Rediscovering Armenia Guidebook- Hadrut Region

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Hadrut Region forms the southern border of Karabakh, and one of the most mountainous parts. Villages are primarily found along two river valleys and scattered in lower elevations on the very southern fringe. Excavations of Azokh Cave show that humans have inhabited this area for tens of thousands of years, and the region has a rich history. This southernmost region of Karabakh will be most easily accessible from Stepanakert via the old Aghdam-Martuni-Fizuli highway until the new and much more direct Armenia Fund road via Karmir Shuka is complete.

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Northern road along the Ishkhanaget (Kuruchay) River (Map R)

Heading south from Martuni, just before entering Varanda (Fizuli) you pass the village of Dovlayatayarli, then a bridge going over an unused reservoir. From here take your first right (before reaching the second bridge) and head west. After 2km you pass the Zargyar turnoff and continue 3.5km before taking the left fork in the road which heads into the Hadrut region rather than the right fork which will take you towards Karmir Shuka, then Stepanakert.

7.5km after the fork you come to a road on your right leading to Drakhtik village with adjacent Shinategh Village. Drakhtik is situated in a precipice between two hills. The western hill is called Kashin kar, or Nrnegavank, the north-eastern one is Kakhan. According to an XVIIIc inscription, the head of the monastery on Kashin kar hill built a new church named after his wife Nrneg, and rebuilt the former chapel. To get to the monastery drive from the main road through Drakhtik until the road dead ends at the top of the village and then turn left. Keep driving until you are reaching the last houses of the village and take another left towards the mountain peak and drive 200 meters to the monastery. Abutting Drakhtik on the west is the small village called Shinategh (Salakatin).

Near Drakhtik Village, on top of a tall hill is Surb Grigor Narekatsi Church, built in 1245 (694 of Armenian chronology). It’s a one-nave basilica, around which there are gravestones. Also near Drakhtik is a Bronze Age necropolis in the “Gyune art” area. Stone coffins are buried in shallow graves. Partial excavations here revealed bronze bracelets, bells, grivna, chisels, pieces of plates, stony pestles, cornelian beads, iron knife, spar, sickle, and pieces of clay vessels.

2.5km after the Drakhtik turnoff you reach Azokh village on your right. Results of excavations of during the 1970-80’s confirmed that Azokh Cave (or Vorvan Cave, see below) was inhabited 50-100,000 years ago. The remains of a Neanderthal man, including the bottom jaw have been named “Azokh Man”.

Other archaeological finds in the area include pitchers with human bones and various ornaments in a field known as Khachi Khut, which were discovered during roadwork; and in the Tandzi khut area wine pitchers and jars were discovered. These confirm that viticulture and wine-making took place here since ancient times. It is also confirmed that the word Azokh, by etymology, means unripe grape in ancient Armenian.

Atop a tall hill on the northern side of the village is Amarkhatun Monastery, to the west of the village is Tsits Khar Fort, and the famous Azokh Cave is at the foot of the cliffs on the eastern outskirts of the village.

Azokh Cave (aka Vorvan Cave): The most noteworthy Stone Age cave-settlements is the one situated between Azokh and Drakhtik villages, excavated for 18 years. Beginning in the 1960’s archeologists started examining this ancient cave with multiple entries and exits, and six halls. The largest hall is 3000m2. The walls of the gigantic round hall are uneven, with stalactites and stalagmites. "Those huge stalactites and stalagmites", wrote archeologist M. Huseynov, "tell us not only about the natural activities, but also about the oldness of the cave itself".


While excavating the different layers of the cave floor, archaeologists found for the first time here in the 3000 year “Ashelian” layer old stone tools, fossil remains, traces of art, as well as production waste.

A number of passages start from different sides of this hall. The passage going east connects the large hall with the next one. At some point in time the human hand enlarged it. Several meters later another hall is reached. A row of rooms is formed between the tall vaults with occasional stalactites. The floor is uneven in places and has some small pools, horizontal passages, and pointed stalagmites rising up from the ground. Various types of weapons, trimmed stones and hundreds of animal bones were found here. In the food waste of the first inhabitants, scientists have found bones of extinct animals.

In contrast to the others, the floor of the forth hall is even and dry, there is almost no dribble. This hall has only one entry and what's most important- traces of human work are clearly felt in here. This hall is a dead end branch off of the pass, and was probably used for hiding people and valuables. From here the passage turns SW and goes out through the other opening of the cave.

Near the beginning of this opening, 7m deep, archeologists discovered a part of the lower jaw of Mustyeryan man. The jaw fragment shows that the size and order of teeth differs from modern man's jaw. Thorough examination showed that the jaw had parts of the wisdom-teeth and two other teeth. The jaw is now kept in Azerbaijan’s Science Academy/History Institute. The remains of this man who lived 50-100,000 years ago have been given the name “Azokh Man".

Another cave was discovered near Azokh Cave. The length of underground passages of that mysterious cave is more that 300m. In the cave were discovered more than 20,000 bones of 43 various animals, as well as more than 6000 stony instruments and other objects. In the cave were discovered remainders of medieval stony constructions. Besides that, in recent years, 3km SE of the cave, in Urushen field, hydroworkers have discovered quite a large stream starting from the cave, which is 80m deep. The "Treasury cave" has not yet opened all the secrets. This large settlement of primitive man, which has many millennia of history is gradually being discovered.

The well preserved XVIIc Astvatsatsin church of Azokh village has a vaulted rectangular hall (14.7x 3.2m).

In the surroundings of Azokh Village remain traces of the ancient settlements Paratos, Mshkerak, Khachi Khut, etc.

From Azokh you continue about 6km on the road until reaching Mets Taghlar, the last village on this road. Mets Taghlar (First named Khaz after its founder, Daniel Kzhetsi, then Taghlar, then Nor Taghlar, is sometimes called Tagher or Taghk!!!) is a large village on the left bank of Ishkhanaget, in a hollow cut by three ravines. The first inhabitants of the village live by the eastern ravine, the western slopes are migrants from Haros and Taghlar villages, the central district residents are from the village Akna, situated not far from Khachen River’s Tigranakert, in the place of present Aghdam. So, in the beginning it was a large settlement, which was divided into distinct geographic parts, which is why the village was also called Tagher (i.e. districts). But when four stony bridges were built, that survive to this day, and some sections of the ravines were filled with earth, the districts united and the village was then called Mets Taghlar. In the village and in its surroundings there are number of ancient settlements, cemeteries, monasteries, churches, bridges, khachkars, caves and industrial buildings.

