Rediscovering Armenia Guidebook- Martakert Region

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Rediscovering Armenia Guidebook

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The Mrav mountain range is the highest in the Lesser Caucasus region, reaching 3,724m (12,218ft) high, forming Martakert's N border (and Artsakh's de-facto N border with Azerbaijan, as Artsakh claims the region of Shahumyan to the N). The Martakert region is very mountainous and heavily forested, with river gorges running primarily in an east-west direction - the Tartar and Khachenaget river gorges being two of the largest. The large and picturesque Sarsang reservoir is an important part of the landscape, and the town of Martakert itself at the extreme eastern end of the region, at a low elevation where the flat plain leading all the way to the Caspian begins.

Some of the important regional highlights were built during the brief window (1204-1238) of freedom between Seljuk and Mongol rule, including Dadivank and Gandzasar Monasteries, though the completion of the latter was postponed for two years due to the Mongol invasion. Yerits Mankants Monastery and other impressive monuments were built at other times. This entire region became much more accessible with the completion of ArmeniaFund's North-South Highway connecting Martakert and the Sarsang Reservoir to Stepanakert in 2005. ArmeniaFund built a second highway connecting this North-South Highway from the Sarsang Reservoir to Vardenis on the shores of Lake Sevan in Armenia, transforming this region into the primary gateway into Artsakh for much of the year.

1. Tblghu and Kolatak Villages

Tblghu (155p. Թբլղու; Damğalı in Az.), with 7-13c Aghuen Fort (Աղուէն) ruins ⟪40.02617, 46.64644⟫ 2.6km NE of the village.

Kolatak (249p. Քոլատակ; Kolatağ in Az), with Kluben Tornə khachkars (Կլուբեն տոռնը) of the 12-13c, and Ker Tegh khachkar (Կեռ տեղ) 300m SE of the village. Over 200 inscriptions in the vicinity testify that the princely Kaghakyan family resided in the area, either in Kolatak, Garnakar or both. In the vicinity of Kolatak are:

Koshik Anapat. Photo ©
  • Hakobavank or Metsaranits Monastery ☆ (Հակոբավանք "Jacob's Monastery" or Մեծառանից) ⟪40.015586, 46.60057⟫ is located a short distance above the village. In historical literature this was known as Metsaranits temple. Metsarank is known as the name of one of the villages of Artsakh, which was also later called Nerkin Khachen. The complex has two churches with gavits, connected by common passages including an open three arched arcade-hall, in addition to a scriptorium, dining hall, oil mill, cellars, and other constructions and walls. Though much of the complex dates to the 12-13c, the exact foundation date is unknown. A parchment at Yerevan's Matenadaran credits Hasan Jalal's parents Vakhtang and Khorishah for work on the temple in 1212, and in one inscription Khorishah says "I again built the church in Metsaran for salvation of my soul, remember the good". The latter indicates the church was already standing and she either repaired or rebuilt it. It underwent large repairs again in the 15-16c. Residential constructions consisting of a row of rooms were built in 1725 on the E side of the S church. The second church has one of the earlier examples of gavits in Armenian architecture, unusual in that it is actually separated from the church by 2.5m. The floor is covered in gravestones, including those of Catholicos Hovannes, Catholicos Aristakes and Catholicos Simeon, as well as bishops Simeon and Vardan. In the 13c the monastery had served as a Catholicos' residence. It was also known as the educational and manuscript center of Khachen. There are ornamented khachkars placed in the complex, including one of 1223 known as Surb Sargis, as well as fragments used in the construction of the walls, the pedestal of one which in inscribed with the date 851. NW of the monastery in a dense forest is situated the monastic spring, while another spring called Ttu Jur spring ('sour water', a reference to the minerals) is situated at the foot of the hill, near Tblkhu village.
  • Koshik Anapat Monastery ☆ (Կոշիկ անապատ) ⟪39.988458, 46.552753⟫ (very approximate) of the 12-13c, simply called Anapat by villagers, is located about 7km W of the village, on top of a wooded hill. The complex consists of three churches, surrounded by a stone wall. The spacious yard divides the complex into two parts. The N part has three churches with a single shared three-columned gavit. Attached to the N is a half collapsed building that likely served as a dining hall. Further N are monastic cells and several khachkars with reliefs of riders on horses. The vault of the southern and largest church have collapsed, but the walls stand, and a 12 line inscription on the altar is dated 1265. The S part of the yard has 2 buildings, connected to one another by two door-passages. A water-reservoir is preserved in the complex, with clear traces of a water-supply system. The half-destroyed walls of the bathhouse have tens of clay-pipes going through them. E of the complex is a cemetery occupying a large territory and containing some large slab khachkars.
  • Kachaghakaberd Fort ☆ (Կաչաղակաբերդ, meaning fortress of the magpies, was historically also called Khachen fort) ⟪39.97173, 46.614755⟫ is located on a sheer rock, jutting above a mountain peak, visible from much of the region, meaning that much of the region is also visible from the fort. The mountain-top is not accessible to vehicles, but can be reached by foot on the Janapar Trail from either Badara or Kolatak, as well as by another trail from Khnzdzristan. The sheer walls of the rock it is built on (50-60m vertical cliffs on 3 sides) make it more of a natural fortress, but man-made walls and improvements were added, some of which are preserved to this day. From a distance the fort's territory seems small, but it in fact occupies a large area, with remains of buildings, secret passages, hollowed out nooks in the cliffs, and special slots for watching and defending the fort. Two reservoirs were dug into the cliff to fill with rainwater and snow melt in case of siege, though water was also brought up from a spring near the foot of the mountain. The fort was built to defend the region against the Arab campaigns. Movses Kaghanakatvatsi wrote in the 9c that princess Aprsamik, having lost her husband, "gathered her manly courage and taking her surviving daughter, she overcame a tortuous nights journey and fled to Khachen fort".
  • Ruins of a number of old water-mills and their mill-stones remain on the left bank of the Khachen river, where wheat was milled for the surrounding villages.
  • Harsnakar rock (harsnakar means "bride stone") - a vertical cliff with a formation that gives the impression of a beautiful girl in a wedding dress. Located near Kolatak, on the bank of a river of the same name.
  • Spitak Pat fort ruins - are situated E of Kolatak by the confluence of the Khachen and Kolatak rivers. The fort was built in the 13c, and all that remains is a small piece of wall.
  • Ghlen Kar fort ruins (Ղլեն Քար) - is situated on top of Bant ("prison") cliff. According to legend prisoners were kept here.
  • Vənnəheter holy site (Վննըհետեր "footprints"). There are 13c khachkars and on the cliff there are carvings of human footprints. A couple hundred meters from Kolatak.
  • Isarantsots church, fortified village ruins, cemetery, and holy site, with many khachkars from the 11-13c.
  • Tsak Kar chapel ("holy stone") - a fully preserved chapel situated on Yeghtsun hill, S of the village. It is situated on a cliff, situated not far from village Tblghu and once has served as a hiding-place.
  • Buried in the forest in the vicinity of Kolatak there are a number of churches, including Yekhtsun Khutə, Hndzan, Matur, and Zarunts Tapen, all in good condition. There are other half-ruined churches as well. The churches are mostly basilicas of 16-18c.
  • There are many ruined village sites with old cemeteries in Kolatak's surroundings. Some of these are called Hndzan, Alanveran, Kchoran, Beshtam, Moshi Hogh, Hunoti, Chrtapas, Mghondats Tala, Shahen Ser, Yekeghetsu Khut, etc. by locals. The villages were destroyed by Turkish rulers at the end of the 18c.
  • Cemetery - with ornamented khachkars situated 1km west of Kolatak. The inscriptions are lost, but by their style it is thought they are 13c.

2. Along the Khachenaget River West to Gandzasar Monastery

The Khachenaget, one of the highest volume rivers in Artsakh, flows near the southern border of the Martakert Region. Forested mountains rise from the banks, crowned with meadows in some places and huge boulders thrust into the sky. There are many churches, temples, ruined dwellings, bridges, forts, springs, water-mills, khachkars, cemeteries and ancient burial-hills along the length of the valley. From the North-South highway heading W (upriver), the following villages appear in the following order.

Hayad (Հայադ) is itself in ruins, with the ruins of Ararat monastery to the N.

Arajadzor (741p. Առաջաձոր; Dovşanlı in Az.), with Surb Astvatsatsin basilica church of 1668 in the village, where two famous manuscripts were kept until the end of the 19c, which are now housed in Yerevan's Matenadaran. Harva Church, also known as Anapat in written sources is situated under a cliff in Arajadzor's S outskirts and consists of two connected caves. A wall built outside of the caves make it appear that there are two separate chapels, but once inside these caves look like two carved-out half-halls. On the large flat section of the cliff, placed before the church, is carved a 7-line inscription dated 1249. By the door of the first church are traces of wall paintings that are badly deteriorated, though it is believe that two churches are depicted. At the NE end of the village is a 19c bridge.

Tsmakahogh (228p. Ծմակահող; Tsmakaog in Az.), with a one-nave Surb Stepanos basilica church of 1229 with several 13c khachkars around it located 300m E of the village and a 12-13c one-nave Mamkan basilica church (aka Manka or Mamakan, the latter is the name of a Khachen princess it's named after) also with a group of 13c khachkars located 200m N. In the village are Shenin Khach and Hushaghpyur khachkars, on the W edge of the village are three 13c khachkars at Shveken Dzor, NW of the village is 13c Ver Hghe khachkar (Կեռ հղե), and the group of four Kraver khachkars. Other khachkars groups near the village are the Baben Bostan, the Kcheren Khut, the Horun Tak, the Kalin Khut and Kchakhor.

