Rediscovering Armenia Guidebook- Askeran Region
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Guide to the history and historical sites in the Askeran region of Karabakh. This region has a population of 16,399 according to the 2005 census.
List of villages
List of villages and towns (with old names)
- MAYRABERD (ASKERAN Ասկերանշ 1957 p)
- Aknaghbur (Ակնաղբյուր 557 p)
- Ajapniak ()
- Aranzamin (Արանզամին 25 p)
- Armenakavan (Արմենակավան 67 p)
- Astghashen (Աստղաշեն 520 p)
- Avetaranots (Chanaghchi Ավետարանոց 920 p)
- Aygestan (Այգեստան 1071 p)
- Badara (Ptretsik Բադարա 827 p)
- Berkadzor (Բերքաձոր 149)
- Dahrav (Դահրավ 216 p)
- Dahraz (Դահրազ 8 p)
- Dashushen (Դաշուշեն 119 p)
- Gevorgasar ()
- Harav (Հարավ 289 p)
- Hilis (Հիլիս 165 p)
- Hinshen ()
- Hovsepavan (Հովսեփավան 119 p)
- Ivanyan (Իվանյան 869 p)
- Jraghatsner (Ջրաղացներ 116 p)
- Jrver ()
- Karenglukh ()
- Karintak ()
- Karashen ()
- Karasni ()
- Karmir gyugh (Կարմիր գյուղ 174)
- Khachen (Խաչեն 352 p)
- Khachmach (Խաչմաչ 202 p)
- Khachtak ()
- Khanabad (Խանաբադ 826 p)
- Khandzk (Խանցք 231 p)
- Khnatsakh (Խնածախ 578 p)
- Khndzristan (Խնձրիստան 751 p)
- Khramort (Խրամորթ 403 p)
- Kolatak ()
- Krasni (Քռասնի 213)
- Kyatuk ()
- Lisogorsk ()
- Lusadzor (Լուսաձոր 174 p)
- Madatashen (Մադաթաշեն 90 p)
- Mets Kherkhan ()
- Metsshen ()
- Mkhitarishen (Մխիթարիշեն 77 p)
- Moshkhmhat (Մոշխմհատ 52 p)
- Nakhijevanik (Նախիջևանիկ 211 p)
- Nerkin Sznek (Ներքին Սզնեք 126 p)
- Noragyugh (Նորագյուղ 1334 p)
- Norashen ()
- Papenshen ()
- Parukh (Փառուխ 42 p)
- Pokr Kherkhan ()
- Rev (Ռև 113 p)
- Sardarashen (Սարդարաշեն 181 p)
- Sarnaghbyur (Սառնաղբյուր 105 p)
- Sarushen (Սարուշեն 380 p)
- Sghnakh (Սղնախ 225 p)
- Shosh (Շոշ 527 p)
- Suzhinka ()
- Tandzatap ()
- Tandzut ()
- Tarahav ()
- Tsaghkashat (Ծաղկաշատ 202 p)
- Ughtasar (Ուղտասար 129 p)
- Vaghvan ()
- Varazabun ()
- Vardadzor (Վարդաձոր 223 p)
- Verin Sznek (Վերին Սզնեք 29 p)
- Zarist ()
(the villages without their names in Armenian are from the road map book)
A part of the present Askeran regin's territory, approximately the right bank of Karkar river, in the past was in Varanda's territory, and the left bank was Khachen vilalge's part. In the arable valley of Karkar there are many memorials of the past history.
They are the ancient grave-hills, impregnable and inaccessible forts, convents, palaces, churcghes, chapels, ruins of former villages, khachkars, which are situated on mountain hights, river-valleys and in the forest.
Avetaranots Village (or Chanaghchi)
Chanaghchi, Varanda's adornment is beautiful. The nature hasn't saved anything for its beauty. Right from here, from the north-western end of the village starts Kis- the second remarkable mountain-ridge of Gharabagh.
That's why Chanaghchi is full of cold springs. Crowned with legends, encircled with gardens and woods, Chanaghchi is a village- Hin Avetaranots, which according to ancient customs, existed still 1,5 thousands years ago. About it prompt the large and small monuments in here. Avetaranots was the fort-twon and prince-seat of Varanda's princedom. In medieval period, especially during the kingdom's supremacy, it has been fastened with strong ramparts. The remainders of those ramparts, as well as the already half-destroyed walls of princely vaulted palaces and other ruins have preserved.
Sargis Jalalyants in old princely Avetaranots village heard a legend, according to which" Aghvan's Vache B (II) king in 5c hermited right in his arms and separated to a strict religious ascetlicism, so the name of the place was called Avetaranots (Gospel), and perhaps here the Barepasht king got the blessing paper from celebrated Armenian catholicos Gyut".
The word is about the two letters of catholicos Gyut addressed to Vache B, which have preserved in M. Kaghankatvatsi's history, but besides that history they are also mentioned in ancient handwritten works.
It's seen from the quotation, that the village's Avetaranots name is connected with Vache second's preachment. With this same Vache's name is also connected with the foundation of capital city Partav (Barday). HIs brother's son Vachagan king built the area's most remarkable convents, churches and chapels, as many as there are days in a year, i.e. over 350.
M. Barkhutaryants thinks that king Hamam is also buried in this village, and that Hamam king's grave-stone has a flat-carving with a picture of the king o the horse, a cross in his hand, behind the horse a large dragon with his mouth open; "The other side of the grave-stone is cross-ornamented and the carved place is very hard readable". ԻՈՂ (1241) died Armenian king of Aghvan... I Ter Masun wrote this, those who read this, say God bless".
Most likely Hamam's original grave-stone was harmed and some Masun in թվ ԻՈՂ (1241) put a new one and saved Barepasht Hamam king's grave from obscurity. Hamam's memorials are left in different places of old Artsakh. Even now a hill in the field of Varanda's Majkap village is called Hamam's khut. The canyon situated above Nerkin Khachen's Garnakar village is called Hamam's canyon with the remainders of its princely palaces. The inscription left by Hamam on his son's grave-stone was found in Gyavur Ghala (Godless or Armenian fort) ruins near Aghdam region's village Sofulu. Now that grave-stone is kept in history museum of Azerbaijan.
Sp. Astvatsatsin Church
The present standing church of Avetaranots- Chanaghchi village is called Holy Virgin. It is built on four pillars with a small monument. On the squared beam of the door is written "թվ ԹՃ (1651).
This church built by Melik Baghu is a three-nave basilica, the exterior sizes of which are 27,35 x 15m 30m. It has a large and two small vestries, two melting rooms, above which there are sacred rooms, where are kept the precious things of the church. Among all the monuments in here a unique interest presents Kusanats monastery. IT is situated in the south-western side of the village, on a slope. From the western side of this monument stretches quite a thick rampart. From the ramparts encricling the old village remain separate parts and several half-destroyed towers. From the height of Kusants monastery Kirs is seen in the far fog, dressed in green. Under the ramparts of the monastery peacefully flows mountain Avetaranots river, encircled with fruit gardens and woods.
In the monastery church, the inscription on the squaread beam of the vault "The church թվ ՌԿԵ (was built)", evidences that it was built in 1616. In his work "Travelling" Sargis episcop Jalalyants wrote that he had seen a beautiful memorial,according to which the church was built by Gayaneh and Ripsimeh sisters with the help of Ter Arakyal.
Kusanats monastery church is built from local trimmed stone. The scheme is cruciform, it's 11m long, 9m wide and 7m high. In the hall stand two very simple pillars, on which lean the bow-shaped vaults carrying the vaulted cover. In the western side open a small door and two windows. Two small windows are in the southern side, one is in the eastern part.
The vestry of Kusanats monastery church is a rectangle vaulted building, 6m long and 9m wide. It had served as the family mausoleum of Melik- Shahnazaryants. Here are situated the graves of Melik-Vardapet, Melik Mirzay, Melik Huseyni, Melik Hovsep and their wives. In the secular battle against the foreign invaders, by their bravity and patriotism stood out Varanda's Malik Huseyn and his daughter Gayaneh.
The memory of Gayane's and her mother Anna's brave deeds preserve only in national legends. About Melik Huseyn speaks his grave -stone inscription, which is situated near the old resting place of the village;
- "This is the tombstone of Melik Shahnazar (C) -III
Who is the son of Melik Huseyn
The prince of Artsakh region,
The owner of Varanda,
He was father Melik Jyumshit
During the Russian military leader
An honest one to Armenian Nation,
To the brave and audacious Armenian leader
Please take what you're worth
From my mouth Father Forgiving
Just like Ruzan, who sacrificed herself to save her native area from Tatar-Mongolian forays, Gayaneh battled against Turkish invaders. Ruzan's picture encouraged Muratsan to write his "Ruzan" historiacal drama. Leo wrote "Prince's daughter" work about hero Gayaneh.
More Avetaranots Village
In the southern side of the village is situated Melik Baghu's palace, which had consisted of several "Gharadams" built from stone. These settlements are partly standing and can give important material about the settlements built in Gharabagh (in 17-18cc), especially to the investigators of Gharadam's architecture.
In the first quarter of 19c military leader V. Madatov (by the way he is a Gharabaghian, from Madatkend) on one of the mentioned gharadam's built a palace. But not even the remainders of this constructions have preserved.
In the western side of the village is the first palace of Melik Huseyn. It doesn't exist now, it was destroyed in the end of last century. In teh northern side, adjacent to the rampart, is the second palace of Melik Shahnazar or the summer-cottage, which consists of several gharadams and vaulted rooms. Over the main door was the following inscription, "This palace is to Melik Shahnazar's son Seyinbek, who had this building built in ՌՄԼԵ".
Typical architectural constructions of Gharadam or Mets Tun are also the palaces of princes built by national masters, and differ from hte houses of working people by their position, sizes and number of rooms.
While building princely gharadams were used wholly or partly used stony covers, which having the shape of woody covers, performed the same role. About the princely mode of life and dwellings Leo tells certain information; he writes "The great landowners, eastern vassals and princes accumulated great wealth and lived in luxury, of course following the Persian taste and high-class mode of life, but at the same time remained perfect national men, living among people and communicating with them in all details of every-day-life. They had a very large economy and numerous trees".
In the south-eastern part of the village a large territory occupies the old grave-house, where there are numerous noteworthy ornamented grave-stones.
The examiner E. Lalayan in the end of 19c wrote about Chanaghchi, "Now Chanaghchi looks like a village-town. The numerous beautiful houses furnished with European taste, the quite decent shops completely change the picture of the village. There are also three textile-factories in the village, which have had and have quite a large influence on the economical and moral statues/ condition of the village. This too is the favourite summer-cottage of Shushetsians".
Surroundings of Avetaranots Village
Besides the described ones, in the surroundings of Avetaranots are also registered the following monuments:
- Tsorke: village, is situated in 5km towards west from Avetaranots. Remain also vestiges of a church called Sana.
- Hghotek: an ancient and large church. About its existence evidence collapsed walls, khachkars, fragments of inscriptions. Around it are scattered gravestones of an ancient cemetery. The monument is situated in 7km towards south from Avetaranots.
- Surb Hovanes’ church: it is fully-preserved. In its surroundings are scattered khachkars, gravestones. It is situated approximately in 6km towards east from the village.
- Khachkhut (cross’ hill). Sacred place with khachkars, typical for IX-Xcc. The inscriptions on khachkars have rubbed off. Local inhabitants call the monument Eshkhachkhut. Is situated at the foot of mountain Kirs, in 6km from Avetaranots.
- Putkar: Village with an ancient cemetery and a church called Kukven (of cuckoo). Is situated in 7km from Avetaranots, in the surroundings of village Sghnakh.
- Karkap khach: the area is called Yete jur. Is situated in 5km towards west from the village, at the foot of Kirs.
- Khach blur (hill-cross). The cemetery is traditionally considered princely. It stretches not far from Avetaranots, in 1,5km towards west from the village.
- Blen khut (Bili’s hill). Remainders of an ancient settlement with a cemetery and ruins of cult constructions, jointed with the forest. Is situated in 5km towards west from the village.
