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NAGORNO KARABAKH


Location - Caucasus, Europe; Capital - Stepanakert; Population - 150,000; Currency - Armenian Dram MORE NAGORNO KARABAKH

It was little over an hour by taxi from Goris in southern Armenia to the Nagorno Karabakh 'border' and less than two to Shushi - September 2019.

In 1921 the Soviet Union, under Stalin, transferred the Nagorno Karabakh Autonomous Oblast from Soviet Armenia to Soviet Azerbaijan, despite having a majority ethnic Armenian population (but a significant Azerbaijani minority). Conflict between Nagorno Karabakh, backed by Armenia, and Azerbaijan that began in the 1980s escalated into full-scale war as the Soviet Union collapsed. The size of the modern day region occupies a larger area than the Soviet oblast, including an expansion west to join with Armenia and south to Iran. It declared itself independent as the Republic of Artsakh, though this is recognised by very few countries. Relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan remain poor and their borders are closed.

 

armenianote1Nagorno Karabakh uses the Armenian Dram

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

karabakhnote1This is an old 2 Artsakh Dram note no longer in circulation, featuring Gandzasar Cathedral

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

karabakh1Does this monument indicate the 'border'? My driver spoke no English and I speak zero Armenian so tell me if you know - Nagorno Karabakh border

 

karabakh2A welcome sign followed soon after, predominantly in Armenian script - Nagorno Karabakh border

 

karabakh3It's another 10-15mins drive before arrival at the immigration post. On the left is the Armenian flag, to the right is the 'Republic of Artsakh' - Nagorno Karabakh border

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It's now possible to obtain a visa at the immigration post rather than reporting to offices in Stepanakert or Yerevan. Fill out the form indicating dates of stay and tick-box regions to visit. Officials then enter information on the visa sticker and hand it over - it's up to you if it goes in your passport. I was also given some sort of police registration letter to hand to officials when leaving, though no-one seemed too bothered by it. But keep hold of it just in case!

 

karabakh6My driver dropped me off at the 19th century Ghazanchetsots Cathedral in Shushi, all-in-all less than a 2hr drive from Gori, including immigration formalities. The cathedral was closed by the Soviets in 1920 then used by the Azeris to store missiles during the war

 

karabakh12A statue of war hero Vazgen Sargsyan, who became Armenian prime minister in 1999 until his assassination a few months later - Shushi

 

karabakh14Opposite the statue is the State Museum of Fine Arts, and close by the Money Museum - Shushi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

karabakh16Murals adorn a dilapidated building near the cathedral - Shushi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

karabakh18The town came under Armenian control in 1992 but there's still many buildings which are remnants of the war - Shushi

 

karabakh28Restoration work is ongoing on one of the mosques in town - Shushi

 

karabakh22Not sure if this is a war ruin or just an unfinished apartment block - Shushi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

karabakh21Shushi is set between 1,400-1,800m altitude so I'm sure this stash of logs will come in very useful in winter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

karabakh33On some maps this restaurant is shown as Shushi Castle. If it is I'd hazard a guess it's a total reconstruction - Shushi

 

karabakh36A section of the old town walls surround the castle. Or restaurant, whatever it is - Shushi

 

karabakh44I went in search of more of the town walls and stumbled across what may be a covered tank in the undergrowth of hills surrounding Shushi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

karabakh41The 19th century green church is at the top of one of the many sloped streets on the outskirts of town - Shushi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

karabakh42A view of Ghazanchetsots Cathedral from the green church - Shushi

 

karabakh46Shushi Arts Centre has a collection of old Karabakh carpets. There's a separate Carpet Museum but it was closed when I visited - Shushi

 

karabakh50The far left flag is that of the 'Republic of Artsakh' - Shushi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

karabakh51On the south east of town is Jederduz, a park overlooking the Hunot Gorge - Shushi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

karabakh64It's somehow possible to walk along the gorge bottom, following the flow of the Karkar River - Shushi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

karabakh65From Jederduz you can see the Karabakh capital below, Stepanakert

 

A much brighter, warmer day to explore Stepanakert, starting with Tatik yev Papik on the northern outskirts

 

karabakh74The monument is officially called We Are Our Mountains, highlighting the unity of the people with the mountains, but most translate it as Granny and Gramps - Stepanakert

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

karabakh76 There's a few souvenir stalls at the base of the monument - Stepanakert

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

karabakh83Yes that's the Artsakh flag on this guy's taxi - Stepanakert

 

karabakh178I had a great view from my hotel window, Hotel Sofia, located above a shopping centre and opposite the bazaar. The shopping centre has a good souvenir shop, selling Karabakh wines, brandy, vodka etc plus some local foods, cloths and handicrafts - Stepanakert

 

karabakh175One of the fruit & vegetable stalls in the bazaar, very much for the locals - Stepanakert

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

karabakh176But you can see Karabakh speciality jhingalov hats being made, a flatbread with herbs and vegetables - Stepanakert

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

karabakh85Presumably some military boast/celebration? Translations welcome - Stepanakert

 

karabakh86A little bit of street art brightening up a residential building - Stepanakert

 

karabakh89Shaumian Square acts as a roundabout in the centre of town - Stepanakert

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

karabakh177 There's a good bar-restaurant on the edge of the square with giant beanbags and alfresco dining - Stepanakert