In the center of the village is one of the better-preserved monuments of Mets Taghlar, Surb Amenaprkich Church of 1848. It’s the largest (13x23m) one-nave basilica in the region. In the walls of the church remain two slabs, dated XIIIc, leading to the belief that there was a previous church on the same site. The church has stone of two colors, decorated portal and windows, an inscription, gravestones, an ornamented capital, a gable roof and nearby foundations of another church.

Tstsakhach or Taghlar grotto is situated in 1km towards south-east from Mets Taghlar (3km SW of Azokh Cave), by the side of the road, directly on the left bank of Ishkhanaget. From outside the cave appears to have natural rocky half-circle windows. The cave consists of ten half-rounded arches. Four of them are next to each other and look outside, the others are placed inside. The floors of two of these “constructions” are earth, the walls and the ceilings are rock. The comparatively large and high arch is in the eastern part, where there are thick earth sediments. In 1963-64 archeologists dug a 7m long and 1.5m wide passage.

It was determined that the floor of the grotto consists of bedded cultural layer of the Paleolithic period. According to M. Huseynov the number of cultural layers in the cave is 16. All the layers, except for the very top one have rich archeological material: bones of panther, rodents, various birds, bear, horse, ox, Caucasian deer, mountain goat, etc. These fossilized animal remains are quite young compared with those of Karst cave of Azokh and differ greatly from them. The ancient objects found here are mostly made of obsidian and volcanic glass. The stony instruments are interesting for their forms, and techniques used in their making.

The cultural layers of Tstsakhach have some parallels with Azokh cave but also have fundamental differences. If the bottom layers of Tstsakhach are almost identical with the instruments of Azokh cave, made by Neanderthals, then the top layers stand out by the perfection and refinement of forms. Prevalent here are instruments made of thin plates with fine decoration, knives, scrapers, drills, etc.

Southern road along the Ishkhanaget (Kuruchay) River (Map R)

This road starts in Varanda (Fizuli), from the southern end of town where the main road dead ends you head right (west). There is only one road which does this and it is well traveled. The road goes through fields and then hills, with turnoffs on your left along the way. The first big turnoff is the best way to get to Hogher (Dudukchi), Ukhtadzor/Itiletsik (Edillu), Tsaghkavank (Hakhullu), Aknaghbyur (Aghbulagh), Chiman and Jubarli.

About 5km further is the turnoff for Goga, and then come turnoffs for Jrakuys, then Mariamadzor (Mamatadzor/Mamedadzor). Mountain spurs frame the deep ravine of Mariamadzor on two sides. Stretching along both slopes of the ravine, the two districts communicate with each other by means of a one-span bridge, built in XIIIc by military leader Vanes. Under the cliffs of the ravine are cold springs. Higher, on the left slope is placed Mariam Spring, which is considered a site of pilgrimage. The village church Surb Minas, according to the inscription of portal’s tympanum is built in 1601 (1050 of Armenian chronology). The name of the architect is carved on the arch of northern wall: “We, priest Azaria, priest David,- are the builders of the church…”. Here also is the fragment of an inscription “This cross (belongs) to Baghdasar…”. The church is a basilica hall (14.7x7.9m).

Neighboring Mariamadzor village, Jrakuys (Chirakuz) village is situated on the northern slope of Mt. Vnes. The village church is a three-nave basilica (17.55x11.24m). According to the preserved inscription it was built in 1698 “by common people of Jrakuys”.

After all those turnoffs, the road eventually hits the village of Togh (from the word Dogh, meaning shake, because of earthquakes). Togh has been mentioned in written sources since the battle of Armenians against Arab invaders. Arakel precepter wrote:

“Fortified-Town (Togh) in ancient times, according to Persian king’s writings, had 1500 houses. All the inhabitants were quite rich, had numerous jewels, and were tradesmen. They traveled to various countries, towns and villages, and while there, profitably traded. Their houses were decorated with valuable treasures. Here even worked a hippodrome, where army training and races took place. Number of work-shops for baking brick reached 1000….
And the plain was arable, covered with gardens and plantations. Here one could taste delicious harmless wines and sweet fruits, and also buy fine silk…”.

“The eastern side (of Togh) was secured with a fort-fence, into which were put three large iron doors. The tall mountain like a guard protected the other sides. On the relics of saints were built four basilica churches with arches, built from trimmed stone and also decorated with silver and gold ornamented crosses, in which they put the relics and remainders of miracle-working saints”.

During the height of Togh’s prosperity (XVIIIc) and especially during the rule of prince Yegan and his son Yesayi there were four working churches and one monastery, which have been wholly-preserved up to the present. The serf-walls with front entries, iron doors and towers have disappeared.

St. Stepanos Nahatak (St. Stephan the Martyr) Church is situated in the SW side of Togh, in the large, old cemetery. Makar episcop Barkhutaryants recorded the following inscription on the entry’s square beam: “In the summer 1196 (1747) Prince Yegan and his son Prince Yesayi rebuilt Surb Stepanos church’s cover. Let (this be for) their soul’s memory”. It appears that the church has existed earlier, and prince Yegan with his son only ornamented the cover.

The church is a rectangular hall with vaulted cover (12 x 7.8m) with the altar and vestries on the E. In place of the present church existed a more ancient monument, which was wholly-destroyed, and the stone was used in the new temple. Many of Karabakh’s XVI-XVIII cc monuments were built in the place of buildings destroyed during the XIV-XV cc. The first church built here was very similar to the pagan temple that preceded it. At some point in medieval times a monastery was built and the church at that time was the cathedral of the monastery complex.

The walls of the church have 51 khachkars built into them. Decorated with various bright ornaments, they are an interesting collection showing the chronology of the place.

S. Hovhannes of Togh

S. Hovhannes Church is situated in the central part of the village and is in good condition. The church was built on a slope, with its N wall halfway stuck in the rock, and the S wall open with the foundations visible. The only entry of the church, from west, opens towards the ramparted yard. On the SW corner of the yard is the rounded tower, with a panoramic view. The cover of the church (21.7x12.9m) leans on four pillars, and it has a gable roof. Built in approx. the XIII cc, the church-yard is the burial place of much of the regions royalty. In the XVII cc Prince Yegan funded the complete repair of the roof. The same prince had a large khachkar in the church wall recording his deeds. Many of the inscriptions here tell the interesting history, including relations with Persia.