In the E part of Tsmakahogh village on the left bank of the Tsmakahogh river are the ruins of Vachar village, which was once prosperous. There are ruins of houses from the medieval period, of shops, workshops and churches. Though the date of the village's foundation is unknown, it was known to be prosperous during the 12-13c, especially during Khachen Ter Hasan-Jalal's rule. There is a church inscription dating to 1229 saying "I, Hasan, the son of Vakhtang and Khorishah, lord of Khachen, built this sacred church...". There are also khachkars with his name inscribed. Many of this princes deeds are recorded on the stones of the Khachen area. The cemetery at Vachar has a vaulted-hall basilica church dating to 1229 of trimmed granite, built by master Sargis, who inscribed the building with the inscription, "I, Sargis from the town of Karno built this church and put these khachkars for the peace of mine and my pupil Hovanes". On the S side of the church is a small two-story chapel of trimmed stone.

Garnakar (124p. Գառնաքար; Çormanlı in Az.) has a 12-13c Surb Hovhannes at the edge of the village with some accompanying 13c khachkars, an 11-13c church 2-3km NW of the village, and a 9-11c Surb Astvatsatsin church in the vicinity of the village. 3km SW of Garnakar are the 11-13c Hamami Dzor village ruins, with a 9c Hamami church in unclear condition to the W. Another 11-13c village ruin is 3km NW of Garnakar, another 9-13c village ruin is 1.5km W, another 11-13c one known as Chukht Jur is 3km W or SW, another 9-13c one is 3.5km W, while 1.5km W is a 9-13c one known as Dazgahategh with khachkar, another 13c village ruin known as Hataghategh is 3km W, another is 4km W, another 3.8km W. and others known as Srnotsen Pat and 13-17c Khtrhogh (with mansion ruins) in the area. All of this village site information is from the same source, and there seems to be a chance there is repetition of sites. There is a 13c khachkar 100m S of the village, another two 11-13c khachkars 3km NW, and a bunch from the 11-13c in the Khacherin Khut cemetery 3km SW as well as in the Sargis Amun Dzor cemetery 2.1km SW.

Shahmasur (136p. Շահմասուր; Şahmansurlu in Az.), with many 12-13 c khachkars in the village, a couple of 15-16c khachkars and a 19c cemetery in the village. There is a 12-13c Khachin Dzor church and accompanying cemetery with dozens of khachkars (including a rare khachkar with freestanding arms on the cross) 500m NW of the village. 200m away is another 12-13c khachkar. 500m NW of Shahmasur is the site of 11-13c Karen Glukh village ruins, with a 12c khachkar. 500m N of Shahmasur is the 9-13c Ktoghnu Tala holy place (Կտողնու թալա), with a khachkar dating to 1239.

Vank (1335p. Վանք, meaning Monastery, the village is also oftentimes called Gandzasar after the name of its famous monastery; Vənkli in Az.) has a number of 12-13c khachkars in the village, some of them in various people's yards, as well as a 12-19c village cemetery.

Approach to Gandzasar

Visible above the village is the national treasure of Gandzasar Monastery ★95 (literally meaning treasure mountain). One of the prime attractions in Artsakh, this is a marvel for the impressive reliefs carved into the Church of St. John the Baptist (S. Hovhannes M'k'rtich), named after the very saint whose head is supposed to lie buried somewhere within the church. The church was built by Hasan Jalal, Prince of Khachen in 1216-1238. There are about 200 inscriptions on the walls of the church. One of them reads:

"In the name of the Holy Trinity, the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit, my inscription ordered to be carved I, God's servant Jalal Dola Hasan, Vakhtang's son, Great Hasan's grandson, ruler of high and great Artsakh area, king of Khokhonaberd with large nahangs (regions). My father before his death (before) the irretrievable leave from this world bequeathed me and my mother Khorishah, daughter of great prince of princes Sargis to build a church, and cemetery for our fathers in Gandzasar, (the building) of which we started in 765 of Armenian chronology [1216] with the help of blessings of Grator (God) and when the eastern wall was built above the window my mother, renouncing high life, for the third time went to Jerusalem, where having worn hair-shirt and spent many years of hermit's life near the Resurrection temple's gate passed to her rest in Christ on Easter day... and was buried in there. We, remembering the many misfortunes lying in wait for us in life, hurried up with finishing up the building and finished with mercy and blessing of Merciful God in 1238".

Kirakos Gandzaketsi writes that Hasan-Jalalyan "built a pretty church with a dome, a temple for God's Glory... and called it Gandzasar, which stood across Khokhanaberd..." The historian wrote that there were 700 preceptors among the crowd present for the consecration ceremony. The fast and the consecration of the church took place in 1240, during Vardavar holiday celebrations. Even before the construction of the monastery we see today, 9-10c historians wrote about the preceding church on the site that served as political and religious meeting place for Artsakh and the surrounding Armenian regions. According to Armenian Catholicos Ananias the First's (949- 968) book "The Revolt of the House of Aghvan", Catholicos Ananias had arranged a meeting in Khachen region with important lords and religious men so as to mend the Gregorian-Chalcedonian quarrels. In the list of the deputies the name of "father Sargis, Gandzasar's monk" is also mentioned. Several fully-preserved khachkars dating to 1174, 1182 and 1202 show that monastic life and monuments existed here before the building of the new monastery.

Gandzasar quickly became an important center of the region's cultural life, the seat of Eastern Armenia’s patriarchate and the organizer of the national liberation movement. Beginning in the end of 17th century Gandzasar became one of the region's important centers of this national liberation. Gandzasar's Catholicos Yesayi, a fighter devoted to the battle of national liberation, became the head of that movement. In his collaboration Israel Ori he took his first steps towards negotiating with Russia, an effort which he became head of with Ori's death en route to Russia. In 1701 the first letter addressed to the Russian emperor Peter the Great was written, in which the Armenians of Artsakh asked for Russia's help in liberation.

The church has a cruciform interior and rectangle domed exterior. The exterior stone of the church is richly carved. The pointed dome is divided into 16 triangular grooves, which are outlined with ornaments and with a sculpture at the foot of each triangle. On the western side of the drum is a sculpture of two men who resemble each other holding a model of the church with their hands raised. The figures are most likely Hasan-Jalal Dola and his son Atabek, who had ordered the church to be built. Under the front wall of another edge, on an engraved background is the high-relief of Jesus, and over the frame of the window are the picture carvings of Adam and Eve. The carvings over the sails are a rams-head, two heads of bulls, and a carving of a face. These sacred animals served as guardians of the construction. Inside there is a sculpture of the crucifixion consisting of a wide-winged cross and Christ's crucified picture, with images of bended knees on either side. There are also carvings of the Holy Virgin with the child, the head of an eagle, there are finely braided ornaments, flowers and lace-like chains.

The gavit serves as the grave-house of the Hasan-Jalalyan family. The important persons of Hasan-Jalalyan's family, including Hasan-Jalal Barepasht and the spiritual fathers to Baghdasar metropolitan are buried beneath decorated grave-stones on the E side.

Inside the stone ramparts of Gandzasar, in the N rampart walls, there are eight small and two large rooms. Another, larger two-story building is placed in the eastern part. In the past it served as a school, then a cloister-hotel.

Little is left at the overgrown site of the once important 7-9c Khokhanaberd Fort (aka Tarkhanaberd) ⟪40.02447,46.5333⟫ at the top of a mountain across the valley from Gandzasar, S of Vank village. Inside the fort two old water-wells 6m deep and 3m wide remain. Approx. 30m from the fort, on the vertical edge of the huge cliff a small rectangular wall is preserved, most likely the remainder of an observation tower. In a carved inscription connected with rebuilding Kecharis Monastery, Hasan-Jalal calls himself the "Lord of Khoyakhanaberdoy", though he had many other forts. Khokhanaberd was the princely seat and the successors of Khachen principality mentioned their lands by the name of the fortress; "Lord of Khokhanaberdoy" meant "Khachen's prince".

Hasan Jalalyan's Palace ruins. ©

The Darpasner Palace of Hasan-Jalalyan ⟪40.035267, 46.536096⟫ is a 13c complex near near Khokhanaberd's ruins which is also overgrown and mostly in ruins, though there are still some standing walls. The entry wall and arch are still standing, and there are remains of some rooms and of four round corner observation towers, built of untrimmed quartz. Historian M. Barkhudaryants saw the palace in far better condition at the end of the 19c. He wrote that this "spacey construction, consists of numerous rooms joining the serf-wall and built from stone and lime mortar. Rather beautiful in Jalal Doli's palace is the visitor's hall and one other room, which reflect the architectural style of that period. The rooms have strong and high walls with vaulted covers. The belt-arches realized with trimmed quoins lean on thin and skillfully processed capitals. The windows are very narrow and rare. The exact number of rooms wasn't clarified, because all they are covered with thick weeds, trees and berry bushes. No examination can be done without taking out the thicket." Little remains today, but we know there was a big hall, a narrow passage, a small room with bays of various sizes and a fireplace, and a yard that took up almost half the space inside the serf walls. Just opposite the front entry of the fort, in the bay of yard's western part there is a room, which most likely was used as a stage for ceremonies, performances and trials. Also inside the fortress, several meters from the ruined palace, were two small basilicas, with a gavit and another construction.

