Northeast of Stepanakert, on the highway leading directly into Azerbaijan lie the surreal ruins of Aghdam. Driving through this vast ghost town is like being in the set of a Hollywood movie, only more eerie because you know it is real.
The Azeri city of 50,000 residents was quickly captured with little fighting as the residents poured out in the face of a string of Armenian battle victories. Despite the lack of fighting, you will find the city is completely destroyed, with not a roof remaining, and every building burned and blown up and looted. At the time of capture, the battle situation was unsure and the military decided to demolish the entire city rather than to risk it being recaptured and immediately used as a base of attack just kilometers from the capital of Karabakh. To this day the city is being used as a building material depot, with bricks, wires, and other materials being removed to reconstruct war damage in other parts of Karabakh.
Photography is sensitive here for military reasons, so you should ask permission and even have the soldiers with you while photographing. The mosque in the center of town is beautiful and if you go up the minarets you have a great view. This building was spared destruction because although the Armenians are Christian, it is still considered a holy place.
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