureau (Kavburo) during the Sovietization of Transcaucasia. Stalin was the acting Commissar of Nationalities for the Soviet Union during the early 1920s, the branch of the government under which the Kavburo was created. After the Russian Revolution of 1917, Karabakh became part of the Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republic, but this soon dissolved into separate Armenian, Azerbaijani, and Georgian states.
In April 1920, while the Azerbaijani army was locked in Karabakh fighting local Armenian forces, Azerbaijan was taken over by Bolsheviks.
On July 7, 1923 the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast was established within the Azerbaijan SSR With the Soviet Union firmly in control of the region, the conflict over the region died down for several decades.
With the beginning of the dissolution of the Soviet Union in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the question of Nagorno-Karabakh re-emerged. Accusing the Azerbaijani SSR government of conducting forced azerification of the region, the majority Armenian population, with ideological and material support from the Armenian SSR, started a movement to have the autonomous oblast transferred to the Armenian SSR. The oblast's borders were drawn to include Armenian villages and to exclude as much as possible Azerbaijani villages. The resulting district ensured an Armenian majority. Nagorno-Karabakh proclaimed its independence on September, 1992.
The Nagorno Karabakh Republic is a young nation committed to enhancing democracy, transitioning to market a economy and building a rule-of-law civil society. However, the democratic processes and building of institutions within the republic, underway since its independence from Azerbaijan, must be strengthened and reinforced through democracy-building programs. It is a presidential Republic and the President has the executive power and appoints the Prime Minister. The Republic is divided in 8 administrative districs.
To visit Nagorno Karabakh, foreign nationals require an entry visa. Nagorno Karabakh visas are issued by the Consular Section of the NKR Permanent Representation in Armenia, located at:
17-A Zarian Street
The consular section is open daily from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm except Sundays. In special circumstances, a visa may be issued at the NKR Foreign Ministry in Stepanakert.
Visitors may get either a 7-day or a 21-day visa to enter Nagorno Karabakh. The 7-day visa costs $25 and the 21-day visa costs $35-$45 depending on the type of service (regular, expedited or same-day). There is also a $2 processing fee on all visas. At the consular section you will be asked to fill out a visa application form and submit one photo (3x4cm), along with your valid foreign passport.
The airport in Stepanakert (the capital) has not functioned since 1990. In April 2009, a conference was held to select the best preliminary bids for a new airport, with the NKR president selecting the four best and expressing hope a new airport will be completed 'soon'.
Currently there is no working train line between Yerevan & Stepanakert
You may convince a taxi driver to drive you to Stepanakert, otherwise many taxi drivers in Stepanakert might be willing to drive you back to Yerevan, if you're with a few friends. The embassy in Yerevan offers Drivers to take you and drive you there and back and take you to the biggest attractions.
There is one daily bus from Yerevan to Stepanakert, which is relatively cheap.
You may also hire out a Mini-van which will take you and your friends to the capital Stepanakert.
Hotel Armenia *** 4, place du 20 février, Stepanakert (central) ;
tel : (00 37 447) 95 09 10, (00 37 447) 94 88 02
54 rooms, bar, restaurant and souvenir shop.
Hotel Dghyak*** 1, rue Ivanyan, Stepanakert ;
tel : (00 37 447) 94 88 48
Modern structure in the centre of the city. 9 rooms, bar, restaurant, art gallery.
Hotel Naïri**, 14a, rue Hekimyan, Stepanakert (central);
tel : (00 37 447) 94 78 02, (00 37 447) 94 38 82, (00 37 447) 97 12 50.
Hotel Heghnar **, 39, rue Abovyan, Stepanakert (central);
tel : (00 37 447) 94 66 26
28 rooms with air-conditioning, telephone, minibar.
Hotel Shoushi 3, amirian street, Shoushi
Ecletic hotel, Vank village (near the monastery Ganzassar)
Hotel Titanic, Vank village (near the monastery Ganzassar)
Hotel Tsovin kar, Vank village (near the monastery Ganzassar)
Ani Paradise resort hotel, road Stepanakert-Gandzasar km 18
8 rooms, with all comforts. Swimming pool, tennis court. Located in a green and quiet area.