On the left bank of the Khachenaget at a place known as Kerakhani Hart (Քերախնի հարթ) are two churches of the same style and size, even in the same positions as the ones in Darpasner Palace. About 3km W of Vank village, the ruins of the medieval period village known as Paravadzor (Պառավաձոր) occupy a large territory. By the ruins are a large cemetery with 12-13c khachkars and gravestones. On khachkars inscribed with the years 1180, 1183 and 1228 are reliefs of villagers on foot or on horses, with arrow, bow and spear in their hands, helmets on their heads and with long gowns. On one of the khachkars there is a carving depicting a woman wearing the national dress of the period.

Havaptuk Monastery (Հավապտուկ; aka Havotsptuk) ⟪40.0342, 46.5475⟫, built in 1233, sits on the peak of a high hill approximately 5km S of Gandzasar. The complex consists of a small church, gavit and another small church, all built of untrimmed stone. The walls are still standing, but the roofs have collapsed. Traces of constructions can be noticed in the surroundings. The typanum of the entry to the main church has an inscription saying, "In the year 1163, during the reign of Prince Hasan, son of Vakhtang and his wife Mamkan, I, father Yohan, son of Ter Grigor's sister and Gevorg and other brothers of ours built this church together for salvation of our souls and in the memory of our parents..." According to the inscription the church was built in 1233 during Hasan-Jalal Dola's power. The princely Kaghakyan family's cemetery is here. To the E of the church on the slope stretches a cemetery with gravestones depicting animals and geometric carvings of various styles, with many inscriptions.

Besides the aforementioned monuments, the following are also found in the surroundings of Gandzasar:

  • Hamam church - an ornamented stone medieval era church S of Gandzasar, in Hamam Ishkhan canyon near Garnakar village.
  • Muddisin church (Մուդդիսին) - near Moshahav spring.
  • Hangats church (13c), in an area called Hunoti Tala.
  • Matur village-territory ruins together with cemetery.
  • Panjakar village-territory.
  • Jrhari (Jrhorneri) Kar (Ջրհարի or Ջրհորների). Several water reservoirs carved into the cliff.
  • Vanki Aghpyur ("monastery spring") - 13c trimmed stone spring in the NE area of Gandzasar Monastery.
  • Sana Khach khachkars - two khachkars found a little above Vanki Aghpyur in a place known as Hartavayr.
  • Ruzan's Fort lies SW of Vank village, named after Hasan Jalal's daughter, plus church, dwellings and cemetery.
  • Darpasner Spring is not far from Ruzan's Fort, with two large churches and a very nice jhamatun - a residence for clergy. The place is also known as Yekeghetsineri Yal.
  • E of the churches is a second spring which locals call Aran or Araghbyur. A little W is Gerezmani Yal, near Khokhanaberd (covered separately).
  • The village site by Pekhe springs lies on the left of the Gandzak river.
  • Darbasu settlement's ruins are situated near Khokhanaberd.
  • Iritsin Gomer village site is situated on the right bank of the Gandzak river.
  • Takhten bridge over Khachenaget.
  • Kolataken Beghen Klokh cemetery (11-12c) is 1.5km NW of Vank ⟪40.06779, 46.53832⟫.
  • In the sites of Khokhin, Kyiratan and Sghnakh there are the remains of very old commercial buildings.

In the high mountains W of Vank are a number of tiny settlements, probably Azeri before the war, where animals are kept to graze. The population is partly seasonal. These villages include Andzavner (Անձավներ 12p.), Chrag (12p. Ճրագ), Nareshtar (10p. Նարեշտար), Dashtaglukh (Դաշտագլուխ 15p.) and Tsaghkunk (2p. Ծաղկունք).

3. Along the Khachenaget River East to the Khachen Reservoir

Just N of where the North-South highway enters Martakert region there is a turn-off heading E along the Khachenaget, leading to 3 villages. There is also a longer road to reach them from further N passing through the villages of Kichan and Nor Ghazanchi that may be better.

The first village heading E along the Khachenaget is Nor Seysulan (138p. Նոր Սեյսուլան), with 2-1 millennium BC tombs. Next quickly comes Hovtashen (245p. Հովտաշեն; Dirvellyar in Az.), with tombs, and 2-1 millennium BC burial mounds. Continuing E you come upon the Khachen Reservoir, at the E end of which you come across the ruined Azeri village of Alimadatly. The next road on the left that gets some traffic comes up in about 1.5km and takes you 700m to Nor Aygestan (313p. Նոր Այգեստան; Mollalar in Az.). Almost adjacent to the NE are the ruins of Kurdlar.

4. On the North-South Highway to the Sarsang Reservoir

Entering Martakert region on the main North-South highway from Stepanakert, as you head N you come across the following villages. Kichan (158p. Կիչան; Ballıqaya in Az.), with a 19c Surb Astvatsatsin church with three khachkars. There are a number of khachkars in the area, some have names such as Makalategh, Kichanand, a few 13c Bzlghan khachkars. NE of the village is a 17-18c cemetery. 1km NW is Chgnavor cave (Ճգնավոր). 1.5km SW is the ruined site of old Kichan village, with 12-17c cemetery, 12-13c Kichan church and khachkars.

Anapat Monastery (Kichani Anapat, also Khutavank), consisting of two churches, a gavit, a dining-hall, monastic cells, oil mill and a large cemetery is located on a mountain slope 2-3km NW of Kichan. The oldest inscription at the complex is on a khachkar dated to 1191. The main church is in the NE part of the complex. Built from roughly-trimmed stone, it has 7 bays in it's walls and a small gavit. On the S part of the complex is the second church, with a vaulted hall, and a gavit against the N wall. It was repaired in the 18c. The belt-arches are of trimmed stone, the remainder is roughly trimmed. The squared-beam stone at the entry is an ornamented khachkar, typical of the 12-13c. Also to the S is the dining-hall, which is vaulted with numerous bays. Beside this are the monastic cells. On the W slope of the hill is an ancient cemetery with interesting khachkars and gravestones, and not far from the complex in the ravine is found Anahit Spring.

Nor Ghazanchi (165p. Նոր Ղազանչի, meaning New Potmaker, named after the craftsmen who once produced metal pots and pans here; Syrkhavend in Az.) is semi-adjacent to Kichan, on it's E, with a ruined 13c three-nave Surb Gevorg basilica church. The present village was founded in the 17c though the area seems to have been settled since the 12c. Also in the area are Tunants Bagher, Meghrakert holy site, Karmir Yeghtsi church, Arstamants Bagh, Jalalants Bagh, and other sites, including khachkars and old cemeteries.

Ghazarahogh (75p. Ղազարահող) has a field of 2-1 millennium BCE burial sites half a km N.

Chldran (464p. Չլդրան; Çıldıran in Az.), with a number of khachkars within the village, including Aghpyur khachkar dating to 1246, the much later 17c Khor Dzor khachkar ('deep canyon'), and one at the N end of the village called Khor Dzori Glukh khachkar ('head/top of the deep gorge'). Near the village are more khachkars and some churches, including 12-13c Əten Tapen Khut khachkar (Ըթեն տափեն խութ) 500m N of the village, 16-17c Karmir Yeghtsi church 300m N, with a 16c khachkar with the same name another 100m N, 13-20c, and partly ruined Nahatak church is found 2.2km NE of the village in an area known as Akhparkan, with an adjacent cemetery with khachkars. Tatver holy place is found 3.5km NE of the village. The site of Hndzakar village ruins are nearby, with the village pear-gardens at the site. At this same place is a Churchr spring. SW of the village is Sarnatun, where it is said the ice does not melt even in the summer. Ghrma spring starts from this same cave. Other old cemeteries in the forests are called Hatsut, Enver Hogher and Kenen Pat.

Poghosagomer (232p. Պողոսագոմեր; Dəvədaşı in Az.) with Amenaprkich Monastery ☆ ⟪40.12456, 46.60344⟫ of the 12-13c standing 1.1km NW. The trimmed-stone building is mostly intact, though deteriorated in parts. The complex consists of a chapel, vestibule and large cemetery with 10-13c khachkars. On the W side of the complex is a slope, at the foot of which is the monastic spring. On the portal is carved an undated inscription which says, “…in the principality of Vakhtang, Hasan’s son, I, Hovanes, and Sargis, and Grigor, and Serob-Arbatsayr’s sons, built Astvatsatsin by our own means”. Around the church are noticeable ruins of subsidiary structures, gravestones of the old and new cemeteries, and 12-13c inscriptions and decorations. Somewhere N of the monastery is Baghrama Khach khachkar.

Drmbon (645p. Դրմբոն; Heyvali in Az.) with a few khachkars less than 1km from the village, one known as Mandur khachkar (11-12c), and two known as Mshaka Khach (11-13c). 1km N of the village are the Loken Hogh burial mounds dating from 2-1,000 BCE. 2km SW of the village is a 12-13c chapel. Nearby the village is also an old cemetery with 11-13c tombs and khachkars. 3km away are the two 11-12c Chokhtak Khach khachkars. Not far from Amenaprkich monastery, N of Drmbon, is the woody Maturi ravine where there are several monuments not mentioned in literature. There was a chapel located in a fruit garden by a spring that collapsed in the late Soviet period, which had an inscription on the squared-beam of the portal, dating it's construction to 1187, under the guardianship of Khachen’s princes. Next to the chapel there are two ancient cemeteries, Anapat church, and numerous khachkars. Nearby stretch ruins of villages, cult constructions and mills.