- Huseyn’s ravine: the summer residence of the famous Varanda’s prince Huseyn, next to it flows a cold stream. Is situated at the foot of one of Kirs mountain-ridges’ spurs. The area rules over the surroundings and stands out with cold climate.
- Yelakhavar: Observation post. Is situated in Avetaranots, near Kusanats desert. It’s a round stony area.
- Yeghtsudzor (church’ ravine). Is situated in 3km towards east from the village. On the ravine’s slope remain ruins of a church, built from trimmed stone.
- Glkhatun: half-underground dwellings of Varanda’s princes. They have fully-preserved and are used as storage by the farm.
- Church: is situated towards east from the village, at the side of the road, taking to Stepanakert. Remain only wall-foundations. According to the inscription it was built in XIIIc.
- Gogavor kamurj (curved bridge). Spans over river Avetaranots, is placed in the bottom part of the village. One-span bridge, according to the inscription was built in 1640. The other bridge also crossed over this river is in the upper part of the village. It was built in XVIIc during the prosperity period of Varanda’s princedom.
- Ttu jur (sour water). Mineral source. Is situated in 10km from the village, at the foot of Big Kirs. Here once had been situated the health-resort of Avetaranots'’princes.
- Parav khach (ancient cross). A khachkar of average sizes. The ornaments point at Xc. Is situated next to village Nerkin Siznek.
- Stepani aghnbyur (Stepan’s spring). Is situated in 6km towards north-west from the village.
- Bashtunts aghbyur (Bashtunts family’s spring). Is built from stone. Is famous for crystal clear and cold water. Is situated in 3km towards east from the village.
- Salkari aghbyur: (from Arm. salkar- slab, smooth stone). Is situated near the village in a distance of 1km towards east from Bashtunts aghbyur in a beautiful ravine.
- Zoratap (from Arm. zor, zork- army, tap- field). Between villages Avetaranots and Sghnakh are still noticeable traces of one of the fortified stations- Gharabagh’s sghnakhs. In the center of the monument has formed a huge heap of stone from destroyed constructions. In the background are noticeable ruins of various constructions. In the left side are seen vestiges of buildings and destroyed fences. As building material was used the local stone of grayish tint.
- Serf-walls or defense-constructions: walls 1,5-2km long, encircling the princely residence Avetaranots were built during prince Shakhnazar II’s power in XVIIc. From the strong defense system now remains little. Special interest present poly-arch entries, round floors of the tower, and the water-pipe. The crown of these constructions is desert Kusanots, which stands on the citadel. The width of the sert-walls raches 1,5m and the height is 5m. In the citadel have well-preserved the water-pipe, basin and the underground passages. The fort also had had several secret entries and additional gates in the south-eastern part.
Avetaranats princely seat's protective main spot was Sghnakh strategic construction. From the documents discovered in the archives of Leningrad and Tbilisi is seen that in the beginning of 18c Avan-Yuzbashi rebuilt and enlarged Sghnakh called arsenal. That before that here was kept battling army, forces pretecting the local autonomous foundations, was fixed (once created) protective system, only the traces of which still remain.
By the position of ramparts, citadels and gharadams-like numerous constructions stretching along the slopes of the hill, by the brim of the canyon is seen that Sghnakh was separated from the outside world by a strong "fence".
The stony storage-room of the ruined, destroyed constructions later was used by the villagers.
In 1968 we have seen several gharadams in Sghnakh. Though their vaulted cover was destroyed, but the lime-morat strong walls have preserved. Gharadams are large halls with square scheme, which have hearths and bays in the walls, requred for dwelling buildings of Gharabagh.
In 2-3km towards north-west from Karmir gyugh in sacred place Khachen tak (under the cross), or Ikhen remain traces of an ancient settlement, a large cemetery, half-destroyed church and several khachkars. Are noticeable the supporting walls of large constructions, situated very close to the church.
The time of the church’s destruction is hard to define, but, according to the legend priest ter Artavazd gathered in forests the survived villagers and settled down in the place of the present village Karmir gyugh, which has quite favorable natural and climate conditions. The village was named after the priest Artavazd. As it often happens, the village’s name during time changes and distorts (at first it became Deravaz, then Trnavaz or Drnavaz, and the neighboring Muslims call it Keshishkend, i.e. priest’s village). There are no written materials about its foundations, but judging by inscriptions of gravestones, the foundation date of the village refers to the second half of XVIc. The ancient church stood till the 30’s. the new temple Surb Astvatsatsin was built in 1841. It’s a one-nave basilica with vaulted cover, built from simple untrimmed stone. The name Karmir was given to the village on the day of establishment Lernayin Gharabagh as an autonomous region (July 7, 1923), for fulfilling the first one in the region plans of getting grains, and also for active participation in revolutionary movement.
Now about monument of Khachen tak ancient settlemnt. What kind of a cross is that, by which was called the village? Up to this day here remain kachkars in bays, which the local inhabitants call Temi. They deservedly are considered the best ones among 9 analogous monuments, which meet in Artsakh-Gharabagh. In the recent past near the half-destroyed church of the village there was a bay with arched top, inside which there were put three khachkars. On one of the kahchkars is carved: “In the summer of 520 (1071). With the will of Almighty God, I… Grigor…God, friary… this cross in the power of… and in patriarchy… Hovanes, ter Nerses… pray”. Temi’s hieght was 5m, its width was 3m and tichkness of walls 2m. Epigraphic inscriptions of Temi disappeared traceless, three khachkars fell down in ruins not far from the monument. Two of them have fully-preserved, the third one is broken in 3 places.
In village Khachmach (village among crosses) and its surroundings are situated numerous monuments of the country. It’s monastery of Shoshk with 4 khachkars in bays, church Surb Astvatsatsin or Stepanos, village-place and an ancient cemetery.
The parich church Surb Stepanos of the village according to the preserved inscription built “… master Usep and Gevorg… in the summer of 1100 (1651)”. It’s a one-nave basilica, built from the local chipped stone. In the past in the church were kept two hand-written volumes of psalms and a Gospel made of parchment.
Among the monuments of Varanda an important place occupies church-monastery, placed not far from Khachmach on one of the mountain-ridges. As it is situated between villages Msmana and Kavahan, the church is very easily enumerated among the sights of both of the villages. From Shoshk’s monastery open a wonderful panorama of the village and the valley of rivers Varanda and Amaras. During close examination of the area it turned out that the cult construction here existed still in early medieval period. In the following ages, like other many monuments this monastery was completely destroyed during Turkish hordes’ invasions. The original church was built in XVIIIc. In the layer of its walls are used stones of previous constructions, and also numerous medieval-period khachkars and gravestones. The church is a small one-nave construction (the exterior sizes are 9,19 x 6,25). In the eastern part of the rectangular in scheme praying-hall is placed the altar apside. The vaulted cover leans on a pair of pylons. The church has an altar stage, decorated with images of crosses, three windows, a door in western side, taking to the destroyed vestibule. The framing of windows, doors, arches and pylons is from trimmed stone, the wall-layer is from the local stone of mate tint. Around the church are noticeable traces of destroyed constructions: most likely vestibule, economic and dwelling buildings.
Ghevondants monastery or Ghondik monument consists of a small church, vestibule, ruined rooms, cemetery and harmed ramparts. It is situated on top of a mountain, rising between Avetaranots, Verin Taghavard and Moshkhmhat villages. Yervand Lalayan frangmentally brings Sargis Jalalyan's learnt and written down legend, according to which, "The relatives of St. Ghevond priest went round Varanda, found some of his fragments, brought here and built a church. In the church remains St. Ghevond's portrait...", which has comeletely come off now. The church is built from local untrimmed stone. Adjoining to the eastern side of prolonged basilica-type construction there is a vestibule. Both of them together are 13,4m long and 5,1m wide. In the northern side of Anapat called church' door there is a small inscription "թվին ՌՃ (1651)". And in the same part of vestibule's door unharmed remains "ՌՄԻԷ (1775), the vestibule is in memory of Zakaria, Hovsep and Melkon precepters" three-line inscription.
From Sarushen's monuments Amenaprkich church of the village is worth attention. It was built by timmed cream-colored stone, by a vaulted hall's composition. The inscription on the squared beam of the door confirms, that in the second half of 19c hte former old church was repaired and became one of the area's leading and beautiful churches thanks to Grigor Ayvazyants.
"In this church is Surenashen's celebrated hand-written Gospel "wrote M. Barkhutaryants, "to which come pilgrims not only from many sides of Artsakh, but aldo from Baghu, Tiflis, and even muslims. The Gospel is large and from parchment, with pictures of Rstakes, Vrdanes and Stepanos precepters..."
The memorial connected with salvation of the Gospel is very interesting "In Armenian year ՌՄՀ (1827) this sacred Gospel, that was imprisoned in Persia, I Gharagagh's Shushi Ghal's inhabitant Mirzay Ohanesyan Zarkereantsovs saw the sacred Gospel in the hands of a foreigner in Tavris city, gave my money and bought it with my honest earnings and brought it to Shushi and gave to the place, in May 22 ot 1833; brought here the Gospel after repairing the pilgrimage, we repaired and enlighted the memory of all living and dead... Mirzay Ohanean".
The former building of Sarushen village's school is also a noteworthy construction. It's a two-story construction, which in the end of last century was built by G. Ayvazyants. It consists of four rooms, a large hall and a beautiful parlor.
One of the best monument-springs of Varanda valley is Sarushen’s stony spring Vararaghbyur (waterfull spring). By its heads are put ancient khachkars. But Sharushen’s boast is church Pirumashen, situated in several kilometers from the village in the left side of the road, taking to Stepanakert. Besides the church remain little vestiges of dwelling houses and economic constructions. Lately in here were discovered foundations of even more ancient buildings- basilica constructions of VII-VIIIcc. The examiners think that here had existed a large settlement with several churches, work-shops and defense constructions. The settlement in oral legends of the local inhabitants is called Pirumashen. In XVIc the intruded to Gharabagh Turkish invaders locked all the inhabitants of Pirumashen in the church and burnt them.
The preserved church is a one-nave basilica with quite thick walls, high bays, horse-shoe-shaped stage, vestries with half- cylindrical vault. The building has a gable roof.
Monuments of Karkar valley
Karkar river starts from the northern slopes of Kirs from 2300m height. Going down Karkar fills up with waters of river Karin tak and mineral sources Ttu jur. Then it flows towards north-east through the ravine towards south from Shushi, passes by the east of Stepanakert, crosses Askeran region, gets to Artsakh-Gharabagh plain, where its waters are used for cultivation.
Its name the river got because of the stony river-bed. (karkar in Arm. means stony).
In area Stepanakert-Noragyugh to the river fall streams Traget and Patara. The whole length of the river is 115km, the area of the basin (according to A.Essen) is 2241km2. Its regime is not stable, the annual average is 60,1million m2.
In Karkar valley still in bc existed number of large settlements. About it eloquently evidence found in monuments of Stepanakert, Kirkijan, Khojalu, Mayraberd, Kaghakategh, Tandzut, Traget objects of material culture of prehistorical period, details of Armenian architecture of early period.
In the upper part of the arable valley is situated Shushi with its six churches, 3 mosques, strong defense system, remarkable monuments of popular architecture; Karin tak with cave-dwellings; Stepanakert with villages Soghomonishen, Nerkin shen, Vararak, bridge Mazi, five preserved and destroyed churches, cemetery of early-Armenian epoch (V-Iv cc bc), where were found work instruments, arms, statues, objects of domestic significance, cups; Khnatsakh with village Kaghakategh; Zarist with village Karahat, where were found numerous khachkars; Patara with monastery Otsakan, churches Khoravand, Drbasut, architectural complexes Prkich, Tsera nahatak, Okhti yeghtsi, Ulupap with monastery Surb Gevorg or Ptkes berk; Khndzristan with oil-press, palaces of Khachen’s princes, Noragyugh with monument Honi khach; Dahrav with sacred places Sren nahatak and Poshnun nahatak; Khandzk with church Surb Stepanos and khachkars of X-XIIcc; Drnavaz with churches Surb Astvatsatsin and Aghin nahatak; Varazabun (Aranzamin) with Astvatsatsin basilica; Dahraz and Kyatuk with chapels Karmir Avetaran and Ripsime; Shosh with three churches of XIII-XVIcc; Harav with monastery Bovurkhan; Rev with church Hangats, village Ppen shen; Askeran with serf-walls Mayraberd; Karaglukh with fort Shikakar and tens of khachkars.