The stone cross of the church is gone, but the inscription was recorded and said: “Year 1736 (1185 Armenian calendar). The cover of this Surb Hovhannes Church has been renovated by preceptor Ghukaz, son of Melik Yegann, in the memory of his soul. Who reads this; let him say at least once Lord have mercy”. Literature exists saying that very close to the western wall was situated “a narrow and long chapel, which served as a burial-vault, where there were tombs of all the princes and their relatives”. Another manuscript mentions that in a burial-vault chapel with “wonderful construction” are buried “great military leaders”. Unfortunately from the burial vault and also from Surb Hovhannes church’ vestry nothing was preserved but the foundations.

200m from the church, by the road leading to the trimmed-stone spring in the center of the village, stands a very ancient ornamented khachkar. Absence of a pedestal and the simple style point to the early period of khachkars: IX-X cc. On the stone are pictured three crosses, the central one is largest. The top part has carvings of grape vines with bunches of grapes.

Anapat (Hermitage): On the north-western side of the cemetery, on a slope is situated a simple church, almost half-way underground. Nearby remainders of cells and dwellings are noticeable as are ancient gravestones. One of the tombs belongs to Prince Bakhtum, who was betrayed and killed by Ibrahim Khan. The inscription goes on to say that Ibrahim “started such a tyranny in this land, during the course of which part of Togh’s Armenian population of princely residence was forcibly Islamized, even many representatives of Melik-Yegan’s house. The khachkar built into the front of the church, has "St. Vardan Cross" inscribed on it and was most likely at one time a freestanding khachkar. The church seems to have been called St. Vardan as well.

Princely Palace of Dizak: The plain two-story palace of Dizak’s princes is found in central Togh (38 x 13.24m). The N and SE parts of the palace have noticeable traces of thick walls that stand out from the serf-wall perimeter. The complex was built in parts, with inscriptions showing that the first floor was built in the 20-30’s of the XVIII cc, and the second floor in XIX cc. The second story was done in a style similar to that of the surrounding village homes at the time; windows with wide passages, large balconies with pillars, and tin roofs. Except for several changes, the princely palace is almost wholly-preserved. The oldest building is on the NE; 2 halls with fire places are on the first floor, and an added second floor has a balcony. On the W end of the rectangular yard is a two-story building with a beautiful façade of trimmed stone and a pillared balcony.

The walls of the bottom floor (except on the E), are deaf and function as a continuation of the serf-walls. The pillared balcony had an additional functional significance-with its location above the yard, connected by stony stairs; it served as a stage during various ceremonies.

Over the front door is a guest room with a balcony. The S end has the two story guest room of Prince Yegan, 25m from the walls. It is wall, with a vaulted cover and double-arched front. The first story is a basement and connected by underground passages to the palace and garrison. The second story was added in the XIX cc and surrounded with balconies on 3 sides. The portal to the guestroom has the following inscription:

“In the year of 1737 (1186 by the Armenian calendar), this guestroom is dedicated (is) by preceptor Ghukas’ son, named Yegan. When the people gathered, I became the leader. After this, when in the country began confusion, I did some favors to the son of Shah Sultan-Khusayn king Taghmasp, and he confirmed my principality (over) them. Then came the Osman (Turkic tribe) and took away from him (the country). I did him some favors too and when he entered Dizak, I didn’t let captives be taken from Armenia. From Arakh (central Iran) the mighty Shah Nadir came with his army and took the country back from the hands of the Osmans. I also did much favors to him, and he made me a khan and beklarbek over 6 Christian provinces -- Talish, Charaberd, Khachen, Varanda, Kotchis, Dizak and received honors. One who later on reads and learns from the written, let him say once; Lord have mercy. The end. Amen”.

The facts of the inscription are confirmed by Armenian and Persian written sources of this period, and also by numerous other inscriptions remaining in Togh. On the gravestone of Artsakh’s ruler, Prince Yegan himself, we read:

This is the gravestone of brave prince,
Great prince named Yegan,
Son of pious
Precepter Ghukas.
He was loved by all,
And by Shah Nadir.
He ruled over the region of Artsakh
Of Aghvank world.
Was honored by Persians
More than any other prince of
Armenian country.
In the year 1744 (1193 by the Armenian calendar).

These and other inscriptions/sources show that in the XVIII cc there were feudal Armenian rulers here and they had good relations with both the Osmans and the Persians.

Prince Yegan’s successor was his son Aram, who was in power for only one year. After prince Aram came his brother Yesayi, who became one of the famous princes of Khamsayi, about who people created songs and legends. “Even today Dizak’s people” wrote Leo” tell about his great prince, who was the worthy successor of father Yegan, and even excelled him in deeds”. Here is what’s written on the ornamented gravestone of Prince Yesayi, “This is Prince Yesayi’s tomb, son of great Prince Yegan. He was appointed prince by Nadir Shah, for 33 years he ruled over Dizak and had many exploits, many victories over the Godless. He was braver and more pious than his ancestors. He lived 61 years, died in the summer of 1781 (1230 Armenian calendar), October 2, on Tuesday. He who reads, let him say; Lord have mercy. Amen”.

In Togh, especially in its ancient gardens very often you’ll find stone wine-presses and huge clay pitchers. In these parts there existed an interesting custom: on the day a child was born, his parents, dreaming of his wedding day, buried pitchers full of red wine underground (their tonnage is usually from 150 to 300 liters). They opened them on the wedding day. Being under ground for years, the wine became crystal transparent, “aromatic and harmless”. Exactly such wine was served on the wedding table to the dear guests and fighters, who had come back home.

Another ancient custom was when they sent their son to the army they would plant a mulberry tree in his honor. Over time the number of these trees grew and grew, turning villages into mulberry havens.

At that time Togh had a market, two silk factories, numerous workshops for wood processing and production of household utensils, ceramic workshops, oil presses and distilleries. On the banks of village streams remain traces of half-destroyed buildings of six mills, numerous earth-houses, cave dwellings, springs and monuments.

There is a one-span village bridge dating to 1719 which supports car traffic.

Some monuments in the area of Togh worth mentioning:

Tsiltakhach: a sacred place. In the area known as Teghun-tap, by the road leading to Azokh. Kitats Karar (a heap of stones) Fort: Ruins of an ancient, devastated fort which protected Dizapayt from Toghadzor’s side during Arab rule. Its ruins stretch along both sides of the road to Mokhrenes, 2km from Togh. Around the fort are traces of various sized buildings.
Tahes: remainders of Tahes settlement. It is situated on the right bank of Ishkhanaget, not far from Togh, in the direction to village Mets Taghlar. In the village are noticeable ruins of a church and several gravestones around it. By the bank are noticeable ruins of a mill, on the ravine’s slope several stone springs remain. This settlement is mentioned in Gtchavank’s inscriptions.
Hatam Bridge: situated on the road to Azokh, by the confluence of the rivers Ishkhanaget and Teghotaget. Cemetery: One of the large, ancient cemeteries of Togh. Many of the gravestones are covered with inscriptions and reliefs. Located on NE outskirts of Togh.