5. From the Sarsang Reservoir to Martakert

Artsakh's North-South highway brings you N from Stepanakert to the expansive Sarsang Reservoir. From the Sarsang, it heads NE then SE to Martakert, with a right fork offering a secondary road option to Martakert about a quarter of the way on the highway to Martakert from the Sarsang, both passing villages and village turnoffs along the way, and forming something of an oval of road and villages. Here they are roughly following the northernmost route first, then taking the S route heading back from Martakert to the Sarsang, in a clockwise fashion.

Mets Shen (322p. Մեծ շեն; Böyük Galadərəsi in Az.) with two 9-19c cemeteries on the village outskirts containing old khachkars. The village faces Hartaptok mountain, with stone ruins about 1km N on top of the mountain, with 12-13c water reservoir and a cemetery. Makar Barkhutaryants believed the ruins to be those of a Berdasar, i.e. an observation post. At the foot of the mountain are Zoratap ruins, believed to be a sghnakh or arsenal. These arsenals last functioned during Avan Yuzbashi's power in the earlier 1700s.

In the direction of Maghavuz, in an area called Khanagyah are Kaghakateghi ruins, with the stone palaces of the princes most notable. Referencing these ruins, Leo wrote; "One of the most remarkable princes of Nothern Gharabagh, Melik Hatam built two palaces in Jraberd region, one of which is in Mokhratagh village and is beautiful, built from trimmed stone, stands half-destroyed and has 12 rooms, the other is in a place called Mayrakaghak, is two-stories and the top floor has 15 rooms. The prince's cabinet was built with much care and has a vaulted vestibule. The rooms had no windows, received light from the openings in the ceilings, which corresponded to the traditional roofings. Traditional fireplaces were built under the roofings. But it seems that they didn't burn wood in those fireplaces, for the walls and the ceiling would have been black from the smoke, something that now cannot be noticed." The princes' palaces belong to the late medieval period, but contain architectural elements of earlier times. In different times Jraberd's princes Hatam, Abraham and Mezhlum also lived here. Their palaces, arsenals, etc. are connected by preserved underground passages. The bath-house, which gets water from Shrshran spring is considered a valuable monument in the town. The bath-house is situated in the Dimats Tagh ('across neighborhood') area. Only the front wall of the bath-house is destroyed. The two 6m high guard towers of Kaghakateghi still stand. The town had a secret passage through the rock to the Tartar river. 16 stables built specially for horses are also preserved.

Kmkadzor (75p. Քմքաձոր; Miqrelalay in Az.) is a small village almost touching and just E of Maghavus (468p. Մաղավուզ 468 p; Çardaqlı in Az.) with a Surb Geverg church of 1901. Old Maghavuz village's site is located a half km W of the current Maghavuz, while a half km beyond that is 7-18c Sangyar fort.

Approx. 2.5km W are the ruins of Mayrakaghak ('mother city', also called Mariam Kaghak) ⟪40.241405, 46.69065⟫ (gps coordinates from state source) fort-settlement, dating to 7-18c, with ruins of two watch towers and a nearby bath house.

The now ruined town of Kaghankatuk comes up in very old historical documents. Movses Kaghankatvatsi, author of a 10c book called the History of the Land of Aghvank wrote: "When the enemy became aware of what had happened, they pursued them and overtook a group of them at the foot of the mountain opposite the large village of Kaghankatuik, which is in the same province of Uti where I too am from." In his book he also mentions that one Bakur Patriarch of Kaghankatuk was present at Aghvan's meeting for establishing laws at the end of the 5c, and later in the text mentions that Rostom Varaz Akryan, who's family from the Stah region of Persia settled in the Kaghankatuk region. The 10c Persian geographer named Al-Istakhri mentions it in his book About Kingdoms Way, when describing the road from Partav to Dvin. He says that the first stop after Partav was Kalkutus (Kaghankatuk) at a distance of 9 Arabic parsaghs, or approx. 52km. Excavations of the village-territory revealed large water jars, traces of old hearths and bakeries, numerous cemeteries, foundations of ramparts, ruins of water-mills and ruined canals.

The ruins of Alahkuli, named after its owner, are in the forest 6km from Mataghis. Alahkuli was Jraberd's lord Yesayi's son, and lord Hatam's elder brother. For his bravery Alahkuli received the nickname Soltan by Persian Shah Nadir. Alahkuli Soltan was killed by treachery in 1756 by Panah Khan at Amaras Monastery. His body was transferred and buried on the hill not far from the village, which the local people call Solti Khach.

Martakert (4277p. Մարտակերտ; Ağdərə in Az.) saw a lot of damage during the Karabakh war, as it was captured by Azerbaijan after years of shelling in a large-scale offensive launched on July 4, 1992. Armenians launched a counterattack almost a year later on June 12, and recaptured the city on June 28, 1993, with 134 Armenian fatalities during the fighting. The 2005 Armenia Fund marathon was dedicated to rebuilding the infrastructure and economy of Martakert.

The town has a small Surb Harutyun church of 1883 adjacent to the cemetery. An early 20c one-span bridge crosses the Kusapat river. There is a Krapasht Cemetery (Cemetery of fire worshipers, ie. pagans) where there are ancient gravestones with pictures of idols. Not far from Martakert, during the planting of vineyards in Soviet times, over 30 pagan idol grave markers were found buried in earth and were transferred to the city of Martakert. On the front side of these stone idols are human faces with an expression of surprise and round, deeply set eyes. On the opposite side of all of them is pictured a dagger. Not far from Martakert, on the E side of Taza Khach mountain, in the area between Demyi Kap and Yerek Blur ("three hills") stretch the ruins of a large village, with the foundation walls of two ruined churches, a cemetery and ruined homes.

Aghabekalanj (155p. Աղաբեկալանջ; Ağabəyyalı in Az.) is a small village connected to the W side of Martakert.

Mokhratagh (345p. Մոխրաթաղ; Kiçik Qarabəy in Az.) has a Surb Astvatsatsin church of 1883 with two 16-17c khachkars by it, financed by Mesrop Tarumyants of Shushi.

About 2km SW of Mokhratagh is the trimmed-stone Inə Masants church (also Inə Mas or Anapat), a vaulted hall construction with the inscription "In 1881 I built the holy Inən Masonts church in the time of Hovsep Vardapet Pnacheants". By the church are 12-13 and a 16c khachkar. Nearby is a 17-18c bridge, and also not far are the ruins of 15-early 19c Hin Mokratagh village with cemetery. In the shade of an oak tree stands a khachkar apart, known as Grigor's khachkar, likely 9-10c. On the E side of Inə Masants church, inside the ramparts is the 1771 palace of Melik Israyelyan, measuring 45m long and 45m wide. M. Barkhudaryan was here at the end of the 18c when the complex was much better preserved. He observed, "The whole palace consists of 12 rooms, which have different shapes and sizes. The rooms were family rooms, bedrooms, cabinet, court, bakery, kitchen, a room for servants and a shed. The windows of all these rooms opened from to the interior of the fortress. The fourth room counting from east has a square shape and a roof built from stone and clay".

Nerkin Horatagh (776p. Ներքին Հոռաթաղ; Aşağı Oratağ in Az.), with Surb Astvatsatsin church, built by architects Arustam and Shirin from Charta. Construction took 10 years, 1904-1914. This well-preserved roughly-trimmed limestone church is a three-nave basilica with vaulted cover, with 4 pillars in the center of the praying-hall and crossing arches supporting. The altar and the vestries are not higher than the praying hall. Tsaghkashen (137p. Ծաղկաշեն; Dəmirli in Az.) is small village attached to the W end of Nerkin Horatagh.

Vardadzor (155p. Վարդաձոր; Gülyataq in Az.) is off of a road heading S from Nerkin Horatagh. The substantial ruins of Melik Alaverdyan's palace ⟪40.14831, 46.74449⟫ are in the village. Built in 1799 of roughly-trimmed stone, the 1-2m thick walls are 35m long and 14m wide, with pyramid-like towers rising at both ends. During Soviet times there were changes made to parts of the building which were used by the school. In the W part of the village (or another source says 4km NE) is the 12-13c Surb Hovsep church, near and old mine. By it are two 11-12c khachkars. While the current status is unknown, at least until the 1980s there was a wonder tree of sorts in villager B. Hovsepyan's yard. A mulberry tree with a hollow that had a 6m high walnut tree growing out of it, producing two very different harvests each year. Near the village was a very old stud farm called Zavod that once bred the Karabakh breed horses and cavalry for Armenian forces. In 1871 it was renamed the Elizavetpol Horse Zavod (factory).

4km SW of Vardadzor in an area known as Sambagh or Samurek-bagh are the Shinategh village ruins, with dwellings, trimmed stones from the collapsed church, gravestones in the cemetery and pieces of khachkars with inscriptions. The old cemetery is on the S end of the area, on a canyon. There are many inscribed gravestones, including that of the notable Melik Rustam from Jraberd village, and some active participants of the national liberation movement.

10km S of Vardadzor and the river is an area known as Chokma, where Kotrats church is found. It was standing until recently.