The monastic complex is situated between settlements Nngi, Harav, Krasni, Karashen and Karmir gyugh 1700m above sea-level, on the northern slope of mountain Bovurkhan. Thanks to that the complex is situated near the picturesque ravine, a harmonic accord was created between the architectural creation and surrounding nature.
The fort-monastery was founded by Bagr- Varanda’s prince, one of the famous princes of Shakhnazaryan princely family. He also had the title of a khan. In literature is mentioned as prince Begr-khan Shakhnazaryan. He ruled in the first half of XVIIc till 1646. The mountain together with the fort-monastery after the prince was named Bagrkhan. The name later on was distorted and turned into Burukhan, Bovrkhan, Bovurkhan.
The complex consists of a church, several dwelling, economical and industrial constructions, surrounded with serf-walls with towers. Unfortunately, the monastic constructions are partly or completely destroyed, got lost in bushes and among trees, which prevents getting a full idea of the architectural ensemble. Comparatively well has preserved the church in eastern part, which is a one-nave basilica (sizes 9x5,6m). The vault leans on the only arch. In the half-cylindrical vault of the alter apside of the prolonged praying-hall are built two square bays. To the church from north joins a vestry, the door-passage of which is inside the church.
All the materials point on that the church was built in XVIIc. In the end of the past century M.Barkhudaryants saw two kahchkars with fragmentary inscriptions. On one of them was written ; ‘This cross of Artsakh’s houses”, on the other small khachkar- “this cross (put) I, B.A”. Khachkars iwht the mentioned inscriptions are now lost.
Here is worth attention the room of the monastery’s leader. It is situated in the western part of the complex, by the serf-wall. The door, opening from east connects it with the yard and monastic constructions. It’s too is a one-nave with vaulted cover hall, built from untrimmed stone. In the inside walls are built several bays. The only window with a wide passage is put in the eastern wall, opposite the entry. Among the monastic monuments a special interest presents the western part of the serf-walls, where is situated the round tower. The built in the tower room of oval form (diameter 2,4m) has preserved its original look. On the same distance are placed 5 windows, widening towards inside. From here is viewed the beautiful panorama of the ravine. The room with long passages connects with the large hall, stretched by axis west-east (sizes 10,6x 3,5m). in its inside and outside walls there are numerous bays and the only preserved in the complex fire-place. Towards east from the hall, along the serf-wall are placed four almost identical cells with vaulted cover. Two of them have no windows.
Between the leader’s room and the prolonged hall is placed the passage with vaulted cover. Preserved in here wide stairs, taking up, evidence about that all the rooms had a second floor with wooden balconies. In close examination it appeared that that buildings, placed in the southern part of the complex had underground constructions, where were the storages, stalls, sheds and work-shops. Presently they are all covered with earth.
In the monastic complex great significance had the serf-wall, occupying a territory of 40x 18,5m. The accurately arranged serf-wall in the northern part is substituted with cliff-slabs and curved walls without lime-mortar. In the yard there had been also other constructions. They are all destroyed. The fort-monastery had an underground passage and water-pipe, but their traces are lost. In the complex all the buildings without exception are built from local yellowish-whitish untrimmed stone. Trimmed stone is used only in casing of door and windows of leader’s room. The walls are 0,9-1,2m thick.
At the foot of mountain Bovrkhan is placed the monastic spring, four observation posts, belonging to defense-system, chapel sacred place Leri khach (mountain cross) and Anahit. Chapel Anahit is situated on top of the south-western spur of mountain Bovrkhan, above village Karmir.
So, the local various constructions give basis to confirm the poly-functionality of the monastery. Naturally, from the very beginning the monastery was a cult center, at the same time the summer-residence of Varanda’s princedom. Alongside with this, in the first half of XVIIIc in the monastery-fort temporarily stationed one of the military units- Karkarian garrison. About it evidence written sources, strong serf-walls, which by their firmness satisfied all the demands of military technique of that period, and also gun-slots and passages in walls. In fact, before us is a whole system of Armenian defense constructions, the later on examination of which will throw light on the role and the place of Bovurkhanavank among the analogous monuments of Artsakh.
The name of the church has two interpretations. The first one is connected with settlement Harar in Berdadzor. In XVIIIc part of its inhabitants emigrated and settled down in Karkar valley, calling the village by their former settlement Harar. But his name, changing became Harav. The dialect of the former Hararians, presently living in Stepanakert, in villages Karink, Amutuk and Petrosashen of Hadrut region resembles the dialect of Haravtsians. The second interpretation is connected with chapel sacred place Segitu, near Harav, and the village situated next to it. Lately found in here khachkar with the inscription of one of the Khaghbakyans princes confirms that this settlement in XIIIc belonged to Khachen princedom. According to the inscription Harav belonged to Khaghbekyans, and the latter, as is known were kinsmen of Hasan Jalalyants. In XVI-XVIIIcc Segitu with other settlements of Karkar valley were devastated and destroyed.
The miraculously survived inhabitants emigrated to region Vardashen on the left bank of Kur and founded a new village Saitu. But some of the families, went back to their native Varanda, settled down in the southern part of the former settlement Segitu, placed in the stony area and from three sides encircled with sharply outlined ledges of mountain-ridges. The new village was named Harav (south) because of its position.
About Harav’s foundation in XVIIc evidence epigraphic inscriptions as of richly-ornamented gravestones in the village-cemetery, so on the slab before Mets berd. To this period refers also church Surb Mesrop, situated in the village and presenting a one-nave basilica with a vaulted cover.
Monuments of Nakhijevank’s surroundings
Village in Varazabun- Aranzamin is situated on the eastern slope of Drdngan. The parish church Surb Astvatsatsin is a one-nave basilica, built from local basalt. Though the church itself was built lately the stylistic peculiarities of ornaments of the slabs put in walls evidence about that in ancient times here had existed a remarkable construction.
In the surroundings of this and neighboring village Dahraz there are numerous memorial places, areas, springs, churches and chapels. Here attract attention two chapels by sacred place Hob, tomb in village Nakhijevanik and village Hin Kyatuk, the traces of which may be found in several hundreds of meters up from village Nor Kyatuk. "In village Kyatuk lived around 400-500 families, but... because of the merciless famine and plague they moved to different places".
A large space occupy traces of dwellings and the cemetery with interesting gravestones. Among the ruins of the settlement are noticeable remainders of church-walls, the large slab of the tympanum, on which are hardly seen some letters. The church was called Spitak ul (white kid). Not far from it, on a picturesque hill is situated the revered by many people sacred place Zoravar.
In village Dahraz has quite well preserved church Karmir Avetaran (red Gospel). The building has a vaulted cover. The walls from exterior are cheered up with patterned metallic stained-glace windows.
Towards east from the church in 75m from it is situated another church- Kotrats Ojakh. The churches had been basilicas, on them remain traces of repairing in XVIII- XIXcc.
In the northern part of village Dahraz from east to west stretches a mountain-ride, on which is situated chapel Kets (cliff). The chapel is also known as Horomsim (Ripsime). It has preserved up to our days and is revered as a sacred place by local inhabitants. A small plateau on top of cliff Horomsim is protected by walls of the ancient destroyed fort. Not far from the canyon is situated spring Berdi jur (from Arm. berd-fort, jur-water).
About once existed in the territory of the village settlements Kote and Yurkhujane evidence remainders of constructions and stony spring- monuments of the same name.
Besides the mentioned ones in village Dahraz there is a very interesting cave in cliff Khorpi, which most likely during disasters served as a safe hiding place for the local population.
The present church of Dahraz- Surb Astvatsatsin was built in Armenian year 1290 (1841). The vaulted cover by means of arches leans on pre-wall pylons.
Another church- Aghen nahatak has been many times rebuilt and is the most ancient church of the village. In the small vaulted hall from inside in the walls are put several beautiful khachkars and slabs. Next to the church are noticeable traces of an ancient settlement and its large cemetery.
In the territory of village Nakhijevanik is situated cliff-fort Khashkha. Here are noticeable traces of ancient defense constructions, observation posts. From here are clearly viewed the famous fort village Karaglukh- Shikakar on the left side, Mets nahatak- on the right side, Shushinian fort- in south-western side. And in front stretches Artsakh valley. The role of observation post has performed also the small fort Ikhtil-khaz, situated on hill Chakhmakh between villages Nakhijevanik and Pirjamal.
In 4km from villages Nakhijevanik and Pirjamal stretches village Varder. Here have preserved the church, the cemetery, khachkars with inscritpions of XII-XIIIcc and gravestones. In village Pirjamal are situated church Surb Astvatsatsin and the ancient cemetery, where are buried the grandfathers of heroes of Sardarapat battle of 1918 Daniel bak and Poghos Pirumyan. In 5km towards west from Pirjamal is situated sacred place Spitak kar, and in 4km towards north from it is Nahatak.
In the territory of villages Nakhijevanik and Pirjamal remain cliff-dwellings Kost Prak and cliff-hiding place Tsak kar by spring Gazan.
Towards south-west from Harav on the road taking to Stepanakert, on a picturesque mountain-slope is situated village Karasni. The settlement was called in the memory of 40 Armenian worriers, who died by spring Karasne. Karasne is the changed form of the word karasun, i.e. forty. In the upper part of the village is church Surb Ripsime, which by architecture refers to the epoch of late medieval period. Here are also situated three well-preserved glkhatuns, built in XVIIIc. Towards west from village Karasni, on the right bank of Karkar, between stony hills is situated village Karashen (Dashushen), (from Arm. kar- stone, shen- village).
Here is situated church Surb Astvatsatsin, sacred place Surb Srabek, settlement Nerkin shen, Soghomoni shen, two-arch stony bridge, and also numerous gravestones with epigraphic inscriptions. sacred place Surb Srabek is one of the famous pilgrimages of Karkar valley, especially revered by Shushi’s inhabitants. That's why Shushinian repaired the road taking to it, rebuilt the bridge, spring-monument, built a two-story dining-hall, ornemented with decorative khachkars and epigraphic inscriptions.
Stepanakert is the administrative center of Lernayin Gharabagh’s autonomous district. The town became the regional center in 1923. The first regional council of Lernayin Gharabagh in October 6 of the same year renamed Khankendi into Stepanakert in the honor of Stepan Shahumyan. The town is situated almost in the center of the region, in the eastern mountain hollow of Gharagaghian ridge, on the left bank of river Karkar.
The comfortable geographic position, moderate climate, sunny and warm windless weather, the luxuriant nature created favorable life conditions for the town.
The town and its surroundings are full of archeological, historical-architectural and decorative-monumental monuments of art. The discovered in the territory of Stepanakert archeological materials confirm the existence in here ancient settlement, which had played an important role in the life of its inhabitants. The first facts, which speak about existing an ancient settlement in Stepanakert’s territory were found in 1938 by archeologist Ya. Gummel. While excavating here were discovered traces of defense walls, potter work-shops, number of burials. The rich archeological material (stony instruments, brazed arms, bracelets, necklaces from precious stones, numerous examples of material culture of early-Armenian epoch) is kept in the regional museum.
In the end of XVIIIc in the place of the ancient Armenian settlement was founded the winter-residence of Shushinian khan called Khanaberd. This area in north-eastern outskirts of the town the Stepanakertians till now call Khanen bagh. Later on, when the khan managed to subdue the placed near it village Baghin shen, it was renamed Khankendi, literally khan’s village. In 1847 by medieval- Armenian village Vararakn was built barracks for the Russian garrison. In the territory of the present town existed also villages Nerkin-shen, Soghomonishen, the inhabitants of which in the middle of XIXc moved to Shushi. Here remain traces of mills, churches and also these villages. Presently the town includes also villages Hin and Nor Armenavans, Kirkijan nad Paghlur.