Jingalov Hats — a bread that has greens baked into it, a local specialty.
Tuti Chamich — mulberry raisins, available at the market (shuka)
Tutti Oghi — Mulberry Vodka, which Karabakh is famous for, often reaching 80% alcohol, and with a distinct taste.
New Year's Day
January 1, 2 (& December 31)
Artsakh Revival Day 
Motherhood and Beauty Day
Genocide Memorial Day 
Worker's Solidarity Day
Victory, Armed Forces & Shushi Liberation Day [1945, 1992]
First Armenian Republic Day 
Fallen Soldiers' and Missing in Action Memorial Day
Independence Day 
Armenian Earthquake Memorial Day 
Independence Referendum Day 
Constitution Day 
Stepanakert/Khankendi — is the largest city and capital of Nagorno-Karabakh. It is your likely base for exploring the region. You can not miss to visit the Artsakh State Museum with its assortment of ancient archaeological artifacts, geological specimens and Christian manuscripts.
Hadrut — a small town near several 14th and 13th century monasteries
Mardakert/Tartar (Agdere) — near there is the Gandzasar Monastery founded in 1216. The name "Gandzasar" (Armenian: Գանձասար) is translated from Armenian as "Treasure Mountain." "Gandz" (Armenian: գանձ) means "treasure" and "sar" means "mountain," which point to ancient copper and silver mines found in the vicinity. But there can be little doubt that the real treasure is the architectural and historical significance of the monastery that adorns the mountain. Gandzasar is a walled abbey with both ecclesiastical and non-ecclesiastical buildings, the masterpiece of which is the Cathedral of St. Hovhannes Mkrtich ( St. John the Baptist; a large church with a cupola in the inscribed cross plan.
Lachin: The town and its surrounding region serve as the strategic Lachin corridor connecting the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic with Armenia. In this region is located the fifth century Armenian Tzitzernavank (Tsitsernavank or Dzidzernavank), a former monastery in the Qashatagh Province of Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. The monastery is within five kilometers of the border of Armenia's province of Syunik. There are two differing opinions on the etymology of the name Tzitzernavank. Some authors state that the name originates from the word "tzitzernak" which means the bird "swallow" in Armenian, and point to once abundant swallow nests inside the ruined church of St. George. Others believe that the name derives from the word "tzitzern", which in Armenian means "little finger" - presumably a reference to the relics of St. George that were kept in the church. The monastery is recognized as a native Armenian example of an “oriental” architectural type.
Martuni/Khojavend — a small town near two old fortresses and the exceptionally important Amaras Monastery. Amaras Monastery is among the world's oldest Christian monuments and is the place where the inventor of the Armenian alphabet, St. Mesrob Mashtots, founded a school where the newly invented script was first probated for teaching purposes. The monastery is located near the town of Soss in the Martuni region of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic.
Amaras was established in the 4th century by legendary St. Gregory the Illuminator, who baptized Armenian king Trdat III in the year 301, making the Kingdom of Armenia the first nation in history that adopted Christianity as a state religion. However, one hundred years later, the monastery was wrecked by Persian conquerors, who sought to bring pagan practices back to Armenia. In the 5th century, Amaras was restored by Artsakh's king Vachagan II the Pious. When the Arabs overran Armenia in 640, Amaras was plundered again and, in the 9th century, was rebuilt under the patronage of Yesai, Prince of Dizak. In the 18th century, Melik-Shahnazar, Duke of Varanda, restored the buildings of Amaras and mounted massive fortress walls along the perimeter of the monastery.
The oldest and most important part of the monastery is the 4th century underground mausoleum of St. Grigoris, St. Gregory the Illuminator's grandson. A text inscribed in Armenian on a piece of his tombstone reads: "The tomb of St. Grigoris, Catholicos of Aghvank, grandson of St. Gregory; born in 322, anointed in the year 340, martyred in the year 348 in Derbend, by King Sanesan of the Mazkuts; his holy remains were brought to Amaras by his pupils, deacons from Artsakh."
Shushi/Shusha — the historic capital of Karabakh and formerly one of the cultural capitals of the Caucasus. Situated at an altitude of 1400–1800 metres (4,600-5,900 ft) in the picturesque Karabakh mountains, Shusha was a popular mountain recreation resort in the Soviet era.
