On your way to Stepanakert
Artsakh delights from the very first moment of acquaintance with it. Along the way travelers will see the memorial erected in honor of the heroic victory in the Artsakh war, symbolizing the biblical Mount Ararat, as well as the symbol of Artsakh, the monument "We and our mountains".
10 km to the east of the highway Yerevan-Stepanakert one can find the Meliks’ Palace. The palace is located in the village of Melikashen. Meliks palace complex is surrounded by walls with towers and gates. The palace consists of two-storey buildings with arched halls and other buildings. The Palace was founded by Melik Haykaz in the late XV century. The gates and walls restored, the area around the palace is landscaped. Now a luxury hotel is acting here.
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.
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 in 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, a program of rehabilitation of the city has been developed. The program is currently being implemented. Shoushi became a symbol of the rebirth of the nation and a place of pilgrimage for tourists.
Medieval fortress. The Shoushi fortress is considered one of the main attractions of the city. 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, goes down into the valley on the steep slopes, and extends along the vertical cliffs to the east. The city is protected by steep cliffs on the other sides. Inaccessible 7-8 meter high tower of the castle, the walls, carved out of rock masses, seems born of them and very beautifully merge with them.
Uptown Mosque. 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 urban development of Shoushi.
Monuments of civil architecture. The monuments of civil architecture give special flavor to 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 and lend a festive appearance to buildings.
Realakan College. One of the specimens of monumental architecture comes down to us is a three-storey building of the Real College - one of the famous educational institutions of the North Caucasus. It is constructed in 1901-1908, and still impresses with its proportions, monumental forms, and an exemplary combination of national and European architectural traditions. Nearby there are buildings of city hospital of Zhamharyan, Mariamats’ maiden school, built by all the canons of the Armenian national architecture.
Katarot. On the outskirts of the city, right on top of the cliffs is a canyon of Katarot or Jdrdyuz. Magnificent views of the canyon and 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 an unforgettable experience. A small glacier area of about 5 hectares occupies part of the plateau.
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 long and endlessly stretching mountain road, with harsh winds, suddenly ends at flourishing modern city in the mountains. Here you will meet friendly and hospitable people. After a long journey, you can relax in one of the comfortable hotels in Stepanakert, and then enjoy a 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.
Renaissance Square. Although the city is not so great, there are many attractions, green parks and cozy courtyards. Renaissance Square is considered the heart of Stepanakert. Here are the Presidential Palace, the Parliament and the Government building, the Palace of Youth. Lovers Alley quietly begins with the square, on both sides is decorated with lanterns made in the shape of statues of men and women, steps lead to the stadium.
Market.Тhe central market of the city, a unique fair of industrial goods and agricultural products, is a real oriental bazaar - noisy and colorful. Visitors will find dozens of delicious pickles, doshab - mulberry syrup, dried herbs, dogwood and mulberry vodka and many other products, which are produced only in Artsakh.
High on a hill at the entrance to the town stands a monument of red tuff "We and our mountains" - the symbol of Stepanakert and Artsakh. Locals call it "Tatik-Papik" ("Grandpa-Grandma"). The masterwork of the sculptor Sargis Baghdasaryan and architect Yuri Hakobyan embodied the unbending desire to follow the age-old life and family values. It seems that grandparents, dressed in national costumes-tarazes, merged with the top of the hill, symbolizing unity with the native land of Karabakh. This monument is also called the "monument of longevity."