The church of village Vararank (the settlement occupied the central district of the present town) was a three-nave basilica with rectangular scheme. It was pulled down in 30’s. and on its foundation in 50’s was built the crush-room of Stepanakertian Armenian Drama-theatre. Kirkijan’s church Surb Astvatsatsin (XVIc) and the one-nave basilica of Paghlur have preserved well.
Towards south from Stepanakert, over river Karkar remain three one-span bridges. One of them was built in XIIIc, the other two in XIXc.
In Stepanakert and its surroundings there are other monuments, from which the greatest interest presents the cemetery Mrakats. The gravestones, numerous and various khachkars stand out by mastery of stone-carving, with many not yet examined epigraphic inscriptions. Analogous memorial khachkars meet in areas of villages Jamilu and Gaylatun- Kesalar, which are in the western part of Stepanakert. Of course these monuments don’t have the not breath of Armenian Renaissance of XIIIc and do not stand out by delicacy of creation as khachkars of Dadivank and Gtchavank. But by their ornament, many human-images (especially riders) and restrained inscriptions they may be referred to the best examples of Armenian monumental plastic art of XIV-XVIIcc.
We are Our Mountains
On entering Stepanakert, in the right side of the highway, on top of a hill, surrounded with green bushes rises a unique monument. Though it doesn’t have an ancient history, in a short period it became the symbol of the region. "We are our Mountains" is the creation of the talented sculptor, popular artist of Armenia Sargis Baghdasaryan.
Carved from Armavir (Hoktemberyan) red tuff the monument presents two aged Gharbaghians in national clothes. Husband and wife Gharabaghians- as if grew from the mountain (the statues have no pedestal), they were born mountains and are akin to each other as mountain. They look at the world from 1000-year distance passed way and in their eyes is unshakable will an calmness.
Pravda Magazine, highly estimating the merits of this monument at the same time mentioned that it "is the first monument of the world built in the honor of the long-lived". It is said that Karabakh has the highest per capita incidence of people over 100 years old. Gharabagh was a record-holder of Soviet Union in longevity. Here to each 100 come 152 people in the age of 100 or more (huh?). In some places this number is larger. For example in village Ashan with 697 inhabitants 8 people passed 100, 18- over 90, 54- over 80 years old.
The monument of Immortality (WWII Monument)
The biggest of Karabakh’s over 200 monuments, memorials, museums, spring-monuments dedicated to the soldiers of WWII is located in Victory Park of Stepanakert. 45,000 Karabakhtsis, comprising of 35% of the entire population fought in that war, with many never making it home. 15,000 received medals and orders, 21 were given the title Hero of the Soviet Union, 5 became holders of several decorations of Praise, 23- generals, and Armenak Khamperyants (Sergey Khudyakov) was the marshal of aviation. It is situated by the southern gates of the town, 400m from Mazi Bridge, in front of the regional hospital. In the center of the memorial rises the accumulated the whole compositional meaning obelisk 21m high, which divides the monument into 3 main parts. Strong emotional influence make the built by two sides of the obelisk six pylons from black tuff and the eternal fire, which by its flames lights the marble square of 1600m2. This panorama becomes even more expressive thanks to the triangle wall-barriers, which divide the front stairs into 5 equal parts, which symbolize the five regions of the area. The exhibits and memorial-stands tell about the deeds of brave sons- Armenians of Gharabagh in the battles of WWII. The author of the monument, architect Yu. Hakobyan for fulfilling his idea used greenish granite of Hadrut, bright marble of Harav, cream-color road-metal of Zarun- aygi, red and black brick from stone-mills of Soviet Armenia.
It’s interesting that Stepanakert’s first general plan (1926 arch. A. Grigoryan) was formed on basis of one of Yerevan’s general plan-versions, on which had worked academician A. Tamanyan. Later on when reexamining Stepanakert’s general plan (1938 arch. Slobatyanik, 1968 arch. B. Dadashyan) Tamanyan’s principles were left unchanged. Still in 1929-30’s was formed the round in scheme central square, which the Stepanakertsis called "pyatochok- five" (presently Shahumyan square). From it start five main ray highways. One of them, Kirov Avenue stretches by axis north-east and at the same time is the entry of the town. The other street- Hoktemberyan stretching towards west, traversing several central roads, is the connecting point among them. From the central square towards south stretches the red canyon, framed by Kirov Avenue and Tumanyan street, which goes down from the old part of the town. In 1960-70 was built the public center of the town- the round square named after Shahumyan and placed towards west from it rectangular square named after Lenin. In town were done great jobs for making it green and comfortable. In the southern part of Stepanakert, on Karmir banaki street, beside the grove is situated square named after B. Knunyants. Not far from Shahumyan square stretches the town-park of Stepanyan. In south-eastern part, on Marshal Baghramyan avenue is built an obelisk in the honor of establishing Soviet power in Lernayin Gharabagh, and in the northern part is built a basin. With typical dwelling houses is built the southern, north-eastern and north-western districts of the town, which by three main highways connect with the town.
In Stepanakert there are also number of small architectural monuments, with brightly expressed originality of architectural conception. Here present certain interest the stony spring Three taps (arch. A. Shirinyan), the beautifully-ornamented spring from tuff in children’s park (arch. Yu. Hakobyan), the board of honor, placed next to the theatre, the tuff spring, fountains on streets Lenin and Gorki, a flowery vase on a high stony stand in front of the State bank, and others.
Hnatsagh (the old name is Pokr Khmahat) is situated in 5km towards north-west from Stepanakert. Here the greatest interest presents church Surb Astvatsatsin (sizes 18,8x10,6m). It’s a three-nave basilica, 4 pylons of which join the pre-wall pylons by means of arches. The cruciform in scheme pylons, placed in pairs, divide the praying-hall in to three naves with vaulted covers. By two sides of the altar are put rectangular vestries with vaults. The building is built from basalt. The construction took 3 years and was finished in 1740. It stands out by its architectural strictness, except for the decoratively-carved southern portal. The monumental building of the temple, successfully blended with the landscape, makes a whole with the surrounding dwelling and public buildings.
In the past in this church were kept manuscripts “Gragir chashots” and “Gragir Avetaran”. “Gragir chashots” presents a selected and a thick book… here are very-well realized the miniature pictures, patterns, flowers and bird-images. Here are used good points and gilding.
The small plateau, situated towards north from Hnatsagh and isolated from three sides is known by name Kaghakategh (town-place). While working the land here often come out clay vessels of various forms and sizes, mill-stones, copper and silver coins. Around Kaghakategh stretches a large cemetery. Above Kaghakategh on a hill stood a khachkar of average size. The stylistic peculiarities of its ornament point at XIIIc.
Traces of settlements, chapels and other monastic constructions were registered in area Banvor nan, Jalal- Hasan. An ancient cemetery with khachkars stretches on the slope of a hill of Traghaget’s right bank.
In the history of liberation battle of Artsakh-Gharabagh is mentioned cave Tsak kar, placed in the western part of Hnatsagh, on mountain Beveratap’s slope. During disastrous years the cave served as a safe hiding-place. The secular dense trees, grown by the entry of the cave hide it from foreign eye and make the entry invisible.
Towards right from Hnatsagh is situated village Paluja, Baluja (the older names were Kolavar, Mets Khmahat). The situated in here church Surb Astvatsatsin is a monument of XIXc. It’s a three-nave basilica (sizes 20,1x11,45m), the vaulted cover of which leans on four pylons, the mutually-connected arches and pre-wall pylons. By both sides of the praying-hall are placed vestries. The church was built from trimmed lime-stone. Standing out by majestic simplicity, monumentality and strictness of forms it is considered one of the best monuments of Karkar valley.
In the interior of the temple attract attention the interesting ornamentation and scene relieves of classical national motives, by which are covered the passages and portals. From the decorative ornaments, certainly the most impressive one is the snake-image on the southern wall of the praying-hall by the two windows. It’s the second monument in Lernayin Gharabagh (after church Tsaghkavank in village Tsakuri of Hadrut regin), where comes across snake-image.
From Paluji’s monuments are worth attention the four settlements. The first is Kolavor with its ancient cemetery and even older church Surb Vnes. It is situated not far from the church in a picturesque area. The church is a typical basilica of medieval epoch, with a vaulted cover. Written sources evidence that the protectors of the native area their devotedness and loyalty finished with an oath- “Surb Vanes is witness”. In the cemetery are buried fighters-volunteers from Puluja, who died in Russo- Persian war (started in XIXc). About it tell epigraphic inscriptions on their gravestones.
The second settlement with an ancient cemetery and destroyed church was situated towards west from Paluji and was called Alukhanashen.
The third settlement Tamtsi yeghtsi is situated on the right bank of Tsrtsaget. Here have preserved ruins of Hangats yeghtsi and other constructions, and also a large cemetery, khachkars.
The fourth settlement Mlkunts was in area Gomerashen, between villages Paluji and Hnatsagh. In these settlements everywhere meet ornamented khachkars, dated XII-XIIIcc, epigraphic inscriptions, trimmed stones, gravestones, ruins of numerous constructions, including also separate preserved parts of serf-walls.
The ancient name Tarahav was changed and turned into Darahav (is mentioned in made in XVIIc list of Khachen's villages, which paid taxes to churches).
Judging by epigraphic inscriptions of XIIIc, khachkars and remainders of cult constructions, the settlement was situated not far from the former village on plateau Karen glukh, safely surrounded with high mountain-ridges.
By the ruins of the ancient church from three bays with khachkars remains only one. The bay is dated 1276…, in it are put two richly-ornamented kahchkars. It is put on two-stair socle and finishes with a gable cornice. Both of the khachkars, standing out by delicacy of carving belong to the best examples of sculpture art of medieval Armenia. Most likely during princes’ power in XVIIc Tarahav-Darahav came down from plateau Karen glukh and stretched on the hill’s slope.
The placed in here church Surb Hovanes is a one-nave rectangular in scheme basilica (sizes 17,4x8,6m). According to epigraphic inscriptions it was built from roughly-trimmed and untrimmed local stone in 1885. The gable roof leans on arches, which connect three pairs of pylons. In the surrounding of settlement Karen glukh by the gigantic tree (Brshni), which gave the name, is situated chapel Brshni. Here remains a small burial-vault, which according to the inscription of façade stone was built by Angri, Stepan and Arzuman Israyelyans.
In the surroundings of village Darahav remain three churches. These monuments, with compositions were built in late medieval period. In 5-6km from the village, in a picturesque place stands a stony vaulted building, called Nren Nahatak. The walls of the building, reminding a dining-hall are decorated with ornaments. Around the construction, in the forest are hardly noticeable cemetery’s gravestones.
In area Yeghtsahogh are noticeable ruins of numerous constructions, judging by which we may conclude that there once existed a large monastic complex.
The favourite monument of Darahav’s inhabitants is spring Raffi. The spring was named in the honor of outstanding Armenian writer Raffi, who visited this village in the second half of the past century. In various places of Darahav are situated sacred placed Prshnun, caves Mets Karaglukh nad Indakar, cliff, which looks like a man 6-7m tall, and other monuments.
Ptretsik- Patara- Badara
This transcribed synonymous names originate from word pater (walls), most likely connected with the fact that in the past the settlement was encircled with serf-walls. Village Ptretsik is one of the ancient settlements of Artsakh- Gharabagh with a rich and ancient history. It is situated by the left bank of the river of the same name and is surrounded with complete green zone. Moderate climate, wonderful air, cold springs, forests, rich of edible plants, meadows, fruit and especialy nut-trees… .Among all these are large monastic complexes, settlements, ancient cemeteries, hundreds of khachkars, half-destroyed and well-preserved churches, chapels, fort-citadels…. Here is a not complete list of monuments, of which are really proud Ptretsik’s inhabitants.
Monastery Okhti Yeghtsi
From village Ptretsik the road 7-8km long takes up, where on a hill among trees is situated monastery Okhti Yeghtsi (seven churches). Here remain number of buildings of the complex, six of which join each other, though have separate entries and windows, and the three others are built in their surroundings. Besides them here are also noticeable traces of other four constructions. So the complex consists of 13 cult and worldly buildings. All the buildings are one-nave halls with vaulted covers. They are built from roughly-trimmed stone.