Chankatagh (268p. Ճանկաթաղ; Çanyataq in Az.), with Surb Gevorg church of 1609 in the village, with khachkars, and a 12-13c Tsovategh church, with cemeteryand khachkars about 3km SW. On the SW edge of the village is 17c Vahanants Kol cemetery. There are very old burial mounds in a field 1.5km SW of the Chankatagh. Old abandoned villages in the area include Tsovategh village ruins 1km SW of Chankatagh, Tsantsagh village 15-17c ruins are 400m S of the village, Meghrakar settlement middle-age ruins with nearby cemetery 1km SE, Pitsi Shinategh ruined middle-age village 2km W, and Getnavan ruined middle-age village 2km S.

Within the village of Chankatagh is a 16-17c holy place known as Surb Vardanush, with khachkar. Half a km W of Chankatagh is Surb Sargis holy place with a 12-13c khachkar, an 18-19c mortar stone, and a 2-1 millennium BCE burial mound. SW of the village is an 11-13c reservoir. 1km W of Chankatagh is Anna Nahatak holy place with remains from the 2-1 millennium BCE, including a capital and a base stone (khoriskh).

Kusapat (276p. Կուսապատ; Qasapet in Az.), with a school built in 1873, and where in 1891 May Day was celebrated for the first time in this region. There is a Surb Astvatsatsin three-nave basilica church of 1269, renovated in the mid-19c in the village and a 12-20c cemetery with a collection of khachkars a few hundred meters NE of the village. Nahatak holy place is S of Kusapat, on top of the mountain. In front of this mountain stands another mountain, on top of which are the ruins of Kotrats Yeghtsi church. Somewhere in the vicinity of Kusapat are the ruins of Khach-Horhat settlement, with a small church which is still standing, ruins of an oil-mill and a large cemetery.

In old times during a cattle epidemic, the animals were driven from Kusapat and neighboring villages and taken around a sacred tree now called Tavatakhach tsar (meaning "cattle cross tree") three times, to save them from the illness. The shepherds also broke their crooks on the tree, and hung the broken parts from it.

Mehmana (27p. Մեհմանա; Mehmana in Az.) has a 17c baptismal font in the village, and village cemetery with 11-13c khachkars as well as more recent graves. Another 9-13c cemetery is 600m E of the village, also with khachkars. 1-3km NW of the village is Surb Astvatsatsin church of 1229, which the Greeks who lived here called Panagia, both names meaning Holy Virgin. There is a collection of 9-13c khachkars, a 13c tomb and a needle/obelisk cross (kotogh) place by Ter Nerses, with a long inscription dating to 1250. Another inscription on two slabs from the W wall of the destroyed church state that in the "Summer of 1249… I, Ter Nerses, and Hakob and Pakhchan built this church…". 1km N of the village is Aleksi Khach holy place with a khachkar. 2-3km to the NW, N and NE of the village are various burial mounds dating 2-1,000 BCE.

6. From the Aghdam Highway to Martakert

This highway via Aghdam was once the only real choice in getting from Stepanakert to Martakert, but the North-South highway has taken away much of the traffic. Driving N from Aghdam, it's completely flat on the right, as far as the eye can see. That is where the front line is, and travelers should not go E of the highway, which has little to offer in any case. To the W are the foothills of Artsakh. Along the road are three villages ruined during/after the conflict that judging by their names were likely settled by Armenian refugees from Azerbaijan after the war.

The first of these villages is Nor Maragha (331p. Նոր Մարաղա; Qızıl Kəngərli in Az.), which has over a dozen mausoleum mounds and fields right in the vicinity of the village, dating to the 2-1 millennium BCE. Within the village is a 14-15c Turkmen mausoleum. Nor Haykajur (81p. Նոր Հայկաջուր; Boyəhmədli in Az.), also with 2-1 millennium BCE tombs and a more recent (theorized to be 14 or 16c) and somewhat squat Turkic mausoleum ⟪40.13488, 46.85378⟫ with no inscriptions of dating on the hill just NW of the village. E of Nor Haykajur, lie the ruins of Sofulu. The son of King Hamam was buried nearby in the Gyavur Ghala ("infidel fort" in Turkish, with infidel being a reference to Armenians). The gravestone was taken to the History Museum of Azerbaijan in Soviet times. Nor Karmiravan (44p. Նոր Կարմիրավան; Papravənd in Az.) has a 4-5c mausoleum in the village, and another from the 18-19c is to the W of the highway when heading N to Martakert.

7. From Martakert to Talish

East of the main road heading N from Martakert are mostly ruined villages and the front lines, all best avoided. Jraberd (63p. Ջրաբերդ; Çiləbörd in Az.) is a small, mostly ruined village about 7km NE of Martakert, and the only one which may have residents. E of Jraberd, in the no-man's land of the front-line trenches are the inaccessible ruins of Karmiravan (0p.; Qızıloba in Az.) village on a flat and arable plain. Interesting are the Kararkh area's ancient irrigation constructions. SE of Karmiravan are the ruins of Seysulan (0p. Սեյսուլան; same in Az.) village, also not open for visitors. The name is the altered form of Seysulan's Armenian dialect, which means “subject to flood”. In the past the village has become the Tartar river's victim many times. An interesting monument was the church, built from baked brick and oak-beams. It does not appear to be standing in recent satellite imagery, and Azerbaijan claims to have taken the village site in the 4 day war in 2016, which the Armenian side denies.

Heading N from Martakert, the village of Varnkatagh (68p. Վարնկաթաղ, aka Hakob Kamari; Lyulyasaz in Az.) comes up to the W of the road, with khachkars at the village's Tokhkasar holy place. Further N the road least to Mataghis (483p. Մադաղիս; Madagiz in Az.), with a reservoir, a 19c Paravi bridge, a Surb Yeghishe church of 1892-98, a 13-20c cemetery about 650m SW and a 13c chapel 1km SW. 8km S of the village is a 2-1 millennium BCE field of tombs, and 6km NW is the ruined 9-13c village site of Erkan Lanj, with cemetery and khachkars.

Yeghishe Arakyel Monastery. (c)

Located about 6km NW of Mataghis, in lush forest at the edge of a steep canyon with a gushing river below, Yeghishe Arakyal Monastery ★75 ⟪40.33644,46.69539⟫ (once upon a time called Jrvshtik Monastery, now named "Apostle Yeghishe" after the first patriarch of the Church of Caucasian Albania, whose relics were brought here from Dagestan where he was martyred. Yeghishe, known as Saint Elisæus in English was a disciple of the apostle St. Thaddeus) is a relatively easy hike from the village, though prior permission may be necessary. The forest has been hard at work reclaiming it, but the monastery is extensive and impressive, with much of the complex still standing. The fortified monastery has a church with gavit (built in 1284), eight chapels, a cemetery and other ruined buildings. Legend has it that the first constructions here were undertaken by King Vachagan barepasht, and the History of the Aghvan World says it was "...Nersmihr's holy friary, which is now called Jrvshtik...". The monastery was likely called Jrvshtik afer Artsakh's highest waterfall somewhere, perhaps a long distance, along the river in the gorge below, which is said to be audible up to 7km away. Later on when the apostle Yeghishe's relics were brought to here from Horeka monastery, Jrvshtik was renamed Yeghishe Arakyal (arakyal meaning "apostle" in Armenian).

The buildings have been repaired over the years, and reused trimmed stones (some with inscriptions) have made their way into the otherwise untrimmed stone walls. Inside and outside of the church there are tens of gravestones on the ground. There are a few chapels built of untrimmed stone found on either side of the main church, generally serving as mausoleums. One contains King Vachagan Barepasht's gravestone, another has Jraberd's brave Prince (melik) Adam's, and a third has Melikset episcop's. The inscriptions date these to the 12-13c.

400m NW of the monastery are the remains of the collapsed Jrvshtik bridge (transliterated Jerveshtik by Karapetyan, also known as Mazi bridge). The building style indicates that it may be 12-13c.

Downriver from Mataghis, to the E, is the completely ruined village of Leninavan (0p., meaning something like 'Lenintown', until 1954 Margushevan, before that Firumov Field Station), destroyed as a consequence of the Karabakh War. The water for the fields came from the Tartar river, and the irrigation system being used up until the war was one created in the early medieval period. Leninavan has or more likely had a church.

Also completely ruined in the no-mans land E of Mataghis are Verin Chaylu (0p. Վերին Չայլը) and Nerkin Chayly (0p. Նէրքին Չայլը). These formerly Armenian villages wholly moved from Persia's Khoy and Salmast in Persia to Ganja after it became a part of the Russian Empire. A land shortage in Ganja caused them to move again to Partav-Bardu, where unusual heat and persecution by local Muslim beks led to their move to this spot which was called Getarat. They founded a village which they named after the one they had left in Persia named Chaylu, which was separated into Verin and Nerkin (upper and lower) by the Tartar river, living here until the Karabakh war once again caused their upheaval, leaving the villages ruined.

From the reservoir of Mataghis, a road follows the Tartar upriver to Tonashen (79p. Տոնաշեն; Tonaşen in Az.). Military permission and an escort are needed to take this road to Tonashen, then Jraberd Fortress and then Yerits Mankants Monastery. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Stepanakert can advise to this possibility.

