South tourist route
South tourist route starts in Stepanakert from the bridge "Mazi Kamurj". The name of the route suggests sunny landscapes, exquisite nature, adventure and hospitable people. However, the journey to the south of Artsakh is not limited to this. Monuments and attractions lying on the route are considered the pearls of cultural heritage of Artsakh and the entire Armenian world. Along the way travelers will visit the oldest archaeological site Karkar, Azokh caves, the Royal palace - Tog Meliks’ palace, famous monasteries – Gtchavank, Amaras and other interesting places worth visiting.
5-km west the road, as if clinging to the rocky plateau, the excavation area "Karkar" is situated. Recently discovered archaeological site "Karkar" refers to the antiquity and the early Middle Ages. It is located on the left bank of the river Karkar, on very top of a rocky plateau. The locals call this place "the Tagavoren tegh" ("King's place"). It occupies an area of about 20 hectares. The walls stretched over a distance of about 1 km to the south-east and north-west, the land ramparts and ditches, artificial impassable pit separating the castle and have a defensive purpose attract the attention.
Continuing the journey, 1 km east of the highway, we reach the State Historical-Natural Reserve "Hunot". Unparalleled beauty of the canyon evokes amazing feeling of visitors of canyon. Travelers who prefer walking along the canyon, enjoy the breathtaking views of waterfalls, lush forests, residential caves of Stone Age, rural ruins of village Hunot, ancient bridges - all framed by high mountains and river, patiently breaking through the hard rock.
Avetaranots village, located in 3 km west of the line, is a real museum in the open air. In the middle Ages, especially during the reign of meliks of Varanda, the settlement was surrounded by strong walls, some parts of which have survived to this day. The village Avetaranots was the seat of meliks Shakhnazaryans. According to legend, king of Aghvank Vache II (V century AD), becoming a hermit, settled down and devoted himself to God, and therefore the village became known as Avetaranots.
Getting back on the road, on the 22nd kilometer we reach the village Sarushen. Right next to the road stands a thousand-year basil church "Pirumashen." This church is interesting in the sense that during its construction the pre-Christian pagan-era temple tombstones were embedded into the walls.
2 km north of the road we will see the legendary 2-thousand-sycamore "Tnjri". Near the village Skhtorashen stands a giant sycamore that has been issued a certificate of the oldest and tallest tree of the former USSR. Hollow in tree trunk has a surface area of 44 square meters, which can easily be accommodated over 100 people. The height of the tree is 54 meters; the shadow of the tree covers 1400 square meters.
Turning off the highway at 12 km to the northeast, it is worth visiting the monastery of Amaras- a man-made miracle. The famous cultural and religious centre of medieval Armenia - Amaras Monastery – is located in the province Mews Aband of historical Artsakh. According to an Armenian historian of VI-V century Pavstos Buzand, the church of Amaras monastery was founded by Gregory the Illuminator at the beginning of the IV-th century. Amaras became famous in the middle of the IV century, when there was buried a grandson of Gregory the Illuminator, Bishop Grigoris, who built all the local churches, up to Atropatena (now the Iranian province of Azerbaijan).
Grigoris died in 338 and was buried in the eastern part of the church founded.
State Historical-Natural Reserve «Azokh cave». The cave, located near the village Azokh, considered one of the oldest and best-known places of residence of prehistoric man. From 2014 here is established the State Historical-Natural Reserve "Azokh".
The housing of ancient humans has plurality of entries and exits, six rooms connected like a maze, the largest of which has an area of 3000 square meters. Here, for the first time in so-called offshore fossil layers were found stone tools for work and hunting, cave paintings of primitive man–witnesses of first attempts to study the world through culture, and also the remains of flora and fauna of the period.
3 km north of the highway is the village of Mets Tagher, a center of trade, arts and crafts of Hadrout region since ancient times.
At the center of the village is the church of Surb Amenaprkich (Holy Christ the Saviour), also called "Shenin yeghtse" ("Village church"). According to the inscription above the entrance to the church, it was built in 1846.
House-Museum of Air Marshal Armenak Khanferyants was established in 1975. In 1984, in the courtyard of the museum it was established the aircraft MiG-17 in memory of the great pilot. The museum is a two-storied building, the office and the Department of Ethnography are situated on the ground floor, which demonstrates a national houseware and applied crafts - pottery, millstones, stone carding machines, combs, churn, etc. (For more details about the village Mets Tagher.
Village Togh. Near the north-south highway on the picturesque hillside is the former residence of Dizak meliks of 17-19 centuries - the village Togh. The village has preserved many old houses and other architectural monuments. Widely known are churches of St. Stephanos and St. Hovhannes, palace of Melik Yeganyans. In one of the most picturesque ravines is constructed a water park, which in the summer heat becomes a boon not only for Artsakh people but also for guests. Here you can swim, have fun, try Artsakh and European cuisine, and if you want to rent a room. In short, enjoy your holiday in the lap of nature of Artsakh.
Gtchavank. Near the village of Togh, in the north-eastern slope of the standing alone mountain, among the thick forests is located the medieval political and spiritual centre of Artsakh - Gtchavank. Famous since the early medieval, the monastery was destroyed in the 7th century, during the reign of the Arabs and was again rebuilt in the 13th century. In the 18th century, with the support of Dizak melik Yegan the territory of the monastery expanded. From an architectural point of view, Gtchavank monastery complex is one of the most interesting monuments of the centuries-old Armenian culture.
Hadrout city. The exact date of the founding of the district centre Hadrout is unknown, but in its territory there are cultural monuments of the pre-Christian period. It is known that already in the 16th century there was a settlement, which was later renamed to Hadrout (Midzhnagetk). The narrow streets of old Hadrout, the houses of the 18-19 centuries, the 17th century Church of the Holy Resurrection, the 800 years old giant plane tree neighbor with the new city. Local history museum named after A. Mkrtchyan is also of great interest for the traveler. The museum has an interesting unique exhibits related to the history of not only the region but of the entire Artsakh.
Village Tyak is one kilometer far from Hadrout. The ancient source, houses, cobbled streets are preserved here. Tyak is located on the northern slopes of the Karabakh mountain range, semi-concealed in a mountain valley, occupying wooded slopes and the territory that extends to the entire flowing river valley.
The village of Vank. Spitak Khach Monastery (White Cross) is located south of Hadrout, near the village of Vank. The exact date of construction of the monastery is unknown, but the most recent period of its construction is considered the first century.
Kataro Monastery is located in Hadrout region on mount Dizapayt. Mountain top, where stands a monument, is one of the most historic sanctuaries of Artsakh. In addition to the church of the Monastery of Kataro, are the ruins, adding great importance to the famous sanctuary. The mountain was declared a sacred since ancient times, and references to pilgrimages date back to the Arab period. The Holy Temple was rebuilt in the 19th century.
Caravanserai Gardabazar is located on the highway Hadrout-Martouni, near the area Gardabazar. This architectural monument of the seventeenth century occupies a special place in the architecture of Karabakh. Built in the best traditions of the Armenian architecture, it was a little closed world with its unique traditions and customs.