Though in architectural-artistic aspect the complex doesn’t present certain interest, but thanks to its position and harmonious accord with the surroundings nature, the monastic ensemble leaves an imposing impression. The complex stands out by unique volume-space solution, namely by interesting grouping of buildings. As is seen from the general plan the main constructions are quite well placed around the common space. By facades and windows they all look at the yard. Along them are put khachkars, which even more outlines the expressiveness of the monastery. In fact, the yard has turned into a unique gallery of khachkars under the open sky. In the monastic complex also attract attention churches with rectangular in scheme altar apsides. There are many such churches. Their analogues can be seen also in other regions of the area. Churches with rectangular altar were quite spread and accepted in Armenian cult architecture (since the early medieval epoch up to XXc). About it evidence numerous preserved churches in Artsakh, in neighboring Syunik and in other provinces of Central Armenia.
Monastery Okhti yeghtsi stands out also by its epigraphic inscriptions, khachkars with images of people and robbed in clothes riders, by two large settlements, stretching around the monastery, and by large cemeteries. The inscriptions evidence that the monastic complex with the settlements was built in XII- XIIIc. The khachkars are dated 1156, 1165, 1193, 1216 and following ages (12 epigraphic inscriptions are published). They are covered with thin delicate carving and by the art of realization belong to Khachenian khachkars. The inscription on one of the khachkars of mausoleum placed in the northern part of the complex reads: “In the summer of 607 (1158). I, Smbat, Vasak’s son put this cross in the memory of my son Davton, who transferred to Christ in his young age”.
A khachkar from white stone (sizes 1,1x0,65m) next to which in the wall are put also others, presently scattered around the church, gravestones with half-rubbed off inscriptions and relieves of religious and worldly theme.
From monastery Okhti yeghtsi a path takes through a forest, then turns to east and gets to the ancient settlement, called Tsera Nahatak. A small church, built on a cap-shape rising, occupies a majestic position over the surroundings. It’s a hall basilica, built from simple untrimmed stone. Because of the relief’s inconvenience the entry is placed in the central part of the southern wall. Here too, as in monastery Okhti Yeghtsi the vestry-altar has rectangular configuration. According to the inscription on portal’s tympanum the church was built in 1326. The building inscription of 8 lines tells that the temple was built during prince Smbat’s power by king Mkhitar’s order. By the way, prince Smbat’s name also comes across in khachkar-inscriptions of Okhti Yeghtsi. In the southern part of the temple are placed ruins of the vestibule-gavit. On the territory of the church and in its surroundings remain over 200 khachkars of IX-XIIIcc. The inscription on one of them evidences that the chapel built some Ovanna. The collection of khachkars of Tsera Nahatak by variety and number is inferior only to khachkars of cemeteries Jungli (Nakhijevan) and Noraduz (Lake Sevan’s basin). Unfortunately, the latter are not only not examined but also not registered.
Among the monuments of Ptretsik river’s valley a special place occupies monastery Otskan. To get to it, one needs to overcome difficulties, connected with there being no road. “Travelling” by route Ptretsik- monastery Otskan by narrow path 7-8km long, especially when it takes place in autumn, gives much pleasure and gives chance to see nature in its original beauty.
Really, the choice of monastery Otskan’s place is very successful. It is situated in a forest among rare meeting tree, on top of a mossy cliff.
The monastic complex consists of a church, several destroyed constructions and an ancient cemetery. The well-preserved unharmed one-nave church with vaulted cover is a basilica. In the northern part of the praying-hall are situated two different vestries.
The church as also other cult constructions of Ptretsik is built from untrimmed stone. The entry is from west, two windows look at east, one looks at north. There are four bays in walls. The epigraphic inscriptions on trimmed stones and khachkars, put in temple’s walls are harmed and half-obliterated. Fortunately the mentioned names are familiar- Arzu Khatun and Smbat. Arzu Khatun was the wife of Vakhtang, prince of Upper Khachen, and as has already been mentioned in 1214 he built the Cathedral church of Dadivank. Prince Smbat’s name is mentioned on khachkars of monasteries Okhti Yeghtsi and Tsera Nahatak. So, fragmentary epigraphic inscriptions of khachkars of church Otskan vank tell about events of XIII- XIVcc.
In 3km towards north from village Ptretsik in a forest stretches a large settlement, mentioned in literature Surb Amenaprkich, or as pronounce local inhabitants- Prkcha vank. Here have preserved a church, large settlement with hundreds of gravestones and khachkars, covered under the luxuriant nature.
The church is a three-nave rectangular in scheme construction (sizes 11,3 x 9,7m), the vestries occupy almost half of the praying-hall. Such solution among monuments of Lernayin Gharabagh is the only one. By this its originality doesn’t end. The word is about two triangle bays in the eastern wall, which go up by its whole length. Such formation has no equals in monuments of Lernayin Gharabagh, which we have seen.
Judgin by volume-space solution, old trimmed stone, put in walls, we may conclude that the church was built in place of an ancient temple, crowned with a dome.
The layer of southern and western walls, where there are door-passages, is realized from roughly-trimmed stone, and the rest- from untrimmed stone. Pilasters and capitals are clearly trimmed. The white building of the temple among complete greenness presents a rather effective view. The building inscription of the church is so much harmed that it’s impossible to learn the construction date. Its first line is completely rubbed off, and the date, as is known, is usually mentioned in the beginning of an inscription. But the mentioned in the inscription words darpas (palace), Vachar (market), nmes Smpat Ishkhan, Atanas catholicos certainly evidence about that we deal with a large religious and administrative center. Undoubtfully, it has served as residence for prince Smbat. Probably in the second half of XIIIc, after Khachen’s prince Hasan Jalal was killed, the princely center from Khokhanaberd was transferred here. In its favor also speaks the placed not far from Tsera Nahatak Drbasut Yeghtsi (it also as Gandzasar’s temple is called Surb Hovanes Mkrtich) and inscription “Atanas, catholicos Arbain”. Catholicos Atanas is mentioned since 1279 in the list of Eastern Armenia’s catholicoses. Arbain (in Arabic) means four countries; i.e. Atanas was the catholicos of four countries. In the large and ancient cemetery of settlement Darbasut remain hundreds of richly-ornamented khachkars and gravestones, in which was incarnated limitless fantasy, delicate taste of stone-cutters, their conception of decoration. these monuments are full of the spirit and color of the time of their creation.
The princely residence Darbasut, like other medieval-period centers was surrounded with strong serf-walls and number of forts. One of them is Kachaghakaberd, another is Getieri berd, situated at the foot of mountain Karasun Kuys, and the third- Pert (fort) is placed towards south from the present village Ptretsik, on top of an impregnable hill. Traces of inside constructions of the fort have almost got lost. Here is also lost the underground passage “jrahoghi”. In some places are noticeable remainders of ancient serf-walls.
Church Surb Stepanos in the center of village Patara (destroyed) had three-nave, rectangular in scheme composition (sizes 16,75x9,35m). the pylons carrying the vault, connecting arches, casing of passages were realized with trimmed stone, and the walls and the vaults- from white roughly-trimmed stone. According to the epigraphic inscription on the portal’s tympanum the church was built in 1678 by priest Sargis under the patronship of Alaverdyan- khachen’s prince. We are not inclined to think that in the territory and in the surroundings of village Ptretsik there are no other monuments. They certainly exist, but their considerable part is essentially destroyed, covered with earth or is lost in dense growth of bushes. Thourough examination of these monuments will help to discover epigraphic inscriptions, which will open new pages of the historical past of the ancient settlements.
Church Surb Stepanos of village Hantsk according to the inscription on the khachkar, put in the wall, was built in 1230. “In the summer of 679 (1230). I, Hayrapet, Petros, Vardan, Ioan put this cross (in the honor) of our mother, who was honest and loved poverty. Remember in prayers”. Another inscription on the façade stone of the entry dated 1773, points on that the church was built by parishioner Hantsk, with the help of catholicos of Aghvank Petros. Basing on these two above-mentioned inscriptions, we may suppose that in developed medieval period here functioned a church, which was ruined in XV-XVIcc. What concerns the present church (in the wall of which is put the ancient khachkar), it presents a one-nave basilica, built on basis of a church.
In the southern part of village Hantsk, by the side of a road, under the shade of trees are put two gravestones. On the khachkar of the right side remain only fragments of the inscription and letters. Fortunately the inscription in its time was recopied by M.Barkhudaryants.
- “In the name of Saint Trinity, I, Sostanes and father Hayrapet and our mother Horomsim. Who prays let him remember (them) in their prayers. (In the summer) of 702 (1253).
Chapel Surb Hovanes is situated below Jukhtak-khacha, on the left bank of the stream. Though about the church’ construction remains no information, but basing on stylistic and architectural peculiarities, we may suppose that the building was built in XVII- XVIIIcc. The scattered by it cemetery has almost wholly overgrown. Another cemetery almost in the same condition is placed on hill Vardapeti khut (archimandrite’s hill). Besides them, on Shrshran hill are situated a cemetery, two nameless villages and a beautiful chapel called Anapat (desert).
Monuments of Khndzristan's surroundings
Among the monuments of Hndzristan a special interest presents the oil-press (in local dialect – sranots), which once had played a great role in the economical life of the village. The rectangular building of the oil-press was situated by the church, from its western side. It was built in 1772 by prince Alahverdi. The small industrial construction consisted of several rooms. The aged villagers tell that in the largest central room, where were ground grains, was placed the mill-stone, which was put in action by a bull or mule by means of special village levers.
Later on the stones of the mill’s walls were used when building two silk fabrics, one of which still works. The parish church of the village was built in late medieval period. In its vestibule are buried Hndzristan’s princes. Here is worth mentioning also church Hangats yeghtsi. At the foot of the hill, on which are placed ruins of the church, are scattered gravestones, kahchkars and other stones.
Besides the mentioned ones, traces of a large settlement were registered in area Ppen-shen (grandfather’s village).
Monument Honi khach is situated not far from Noragyugh, on the eastern slope (in the direction to Askeran) of a mountain of the same name. The monument for a long time has been revered as sacred.
Hin Noragyugh’s church (its inhabitants lately have founded Nor Noragyugh, not far from Stepanakertian airport) is situated in the western part of the village. Here rom under the cliff comes out a stream, named Verin jur (upper water). Towards north from the village, on the mountain is placed Sarakhach. In area Chinglil, in 4-5km from the village is placed a cave-dwelling, known by name Kare tun (stony house).
Artsakh- Gharabagh area is famous for the numerousness of its natural conditions and sharp contradictions.
The mountain surface is cut by fast rivers, streams and ravins, which during spring and autumn over-flow became almost uncrossible. This causes serious obstacles for affirming communicative connection between two banks. Probably this was a reason in Artsakh, as in other region's of Armenia, since old trimes to pay great attention to the engineer constructions, especially to building bridges.
From the ancient ramarkable bridges are kanown Ulupapa (Khachenaget), Partav, Parav, Varnkatagh (Tartar), Ishkhanek (Ishkanaget), Shoshva (Karkar) bridges built in medieval period.
But the ages-lasting wars first of all destroyed the strategic significant constructions, including also bridges. That's why, it's natural that from 6 stony bridges over Tartar only three remain. From the bridges over other rivers only two have fully-preserved, Mazi called bridge in the southern side of Stepanakert and Mets Taghlar bridge in Hadrut region.
Though Mazi bridge has simple style, but by the right choice of the place, the rational use of building-mateiral, the simple architectural method wiht unique expressiveness it has a noteworthy place in hte history of Armenian bridge-building. In the first quarter of 18c by Avan Yuzbashi's encouragement built this bridge is 7m wide, 3,5m high and the flight of the bridge reaches 5m.
Mazi bridge was built by the local limestone from Zarun garden. The front walls are realized by roughly-trimmed stone, the vault and its pillars are from trimmed stone. Such combination quite brightens up the front plain of the bridge. The arch-vault is placed 10cm aside from the next fronts. The center of the arch is placed on the same plain with the foundations, in course of wich the bridge has half-rounded outline.