A bad dirt side track leading from Togh towards Tsakuri passes close to Ptkatagh Monastery, which is between Tsakuri and Taghot villages, on a slope on the left bank of Mingoltegh River. All that remains today is the one-nave basilica church (7.5x 5.3m), built according to the inscription in 1670 from the local rough stone. Around the church are noticeable traces of various constructions. At the end of the XIX cc., M. Barkhudaryants wrote, “In Ptkatagh lived several Armenian families”, later on transferred to Tsakuri.

The vault which once leaned on two pairs of pylons has collapsed. On both sides of the stage there are khachkars in the walls. On one of the khachkars is written “Tadevos’ cross”, on the other “Halos’ cross”. Near the church-walls are scattered numerous trimmed stones, fragments of khachkars and gravestones. N of the church, on the opposite bank of the river among bushes and fruit trees are noticeable foundations of ancient buildings, and piles of processed stones.

Continuing down the road from Togh you come to the village of Tsakuri. In the center of Tsakuri is Tsaghkavank Monastery. All that remains intact is the main church -- with domed-basilica composition from the interior. The church has few decorations, plastered inside walls, arches, bays and cornices of the altar are built from trimmed stone of bluish tint, and the side-walls are from local roughly-trimmed stone. Most interesting in the church is that on the ceiling of the left vestry is cut a relief picture of a snake which was in this place from the very beginning. The church had been crowned with a dome. The oldest inscription, carved on a khachkar, is dated 1198. The tympanum of the church mentions that preceptor Hakob “built (rebuilt) the church, the former cathedral in the summer of 1682 (1131 Arm. Calendar). In contrast to the plain church is the highly decorated portal, which was rebuilt later on. Unfortunately the belfry has not survived.

On the opposite shore of the river below Togh is Atagut (aka Taghut, Taghot) village. According to legend the village name originated from the word teghot, which in Armenian means elm grove. The village was built in an elm-grove, several trees of which survive in the yard of Yot Khach Monastery and near Hamam’s spring.

In the middle of the village is Tchvavank Spring with a trimmed stone construction over it. The inscription says it was built in 1719/1738 by financing of tradesman khoja Ghazar in memory of his mother Mariam and deceased relative (also named) Ghazar. It is one of the best such spring monuments in Gharabagh.

Though the villagers call it Tchvavank’s spring, in reality it’s not the monastic spring. The latter is placed on the northern slope of mountain-spur, stretching along the side of the village, through a dense hornbeam forest. Water from this spring was brought to the village by clay-pipes through the forest and cliffs. And as the spring of khoja Ghazar gets water from here too, the name of the old spring transferred to the new one. In Taghot almost everyone knows the place of the monastic spring and ruins of Tchvavank, although the complex collapsed long ago. Its ruins are situated NE of the village, on the edge of a dense forest between two tops of the tall mountain. The monastic spring is situated below the monument, on the NE slope of the mountain. The inhabitants of Taghot have used the cold water of the monastery throughout the ages. Surprisingly, even now the clay-pipes through which the water passed are intact, with even their original color preserved. Thanks to their knowledge at the time, the water-resistant solution which seals the joints of the pipes is still hard and strong.

Presently below ground level, the monastery was once protected with serf-walls and consisted of 7 main constructions. There are noticeable depressions from the destroyed buildings, remainders of walls from trimmed and chipped stone with or without lime-mortar. It stood until XVI cc, finally collapsing during attacks by Turkish Aghkoyunlu and Karakoyulu hordes.

From Atagut a road winds south to Hakaku, with an ancient history, situated in a narrow, picturesque mountain valley. On the altar of the destroyed chapel in the outskirts of the village, placed on the edge of the precipice, stands a small ornamented khachkar from white marble. The village church Surb Astvatsatsin is a three-nave basilica with rectangular scheme (13.4 x 9.6m). According to the inscription building of the church was finished in 1621.

The main road continues SW from Togh, hugging the mountainside that Togh is built on. At the fork, a left turn leads across the stream to the village of Mokhrenes (formerly Susanlik, aka Mokhrants). In Mokhrenes is situated another church, which the villagers call Surb Sargis. It’s a simple one-nave hall. The building inscription is carved on the tympanum of the window-passage, and says that the church was rebuilt in the beginning of XX cc. Around the church remain numerous gravestones with inscriptions.

Okhti Drni Monastery (from Arm. Dialect okht -seven, dur -door) is situated on a lushly forested slope of Mt. Yushusen, not far from Gtchavank, 3.5km from Mokhrenes Village. The monastery and especially the main church are interesting because they belong to a type of rather rare, round poly-apside buildings. From this point of view the church is considered the only such monument of Artsakh’s architecture. The monastery is a place of pilgrimage, with only the church remaining of the original three main buildings. Okhti Drni is most likely an early medieval period monument (V-VI cc). The space under the dome encircles 4 horseshoe shaped apses, 2m each. Two eastern pilasters are decorated with ornaments found nowhere else.


The right fork of the main road continues hugging the mountain, passing beautiful vertical cliffs on the right. As you go through the mountain pass, Gtichavank will become visible far off to your right on the crest of Toghasar Mountain. Approx. 2km down past the crest you will come upon a dirt track (passable by Niva all the way to the monastery if not too wet) which requires a very sharp right that doubles back and down, heading to Gtichavank. Gtichavank** Monastery is without a doubt one of Karabakhs finest monuments, and was once seat to the regions religious leaders, with a school, scriptorium and library. Manuscripts say that before the present monastery was built, a famous church, which attracted many pilgrims stood, which was destroyed during Arabic rule. A large inscription on the present church's northern wall states that two brothers, episcops’ Ter Sargis and Ter Vrdanes, migrated here from Amaras, and built the main church of Gtchavank. The building was founded in 1241 and was finished in 1246.

