08 April 2016, 19:13
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Discovering Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh)


Karabakh or Nagorno Karabakh is the modern name of an area in the southern Caucasus. The name of Karabakh, which originates from the Turkish and Persian, and literally means "black garden", dates back to Georgian and Persian sources from 13th and 14th centuries and refers to an Armenian principality which modern historians call the Kingdom of Artsakh or Khatchen.

Origins of the Conflict

In 1921, the Bolsheviks temporarily recognized Artsakh as an integral part of Armenia, together with two other Armenian regions, Nakhichevan and Zangezur. However, in an effort to placate the oil-producing Azerbaijan and Bolshevik Russia’s Kemalist allies in Turkey, Joseph Stalin reversed his decision forcibly putting Artsakh under the administration of Soviet Azerbaijan as an autonomous region. As a response to Karabakh's appeal for secession in 1988 the Azerbaijani leadership organized a series of pogroms and massacres in Sumgait (February 1988), Kirovabad (November 1988), Baku (January 1990), and other Azerbaijani cities and towns. As a result, a war broke out, which lead to the cease-fire on 12 May 1994 through Russian negotiation.

Hunot Canyon

The stunning beauty of the Hunot Canyon State Natural-Historical Reserve leaves visitors in awe.  Located on the southwest edge of the historic walled city of Shoushi, you can view the sheer 250 meter (820 foot) canyon walls soaring above the Karkar River from the vantage point of Jdrdyuz in Shoushi.  Those hiking down into the canyon will be rewarded with the discovery of waterfalls, lush forests, caves inhabited since the stone ages, the ruins of Hunot village, old stone bridges, and all of this framed by massive canyon walls with a river rushing through.

Mamrot Kar Waterfall

The place is popularly known as Hovanots or Zontik. A deep water source comes out of the stone of the canyon to form a perpetually dripping waterfall in the shape of a huge mossy umbrella.  With a cave underneath the umbrella, this spectacular natural monument causes wonderment to visitors of all ages, and is a highlight of the canyon. MamrotKar waterfall is alongside the Karkar River in a beautiful spot with a swimming hole.  The picturesque spot is also under the ever present cliffs of Hunot canyon, making for a setting of almost surreal beauty.

Hunot Bridge

Bridges have formed an important link between Shoushi and the rest of the world.  The stone arched bridge of Hunot was built in 1720, and still serves as a solid river crossing to this day.  This particular bridge, in the ruins of the village once served as an important link from Shoushi to Varanda and beyond.


On the edge of the town of Shoushi, right atop of the cliffs is a field and lookout known as Katarot, or Jdrdyuz.  With spectacular views of the canyon and Karkar valley below, this is one of the most photographed sites by visitors to Artsakh.  Hiking around along the canyon-top rewards you with ever changing perspectives and views of the canyon below.

 The Gandzasar Monastery

The Gandzasar Monastery is located in the Mardakert District of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic. The name "Gandzasar" (Armenian: Գանձասար) is translated from Armenian as "Treasure Mountain." "Gandz" (Armenian: գանձ) means "treasure" and "sar" (Armenian: սար) 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.


Dadivank (Armenian: Դադիվանք) also Khutavank (Armenian: Խութավանք – Arm. Monastery on the Hill) is an Armenian monastery in the Shahumian Region of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. It was built between the 9th and 13th century. This sprawling monastery is great to explore, with its numerous buildings and levels. Most of the buildings are in at least partial ruin, but all of them are great fun to wander around in.


Kachaghakaberd (Armenian: Կաչաղակաբերդ) is a mountain-top fortress in the Martakert Province. Rising from dense nature and showing up against the azure of the sky this fort gives birth to real poetic images in our imagination. People called it Kachaghakaberd (magpie's fort) not without purpose, as only birds can get to its tops. On top of a very high sheer rock, there are few walls in this primarily natural fortress. In historical sources this ancient fort is also called Khachen fort.


Tigranakert (Armenian: Արցախի Տիգրանակերտ, Arts'akhi Tigranakert) is a ruined Armenian city dating back to the Hellenistic period. It is one of several former cities in the Armenian plateau with the same name, named in honor of the Armenian king Tigranes the Great (r. 95–55 B.C.).


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