Martakert province is situated in the north of Artsakh and occupies the territory north of the Khachen and Kolatak river basins. In the north, the border of the region reaches the Shahumyan region (currently occupied by Azerbaijan); in the west, it borders with the Karvachar district, in the south with the Askeran and Kashatag regions, and in the east with Azerbaijan.
The total area of the province is 1795 square kilometers, and the population is about 22,000 people. Since 1992, the lower part of the province has been occupied by Azerbaijan; hence, this part of the region is not accessible for tourists. Since Martakert is placed on the line of contact with Azerbaijan, he was one of the most rigorously affected during the Nagorno-Karabakh war (1992-1994).
To the north of the provincial center Martakert, on the Tartar River, there are the Sarsang reservoir and hydroelectric power station, which is of strategic significance for the republic. A copper and gold mine is situated near the reservoir in the village of Drmbon.
The area is famous for its historical and architectural monuments, including monasteries of Gandzasar (XIII century), Erek Mankunk, Yeghishe Arakyal, Hakobavank, Melik-Beglaryan's palace, Jraberd Fortress, Kachaghakaberd, Khokhanaberd, and many others. It is worth telling in more detail about the two most significant architectural monuments of this region - Gandzasar and Kachaghakaberd.
Gandzasar is an active monastery of the Armenian Apostolic Church, situated on the left bank of the Khachen River, near the village of Vank. The Armenian Catholicos Ananiya Mokatsi first mentioned Gandzasar in the middle of the 10th century. The temple was solemnly consecrated on July 22, 1240. According to legend, the head of John the Baptist, severed by Herod, brought from Cilician Armenia during one of the Crusades, is buried in the tomb of the church, which is why the church was named Surb Hovhannes Mkrtich (St. John the Baptist). From Gandzasar in 1701, Peter the Great was sent the famous appeals of the Eastern Armenians with a request for the adoption of Russian citizenship and military assistance in liberation from the Persian-Turkish yoke (XVIII century).
Kachaghakaberd Fortress was built in the VIII century and is situated at an altitude of 1700 meters. It is surrounded by cliffs about 50-60 meters high and has one inaccessible entrance from the southern side. The name of the fortress comes from the words “kachaghak” (magpie) and “berd” (fortress) since the top of the fort is accessible only for magpies. Throughout history, no one has been able to take the fortress by storm, only a siege. Two reservoirs in the central part of the fort, in which rain and meltwater collected, provided the fortress with water for a long time, in case of siege.
Akobavank is 1.5 km away. from the village of Kolatak (the historic province of Metz Hayk, Metzarank province, later renamed Lower Khachen). The oldest inscription, which was the highest on the pedestal of the khachkar, dates from 853 year. The monastery became the residence of the Catholicos in the XIII century. In the Middle Ages, the Shareholder was considered the holiest of Eastern Armenia. Small architectural forms of the monastery, such as khachkars, tombstones, arches, cornices, etc., are perfect examples of medieval art, have a special value. On the territory of the monastery complex there were also matenadaran, scriptorium, balconies, pantries, stalls and tandoors.
Martakert region ranks first in the number of ancient monuments, the largest part of the Artsakh forests is also located in this region. Martakert district is one of the most picturesque. Since most of Martakert’s treasures are far from well-trodden roads, hiking and off-road tours are well developed here, especially to such places as Egishe Arakyal or Yerits Mankants.
Various extreme entertainments such as fishing, agritourism, camping tours, bike tours are available here. Martakert district, with its laconic villages, will serve as a great place for adventurous tourism.
Visiting the Martakert province, you will get a lot of impressions and experience all the grandeur of the ancient monuments of Armenian architecture.