Tonashen forms somewhat of a triangle on the sloped left bank of river Tartar. The riverside district is called Geti Gomer, the top part of the triangle forms Shinategh district, and the third district is called Soghomoni Gomer ("Solomon's barns"). Soghomoni Gomer district has two memorial springs, named Ruzan's Spring and Verdi Sargsyan's Spring. There is a 19-20c Getin Gomer water mill 2.5km S of the village. In a village field called Jermuk (Chrmok) are old ruins of a town of the same name. 1km from Tonashen's Geti Gomer district is the Getin Gomer (the spelling differences are due to two sources) ruined 20c village site, with over 20 inscribed rocks and khachkars from the 12-17c, and a 12-13c church with adjacent khachkar. Ruins of 12-18c Balakhan village are about 1km SW of Tonashen, with ruined late 17-early 18c palace. Sngrategh ruined 9-17c village site is 2.1km SW of Tonashen, with a church-chapel and cemetery of the same name. Other village sites nearby are 19-20c Dastagir 2.2km NW, 13-20c Yeghakir (with 19c Surb Astvatsatsin church) 12km NW, 13-17c Tutot (Թթոտ) or Kotrats Yeghtsi (with 15-16c Kotrats Yeghtsi church) 6km NW, and 9-13c Ghuze Shinategh ruins 1.3km SW. Ljich Tegher khachkar dating to the 13c is 1km SW of Tonashen.

In Tonashen's Ughti Garun (Ուղտի գարուն "camel spring", the latter for the season, not the water source) area is a huge border stone, the inside of which was cut out and removed. In the void is put a square, white, trimmed stone, which is inscribed "Syunik's border". There are also two churches here called Choght Yeghtsi (Ճոխտ եղցի) and ruins of Tagavoraser village (Թագավորասեր). Relatively well preserved is the settlement's stone Chinari spring.

Geti Gomer bridge (aka Mazi) over the Tartar river was destroyed during the Karabakh war, and was been replaced with a new metal bridge. It connected Tonashen and its mills with Maghavuz and Varnkatagh villages. According to the old inscription, "This bridge was erected in 1902 at the expense of Harutyun Hayrapetyan from Tonashen village. The master of this bridge is Abraham Kamalyants from Gyune Chartar, 1902." According to Samvel Karapetyan there were actually two adjacent bridges.


High above the convergence of the Tartar and Trghi rivers is a vertical outcropping of granite upon which is found Jraberd Fortress ☆65 ⟪40.239286,46.667083⟫ ("water fort", a reference to the rivers surrounding 3 sides). In other sources the fort was also called Charaberd. Mkhitar Gosh wrote of "Prince Charaberdin and his palace...". There may be alternative access roads, but the one via Mataghis (requiring military escort) works. The impressive natural fortifications of the location consist of cliffs dropping precipitously on 3 sides to the rivers, while some walls and structures have been added in order to complete nature's work. At one time the only entrance was a difficult climb up to the ramparts, but at some time after WWII a low (1.5m clearance) tunnel was dug by a geological survey team which leads under the fortress to the bottom of a somewhat less steep slope up to the fort, making entry easier.

The famous Armenian novelist Raffi (Hakob Melik-Hakobian) stayed at Jraberd at the end of the 19c while writing Melikdoms of Khamsa as well as Davit Bek, and marveled in his book Traveling Notes the following: “From a monstrous depth rises a bare wedge-shape cliff. You look at it and admire how clever nature is to create such a wonder, where people can hideout from fierce and foreign hordes”. The oldest known reference to this fort mentions it in connection with the Khazar's campaigns in the 620's. Aghvank's Catholicos Viro "... called to him all those great people, governors, clergy, scribes, who at that time were found at Jraberd fortress...". The fortress was last used defensively in 1789, when Prince Mejhlum's of Jraberd's relatives and others close to him hid here.

Upon entering, the grounds of the fortress are surprisingly spacious, with ruins of tens of constructions. A very narrow secret passage known as Jragogh's Chanaparh contains stairs leading down to the Tartar river from the fort. Jraberd is remarkable for its little-studied protective signal system. The system's first signal point structure (numbering from furthest to closest) is on Tartar's left bank, 1.5-2km N of Verin Chaylu village. A second similar structure is situated in an old cemetery at a place known as Kapin Dzor near Mataghis. The third fully preserved signal point is in Tsghporot (Ծղպորոտ) park, and the forth not too far from the bridge over Tartar, in Tonashen's village Geti Gomer district. A fifth signal point should be located in between the fourth and Jraberd itself, but has not been found. For ages the purpose of these constructions was lost, until the scientist Aharon Movsisyan compared their positions along the left bank of the river in line with Jraberd and saw the meaning of the alignment. Locals had treated these points as chapels for ages, though they had none of the requisite attributes, such as bays, vestries, or rounded walls. The fourth point once had an inscription on the squared beam of the W facing door, which is now lost.

The fort was seiged upon occasion, and legend has it that during one of the sieges the invaders were trying to starve the occupants into surrender. The inventive locals brought out lime gathered in the fort, and made a show of laying it it out and sieving it, thus decieving the enemy into believing their flour was plentiful, and ending their unsuccessful seige. Deception was not always possible however, and during siege the need could arise for occupants to sneak out to fetch actual flour. The names of two of these brave men - Tivlunts Karmratav ("his shoes had red-tops") and Avrakolin - are remembered to this day (name spellings are unconfirmed).

Jraberd’s small Anapat Monastery is on the right bank of Trghi river, 2km NW of Jraberd fortress. The present church, monastic cells and other constructions, part of which lay in ruins, were built in the 18c in the place of an ancient monastic complex. The church is a one-nave basilica, the gable-roof of which leans on a pair of pilasters. The ancient constructions are gone, but their khachkars and stones have been used in the walls of the newer church, including an important 8-line inscription.

Further NW, 7km from Jraberd Fortress is Yeritsmankants Monastery ★85 ⟪40.25197, 46.639846⟫, or Yerek Mankunk, a magical spot in Artsakh, with the white monastery standing out from atop the dark woods of the rushing Tartar river's deep gorge. The monastery was built around 1691 by the local feudal ruling Melik-Israelyan family in order to rival the Holy See of Gandzasar and its hereditary patrons the Hasan-Jalalyans, who ruled the Khachen principality. An inscription on the northern inside wall of the altar says: "the builder and architect of church, master Sargis, remember (in prayers) to Christ".

The church stands in relatively good condition. The dome and parts of the facade are covered with yellowish trimmed stone, contrasting with the remaining untrimmed bluish stone walls. The portal’s tympanum is wholly covered with fine delicate carvings and an epigraphic inscription about the church's building. The interior is large and light. There are seven bays in the half-round wall behind the altar, with two-story vestries on either side. In the N part of the small hall remains the place of the font, as well as the original door, and a carved stone that was once part of the roof. An inscription explains that the pylons in the hall had been cruciform until the 18c when they were turned square in order to fasten the two eastern pylons.

The complex had a large monastic friary, evidenced by multiple dwelling constructions and other buildings. The monastic cells and subsidiary halls have fire-places and windows. The dwellings by the E wing of the church consisted of a vaulted hall lined with rooms on either side, and opening to the the yard. The second group of dwelling buildings is by the S wall of the church, consisting of two connecting rectangular halls. From the N side of the other hall, completely submerged in earth, there is a large round room where the patriarchal rooms were located. The window has an excellent view of the Trghi ravine and Jraberd Fortress.

In the vicinity of Yeritsmankants monastery is the long uninhabited village of Khotorashen or Khokhomashen.

Back in Mataghis, heading N towards Talish, somewhere in the woods between the two are the scant remains of Dyutakan village, where “there is a half-destroyed church 13m long and 7m wide, built tastefully”. Catholicos Nerses and Bishop Nerses “in the summer of 1151… built the church”. Ancient sources document that Dyutakan was long used as the summer-residence of Armenian Aghvank. Movses Kaghankatvatsi wrote that Dyutakan was King Vachagan III's summer-residence. He also wrote; “When the (relics) of St. Gregory the Illuminator arrived… to the large cathedral in Dyutakan, they were met by… King Vachaghan… with a large crowd including bishops, priests, and all the servants”. The village was devastated during Arab rule which began in the late 7c, but was reestablished as a large settlement after the Arabs were expelled, the remaining traces of which are scattered in the forest in the form of many gravestones, khachkars and other monuments.

Talish (581p. Թալիշ; Talış in Az.) is the northernmost settlement in the province. It is thought that Talish is on the site of the early-medieval village of Urek, about which there is little information in Aghvank World’s History. In the late medieval period Talish was the capitol of the Gyulistan Principality - one of five Armenian principalities of Artsakh - and boasted the palace of the Melik-Beglaryan family, forts, and religious centers. The national liberation struggle against Turkish rule in the region in the first half of the 18c was led by famous local sparapet Abraham. His successors took an active part in efforts to incorporate Transcaucausus within Russia. The traditional architecture of the various district's one and two-story homes, workshops and stores were well preserved until the start of the Karabakh War, during which the town was damaged in fighting. Located very close to the front lines, at least part of Talish was briefly captured by Azeri forces in 2016.

The village has an Amenaprkich church, built of trimmed stone in 1894. It served as a club for decades of Soviet rule for the population of 3,000 at the time, and later became a storage space. For many long years a 10c gospel was kept at this church, containing important information about the province’s past. The preserved fragments of this manuscript are now in the Matenadaran of Yerevan.

