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NAGORNO KARABAKH


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

I took the 16:00 bus from Stepanakert to the quirky village of Vank, home of Gandzasar Monastery and wierd shaped hotels - September 2019.

 

armenianote1Nagorno Karabakh uses the Armenian Dram

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

karabakhnote2Dadivank Monastery is pictures on the old 10 Artsakh Dram note

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

karabakh189I stayed at the ship-shaped Hotel Ecelectic, and indeed it is. And weirder still I was the only guest - getting hold of anyone who knew what was going on was a little challenge, until the boss arrived from Seastone Hotel - Vank

 

karabakh190Much of the village was bankrolled by Levon Hairapetian, a Vank native who made his millions trading timber - Vank

 

karabakh200Rooms are quite mainstream but the common areas have nautical touches - Vank

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

karabakh197Opposite the hotel, these geese hopped over the gate bar and went for a little stroll - Vank

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

karabakh235The approach to Hotel Eclectic's sister hotel a couple of kms outside town - Vank

 

karabakh241The owners of Hotel Eclectic kindly drove me to their sister hotel, Seastone Hotel, where all the activity was. I think it's called Tsovin Qar Hotel in Armenian - Vank

 

karabakh238I just wanted to see the excellent huge lion head with paw, but there's several other kitsch/arty sculptures surrounding it - Vank

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

karabakh242There's a couple of souvenir stalls (with more souvenirs than this one!) outside the hotel - Vank

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

karabakh245The hotel restaurant overlooking the water was busy with several families, likely from Stepanakert. By the way, nothing was happening in/on the ship, but maybe it comes to life in the height of summer - Vank

 

karabakh246Pretty sure the water spout from her backside was intentionally put there, it's Vank after all

 

karabakh204Yellow gas pipes blighting the landscape is a common sight in the Caucasus - Vank

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

karabakh202In pretty poor taste, this wall is comprised of old Azerbaijani registration plates - Vank

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

karabakh205Overlooking Vank on a hilltop is Gandzasar Monastery

 

karabakh210The 13th century monastery is accessible by car/taxi or you can walk up via trails - Vank

 

karabakh231I'm sure some people/pilgrims stayed overnight in the monastery's quarters surrounding - Vank

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

karabakh230There's several khachkars (stelae with stone-carved crosses), and the stonework also contains many inscriptions and carvings - Vank

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

karabakh209For me the landscape is the biggest attraction in going to these isolated monasteries - Vank

 

karabakh223Take in great views of Vank, the valley and mountains on a walk down the Gandzasar trail

 

karabakh251I took a half-day taxi tour to Tigranakert, passing the redundant airport, which doesn't have clearance to operate due to the region's disputed nature.
Nearby was the Azeri town of Khojaly, scene of the Khojaly massacre of ethnic Azerbaijanis
in 1992, during the Karabakh war

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

karabakh255Heading north from Stepanakert you'll drive through Askeran, where Mayaberd Fortress straddles the road

 

karabakh256It's a very reconstructed castle worth a quick scramble up to explore - Askeran

 

karabakh257There's what looks like a small fortification on a mound a few hundred metres away, though I've no idea if it's part of Mayraberd Fortress - Askeran

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

karabakh264Shortly after is a tank memorial; there's also one just outside Shushi on the road to Stepanakert - Askeran

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

karabakh265The fork right is the road to the ruined ghost-town of Agdam, which was captured and plundered in 1994. It's meant to be off-limits but some have ventured there in the past, though it sounds like it may be tighter controlled now. There's a soldier on the right, below the sign

 

karabakh299The main road bypasses Agdam - this is the road to Agdam from the other side (forking left).

Agdam was the home of Azerbaijani football team Qarabag until they had to leave in 1993 due to the war, and now play their football in Baku. In the 2017/18 season they became the first Azerbaijani team to reach the group stages of the UEFA Champions League

 

karabakh268Much of this area is just a few kms from the front line, and I'd hazard a guess that this is, or was, a military lookout - Agdam

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

karabakh268aThere's lots of concrete debris in the area around Agdam and Tigranakert

 

karabakh271This is the reason for visiting Tigranakert, a medieval fortress

 

karabakh273Pomegranates for sale at Tigranakert. Seek out homemade pomegranate wine in local markets in Stepanakert as well as Armenia. It's not bad!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

karabakh275There's a museum in various rooms leading off the fortress courtyard - Tigranakert

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

karabakh297A tranquil area of calm waters lies behind the fortress - Tigranakert

 

karabakh285Ruins of the ancient city of Tigranakert surround the fortress, which was named after Tigran the Great who ruled in the 1st century BC - Tigranakert

 

karabakh279Looking towards Azerbaijan from the fortress walls - Tigranakert

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

karabakh286 Driving along this road is the occasional military vehicle, troops and military hardware - Tigranakert

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

karabakh290The frontline, in the hazy distance, is a 'heavily militarized and mined buffer-zone of trenches' - Tigranakert

 

karabakh287News sources say violations of the ceasefire are commonplace, and from what I read peace-keeping forces are virtually non-existent. Russia is the major player and prefers to keep up the appearance that 'all is fine' - Tigranakert

 

karabakh302From Stepanakert I took a 09:00(ish) Yerevan-bound bus via the northern route, so I could take in the Karabakh mountains and revisit Lake Sevan. We passed Lake Sarsang and further on the turn-off for Dadivank Monastery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

karabakh305After stopping off at the immigration post - where I showed my passport and the police registration letter, not that anyone seemed bothered - the bus climbed over the Sotk Pass to Armenia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

karabakh307It's another attractive mountainous area, and the road is a good one, in fact it might be quicker to Yerevan via this route than the southern one via Goris - Sotk Pass

 

 

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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