The thickness of the arch is not noticable, which taking into consideration people called it hair (i.e. as thick as hair) bridge. The bridge still works. The cars going from Stepanakert to Shushi, Goris and other settlements, even huge heavy "Velaz" trucks and bulldozers go over it.
Under the bridge-sterns the rock is bare, and the river, spliting the cliff has deepened around 10m.
Armenian bridges by P.V. Shchusev's expression "are from those constructions, which belong to the most valuable works of international architecture".
More about We Are Our Mountains
In the right side of Stepanakert entry, on the background of proud mountains, on top of a tall hill encircled with green bushes stands a luxurious monument. Though it doesn't have an old history, but during short period it had become the symbol of the region's center, like Virgin's tower for Baku and Sasuntsi David's statue for Yerevan. "We and our mountains" this way called its talented creation the monument's author, Soviet Union's national sculptor Sargis Baghdasaryan. This carving, built from Soviet Armenia's Hoktemberyan region's reddish tuff presents two aged gharabaghians in national clothes. They are husband and wife, shoulder to shoulder with pround and unshakable pose and intent look. There is no pedestal under them. It seems htat the rock-hill was split and they rose from that split, stood with their feet dug in native land.
By the depth of conception and monumentality of motives this monument looks very pround. Watch. and it will tell you about the heroic biography of a gharabaghian, the great secret of existence.
Monuments of Badara region
The mountains sloping towards east from Gharabagh mountain-ridge are covered with forests and green meadows. In this general greenness the historico-architectural monuments have especially impressive power, and there are many of them in the surroundings of Badara, Khantsakh, Khandz, Kgndzrstan, Noragyugh, Dahrav, Ulubab, Kraglukh and other villages. Here are some of them:
1. In Khravond called field, away from Badara still remain Khravond, or perhaps Khoravond called chapel. It is buried in a forest and is almost in half-destroyed condition.
Next to the chapel there is a small construction, ande around it there is a cemetery with khachkars, which lets us suppose that here has been a comparatively not large settlement. Neither in the wall of the construction, nor on the khachkars has preserved any writing, but we can suppose from the style of khachkars that they are from 12-13cc.
Another such chapel is situated in front of the former sawmill-factory, which the local people call Drbasut Yeghtsi. No information about its building has preserved.
Here the road through the forest, by the right bank of the river rises and gets to the depth of the forest, to okht Yeghtsi called monument-group built on a hill. In fact here are built 7 churches, 4 of which form an integral construction with their doors and windows, and three are situated around them. The buildings are in half-destroyed condition; the roof and the wall are ruined. Around the church there are numerous khachkars with broken and harmed inscriptions. On some of the inscriptions preserved on them Smbat Ishkhan name is readable. From the four churches only one has fully-preserved. In its left wall preserved a khachkar, on the scratched inscription of which is readable " ÃÇí à¾: I Soyem Smpat's son...". The other letters are unreadable. In the center of the khachkar there is such a text "Smp... Ishkhan, At... Son...” The khachkars in the continuation of the same wall were taken out and placed around it: on them there are also harmed inscriptions with images of religious nad worldly meaning. The church has a window and an entry. The khachkar, which preserved in the wall is from white tuff, it is 1,1m high and 65cm wide. The khachkar appears to belong to 1158, and Soyem was Smbat prince's son. From the Okht Yeghtsi the path, through the forest takes to the fort, which the local people call Port. Here, in the forest rises a huge rock, on which remain remainders of old rampar6. Around it, in the northern side still preserve remainders of old buildings and gravestones. The local people tell that from here the inhabitants got to the river by the underground passage and brought drinking water for the villagers.
In the northern side of Badara village is situated Prkich or Prkcha church. The building still stands, it has two doors, three windows and a not large stage. It is built from untrimmed stone. In the churchyard, near the wall are placed several khachkars, around it there are numerous gravestones without writings.
The remaining inscription is in so harmed condition that it's impossible to read the building date of the church. Its first line is unreadable, and the building date is written exactly in here. The church still stands. It was partly repaired; two iron doors were put, the floor and the stage were rebuilt. Besides the ones mentioned in the northern side of the village there are another two monuments- Tsera Nahatak and Otskan convent.
2. Khanatsakh village's church in the left wing of Badara is an interesting monument. In inscriptions it is mentioned by Holy Virgin name. The church is a three- nave basilica, the inside four pillars of which bow-like join the half-pillars adjacent to the walls. The praying hall divides into three vaulted naves by two pairs of cruciform pillars. In two sides of the stage there are vaulted vestries with rectangle scheme. Towards north from Khanatsakh, the plain separated from three sides is considered a "Kghkategh" (town- territory) by the inhabitants. While threshing the area here often come out to the earth surface different-size and color various clay-vessels, stony molars, silver and copper coins.
Around the town-territory the large cemetery is spread. Above the mentioned place, on top of the hill stands a middle-size khachkar. From the peculiarities of its ornaments we can say that this khachkar is a 10c work.
Traces of other settlements, sacred places, monastic constructions were recorded in Banvor Nan, Jalal- Hasan areas. The cemetery with khachkars occupies the right bank-slope of Traget.
3. Khandzk village's St. Stepanos church, according to the information on its khachkar- inscription, was built in 1230, "ÃÇíÝ àÐÂ I Hairapet, Petros, Vardan, Yohan put this church for our mother, who was kind and loved the poor, remember". But the squared beam's inscription here is dated" èÖÆ´ (1773)", and evidences that the church was built by means of Khandzki villagers' efforts, with the help of Petros cathoslicos from Aghvan. The presence of the mentioned two inscriptions give basis to suppose, that in medieval period here was built a church, which most likely was destroyed in 15-16cc, and what concerns the present church, in the wall of which is put the khachkar-memory of the past, it is probably a rebuilt three-nave basilica on the basis of the old one. In the southern part of village Khandzk, on the side of the old road, under trees lay two khachkars. On the right khachkar preserved only separate parts and letters from an inscription. Fortunately this inscription was recopied on time by M. Barkhutaryan. "For the sake of Sacred Trinity I Sostanes and Barsegh put this cross of our father Hairapet and our mother Horamsim, worship them ,â´ (1253)". St. Hovanes chapel is situated quite down the pair of khachkars, on the left bank of the stream. Though no information has preserved about the chapel's building, but from its stylistic and architectural peculiarities we can suppose that it's a 17-18cc built construction.
The grave-house stretching around the chapel was buried in the thick nature of Gharabagh. Another grave house in almost the same condition stretches on "Vardapet khut" (hill). Besides that another resting-house, two nameless village-territories and Anapat called beautiful chapel are situated at the bottom of Shoshran khut.
4. Khndzrstan is one of Khachen's villages, where functioned the grinder-house with economical significance. In the western side of the church was the rectangle -scheme building of the creamery. It was built by Melik Alahverdi in 1772. The industrial small "establishment" consisted of several rooms. The aged people of the village tell that in the center of the creamery, in the largest room was placed a stony mill. Here was threshed the linseed, the mill was wound by means of wooden passages by ox' or herse's power. Later on by the creamery's stones were built two textile-factories, one of which still works.
The church of the village is a late-medieval period construction. In its vestibule are buried Khndrstan's princes. Here Hangats Yeghtsi's (church') remainders are considered noteworthy old places. At the bottom of the hill are noticable old-fashioned grave-stones, khachkars and other monuments. Besides the above mentioned traces of large settlement and grave-house were recorded by the inhabitants in Pren shen (grandpa's building) called area. The Khndzrstantsians, when naming their monuments never forget the human-like large stone on the haill above the village, which carries another boiler-like stone on it.
A beautiful and emotional legend is connected with this stone. The meaning of the legend is a Gharabaghian Armenian woman's selfless devotion, majesty and limitless loyalty.
5. Noragyugh's Huni-khach monument is situated on the eastern slope of the mountain of the same name (towards Askeran side). The place was considered sacred.
Old Noragyugh's (the new Noragyugh during previous years has come down the mountains and in organized rows stretched in the plain, in the north-eastern part of Stepanakert's airport) church is in the western side of the village. Here from the breast of the stream comes out Verin jur called spring. Towards north from the village, on the mountain is Suren khach sacred place. And in 4-5km from the village, in Zngl called are there is a cave-like settlement, which the local people call Kare tun (Stony house).
6. Near Dahrav village remain three churches. According to their building inscriptions these monuments with vaulted-hall's composition were built in late medieval period.
In 5-6km distance from the village, in a picturesque corner of nature unharmed preseves "Sren nahatak" vaulted, ornamented stony dwelling, reminding a dining-hall.
Around the building, in the wood are hardly seen cemetery's gravestones. Ruins of Yeghtsahogh area's numerous constructions are almost in the same condition. Judging by the number of monastic constructions (their traces are comparatively noticeable) we can suppose, that here once was a large monastic complex.
Raffi's spring monument is considered loved by the local inhabitants. The Great Armenian writer is said to have been in this village. In different parts of Dahrav are situated Prshnun Martyr sacred-place, Mets Karaghlukh, Endakar caves, 6-7m high an interesting human-like cliff and other monuments.
Mayraberd (Askeran fort)
14km towards east from Stepanakert is situated Askeran's remarkable fort. It stretches along the southern part of Askeran village. The fort with high towers and thick walls is closed by Karkar river's valley from two sides. It is fastened with double-ramparts, with which it makes impregnable the canyon between the mountains. The towers are round-shape-scheme protective constructions, which are built with small river-stones and lime-stones, with lime-mortar.
The towers communicated by trench-like passages in the cogged top parts of the wall. In the walls from inside there are numerous holes and different width-passages - firing sports. From some passages through walls like air-passages stretch top special pipe-like openings. Since ancient times the fort together with the medieval Armenian village next to it has been called Mayraberd.
As an arsenal Askeran exists since the half of 18c. And for protecting from 1788-89 Persian comapaigns, it was fastened and turned into a fort ("Askeran" in Turkish means arsenal). The fort walls are 2m thick and 9m tall. The walls of this vanguard fort of Karkar valley stretch over 1.5km and many a times played the role of protecting shield during Shushi’s defense.
In historical literature there is quite enough information about the heroic events that took place by the strong walls of this fort. Last time in 1918-1920 in the fort was the garrison protecting Karkar vally with colonel Badalkokhyan at the head. On the approaches of Askeran fort was written a brightest page of limitless loyalty of Armenians to Russian nation.
In June of 1805 the over 40.000 Persian army, burning and devastating tens of Armenian settlements and monasteries, intruded Karkar vally with the purpose to seize Shushi and defeat the Russian garrison settled in there.
For marking a counter- stroke against the enemy, the commander-in-chief of Russian army in Caucasus- Tsitsianov addressed the Armenians of Gharabagh with a levy ,” Remember your former bravery, be ready for victories and show that now too you are the same brave Gharaaghian Armenians, as you had been before- a fear for the Persian cavalry”. The 400- fighter detachment of major Karyagin on the way to help Shushi, near Askeran, on the territory of village Khramat was encircled. To save the Russian detachment from inevitable death the volunteers of Gharabagh with prince of Van and Hakob Yuzbashi Atabekyan at the head, risking their own lives, brought out the Russian fighters from the encirclement. And the inhabitants of Kusapat and Mokhratagh, sharing with their provisions saved the Russian soldiers from hunger.
In present the hill on which heroically stood Russian soldiers and from where the Armenian volunteers secretly took them away, became a sacred place. The memory board put by inhabitants of Khramat immortalized the memory of Russian and Armenian fighters, who died by the brave’s death during Shushi and Askeran defense in June- July of 1805.
The present ancient Armenian village Khanaberd, situated 3km towards north- west from regional- center Mayraberd- Askeran, was founded in the beginning of XIXc, when Artsakh- Gharabagh by the Gyulistanian Russian- Persian peace pact (1813) was included in the territory of Russian empire. The founders of the new village were the inhabitants of ancient settlements Hanatak (or Jrver) and Yershen. In these villages have preserved churches, graves, khachkars and chapels. When the Russian liberation army saved the local inhabitants from the peril of physical destruction, the inhabitants of those villages came down the mountains and settled in the not large vally Homer, formed between the two ravines. The place of the new settlement is favorable as from the point of view of communication means, so for developing agriculture. But, because the situated next to Homer arable lands in the beginning of XIXc were taken away from the successors of Khachenian princes by fictitious deed of purchase of the last Shushinian khan, so the new village too was called Khanaberd, as so belonging to khan. By the way, the neighboring Armenian villages were named in the “honor” of different landowners- Seydishen, Sardarashen, Mekhtishen. Unfortunately thse names, just like indelible black stains still preserve, though the inhabitants many times have risen the question of renaming the mentioned villages, the names of which are connected with names of khans and beks (princes).