The rich stone-inscriptions of 13-16cc are a valuable historical sources. Historical sources tell that Gtchi had been the political and religious center of the area since ancient times. Here set the episcops of the eparchy. Together with its remarkable fortress it was Yesayi Abu-Muse's chair in 9c. In 10c it was king's chair, the center of the kingdom founded in Dizak. At the end of 13c Gtchi was enlarged with new buildings, and during the Dizak princedoms, especially prince Yegan's power it reached the peak of its prosperity and became one of the largest religious, political and cultural centers of Armenia.

The main church (10 x 7.5m) is indisputably the finest structure of the whole complex. The church is built from trimmed blocks of yellowish stone (the quarry is situated in monastery’s surroundings). The bow-like arches, crossed over pre-wall pylons, carry a quite tall, but not very pointed church-dome. The dome rests on the cylindrical drum and is covered by fan-shaped roofing from slabs with gable edges. The facades of the cathedral are decorated by triangle bays. The window-passages frame ornamented rectangular casings. The intricate khachkars on either side of the interior portal are sadly covered in graffiti, as is much of the complex. The S khachkar has an inscription reading: "In the year àÔº, I, Ter Vrdanes put this cross for the peace of my soul". Under the slabs on the floor are buried some of the clergy who served here, and some of Dizak’s princes.

NE of the temple's main church, in southern part of Katnaghbyur is situated a very old, nameless church.

Gtich-Ktish Fort (aka. Dogh Fort) is on top of Toghasar Mountain, in front of Gtchavank. During the early medieval period this was one of the most impregnable forts of Dizak, and all of Artsakh, and is mentioned many times in the medieval history of Armenia. From the N it is protected by an impregnable cliff, the E part is secured with walls, and the S & W face a ravine with strong vertical rocks. In the ravine’s clefts stretch unique constructions presenting a second line of defense.

Historian Tovma Artsruni wrote about fort Ktish and her brave protector- Dizak’s Prince Yesayi Amu-Muse. The historian writes how in IX-X cc, during Arab campaigns the talented military leader on top of Toghasar created such a strong defense system, that the fort became impregnable for many ages and was never seized by enemy forces.

The fort communicated with outside world through a secret passage, which passed from its northern part through the tall rock opposite Gtchavank. The water supply was secured in rocks hollowed out quite large and deep. The snow which accumulated in them was used during summer months. Extra reservoirs were also built for gathering rain-water for use during siege.

Presently inside the strong serf-walls, lay the sparse remainders of the ancient fort. On top of the half-buried citadel, almost by the ravine stands a church of chipped stone, which the local inhabitants call Yeritsu Vorti (Priest’s Son Church).

During the 9th cc, Dizak’s Prince Yesayi, or Isa Ibn-Yusud Abu-Muse as Arab historians call him, repulsed 28 attacks in a year. They were finally able to capture him only by imprisoning him at the negotiating table.

Nine centuries later, in the 18th cc, following the example of his brave ancestor, Dizak’s Prince Yesayi, sharing the name of his predecessor, rebuilt the fort and crushed the attacking forces of Ibrahim-khan.

SW of the fort/settlement (berdavan), on the highest part of the hanging rock is situated Tejh (‘Hot’) Church. This church which hangs on the edge of the precipice is most impressive viewed from Gtchavank’s yard or the foot of the fort. During an attack on the fort by Arab military leader Bugha, things were not looking good, so in a fury he ordered sacred places of Gtchavank destroyed. Prince Yesai in turn ordered his architects to build a new church on top of the cliff, in 7 days, in front of enemy’s eyes. Since the church was built during the hot moments of the battle, it was called Tejh. The church is a simple vaulted hall (9.3 x 6m), built from chipped stone. It has two entries (on the W and S) and two windows. Inside the church were situated five small khachkars inscribed: “Nazar’s cross”, “Mkhipet’s cross”, “Shahum’s cross”, “Ghazaroy’s cross”, “Yeghuay’s cross”. On the square beam of the southern entry from the outside are pictured the Holy Virgin with child and a praying priest. On the square beam of the western entry there is “a cross and portraits of priests while praying”. The date of construction is not known, but adjacent tombs give us a clue. On the E side of the church are several large, well-carved gravestone-slabs. One of the slabs is inscribed: “In the summer of 1257 (706 Arm.). Precepter Movses’ tomb…”. This implies that the church was built before that time.

Past the Gtichavank turnoff you will soon reach the roads final village, Tumi. Inside the village is XVIII cc Surb Hovhannes Church. On the W side of the village is fort Goroz or Ghorozu. Karmir Church of the X cc is found in Tumi, but only the E wall stands. Located to the S of the village, by the right side of the ravine. The inscription of the casing of the W window says: “In the summer of 449 (1000 AD, Gregorian) of Armenian chronology during Ter Gagik’s rule, Muse’s son and I, Sofi, Muse’s daughter built a house for our soul’s salvation and our parents”. Around it lie traces of destroyed constructions, as well as ancient and new cemeteries. A small beautifully ornamented khachkar dated - 174 (1611 Gregorian) stands out.

Not far from the church Karmir, on top of a hill are noticeable ruins. Ceramic pipes from a nearby spring supplied the water to this area which local inhabitants traditionally call the royal court. A little further from the mentioned ruins, on the other hill remain foundations of some cult-constructions, surrounded with an ancient cemetery. In the S part of the destroyed burial vault lies the unmarked tomb locals call kings tomb. Between these ruins and the village is a spring which is called kings spring, all these royal references are thought to refer to King Gagik.

In the surroundings of Tumi village are the following monuments:

  • Igakots or Haykazn: an ancient village. Situated S of Tumi, on the Ishkhanaget’s bank. Ruined chapel, cemetery with large gravestones, noticeable traces of settlements devastated in the end of XVc.
  • Ghlenkar (fort). Situated 6-7km W of Tumi, on a cliff. It is supposed that right on its top was situated fort Goroz. Remainders of serf-walls, large trimmed stone, remainders of mills, traces of various subsidiary defense constructions. Locals say the fort had a secret passage, whose location is unknown today. Taghlar spring is situated 800m N of fort Ghlenkar, with its temperature remaining unchanged at +4 Celsius throughout the year. In the past the spring was masked from enemies and its water was supplied to the fort by ceramic pipes which remain and 30 water basins also remain placed on mountain’s slope. That’s why the spring is called Toghlar, i.e. buried, masked.
  • Khttrokhut (ruined village):. 3km W of Tumi Village. Ruins of an ancient church, foundations of houses and weather-beaten slabs of the huge cemetery. On the western slope of the hill, where the village is situated, is Vardapet Spring.
  • Stepanos Hill (ruined village). 4km from Tumi Village. Gravestones and khachkars are scattered on the hill’s slopes, destroyed church entire village. The villagers of Tumi call this area Stepnotsents Khut. Prince Abu-Muse (‘Yesayi’ in Arabic sources) is very often mentioned with Stepanos.
  • Earthhouse of Mkrtich: ruins of this summer-villa are situated between the meadows of Mt. Dizapayt and Tsaver forest on the right side of the road leading from Tumi to Khandzadzor.
  • Village Karmir Kar: is situated W of Tumi by the saw-mill.
  • Khachin Art. Ruins of an ancient church, khachkars (XIII cc) and traces of a settlement. Situated E of Tumi, on the right side of the road leading to Gtchavank.
  • Haykaz bridge: one-span bridge over Ikyats River. According to the inscription it was built in XVIII cc. The bridge connected Varanda with Gtich and Kataro Monasteries.
  • Royal bath-houses. Situated by the road from Tumi to Tchokhtprvatsar Monastery, on a small edge of Kefadzor, by a mineral cold spring. Here in the past were situated the health-resort of Dizak’s princes -- medieval baths with mineral waters.

