On your way to Stepanakert
All the roads taking to Artsakh will open an adventurous and picturesque scenery in front of you. Your travel experience is going to be time-worthy, eye-warming and heartfelt.
We guarantee that when you visit Stepanakert, the capital of Artsakh, your heart will be full of warmth and your mind will be full of the brightest memories. The hospitality and kind energy will be transferred to you from our people, the people who carry love and wisdom. If you will be travelling north of Stepanakert, you will see the symbol of Artsakh the “We Are Our Mountains” Monument. This is a symbolic monument, that shows the strength and the will of Artsakhian people and of course, the biblical Mount Ararat.
Historical places exist in every corner of Artsakh. Almost like 10 km to the east of the highway Yerevan-Stepanakert you can find the Meliks’ Palace founded by Melik Haykaz in the late XV century. The palace is located in the village of Melikashen surrounded by walls with towers and gates. The palace consists of two-storey buildings with arched halls and other buildings. The gates and walls were restored, the area around the palace is landscaped. Now a luxury hotel is acting here where you can stay and imagine yourself living a royal life in a palace. It’s not a chic kingdom that is usually present in European palaces or the UK, rather modest but carrying the Artsakhian heritage, its spirit and inspiration.
Places like Berdzor town, formerly named Lachin, have a strategic importance. It serves as a “corridor” - a land bridge linking Armenia with the territory of Artsakh. Berdzor is one of those places where you will feel the strength, and the urge of Artsakhian presence. The town of Berdzor is always alive, quirky carrying the enthusiastic charisma of Artsakian people.
When coming to Artsakh, you should know that monasteries are typical to our place, yet most of them are breathtaking. Tsitsernavank monastery is built in the vicinity of the village Tsitsernavank, in a picturesque area between the river Aghavno and its affluent Khozavar. The monastery was founded on the site of a pagan temple in the V-VII centuries. The church is crowned with a basilica with nave, one of the most remarkable creations of Armenian architecture. The church impresses with dimensions and wall mural paintings. The monastic complex is surrounded by walls, monastic cells with vaulted ceilings and windows are built into the wall. The view and the whole complex transforms all the glory of the place. Just stare and feel.
Next destination is the revival city of Shoushi. In the mountains, at the height of eagles' nests towers up two hundred years old fortress-city of Shoushi, which has become a symbol of unbreakable faith of the Armenian people. Shoushi is the most preferred holiday destination in Artsakh. Here you can enjoy the crystal-clear mountain air, mild climate, forested outskirts, curative mineral springs. Shoushi plateau, one of the most beautiful places of Artsakh, was inhabited by our ancestors since ancient times. During archaeological excavations here were found samples of the material culture of the Hellenistic and early medieval periods. First fortifications were built here at the end of the first millennium AD. After the liberation of Shoushi in 1992, the city has been set for a program of rehabilitation which is currently being implemented. Shoushi is now a symbol of rebirth and a place of pilgrimage for tourists.
The medieval Shoushi fortress is considered one of the most popular sights of the city. It is worth mentioning that the inner walls of the castle, built in the XVIII century by meliks (princes) of Varanda, are almost completely preserved. The fortification walls stretch 2.5 km, starting from the high cliff overlooking the south-western part of the plateau, go down into the valley on the steep slopes, and extend along the vertical cliffs to the east. The city is protected by steep cliffs on the other sides. The fortress is simply breathtaking! You can feel how amazingly captivating the fortress was and still is looking like a proud queen from the heights of Shoushi plateau.
The Persian heritage has also been preserved in Artsakh. Two mosques and several prayer houses were built in Shoushi at the end of the XIX century. Uptown Mosque was built in 1883 by the famous Persian architect Kerbala Sefi Khan. It embodies the synthesis of traditional Persian architectural style with the traditions of Shoushi’s urban development. We respect the culture despite its nationality and genealogy.
Monuments of civil architecture
Everything artsy - we can also describe Shoushi this way. The monuments of civil architecture give a special shade to the fortress-city. Houses and public buildings have a particular architectural style inherent in Shoushi. Extant cobbled stone streets, magnificent examples of the stone dwelling houses of the 19th century amaze travelers with a variety of construction techniques. Belts, portals and window frames are a special form of local architecture giving a festive appearance to buildings. One visit is never enough to explore the whole richness of the culture existing here.
By mentioning culture, we also mean the educational heritage. One of the famous educational institutions of the North Caucasus - the Real College, constructed in 1901-1908, is located in Shoushi. The institution is a three-storey building, which still impresses with its proportions, monumental forms, and an exemplary combination of national and European architectural traditions. Nearby you will find buildings of the city hospital Zhamharyan and Mariamants’ maiden school, built by the traditions of Armenian national architecture. The neighboring buildings complete the intellectual presence.
Get ready for an awe when you reach Katarot canyon. On the outskirts of Shoushi, right on top of the cliffs you can view the canyon of Katarot or Jdrdyuz. Magnificent views of the canyon and the valley of the river Karkar, flowing in the lowland, are one of the most photographed places of Artsakh for its visitors. One of the most attractive places of the reserve is the peak of the plateau Shoushi-Karkar. Walking along the top of the canyon, visitors will get acquainted with the amazing canyon scenery and get unforgettable memories. A small glacier area of about 5 hectares occupies part of the plateau. Katarot is such a beauty for nature lovers.
Stepanakert is the capital of Artsakh Republic. If a tourist comes to Stepanakert on the highway connecting Armenia with Artsakh, he will be pleasantly surprised by the fact that the long and endlessly stretching mountain road, suddenly ends at a flourishing modern city in the mountains. Here you will be greeted by friendly and hospitable people. After a long journey, you can relax in one of the comfortable hotels in Stepanakert, and then enjoy a delicious meal in any restaurant. Tasting Artsakh cuisine, one should start with the well-known traditional Zhengyalov hats. It combines 27 types of greens, most of which grow exclusively in Artsakh.