Village Verin Shen (Yereshen) is situated 2km towards west from Khanaberd. Here have preserved the late-medieval- period half-destroyed church Surb Astvatsatsin, a large cemetery and an ancient chapel. Many grave-stones are covered with refined ornaments and inscriptions of XIII- XIXcc. The chapel, according to the inscription was built in 1224 by priest David and his son Grigor.
By their ornamental composition the two khachkar- gravestones in the memorials of Bushen Pun and Art are unique.
On the first one in the center is pictured a large cross, covered with lace- pattern ornament. A little below, on its two sides are placed similar two crosses of smaller size. The passages between the wings are filled with vegetable sprouts. On the other khachkar are pictured three crosses of restrained decorations. The wings of one of them finishes with salient circles. By the stylistic peculiarities the khachkars may be referred to XII- XIII cc.
Village Vagvan, situated in 3km towards north-west from Khanabad, is known for its destroyed church, three khachkars half way buried in earth and the ancient cemetery. Not far from the village in Karin- glukh (stone- head) place stands a small khackhar. In the territory of the village (Ipajur- Verin Khlishbakh) stretch a large cemetery and a church, stand out the foundations of many dwellings abandoned in the recent past. The attractive by appearance church is a rectangular one-nave vaulted basilica (15 x 8,5m) with breastwall arches from inside and with two side-chapels. Near the left side- chapel is situated the font, on the half-round pediment of which is carved a cross. According to the inscription on the tympanum of the only entry from south, the church was built in the beginning of XXc. It was built from local untrimmed stone. Only the constructive details are trimmed. The two cemeteries of the village stretch towards west and north-west from the church.
The oldest dated monument of Khanaberd is khachkar Tsits- kar (3 x 1,5 x 0,4m) situate4d in 1km towards south-west from village. A valuable inscription of 12 lines was carved in 1187. Not too far is situated another, comparatively smaller khachkar decoratively ornamented analogous to the first one. A third similar khachkar is situated in the south-western part of the village, near the resevoir. All three khachkars made of one and the same stone, ornamented with simple crosses are certainly created by one stone-cutter master.
In the center of the village stands another grave-stone, which according to the inscription on it was put by some Aghbarik in the memory of his father and brother.
Important information contain the fragmentary inscriptions on the khachkars of sacred Nahatak. Thse not too large khachkars (there are only five of them) stand out first of all by their ornaments in the shape of sheep horns and belong to the best examples of XIV- XVcc gravestones. To this period also refer two khachkars in the local cemetery and a khachkar in village Shinategh- towards east from Nahatak. Unfortunately there are no inscriptions on them.
So in Nahatak- Jrver and in its surroundings are situated eight khachkars.
To the number of best monuments of Nahatak- Jrver we may also refer the elegantly ornamented gravestones. As to have a definite idea about them, we will describe one of those gravestones in the side of the cemetery, which is an original creation of national applied art. This rectangular slab ( 1,4 x 0, 76 x 0, 25m) was put on the grave of the local prince. Her are detailedly presented separate episodes from the life of the deceased. On one end is pictured a rider in military armour, holding a bow and arrows in such a way as if he is about to hit a definite target. From his belt from left side hangs a quiver for the arrows. On the other end of the gravestone are pictured musicians sitting of a carpet. One of them in his right hand holds dhol (drum), his left hand rests on his girdle. The other musician plays a sting instrument. The composition doesn’t finish with this; in one corner is pictured a smith, in the other there are a shepherd, a wine-maker and a cook.
Scenes of sowing, hunting and a feast are presented. The sides of the slab are outlined by wicker ornaments. A unique attraction to the composition gives the inscription, carved by pretty, proportional , even letters. The gravestone was put in 1693.
In 1-1,5km towards south-west from the present Khramort on an impregnable hill and on its slopes stretches the ancient settlement with Holy Virgin church of Khlishbakh village. It is a one-nave basilica, rectangular in scheme, covered with a gable roof. The difference is only in size ( 16, 9 x 6, 73m) and in the exterior decoration. Near the entry of the left side-chapel is placed the font. Because of the uncomfortable relief of the area the entry of the church opens only from south. On a beautifully designed tympanum are carved three crosses and the construction date- “Summer of 1800”. The church is lit by six windows (2 from south, one from west, three from east). The windows of the side- chapels from outside have cruciform configuration. The khachkar in Kalen khut place near village Parukh is ornamented with a rare-meeting relief. Under the cross from above framed with wicker cornice are pictured two women with long braids and a girl. The left hand of one of the women rests on the belly, the right hand is on the belt. Most likely the mast here symbolically pictured childbirth. Over the head of the girl and the second woman are pictured symbols of perpetual existence. We should mention that the theme of maternity and perpetual existence has been one of the favorite ones for the Artsakhian stone-cutters. On the side of the road taking from Parukh to Karaglukh, in Sanadzor area have preserved two khachkars with interesting ornaments. Here, near spring Karmir, which is not too far from Parukh is placed one of the few khachkars used as road signs.
Monastery St. Gevorg, or Ptkes-Berk
The more common name of St. Gevorg monastery is Ptkes-Berk. It comes from the mountain of the same name, on which is situated. The monastery also has a third name- Ulupap, which is connected with the name of the village, situated several 100 of meters below the complex on the southern slope of the mountain. The “monastery” was built in the summer of 712 of Armenian year (1263) by the son of king Ashot Shahnshah , but has been repaired several times. Some people think that the monastery was built by some archimandrite Hovanes, the gravestone of who is situated in the small northern side-chapel and whos name is written on the plaster of the ceiling. Some others suppose that the monastery was founded by archimandrite Hovsep. But the mentioned archimandrites only repaired the complex”.
The main church of the monastery is a three- nave basilica with eastern three- story side-chapels. The second story of the southern side-chapel, where one can get through the opening in the ceiling of the first floor, has served as a secret place. The praying hall of the church (sizes 8, 0 x 11, 9m) stands out by restrained expressive decorations. In this connections the church occupies a special place among the analogous constructions of Armenian architecture. The evenness of the rectangular hall (the correlation of width and length is 1: 1,5) is even more oulined by two pylons, which by means of arches unite with the wall-pylons in the corners of the altar and the side-walls. The alter is raised over the floor-level 1,5 m. as to avoid overloading of the praying-hall and to create a large space, in front of the alter from the side of the praying hall there are no stairs. One can get to the altar by the stairs placed in the northern side- chapel. Such an unusual arrangement of stairs does not occur in other churches. The butt-end cornice of the altar-rising presents a half- cylinder covered with ornaments. The pillars, the wall-pylons, the arches, the casings of the apside, the bay are solved from trimmed stone. In the construction of the other parts is used chipped stone. The floor of the hall is covered with slabs, in the walls are put khachkars, in the side-chapels are placed grave-stones. The underdome space is organized by quite an interesting and unique way. Trying to follow the traditional constructive principle of covering- so-called hazarashen, the architect created under the dome a system of pyramidal covered arches. In other cult monuments of Gharabagh we don’t meet analogous examples. The dome from outside is not very high, its eight- hedral volume is taken under the fan-shaped roof.
Near the western façade of the church preserved the remainders of the ruined building, most likely of the vestibule. The dining hall of the monastery is situated in the southern part of the complex. According to the preserved building inscription it was built in XVIc. It’s a rectangular prolonged hall with vaulted cover.
In the same part of the yard are placed monastic cells and economic buildings. In the eastern part, on the hill stretch old and new cemeteries with interesting gravestones covered with reliefs and inscriptions. the over ten inscriptions carved of the church-walls, most part of which refer to XVI- XVIIIcc, tell important information about repairs and rebuildings of the monastery. Of course some of the inscriptions preserved badly or became obliterated. A rather interesting inscription dated in 1347 is badly harmed. Near the church-walls from outside are put several khachkars, deeds of lythography which present historical value.
In the Armenian literature is well-known the memorable record of the manuscript written in monastery Ptkes- berk in 1490. The monastic constructions are surrounded with serf-walls with round towers in corners. Unfortunately from the strong fence preserved only separate parts. Not far from monastery Ptkes- berk, on the right bank of Khachenaget in village Karamej, or Orakhach is situated Ulupap fort.
Ptki Surb Gevorg or Ptkes Berki convent: It is situated in Ulubab village's territory in Stepanakert region, on top of a beautiful mountain. By the way, throughout ages Ulubab village has been on Khachenaget's bank, near the historical Ulubab bridge. In 18c in the village was spread epidemic sickness. Most of the villagers died, some of them spread around, went to the neighboring village, few of them transferred to the bottom of that rising and founded the present village.
From Ulubab is seen the convent's grey-colored dome's outline placed on top of Gevorgasar. A stony and difficult-to-pass path stretches towards the convent. This architectural monument is a medieval-period construction. By its composition and building style it can be referred to churches with central-domed cruciform scheme. The church of the convent by composition very much resembles Gtchavank, the only difference is that Gtchavank's door is higher and has a pointed drum.
The convent has around 400 years of history; in exterior ways it is constricted, only the windows and door -arches are ornamented. The convent's founder Hovsep precepter's inscription in engraved not on a stone, but on the right-wing vaulted vestry's ceiling plaster. Many remarkable khachenians were buried in that vestry.
There are two half-destroyed rooms next to the convent. According to the inscription the convent was built, or perhaps rebuilt in 1490. "For Khachen's Ptki saint Gevorg military leader". The convent was last repaired in 1896 by Hovanes precepter.
Karaghlukh- Shikakar Berd
One of the ancient remarkable forts of Khachen is Karaglukh, or as is mentioned in the literature- Shikakar. The historical sources don't give exact information about the foundation date of the fort.
Connected with an Armenian event that took place in 270 Movses Kaghankatvatsi in his "Aghvan world's history" famous source-study work mentions the fort's name. The historian writes that "From Partav secretly went out Arab great men, forayed Amaras village, and taking around 1000 people as prisoners stopped in Shikakar called place in Metsirank territory". Then the author continues "At that time brave and handsome Sahghi Smbatyan prince and his brave brothers with their armies attacked towards morning, and took back the captives as from lion's teeth".
Makar episcop Barkhutaryants, basing of the lythographic inscriptions gathered in here slightly mentions about number of details connected with fort's foundation, belonging and placing. Examining an inscription on an old resting-place of Karaglukh, he writes, "Shinakar fort is very old... Hasan Mets fort was built by some Smbat prince as a native land and a grave-house". Here still exist the villge-territory, two large grave-houses and two churches. And what is Shikakar from protective point of view? First of all we should mention that the fort is situated in right side of Khachenaget, and together with Khokhanaberd, Kachaghakaberd, Natar fort and Tigranaberd it forms a circle to protect Artsakh's heart, Gandzasar. Then it occupies the very slopy mountain-plain. Ruling over the surrounding from this height, the fort guards the defile stretching towards the center of Khachen's princedom and the important road going through it, which connects the area's mountain-place with the field. From the fort is also well-seen the path rising from river Karkar to the valley.
The fort is encircled with natural rocks from all sides. Here, hidden behind indestructible rocks a Khachenian soldier battled against twenty people. In the defile, between cliffs two-three brave soldiers from their positions resisted the enemy's hundred soldier's pressure.
But, besides the mentioned, the fort has also other important peculiarity, by which its resistibility has grown.
The word here is about the four large caves under the fort, the small cisterns in them, numerous underground halls and passages.
The local inhabitants tell that in the opening of the cliff by the side of the Shikakar (shikakar means rust-color rock) they put a cat, and it came out from the opening in Karmir (red) rock, sparated by 3km.