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

karabakh93Love these information boards! There's several of them but I've chosen the drunken parent one - Stepanakert

 

karabakh87The Artsakh flag is on show throughout the region - Stepanakert

 

karabakh95The Stepanakert Republican Stadium - originally Josef Stalin Stadium - is used mainly for foottball matches - Stepanakert

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

karabakh180And look at this! Euro 2019 was held here, or the 2019 CONIFA European Cup to be exact, South Ossetia winning the competition - Stepanakert

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

karabakh97The steps leading down to the stadium (but not the entrance which is on the opposite side) - Stepanakert

 

karabakh100Not your usual building hoardings! - Stepanakert

 

karabakh106The photos depict military training/processions, the Karabakh war and Soviet-era demonstrations - Stepanakert

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

karabakh103Displaying military might outside the Presidential building - Stepanakert

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

karabakh118The Presidential building itself, on Veratsnund Square- Stepanakert

 

karabakh120An excellent place for an outside drink and to watch (a little of) the world go by is at the Armenia Hotel, near opposite the Presidential building (left) - Stepanakert

 

karabakh121The National Assembly is the region's parliament - Stepanakert

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

karabakh124Next to it is another administrative building, though not sure what - Stepanakert

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

karabakh123This looks like a simplified version of the Artsakh coat of arms set on the Artsakh flag - Stepanakert

 

karabakh115The park behind the National Assembly, from where steps lead down to the football stadium - Stepanakert

 

karabakh126At night the fountain illuminates and changes colour - Stepanakert

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

karabakh128Locals really make use of space! There's clothes lines stretching across streets everywhere in residential Stepanakert

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

karabakh138The Memorial Museum of Perished Soldiers evokes the poignancy of war, guided by a relative of one of the fallen soldiers - Stepanakert

 

karabakh135Photos of the dead dominate the museum, here with a defiant weave of Karabakh's sights alongside the Artskah coat of arms and military weaponry - Stepanakert

 

karabakh137The musuem also details stories of rapprochment with fellow Azerbaijani families (a ruined Azeri flag is pictured) - Stepanakert

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

karabakh139 This section is dedicated to the April War of 2016, when Azerbaijan reclaimed 8-20km2 of territory - Stepanakert

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

karabakh145In the same courtyard is the Museum of Missing Soldiers, where - like its neighbouring museum - relatives with a smattering of English can explain displays - Stepanakert

 

karabakh142I'm guessing these guys are some of the fallen soldiers - Stepanakert

 

karabakh146The Artsakh coat of arms - Stepanakert

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

karabakh147Vazgen Sarsyan Street, honouring the Armenian miltary commander during the Karabakh war - Stepanakert

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

karabakh148BH Brandy Co, based in Yerevan, makes Madatoff brandy as well as several wines and Karabakh fruit vodkas - Stepanakert

 

karabakh149A statue of Stepan Shahumian stands in front of the Artsakh flag - Stepanakert

 

karabakh152The Artsakh Museum of History covers Karabakh's ancient history through the Soviet era and world wars to the Karabakh war and present day. I don't recollect many informative English labels. Pretty average but the photos are worth a look - Stepanakert

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

karabakh153Innovative roadside plant pots - Stepanakert

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

karabakh155Lightbulb moment - street art in Stepanakert

 

karabakh156A children's playground in need of some tender loving care - Stepanakert

 

karabakh157Where else would you find the Sphinx restaurant?! - Stepanakert

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

karabakh158Again, if you can translate this military reference please contact me - Stepanakert

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

karabakh160It's got character but not too sure about living there.. - Stepanakert

 

karabakh161The newly built Holy Mother of God Cathedral - Stepanakert

 

karabakh162Like Nakhchivan in Azerbaijan the balcony wars become a bit silly, extension upon extension... - Stepanakert

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

karabakh163A hillside cross overlooks Stepanakert

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

karabakh166Alternate Armenian and Artsakh flags on Baghramyan Street - Stepanakert

 

karabakh165The Artsakh flag with a superimposed coat of arms - Stepanakert

 

karabakh167Baghramyan Street is the location of the Memorial Complex of Stepanakert - Stepanakert

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

karabakh169It commemorates the 22,000 Karabakhis who died in WWII, as well as holding graves of those killed in the Karabakh war (pictured) - Stepanakert

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

karabakh170I don't know if the Bardak pub is still open for business - Stepanakert

 

karabakh171It was very closed during the day but I believe it comes alive in the evening - Stepanakert

 

karabakh173The various sights of Nagorno Karabakh - Stepanakert

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

karabakh174Trying to make pharmacy mannequins look sexy doesn't quite sit right - Stepanakert

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

karabakh187More military references that I can't read - Stepanakert

 

karabakh185This looks to be a mural painting a story or history of Karabakh - Stepanakert

 

 

Website and content Copyright © 2008-2019 Mark Wilkinson. All rights reserved.

 

LINKS

https://artsakh.news - Karabakh and Armenian news

https://artsakh.travel - Think this is a travel agency but has useful info

www.nkr.am - Nagorno Karabakh Ministry of Foreign Affairs, including referral to visa requirements

 

I am not responsible for the content of external websites.

 

 
 
 
   
 
   
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