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Karvatchar (New Shahumian)

Karvatchar region occupies the north-western part of AR. In the north of the region there passes the state boundary with Azerbaijan, in the west – with Armenia. In the south the region borders with Kashatagh region, the eastern border reaches Martakert region. The area of Karvatchar region is 1830 sq.km.. The regional center Karvatchar city situated 128 km away from the capital of RA, Stepanakert.

The river of Tartar, which is the biggest waterway of Artsakh, flows along the territory of the region. The relief of Karvatchar region is mountainous and keenly indented.

In different periods of the history these region was known under the name Vaykounik (till 12-13cc), Verin Khachen (13-18cc), Kolan (18-19cc). There have still remained numerous architectural monuments witnessing about the role this place had in the history of Armenia. Among the most famous monuments is Dadivank monastery, the fortress of Handaberd, the village of Tsar.

Along with historical-architectural monuments the region is known as well for its natural resources – thick, virgin forests, rapid mountainous rivers, not big but very picturesque waterfalls and thermal mineral springs. All this gives both the lovers of antiquity and the lovers of extreme tourism, pedestrian and equestrian walks, tours along mountainous rivers, rock climbing and mountaineering a perfect opportunity to have a rest in Karvatchar region.


Dadivank monastery is situated on the left bank of the river of Tartar, 100 km north from Stepanakert. This wonderful sample of the Armenian architecture amazingly harmoniously falls in with the surrounding nature. The church with its numerous constructions is situated at the foot of the mountain covered with forests and referred to the south. The place is 1100 m above the sea level and 75 m higher than the bank of the Tartar. The ancient manuscripts confirm that the church of Dadi was founded in the 1st century at the place of the grave of St. Dadi, fallen by the death of the martyr for the spreading of Christianity.

Dadi, one of the 70 disciples, which by order of St. Apostle Thaddeus, went to Armenia and to the northern countries, and having heard about the death of Abgar King returned to Artsakh and  secretly spread the teaching of Christianity. And it was here that he found his death. On the place of Dadi's death a church was built which had his name. The exact place of his grave is pointed to by the stone pole. Due to the archaeological digs the relics of St. Dadi and the wooden throne, in which he was buried, were found in the grave.

Dadivank was repeatedly subjected to the destructions and plunderings  on the part of the Persians, Arabs, Turk-seljuks, but every time it was restored continuing to be the residence of the bishop. It lasted almost 2000 years. Dadivank was one of the biggest monastic complexes of the medieval Armenia. In spite of the numerous destructive invasions of the enemy, about 30 constructions of different purpose have remained to this day.

The oldest church of the architectural complex is a one-naved basilica, situated in the northern part of the complex.

Decoration of the complex is the Conciliar Church of Arzu Khatun (13c). Frescos, some of which are created by the princess of Khachen , have still persisted in the church. And it was she who wove and embroidered the curtain for the altar. Besides the northern facade the significant part of the wall from the rest sides and from the inner side is covered with inscriptions. The church has аcross shape from the interior and tetragonal composition with two-storied sacristies in four corners from the exterior.

The complex consists as well of the refectory, the personal resting rooms of the patriarch, scriptorium, where beautiful miniatures for the manuscripts were created, and monastic cells.

The big architectural complex of Dadivank that stands in the same rank with such masterpieces of art as Gandzasar, Amaras, Gtchavank, can be considered the unique gallery with the best traditions of centuries-long Armenian architecture. At present time the monastic complex of Dadivank having subjected to numerous reconstructions and restortions, goes through its rebirth and is open for the visit of tourists.

Virtual tour in Dadivank Monastery


Handaberd fortress. This fortress, known for its glorious historical past, is repeatedly mentioned in the history of Armenia. It was built in the second half of the 9th c. by the prince of Atrnersekh, which later was captured for the participation in the revolt against the khalif. In 1142-1182 the fortress belonged to the prince of the Upper Khachen Hasan Vakhtangyan. Handaberd was repeatedly subjected to the sieges and invasions on the part of the enemies. It's also known that fortifications were on this place still in the 5th c., Handaberd being the expanded fortificational construction.

The fortress is situated near the village of Chapni on the peak of the steep and forest mountain and is surrounde from the there parts by the deep gulfs. The only route lies under the south-western wall and reaches the gates from the north. The fortification has false gates, eight watch towers, and reservoirs for the recovery of rain water carved in the rocks. The height of the fortress walls is of 8 m. Handaberd is one of the most famous fortresses of Artsakh. Situated on the peak of the forbidding rock it impresses visitors by its majesty.

Not far from the fortress the monastic complex is situated composing of the church, temple and the prayer house. Judging by epigraphic inscriptions the ensemble was raised in 12-13 cc. The monastery rises over the picturesque valley on the bank of the river Lev.

The village of Tsar

The Armenian medieval chroniclers  throughout the centuries named the prince's and melic's village Tsar «The fortress of Tsar protected by God»
This famous settlement is situated in the upper  stream of the river Tartar, on the plateau, surrounded from three sides by the vertical rocks of 300-310m high, and the route leads to the village only from one side. And it is here that the fortress wall is built. Tsar is more than 2000 m above the sea level. Due to its mild and healthy climate the village served as a summer residence of the local governors.

The settlement was first mentioned in 1289. Here the prince's residence and the administrative center of the same name province and princedom was situated. The village had four churches of 13-14cc, and two monasteries in its outskirts. The house-hazarashen, built in 1658, has remained on the territory of the village. It's a umiwue example of the Armenian architecture. In 1950s the authorities of the Soviet Azerbaijan having destroyed the Armenian shrines – churches, built a school in the wall of which khachkars (cross-stones) were buried. From time immemorial the village of Tsar has also been famous as the center of the manuscript cause.

Thermal springs

There are numerous thermal springs on the territory of Karvachar region, among which the most famous  is near the village of Jermajur (12 km away from Karvachar) and near the village of Zuar (22 km away from  Dadivank monastery).

The first of them is known for its healing properties. Geyzer near the village of Zuar is a kind of natural «Jacuzzi» from the limestone sedimentations with the diameter of 2,5 m and depth  over a meter, from the center of which wells out hot mineral water. The water in this natural «Jacuzzi» is so hot, that one can submerge even in the frozen days without any risk for the health.