The first, the biggest cave is placed in the south-eastern part of the plateau. Inside, in 36m from the entry there is a reservoir, the width of which in some places reaches 2m. but it’s hard to define the whole length of the cave, because to the end it becomes so narrow, that becomes impassable.
It is 3m high and 2-3m wide. The floor is almost even, and the ceiling has conical shape. The second cave, the length of which is around 2km is situated 500m towards north from the first one. Most likely, with protective purpose in the left side from its entry was built a strong wall, from which only preserved few parts. There are also reservoirs in the cave. Some interest presents also the third, the most impregnable cave. Its entry opens high in the cliff, and it’s impossible to get to it without special gadgets. The fourth and fifth caves are situated towards north-west and north from the fort. They are also placed in high rocky massifs, but one can get there by long stairs.
The citadel is built on the prolonged cape of the plateau’s left slope. It is fastened with double walls. The length of the serf-wall’s western side is 70m, the north-eastern is 20m. the wall is built along the northern part of the fort. The entry to the citadel opens from west. By its two sides once stood towers- observation posts. The territory of the citadel ( 250m long) in spite of the uneven surface is almost completely covered with buildings. Here differ remainders of 26 various constructions. The citadel is an interesting complex of classic fortification art. The skillful use of notification systems is especially important. The fort had direct notification connection with Tigranaberd. The second and the third posts most likely were Kachaghakaberd and Ptkesberd. The fourth post (fort-rock Khashkha) is situated in the ording with Khachen province Mius- Aband, in the fort of village Nakhijevanik.
Church Surb Astvatsatsin (Holy Virgin) preserved in the center of late medieval period, but the layer of separate rows of its walls and the older khachkars and gravestones put in the walls let us suppose that in XVIIc with separate changes was rebuilt the basilica founded in XIIIc.
In Aghakar (salt-rock) near Karaglukh are noticable traces of settlement, cemetery and cult constructions referring to XVI- XVIIcc.
On the plateau and by its northern foot in three places are put 2 khachkars on each. The first pair is situated on the bank of Khachenaget, on the border of Askeran and Aghdam regions. The khachkars covered with complicated decorations by stylistic peculiarities refer to XIIIc. The second pair stands on a small plateau from the right side by the entry to Karaglukh, under the capony of a huge oak- tree. By their sizes, the technique of carving and decoration these khachkars are inferior to the classic Khachenian khachkars. And at last the third pair- two large excellent khachkars- are placed in the cemetery. By their highly artistic carving art and by epigraphic inscriptions they are one of the best khachkars on the territory of Gharabagh. On the back of the right-side khachkar is carved the following inscription,” In the summer of 702 (1253). During the principality of Hasan, I, Smbat and my brothers put this cross- a patron before Christ for me and my wife Kat. The sir gave to us both the ancestral lands and a place for cemetery. Let Christ help him and his sons. Amen”.
There are also many khachkars in the old cemetery. Covered with various ornaments, reliefs and inscriptions they are partly opened under the earth. Several interesting khachkars are put in the walls of Surb Astvatsatsin church of Karaglukh. They too are covered with ornaments and epigraphic inscriptions.
In Saravand area are placed two springs. One of them, near the village is called Motejur (near water), the other is Nerkin jur (bottom water).
Among the gravestones of the new cemetery of Karaglukh stands out a slab with a relief of a rider with a sword in his hand. The inscription on it informs; “The one who dies for the love to his nation will be blissful. This is a grave of a person with light soul- of Harutyun Movses Grigoryanats, who in the day of seizing Karaglukh didn’t spare his young life for his nation, becoming a victim of Turkish bullet near Jakhtakhchagh in September 23 of 1918 in the age of 35”.
Karkar river’s arable valley
Towards south from here is Karkar river’s arable valley, where its wings has spread regional center Stepanakert. About more important monuments around it will be spoken bellow.
Pipertadzor or Jri dzor palce at the bottom as Askaran’s Mets fort is a wretched and deserted territory, where remain very few fruit trees. Here are not noticable the old cemeteries, because in the course of Meyraberd mountain’s decomposition a quite thick layer was accumulated over them. Later on the waters flowing from the mountain-slope took away the earth-layer, then few of the mausoleums were opened. In the half-opened mausoleum were discovered skeletons of not one person, but several men in 1-1,5m distances from each other. The bodies were covered with small and untrimmed stones, and the mausoleum contains not so rich materiel referring to Bronze Age cemeteries. Together with the materials obtained from Khojalu’s and Stepanaket’s mausoleum-hills they are in a common entreaty. In the north-western part of Pipertadzor, in about 8km towards north-west situated Dashbulagh’s Tandzut area there are similar mausoleums, where for the first time was accidentally found a bronze belt, the half of the buckle of which presents a python’s cast head. By the way, quite lately in the large grave-field of Tandzatap, in northern part of Baluja settlement, while flattening the area for the school-building several mausoleums were opened. Here were discovered clay-vessels with black shine, bronze hanging-ornaments, beads, an end of an iron spear and other objects, which are now kept in the school. In this collection one of the noteworthy samples is a bronze man’s statue with an ornament-picture, which is now in the regional museum. The bottom or the tail of the ornament-portrait is a zoomorphism, it looks like a crawler, and the other part represents a man’s portrait with long beard and hair. The idol-statue had probably had a worshiping singnificance. In archeological literature converning Gharabagh are known zoomorphism- statues. Statues with human’s ornament-carving meet very seldom.
In Stepanakert region’s Noragyugh village’s territory, especially near Khojalu there are 13 large and 5small mausoleum-hills. Five of them were excavated by Ryosler in 1894. About his first excavations in Khojalu there is detailed information in “enthnographic journal” in Berlin by Virkhov, Bastia and Fon scientists’ subcommittee’s editorial-office. Later on, during Soviet period in Khojalu excavated I. Meshchaninov, K.Kushnaryova and others.
Khojalu is considered a Bronze Age large center and is known to archeology for 90 years.
Not too far from Khojalu’s mausoleum-hills, in Stepanakert’s approach stretch 105 large and small mausoleum-groups. Here in 1938-1939 excavated celebrated scientist Ya. Hummel. In one of those hills he discovered a pitcher, in which there were 8 bronze axes, 4 bronze crozier’s heads, two worshiping statues and other objects. “The architectural art of those objects shows that in Artsakh existed such specialized and developed art”.
The old potter-masters created a unique model to which by means of fabric they gave their wanted shape, plastered from outside and baked in stokehold. This way of pottery archeologist V.Voevodski called “Ceramics with textile prints”. In Autumn of 1967 in northern side of Stepanakert, while repairing the road a grave-field was discovered. The mausoleums were placed in 1m distance from each other. The funerals were performed in pitchers. 7 of them are large red pitchers, 2 are small and gray. The funerals referred to Hellenic epoch. In pitchers were found different-size bronze rings, iron dagger, iron knife, necklaces, metal ornaments, beads, a small piece of fabric, which is the most interesting among the discovered.
By the way, during 1965-71 numerous mausoleums of pitcher-funeral-type were accidentally found in the fields of Tchartar, Mets Shen, Khandzadzor, Kanach Talay, Mchmana and Khnatsakh.
The materials discovered around Stepanakert show that the present town used to be a large settlement, the inhabitants of which had elevated culture, made amazing dishes from clay, casted weapons and ornaments from bronze. Hundreds of Bronze Age materials discovered by Ya. Hummel became the first exhibits of Gharabagh’s national historico-archeological musuem. In the north-western side of Stepanakert, in the surrounding of former Krkzhan village there are 27 mausoleum-hills.
From here along Karkar river’s stream the road passes Lisagor mountain-pass and goes down to Zangezur. The gold, bronze, iron objects as well as clay vessels discovered during the above mentioned excavations evidence that in Karkar’s river-basin, as well as Khachenaget valley’s inhabitants had quite a developed metallurgical, ceramics and sculpture art. After thourough examination of Khojalu’s and Arajadzor’s materials R. Virkhov wrote, that the above mentioned monuments’ mausoleums and the objects they contain present archeological and aesthetic great value.
Later on similar opinion expressed almost all those scientists, who not only summed up the results of previous excavations, but they too excavated in the mountain-area and confirmed that they are Bronze-age mausoleum-fields.
Ya. Hummel, K.Kushnaryova, Sh. Mkrtchyan by examination of numerous materials show the identity of Gharabagh’s golden ornaments, bronze and ceramic things’ creation technique, and fine art ways. It is very vividly seen from ceramic objects, the creation technique of which confirms the level of productive identical art.
The mausoleum- hill funerals of Khachenaget and Stepanakert, as well as discovered black shiny clay vessels by the rich geometrical ornaments engraved on them remind the funerals and vessels excavated in other ancient places of Transcaucausia. “Great interest present the obsidian and flint instruments, ball-shaped mace, the axe, the small and flat copper knives, the dagger, the leaf-shape end of the spear, the pins, the earrings, the golden ornaments, etc.”, similar objects and instruments were also discovered near Polanlar village of Hadrut region, in Amaras valley, away from village Nngi. These are copper and bronze things, mostly women’s ornaments.
As is known the archeologists called the copper age of Transcaucausia “Kur- Araksian neolit”. Summing up the examinations referring to this period we would say that the inhabitants living between Araks and Kur rivers had similar mode of life and industrial relations”.
From excavations of mausoleums and settlements were discovered as copper, so iron and golden unfinished things and instruments. K.Kushnaryova from those exhibits draw a true conclusion, that similar things and ornaments were built in this area, otherwise their being unfinished wouldn’t have any explanation.
So, from mentioned excavations and archeological materials we can approximately get the picture of Artsakh territory ancient inhabitants’ economical life, customs and beliefs. The types of mentioned weapons certainly evidence about their strategic and hunting life. In mausoleums were discovered wheat grains, peace cores and grape seeds.
Thanks to excavations, besides discovering objects peculiar to that epoch, a general idea was made about Artsakh’s ancient inhabitants social relationships. As was mentioned above, in excavated mausoleums were discovered mostly group-funerals.
About the mode of life and beliefs of Artsakh’s primitive inhabitants also speak the during excavations discovered animal statues and carvings- lion, panther and bull heads, various bird statues. Lately was also found a bronze- casted statue with human face. After examining Gharabagh both during excavations and accidentally discovered statues we can audaciously insist, that panther must have been greatly respected by the area’s inhabitants ‘as a symbol of industrial power; along this also a great worshiping deity, to which in this country was devoted a special worship”.
During primitive society’s epoch Gharabagh was a place of great progress.
From here passed tribal large and small groups from north to south, and from south to north. The temptation of mild climate and arable land brought here and crossed the local and foreign cultures. The result was that the area became one of its period’s cultural leading and developed large centers. The archeological materials found in Artsakh territory evidence that in 7-6cc (bc) Lernayin Gharabagh had connections with Asia’s southern countries. In one of Khojalu’s mausoleums in 1895 Emil Ryosler discovered a giantic slab (lid), on the inside part of which were noticeable undecipherable writings.
In #11 mausoleum was discovered another, a more valuable object- a large bead, on which were engraved cuneiform signs. In 1926 professor I.Meshcheninov deciphered the inscription, reading, “Universe’s king Adat Nirar’s palace” words. It’s known that Adat Nirar, Assyrian king was mythological Shamiram’s son. How did that bead get to Artsakh? To that question professor Khachenik Samvelyan answers; “ Certainly, this bead as a prey was brought to Khojalu’s old region by some local king or prince, who most likely participated in one of the campaigns against Assyria during Adat Nirar I king’s power”.
Ryosler too found similar beads in excavations of Arajadzor. Here he had discovered a golden ring, on which were engraved undecipherable signs.
In 1968 in south-eastern part of Martakert region’s Mets Shen village was opened an ancient place; among the numerous archeological things found in here are noteworthy sardonic beads, which are now in Armenia’s national history museum.
So Khojalu’s and Arajadzor’s mausoleums refer at least to the end of second millennium or to the beginning of first millennium b.c. So the things found in them – instruments, high-quality ceramics and types of weapons ages ago were produced in the area, an occasion, which surely evidences the quite high level of economy and culture of local inhabitants.