Stepanakert is the capital of Artsakh.
Stepanakert is the capital city of the Republic of Artsakh, situated at the foot of the eastern slope of the Karabakh ridge, in the valley of the Karkar river. The area of Stepanakert is 25.6 square kilometers, the population in 2011 constituted 53,400 people. The climate of Stepanakert is subtropical semi-dry. The summer is relatively hot, and winters are mild and dry, but quite harsh frosts are seldom possible.
The city has an ancient history - the first settlements on the site date from 3-2 millennium B.C. During archaeological excavations led by Emil Rosler in the 19th century, numerous valuable exhibits were found, some of which are in the greatest museums of the world. In the 5th century, A.D. on the site of the nowadays capital of Artsakh was the settlement of Vararakn (in Armenian, high-flowing spring), named after the large spring beating in the settlement. Only one inn has survived to this day.
As an outcome of hostilities in 1992 in Stepanakert, almost no solid building remained. Nevertheless, today Stepanakert is progressively developing, and more and more tourists come here. Travelers are attracted by the cleanliness and cozy environment of the city, impressive mountain landscapes, and, of course, hospitable, smiling, and friendly residents of Artsakh. Walking along the peaceful streets of the capital, tourists really feel the ambiance and mood of the Armenian city of the 19th - early 20th centuries. The infrastructure of tourism is fairly developed in Stepanakert since the authorities of the Republic pay special attention to the development of tourism in the country: there are hotels, restaurants, cafes, and shops for every taste. The field of urban transport is also developed - there are minibuses, buses, and taxis with reasonable prices. For clarity, the minimum cost of a taxi ride is 600 drams, then 100 drams per 1 km. A taxi ride from Stepanakert to Shushi will cost 200 drams.
Although the preeminent and most impressive sights of the Artsakh Republic are situated outside the capital, exciting places can also be found in Stepanakert. If you are planning a trip to Stepanakert, then you should visit and see:
Monument "We are our mountains"
The monument, which has become a symbol of Artsakh, also known as the Tatik and Papik (Grandfather and Grandmother), is located on a hilltop at the entrance to the city. The monument made of red tuf was built in 1967 and represents two elderly people in taraz (Armenian national costumes) - a husband and a wife. According to the author, the sculptor Sargis Baghdasaryan, the statue does not have a pedestal, whereby creating the feeling that the figures have grown into the mountains and became one. The monument is present on the coat of arms of the city and country and on the coins of Armenia and Artsakh.
In 2015, a branch of the TUMO Center for Creative Technologies was opened in Stepanakert, which also has centers in Yerevan, Gyumri, Dilijan and Paris. The center educates children from 12 to 18 years of age in working in the IT field using advanced technologies.
To get familiarized with the local realities, it is worth visiting the Stepanakert market, where you can find sweet dried fruits, homemade preparations, local spices. In addition to tasty and environmentally friendly products, you will feel the full Karabakh flavor and get to know the locals.
The Artsakh State Historical Museum of Local Lore
The museum will introduce you to the history of Artsakh from ancient times to the modern day.
Over 50 thousand exhibits are presented here, including ethnographic artifacts and archaeological finds.
Museum of Fallen Soldiers
Having visited the museum, one can feel all the agony and sadness that the 1990-94 war brought to the Karabakh people. On the walls of a small museum are portraits of almost three thousand soldiers, their biographies and personal items - clothes, letters, weapons.
One of the old districts of the city along Tumanyan Street was reconstructed in 2019, preserving the old architecture of the city. To feel the charm and old city atmosphere, you just need to walk along Tumanyan street in the evening, when lights of local restaurants and cafes get a warm and lovely vibes.
Cathedral of the Holy Protection of the Virgin Mary
The largest temple of Artsakh, the Cathedral of the Holy Protection of the Virgin Mary, was opened in Stepanakert on April 7, 2019. The opening of the church was dedicated to the Feast of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Although the temple is young, there is a strong holy energy and power here. The cathedral should definitely be included in must-visit places.