By the top stream of Ishkhanaget, 4km from Tumi Village ancient tombs were discovered. The two rows of burial-pits were covered with 2.5m long slabs of limestone. In the pits were numerous clay vessels, beads made of bones and various stones, ornamented buttons, metal bracelets, and a ring made of valuable horn with a picture of an insect. Such examination of female burials shows that many habits of Karabakh’s ancient inhabitants were preserved up until the recent past. For example diadem of coins around the head, earrings, decorations on sleeves and metal belts.

Khtudre (Okhti Drnani) Monastery of the V-VI cc is one of the few even partially preserved early medieval monuments of Toghadzor. It is situated above Tumi Village, near Katnaghbyur Spring. The monastery’s correct name is Okhti drnani, but the local dialect has turned this into Khtudre.

The monastery churches are typical one-nave basilicas of their period. The complex consists of two unequal, windowless churches. The northern diamond shaped, with horseshoe shaped apses, connected to the southern by a rectangular corridor between them and a three-arch hall. There are traces of defense walls, a cemetery, ands ruins of a chapel and other buildings.

The whole monastic complex, except the capitals, tympanums, pillars and arch-belts is built from untrimmed and roughly trimmed stone. The 1.4-2m thick walls utilize almost the same technique seen in Okhti drni Monastery in Mokhrenes. Here too the rows of large stone alternate with a row of small stone. The layering technique is so identical that they seem to be creations of one and the same master.

South of Varanda to Hadrut (Map R)

From Varanda you head south, you pass through Gharghabazar (Kargabazar), until you hit a major right turn heading to Hadrut. Almost every car takes this right turn, so you should just follow the path well traveled. Just after taking the right you will pass by the village of Gharakiollu (Karakelli) on your left, followed 2 km later by Giorazilli (Gerazilli) and Gharakiollu (Iokhari Giozlyak), another 2km on you go through Aygestan (Baluja), and 2km later you hit the town of Hadrut, the regional center.

Just as you enter Hadrut, a road on your left will take you to Tayk (formerly Tyak) village (1km).

Spitak Khach Vank

From the center of Hadrut, you will see some signs posted leading you to Spitak Khach Vank (monastery), in the village of Vank (1km).

Heading west from Hadrut, you hit Taghaser after 1km. One of the largest villages of Hadrut canyon, Taghaser is situated in 2km towards west from the regional center, on the eastern slope of one of Dizapayt’s spurs. Numerous monuments and epigraphic inscriptions of Taghasar are silent witnesses of its hard history of foreign invasions. 4 nearby settlements with their churches, cemeteries, and also industrial/communal structures lie in ruin. The local inhabitants didn’t rebuild the destroyed settlements, leaving them as monuments of their hard fate, and near them they built new settlements with their churches and cemeteries.

Taghasar Anapat (Hermitage) lies on the W side of Taghasar, on a small hill. It consists of a church and two half-destroyed buildings on the W and S sides of the church, all of chipped stone. Little remains of the serf-walls on the N part of the yard. The church is a one-nave, simple, rectangular basilica (15 x 5.3m). According to the preserved inscription the hermitage’s church was built in XVII cc.

Vardanashat (Edisha) is 1km past Taghaser, Sarishen (Shaghakh), about 2 winding kilometers later, then cutting south then west you reach Tsamdzor (Zamzur) after 5km, pressed between gorges. From three sides it’s surrounded with deep ravines and only the southern side remains open. Tsamadzor is divided into three districts by three rivers, which communicate with each other through the Dzomin Khach and Sumbutanuts bridges at the confluence of Mets Shen and Khoradzor rivers. The 3-nave basilica Surb Astvatsatsin is in the center of the village. The church was at first built in XIIc, and rebuilt in XVIIc. Most likely, the ancestors of Tsmadzorians lived in villages Parik-Shen (SE of the village) and Shenin-tak.

Tsamdzor is one of the few villages of the area where numerous earth-houses, underground sheds and even chapels remain in nearly their original form. The earth-houses, rather large and deep, have no stone walls. From outside only their entries are seen, the rest is under ground. These unique dwellings were turned into safe hiding places during times of danger.

In the fields of the village there are number of ancient cemeteries. By Parik village, there are three large cemeteries. There are also interesting gravestones in the cemeteries in the areas known as Shenin-tegh, Yot Gang/Okhti Karkazh (seven skulls) and Tighe Nak. On the outskirts of the village stand a huge yew. The villagers call it Param-keni. In local legend the tree is called by “sad”. It was revered as sacred, and people didn’t even touch its dry branches.

In the village is also found Shenin-tegh church. People here speak of a XVI cc Osmanian Turk campaigns in Armenia which drove unarmed villagers to the church and blew it up. That is why the church is called Hangats (Extinct) Church.

Handin dzerk is the chapel placed on the NW wing of Tsamdzor. Here, in the place of priest Shaghakh’s martyrdom was built a small chapel, which is now in ruins.

2km north of Hadrut is the village of Kemrakuch. From here a dirt road takes you north to Togh village. It is slated to be paved all the way to Stepanakert as part of the North-South highway being built.

The Southern Tip (Map R)

The southern tip of Karabakh is a bit hard to access. The best way to get to Tsor and Vanadzor is via the road heading straight down from Hadrut.