Near the village are a number of historical monuments, including a khachkar of 1221 in the vicinity, a 19c pilgrims house 4.8km W of town, Ghaleretsots cemetery (19-20c) 2km SW, an 18c Shshin Dziranut khachkar 1.5km SW, and a more recent khachkar dating to 1990 4km NW. There are a number of long-ruined villages in the surroundings of Talish, including Mejnashen, Gomeramej, Tutk and Mallakan. In addition there are the major sites of Glkho monastery and Melik Beglaryan’s palace detailed below.

Horekavank Monastery. Photo ©

Horekavank Monastery (aka Glkho) ☆ ⟪40.3714, 46.6961⟫ (alternate sources put it at ⟪40.3707, 46.67277⟫) is found approximately 4km SW of Talish. Completed in 1284, the church has been destroyed and rebuilt repeatedly over the centuries, often cannibalizing parts of the previous church. The complex consists of a church, gavit, chapel, large cemetery and other destroyed buildings and serf walls. The church walls are of chipped limestone, with trimmed stone framing the entries and windows. The church is a one-nave hall with vaulted cover, directly leaning on walls, covered with a gable roof. There is an ancient burial-vault occupying about half of the hall with stairs on both sides, containing a buried sacred cross brought by Mesrop Mashtots.

An inscription above the entry credits Hovhannes with the church renovation of 1279. His name is remembered together with that of priest Stepanos. According to a 1284 inscription, the same Hovhannes also built the gavit, which has the ornamented tombstones of bishops, precepters and deacons of the monastery. A belfry was built on the N side of the church in the 17c. The walls of the church and gavit incorporate numerous khachkars, with more nicely ornamented khachkars of the 13c found scattered in the N part of the yard. In the large cemetery of the monastery there is a ruined burial-vault, with two large smooth tombstones. Locals call the many buildings in various states of ruin by the serf walls Paterin tak (under the walls).

Among the gravestones are those of the national liberation movement’s participants. Some of the notable carved tombstones are those of Sarukhan-bek, melik Hovsep, melik Beglar, brave Ter Mkrtich (Keshish-oghlu), and general Shamir-khan. Shamir-khan was the chief of staff of Yermolov’s Russian army, and later on he was the secretary and interpreter of Griboyedov in Persia. This famous descendent of Talish participated in the arranging and signing of the Gyulistan pact between the Russian and Persian empires in 1813.

Beglaryan Palace. Photo ©

A little over 100m SE of Glkho Monastery lies the semi-ruined 18c Melik Beglaryan’s Palace, built by the Melik-Beglaryans of Gyulistan. It was surrounded by walls, had towers, had 8 halls, 2 middle halls with long colonnaded galleries, had cone-shaped roofs (glkhatun type in Armenian) without pillars or pilasters, and fire-places provided heat. The N and S halls accessed each other via the inside yard of the palace. The W galleries had secret entries. The castle’s garrison was in Karaburg (four-towers), a small fort N of the palace on the ravine’s left wing, the ruins of which are still visible. The main fort of Gyulistan’s principality is by a village of the same name.

The hill W of the palace is called Rusi Urd (Russian pass). The Russian army’s general Ritishchev once set camp atop the hill. This is where, from October 2-12, 1813, the treaty of Gyulistan was negotiated and signed, according to which a considerable part of Eastern Armenia, including Artsakh’s five princedoms, were transferred from Persia to Russia.

8. String of Villages South of Highway and West of the Sarsang Reservoir

Kochoghot (534p. Կոճողոտ; Yayıcı in Az.) was founded by decree of Gandzasar’s Catholicos Sargis in the 16c, who according to Shahen Mkrtchyan, designated this area for migrants fleeing Seljuk Turks to settle. The arrivals found the ruins of old Armenian settlements with three half-destroyed churches, around which were scattered many logs. From this originated the new village’s name; in Armenian kochgh means log. Of the three churches, Karmir Yeghtsi once stood in the center of Kochoghot, but was demolished in 1926 with its stones being used to build a school. Another church was situated in the SE part of the village, in the Maturi district (matur meaning chapel). And a third church was situated in the village's S area known as Srakants. It too was destroyed towards the end of the Soviet period, with foundations, gravestones and khachkars all that remain.

Kochoghot has a cemetery with modern graves as well as some 11-12c khachkars, with other 11-13c khachkars located around the village. The 12c Top Kol khachkar is at the SW edge of the village (perhaps the same as the khachkar described as standing by Kor spring ('blind' spring), among the remainders of fruit-garden Melin?), and two finely carved but now eroded khachkars are found on the slope of a hill NW of Moshahav spring. Below the village by the bank of the Tartar river is Ellin Khach khachkar, and nearby at a place called Yerku Jri Aranki ("between two waters") is a richly ornamented khachkar of the same name. Half a km SW of the village is Kijhin Tegh cemetery, with a few 11-12c khachkars. Half a km W of the village is the site of 10-17c Khacherin Ser (or Verin) village, with church, chapel and many khachkars, all from the 11-13c. The old village site of Khorastan dating to 9-13c is 1.4km SE of the village, with a chapel, and cemetery with many 11-13c khachkars. Tkhakhorn (Թխախոռն) village site has ruins of a church, and many gravestones and khachkars in the cemetery, one of the latter dates to 1226. On the left side of Kochoghot are Karmir Kar and Yeri Horatagh village sites. Other village sites in the vicinty include Machegh, Pmenshen, Tkhakhor, and Shahbaz (with two interesting khachkars known as Chokhtak Khach). In the woods are the sites of Vari Ghamshut Tsov and Veri Ghamshut Tsov (Yeghegnut Lich) villages, with church, dwelling and cemetery ruins. There are a few 2nd millennium BC burial mounds 2km W of Kochoghot.

Verin Horatagh (434p. Վերին Հոռաթաղ; Yuxarı Oratag in Az.), with too many burial mounds to list, in every direction, most from the 2nd to 1st millennium BC. Many are in an area known as Ghamshot Tsov, which also has khachkars. Some further 12-13c khachkars can also be found in an area called Vitin Ser. 1.5km S of the village is a spring-khachkar called Artsakh Aghpyur.

Harutyunagomer (485p. Հարությունագոմեր, formerly Arutyunashen or Arutyunagomer; Qızılqaya in Az.) is just a half km W of Verin Hoghatagh.

Vaghuhas (616p. Վաղուհաս; Qozlu in Az.) has historically been an important village on the silk road, since the old bridge crossing the Trtu river was once the main connecting point on the Dvin-Partav trading road . The road passing over the bridge was for ages the shortest route connecting Khachen and Jraberd provinces with the basin of Lake Sevan. Today, 20m from the old Vghhas bridge (Վղհաս) is the modern bridge. Nearby, on the left bank of the river are ruins of a caravansary dating to the Middle Ages.

Churches in and around Vaghuhas:

Vaghuhas today is 2-3km from Old Vaghuhas village, the ruins of which are scattered liberally in the area. In the center of Vaghuhas, there is a complex of destroyed buildings known as Mayrakaghak (or Tiramayr Monastery), consisting of a church of 1183, a smaller church, a gavit and large cemetery. This once-famous monastery was the seat of bishops. It was called Tiramayr (Holy Mother) because of the large fresco of Mary in the monastery. The monastery was destroyed in the 20-30s during Soviet efforts to create an athiest state. Only parts of the trimmed stone walls remain, but fortunately the inscriptions were copied before the destruction. A 9 line inscription from the N wall tells us that Hasan, Vakhtang's son built the church in 1183. The gavit was built much later, "during Great Jalal Doli’s principality and leadership of Ter Nerses, Catholicos of Aghvan… 1246".

On the N edge of the village is the 13c Yeghtsu Ktor church, with many khachkars primarily from the 7-8c. Two km E of the village is 9c Shmaghbyur church with khachkars.

Karmiravank Photo ©

Karmiravank Monastery (also Karmir Vank, and perhaps also called/the same as Karmir Kari Vank) built in 1224 and relatively well preserved, is located 3km SW of Vaghuhas. It is deep in the forest which has overgrown the site. There's a church with gavit, a chapel, destroyed cells and other structures, all of chipped stone, as well as some khachkars and many inscriptions.

An inscription on a long narrow stone placed on the E side of the N wall says, "In the summer of 1224. I, Vakhtang’s son, Hasan’s brother built this church and gave to [church] service my son Grigor and the garden I planted in Chak together with the gardener [for] my soul’s salvation…". On the S wall is an inscription stating that "In the summer of 1259. I, Ter Grigor, Amaras’ bishop joined the sacred friary and paid wage to the architect that built the church. Monastery’s leader, Ter Grigoris…". Another recorded rebuilding of the church 35 years indicates it must have been badly damaged or destroyed, likely by an enemy. The architect of the repairs is unknown, but he must have had a strong reputation, for he was called a Varpet, and paid 80 dehakans, which "is a considerable sum of money, especially in outskirts" in the 13c.

The monastery had a prominent scriptorium. One of the monastery’s writers, named Vardan, in a 1621 notation shares the difficulties the creators of Armenian manuscripts had here. “While writing one page they made me get up from my place 10 times. Don’t blame me for my book and it's mistakes, because my hand wants to write, but I'm forced to do wood and stone work, again I go to write, and then I'm forced to garden and do beekeeping, again I'm to write…

Khatravank. Photo ©

Khatravank Monastery ☆ ⟪40.119235, 46.406⟫ (coordinates may be wrong) is about 9km WNW of Vaghuhas, 2km from the right bank of the Tartar and the highway (signposted), on a beautiful narrow cape, covered with trees stretch the half-destroyed and overgrown constructions. Access is by foot and difficult. The 13c complex has mossy, half-destroyed ramparts, 3 churches, a gavit, 2-story funerary memorial, khachkars, dwellings and communal structures.