Shusha's fortress was built as a capital of the Karabakh khanate, and the town became one of the cultural centers of the South Caucasus after the Russian conquest of the region in the first half of the 19th century. Over time, it became a home to many intellectuals, poets, writers and especially, musicians (e.g., the ashugs, mugham singers, kobuz players). In 1977 it was declared reservation of Azerbaijani architecture and history. The city was often referred to as "musical capital or conservatory of Transcaucasia".
The city was also a major center of Armenian cultural and economic life until the closing years of World War I. Along with Tbilisi it was one of the two main Armenian cities of the Transcaucasus and the center of a self-governing Armenian principality in the 1720s. It also had religious and strategic importance to the Armenians, housing the Ghazanchetsots Cathedral, the church of Kanach Zham and serving (along with Lachin district to the west) as a land link to Armenia.
Guides and books on Nagorno Karabakh
Le ragioni del Karabakh - &mybook 2010 (Emanuele Aliprandi)
Armenia e Nagorno Karabakh. Monasteri e montagne sulla via della seta – Polaris 2010 (Nadia Pasqual)
Giardino di tenebra.Viaggio in Nagorno Karabakh - Guerini e Associati 2003 (Pietro Kuciukian)
The stone garden guide: Armenia and Karabagh – 2004 (Matthew Karanian, Robert Kurkijan)
Shushi. The city of tragic fate – Amaras 1999 (Shahen Mkrtchian, Schors Davtian)
Gandzasar Monastery – Gandzasar Theological Center 2009 (Eduard L. Danielyan)
1st day Departure from Yerevan to Artsahk in Martakert region. Arrival in Vank village. The name of the village reminds the Ganzassar Monastery, because this name in Armenian means “Monastery”. Accommodation in hotel Titanic or o Zovin-Qar. Dinner and overnight.
Breakfast in hotel. Departure for the Capital of Nagorno – Karabakh to visit the important monuments such as Taty e Papy, the symbol of the country and visit of the Artsakh State Museum rich of ancient archaeological artifacts, geological specimens and Christian manuscripts. Visit to Jacob monastery, (Surb Hakob), the tour continues to Shushi, the historical capital. Lunch in Shushi to taste the local food like bread with vegetables called Jangialov haz. After lunch visit ofSurb Khazanchoz monastery. In the crypt is possible to hear the sound of our own soul. Visit to Shushi fortress and city tour. In the evening return to Vank. Dinner and overnight.
Breakfast in hotel. Visit to Ganzassar monastery dated back to the XII century. It is famous because it was the Residence of the Catholicos ( Spiriual guide of Armenian Church). The Church is dedicated to John the Baptist and is placed on a hill. The legend says that St. Jonh was buried here. Visito f the House- musuem of Nicole Dumani. Visit of Tigranakert. Lunch. After lunch visit of Surb Ghevond Church. Return to Vank . Dinner and overnight.
Breakfast in hotel. Departure to Dai Vank, visit of the monastery built starting from 1214. It is a typical example of Armenian architecture, decorated with frescos and with several Architectonic styles. Visit to Taq jur, place rich of thermal pools in a natural status. Lunch in restaurant. In the afternoon walking along the Kacheni river. Return to Vank. Dinner and overnight.
Breakfast in hotel. Departure to Amaras monastery dated back to the IV century. It is the oldest monastery in Nagorno – Karabakh. It was built in the IV century by St Gregorio, who converted Armenia to the Christian religion and is famous because here Mesrob Mashots, who invnted the Armenian alphabet founded the first Armenian school. Visit of T’ngiri which is 2000 years old, lots of faithful and spouses come here in Pilgrimage. Lunch. After lunch departure for Takghlari acquatic park. Time for relax. Return to Vank. Dinner and overnight
Breakfast in hotel. Departure to Askeran to visit the homonymus Church. Visit of Surb Astvazazhin Church. Lunch. Return in Vank. Visit of the village’s most interesting places. Meeting with local people. Dinner and overnight
Breakfast in hotel. Return to Yerevan.