Amenaprkich Church stands in the center of Tsor (Tsur, Tsoraberd?). The inscription on portal’s tympanum reads: “In the summer of 951 (400 Arm. Calendar). (built) in the memory of …”. It’s a three-nave basilica with four pylons and vestries on both sides of the apse. This XVIII-XIX cc church was built in the place of a previous X cc church.

Surb Grigor Lusavorich Hermitage is situated 2km SE of Tsor, on a small plateau of the ravine’s left bank. This half destroyed construction, rectangular in scheme, is built from gray untrimmed stone. Around the hermitage is scattered a large cemetery with numerous gravestones with pictures of domestic scenes and reliefs of saints. Many of the gravestones have inscriptions of the XIII, XVIII and XIX cc. From the chapel are seen ruins of the underground burial-vault. Here also remains a gravestone, half covered by earth.

S from Tsor Village in Mmkhorken ravine there is a chapel/sacred place called Minkhorik. According to the legend, it was built on the spot of the martyrdom of brother and sister Khoren and Mina. The monument is in half-destroyed condition. 100-150m below the hill, on which is situated the sacred place, there is a cold spring, several hornbeams and plane trees.

Vanadzor (Banazur) is situated in Avazot (sandy) canyon. The village church Surb Astvatsatsin is a three-nave basilica (18.4 x 11m). The remaining gravestones, khachkars and epigraphic inscriptions give significance to this monument. Spitak Tgha (‘White-boy’) Church is located in the SW parts of the village of unknown date. The name is in part due to the white flaky stone it is built from. The house of Alaverdi’s Agha (rich person) is built from trimmed white stone. Over the arch of gates are placed the guest-room and the next to it is a vaulted room.

The ruins of Petik-Shen are NW of the village, and those of Shinategh on the N outskirts. In their ruins were discovered pitchers, trimmed stones, khachkars, etc. In Shinategh remain ancient burials Stepanants tsmak and Avetin ghuzen. Traces of villages are also noticeable in areas Adilu and Duze Davalu.

Nearby are also found a 700yo plane-tree with a trunk reaching 7m in diameter, and a pass in U-shaped rock on the road to Shaghakh.

Scattered Southern Villages

The following difficult to reach villages are best reached via the Varanda to Jrakan (Jebrayil) road or from the west:

Arakyal - (Arakyul, Rakel) meaning apostle in Armenian. In 1912 the inhabitants of the village numbered 1235. An older settlement of the same name was situated in 500m N of the present village, around the preserved chapel. The church of this settlement called Napat is situated in the cemetery of new Arakyul. The present Arakyul was founded in 1828, after the treaty of Gyulistan, when some of the old inhabitants who were driven out by force returned.
&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbspMariam Astvatsatsin Church, a domed (18m high) three-nave basilica (20.5 x 16m), is situated on the hill in the center of the village, and effectively stands out among other buildings. The church was built by means of affluent villager Makich Grigoryan, who lived in Baku. 30,000 rubles in gold were spent on building the church in 1902-1907. The church designed by an architect from Tblisi, and 7 Greek painters were brought in for the interior. Much of the interior walls are covered with finished stone, some of which is carved. The exterior is less impressive. In the mid 1960’s, the ornamented church bell was found in a heap of scrap metal at the railroad station of Horadis, and transferred to the regional museum. The bell of 200 pounds is the skillful work of the famous masters of Nishni Novgorod in the XVIII cc.
&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbspHudapirian bridges. 8km from Arakyul by the Hin Taghlar settlement Mazan Nane are situated the Hudapirian bridges, connecting Artsakh with N Persia via the river Araks. Old written Armenian sources about these bridges by Makar Barkhudaryats, who tells of two bridges- top and bottom, separated from each other by 800m. The top bridge (130m long, 6m wide, 11m high), originally built in the first century, is quite ancient and is built from trimmed stone, has 11 spans, the foundations of which are built on natural monoliths. The foundations of the bottom bridge, which has 15 spans, also stand on natural rocks and are built with stony slabs. The arches of the spans are built from brick and lime-mortar. Some sources believe this to be a VII cc bridge (200m long, 4.5m wide, 10m high).
&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbspIn the surroundings of Arakyal there are several deserted and devastated settlements.
&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbspTsoraberd (Canyon Fort) is situated atop a mountain, rising near Arakyal. The picturesque mountain by its position was almost impregnable militarily during its time. The characteristic features of its relief are the rising cliffs of the S side, massive serf-walls on the opposite side, and a difficult road. The fort’s vantage allows the observation of the surrounding ravines and canyons, making surprise attacks nearly impossible. Ruins of serf-walls and earth-filled reservoirs are all that remain today of the main constructions of Tsoraberd. The fort had two entries. The walls, built from untrimmed stone and lime mortar were around 2m thick. In the territory of the fort were found clay pipes, bronze arrow-heads and daggers.
&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp700-800m SE of Tsoraberd is a hollowed out space in the rock. By who and when it was made is unknown. The local inhabitants called this place Zavun Tsak. Most likely it too was part of the defense system placed near the fort.
Karmrakar (Bunyadlu) 4km NW of Jrakan
Berd (Dashkesan) 7km NNE of Jrakan, Just E of the highway.
Karaglukh (Dashbashi) 4km NW of Arakyal
Mazra (Az. enclave within Karabakh)4km NW of Arakyal (a few hundred meters S of Karaglukh)
Hayrenater (Mulkadara) The village church Surb Astvatsatsin is a basilica with a one-nave hall (20x10m), built in XIX cc on the foundations of an ancient monastery. From the monastery remain pieces of ornamented stones, gravestones and khachkars.
&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbspSrber or Okhti khach. This monument is situated 1km N of the village. In the area are noticeable traces of dwellings, trimmed stones.
&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbspTkhku khach (maple cross). This sacred place is situated 300m NW of the village, on a beautiful hill. Few traces of walls and dwellings remain.
&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbspDrshu Yeghtsi. Settlement, ruins of a church and an ancient cemetery. Judging by the ruins, this was a large settlement.
&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbspNerkin shinategh (bottom village). Situated 4km SW of Vanadzor (Banazur). Of this village, all that remains is the cemetery. It is a place of pilgrimage for women who suffer sterility. The cemetery is shared by Hayrenater and Yere Shinategh. On many gravestones, usually ornamented, there are inscriptions. Among the reliefs we see images of scissors for cutting grape-vines, cups for wine and scenes of sewing.
&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbspGhlen Dzor (fort’s ravine). Ruins of the fort are situated 5km SW of the village. Of the 3m thick fence, encircling the 600m area’s perimeter, remain only sections. The fortification also has two caves.
&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbspJraberd: the village with a cemetery, remainders of defense walls and foundations of various constructions occupies a large area. Situated 6km from the village. Many of the gravestones are covered with interesting ornaments. Vierti Hand (vierd is the dialect form of vord- worm). Ruins of a large village, approx. 50 hectares, situated on the plateau between Mulkadaro and Siring villages. Virtually nothing remains standing.
&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbspDadun Khol. Underground dwelling Dadi. Is situated 1km W of the village. The entry is a vertical passage, which widens to the bottom, opening over the underground hall. The hall, gradually narrowing, turns into a corridor 50m long and divides into branches. From here the road is impassible.
Saralanj (Jilan)
Khandzadzor (Aghjakend) On the bare SE slope of Dizapyt is Khandzadzor (sun- scorched ravine) village. In the center of the village, between ancient springs and a church stands a huge and tall hornbeam tree, the age of which is unknown. It gave nickname to the village- tsarishen (Buildings of the Tree), which has also been translated into Azerbaijani- Aghajakend.
&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbspThe church, named Surb Hovhannes, was built in 1698. It’s a one-nave basilica with vaulted cover. In the surroundings of the village, in the areas Hangats Yeghtsun Khut and Yeghtsun Dzor were discovered foundations of constructions, broken khachkars and gravestones.
&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbspOn one of the cliffs, not far from Dizapayt’s top remain walls of Ghlen Kar Fort. Two secret paths lead to the fort, as the fortification from 4 sides is surrounded with impregnable mountains. There are still noticeable traces of ancient dwellings and separate sections of auxiliary defense constructions. Pitchers, daggers, coins and other objects were found in the territory of the fort.
Hin Tagher (Hin Taghlar) - Among the hills 4km S of Kataro Monastery, Hin Tagher is one of the oldest villages of Dizapayt. The basilica church Amenaprkich in Hin Tagher was built in XVI cc. By its walls are placed ornamented gravestones and khachkars. In the area surrounding Hin Tagher are five villages.
&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbspSurb Village, with ruins of ancient church and adjoining large cemetery is located 8km SW of Hin Tagher. The church is known is known as Hangats Yeghtsi among the inhabitants of the village. The next village is called Shinagegh. A little W of the ruins of dwellings there is a cemetery. The third village is W of Hin Tagher, in the Erktaver area. Much of the cemetery is overgrown with forest. The stone spring Surb still flows. The forth village stretches 2km from the village. Here too is found a cemetery, W of which, on a rocky slope is a village called Gnjetsots Art. The last village is situated NW of Hin Tagher, in the Ghlats Dzor area. There is a large old cemetery.
Arevashat (Dolanlar) Near this typical mountain village lie the following:
&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbspKarahovit: Ancient burial-mounds. The glen is not at all stony, though it is called Karahovit, i.e. stony glen.
&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbspTovma’s Fort is placed on top of the mountain of the same name. Isolated from all the sides and covered with woods, the mountain is situated on the left bank of Zingyanakap, SE of Amutegh. Through the destroyed serf-walls are seen ruins of a church, which was the component of monastery Tovmas. From the fragmentary inscriptions we learn that the church was built in XIIIc by priest Tovmas.
&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbspHangats Yeghtsi (extinct chruch). Is situated in 3km from Arevshat Village. It’s completely destroyed. According to the inscription on a slab here, the church was built in 1229.
&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbspGerezmanots Khut: traces of a destroyed village near the cemetery. In some places are scattered pieces of trimmed stones with unreadable inscriptions in Armenian and gravestones with reliefs.
&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbspTraces of ancient settlement also remain in areas Gabrieli Surb, Kyapu Khoter, Yerghani Tak. Clay vessels, pieces of tile, arms and decorations were found in these areas. Here was also found a stony mill-stone, which is now exhibited in the regional museum (that is Soviet era info).
&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbspChurch Surb Astvatsatsin. One-nave basilica built in XIX cc. during the period of Melik’s power in Karabakh.
Khntsaberd (derived from yekeghetsaberd, meaning church-fort) - Surrounded from four sides with mountains, the village is like a natural fort. To the east rises mountain Sahnasar, in the west-Mets Sar, in south-Surb Khut, and in north- a mountain with the well-known spring Katnaghbyur (Milk Spring). The existence of a fort here is evidenced by the remainders of dwellings encircled with a ruined stone fence on Mt. Slkhan, the old cemetery in Temi, the fortified villages Hazaraprkich, Pullur-Ptok or Surb Khut with remainders of dwellings, half-destroyed churches and khachkars.
&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbspIn the center of Khtsaberd stood Surb Astvatsatsin Church. This three-nave basilica with trimmed walls became the victim of communism. On its foundations, from its own stone in 1936 was built the village club.
Spitakashen (also Amutuk) The name of military leader Vardan Mamikonyan, the great hero of Avarayr battle, was sacred for the nation and in his honor in various regions of Armenia were put khachkar, chapels and churches. Tezkharabi Church, inside Spitakashen, also has Vardan's memory associated with it. In that church is preserved a sacred black mountain-rock, which legend says is painted with St. Vardan's blood.
Karing (Arpagyaduk)
Harar (Paradgan/Parajan) located 1km from the SW border of Karabakh, this is a village with a long Armenian history. Harar was built on the left plain of the Hagar River, on the crossing-point of the shortest and most comfortable road connecting Syunik with Gharabagh. The terror of forced Armenian emigration organized by Shah Abas also passed over Harar. Most of the villagers, together with numerous inhabitants of the region were taken to the depths of Persia. Later on, the repatriate Hararians mostly settled in old Harar, but some families preferred to settle in their grandfathers' old summer-cottages, above Zinganakap River. Near the old ruined settlements they built Arpagyaduk, Petrosashen, Spitakashen, Tezhkarab, Prajants, and Kyohnashen villages. Thanks to its favorable conditions and location Harar was quickly rebuilt, enlarged and again became the "gate" between the Syunik-Karabakh mountain regions. Turkish invaders in 1918 ruined Harar so as to destroy this strategic gate.
      The village church named St. Mkrtich, a large (with luxurious tombstones and lythographs) cemetery, a stony spring and several two-story dwelling buildings remain to this day. Not too far from Harar, to the SE, in the Araks' oak and fir-tree grove, remain the winter-cottages of old Hararians, called Abaslar.
      Near the tens of natural caves in here Hararians built numerous underground constructions, where they kept their animals, different kinds of forages, and residences which the shepherds themselves lived in. Albijan (11km W of Tumi)