The smaller church to the N has the inscription "I, Desum’s daughter Seda, built this church and gave Surb Nshan of Hordadzor to it, spending large amounts of money in perpetuation of my soul. May he who becomes Father Superior of this [monastery] annually conduct a four-hour divine service for my soul on the Apostles’ feasts. May those who hinder this atone for my sins. In the year 1182.". We know the main church was built in 1204 due to the inscription: "In the year 653 (1204), I, Father Hovhannes, built this church and collected crosses and books here, planting the garden of Jot through hard efforts. And I gave the monastery, together with its grounds, to my elder brother Hasan and his sons, the masters of Haterk, by the grace of God. May those who hinder this have their lives destroyed by God. In the name of God, this was written by Hasan: when my brother built this church and gave the monastery to me, I donated Khendzorobak and its grounds to it...". We learn about the construction of the gavit thanks to the following inscription: "In the year 1225, I, Dop, the daughter of Sargis and sister of Zakare and Ivane, built the gavit [narthex] of this church together with a chapel. I gave a Gospel as well as the land of Hankabak and my newly-planted orchard in Hakuren to the church for the salvation of my soul...".

The assymetric main church interior is cruciform, and the exterior rectangular with multiple vestries. In the praying hall there are two small attached chapels with rectanglular stages, which is exceptional in Armenian architecture. The interior is plastered, and the pillars are decorated with apostles carved on their anchors. There is a destroyed chapel adjacent to the church, once two stories. On the W side of the chapel is the relatively well preserved vaulted dining-hall. Somewhere to the W, on the slope of a deep canyon is Khatraberd fortress.

Somewhere N of Khatravank was once the Khatravank bridge. The only record that once existed regarding it's construction in 1301 was on a khachkar. The inscription read, "By the Lord's will, I, Aspa, the daughter of the Great Prince Tarsayij and Minakhatun and the spouse of powerful prince Grigor, the son of valorous prince Hasan, Lord of Aghvank, erected this cross [and] built this bridge in memory of the souls of our present-day and future family members".

12km W of Vaghuhas (2km W of Vardana Gomer village ruins) are the ruins of a small Vardan monastery with mostly untrimmed stone basilica church, ruined gavit and other constructions, khachkars and an inscription saying: "In the summer of 1215, I, Hasan, daughter of Grigor Great, prince Taghan’s wife, built a church…".

On Hin Gaylasar mountain there are not one but two Vahin chapels. In rainy and dry years, people performed ceremonies here to start or stop the rain. According to local legend, if one pours "water on the right chapel, it will start raining and if one builds a fire by the other, the sunny days will begin".

Standalone khachkars and record stones in and around Vaghuhas:

In Vaghuhas is a 17-18c khachkar known as Hovhannes, and a number of additional khachkars dating from as early as 701 to the 14c. There is also a record stone dating to the 13c. A half km SW of the village is 8-9c Tevosanants khachkar, while half a km W is a group of khachkars known as Khachin Tumb, most of which date to the 8-9c, with one dated 1211. In the presently ruined church of Old Vaghuhas there once stood a large, skillfully ornamented 3m high khachkar, dating to 1218. About 6km NW of the village is a 13c khachkar known as Ajashlagh. There are a few 9-14c khachkars 8km NW in an area known as Iritsin Kyumer. About 9km NW are five khachkars known as Tev, four of which are 12-13c, with one 8-9c. Between 10-12km NW is 9-13c Jhayrapor Khach ("carved into the cliff" cross). About 14-15km W of Vaghuhas are a handful of 8-12c khachkars at a place known as Ptran-khacher.

Cemeteries, tomb mounds and fields around Vaghuhas:

There is a field of 2-1 millennium tombs about 300m N of the village, known as Kinji Hogh. 2.5km W of Vaghuhas is the 7-10c Verin Vaghuhas cemetery, with some 7-8c khachkars. A place known as Kurgan has 2-1 millennium BC tombs. 2km W of Vaghuhas is 11-14c Khacher cemetery with khachkars and 2-1 millennium BC burial mounds.

Ruined villages around Vaghuhas:

Tleni village ruins dating to the 9-13c are about 2km SW of Vaghuhas, with an 11-12c church of the same name, and a cemetery with khachkars dating to the 9-13c. The ruins of 12-13c Verin Yastan are found 9km NW of the village. Located 10km W of Vaghuhas are the remains of 10-14c Vardana Gomer village. About 14km NW are the ruins of N. Chali Shen.

East of Vaghuhas are the ruins of an old Mataghis (not to be confused with the current Mataghis further E), which according to legend had 800 houses. At the end of the 1800s there was still a noticeable "half-destroyed chapel, ruins of a bridge and large khachkars". The nearby ruins of Khunktala village also have remains of a church and cemetery. A third ruined village, Yeghtsu Tala, has the remains of a "half-destroyed large church, a large cemetery and a 3m high stone cross".

Khnkavan (163p. Խնկավան) is somewhat of a western suburb of Vaghuhas.

Getavan (274p. Գետավան; same in Az.) has Karmir Kari Vank of the 11-14c 7km to the NW. Three bridges were built over from the 10-13c in almost the same spot, each replacing an older one. The piers of the bridges are preserved on the right bank, but not the left.

9. String of Villages North of Highway and the Sarsang Reservoir

Listed from E to W, starting with Aknaberd (482p. Ակնաբերդ; Umudlu in Az.), which is above the Sarsang Reservoir somewhere near the center. Aknaberd was founded in the beginning of the 20c. Next comes Zaglik (200p. Զագլիկ; Zəylik in Az.), also above the Sarasang.

Haterk (1531p. Հաթերք; Hǝsǝnriz in Az.) is NW of the reservoir, with a long history. It was once the center of a principality (melikdom) reaching from Yeghishe Arakyal Monastery to Dadivank Monastery, most prosperous during Vakhtang's rule (1182- 1214). Famous cleric Mkhitar Gosh spent time in Haterk, as did Kirakos Ghandzaketsi who wrote that he came as honored guest of Vakhtang and his brothers and stayed for several years. The meliks of Haterk didn't just add churches to the monasteries of Dadivank or Khatravank in their region, they also took an active part in building Nor Getik monastery, today's Goshavank, north of Dilijan in Armenia. They also had close relations with military commanders Zakare and Ivane Zakaryans in Armenia and Georgia, as well as with Hasan Sakaryan (Zakaryan?), ruler of Tsar region (today's Karvachar area), a branch of the same Aranshakhian family the rulers of Haterk were a part of as well.

Haterk is divided into three parts: Shen (village center), Kyok (likely from gog meaning "lap") and Mtghaser. Of Haterk's three churches, only one still stands, Surb Astvatsatsin ⟪40.1618, 46.51553⟫, a three-nave 19c basilica in the middle of the village. Fragmented parts of ornamented and trim stones from Surb Nshan can be found in Shen. Shen used to also be known by the name- Pap, and in the past the local inhabitants would swear in the name of Pap or Surb Nshan.

The following is a list of many sites in the vicinity of Haterk:

Khachkar at Mesis Vank ©
  • Masis Vank ☆ (or Msis, but pronounced Mesis by locals) is a monastery situated N of Haterk, above Ulupap, on a woody spur of Mrov. The church is a small basilica with a gavit. The date of construction is unknown, but it appears to be 12c. The church was partly restored in the early 1900s by brothers Bala, Aghabek, Musayel and Nerses Vardunts. Around the monastery are noticeable traces of serf-walls and a cemetery. Near the monastery was once a settlement of the same name, of which remain the millstone of the oil-mill and foundations of many dwellings.
  • Akana Fort - NE of Haterk, at the foot of Mount Balin, on the left bank of river Akana, on a plateau with canyons on two sides. Inside the serf-walls are ruins of various buildings built from roughly-trimmed stone. From the NW wall there is a secret underground passage leading to the river, where there are the remains of a brick bathhouse divided into four chambers. Inside the walls the horizontal ceramic pipes which supplied hot and cold water can still be seen.
  • Berdavan village ruins - SE of Akana Fort are the ruins of what is thought to be Berdavan village, once the administrative center of Haterk principality. There are remainders of large and small constructions, three half-destroyed churches, trimmed stones and slabs, and three large cemeteries. The ruins of one of the churches, dating to the 12c, has six interesting ornamented columns. Among the village ruins there have been found pitchers, coins, weapons, khachkars, and other objects.
  • Mughdusi Cemetery (Մուղդուսու) is situated in the SE part of the village, on the right slope of the canyon. There are number of khachkars in the overgrown cemetery with 13-17c inscriptions. There is a nearby 2-1 millennium BC burial field. On a hill E of the cemetery, on the left bank of Tartar, is a ruined chapel, reduced to a heap of stones.
  • Astghablur ("star hill") is a ruined settlement in forest, 3-4km W of Haterk, with a semi-ruined chapel of trimmed stone. It’s mentioned in Movses Kaghankatvatsi’s history, and is a popular place of pilgrimmage. According to legend, the martyred princess Astghik ("little star") is buried in the chapel.
  • Shukavank is a ruined settlement on a hill on the Trghi river's bank, with ruined church, cemetery, spring. Traces of ancient threshing-floors and storage can also be found.
  • Khotorashen is a large ruined settlement stretching to Plangin Talan. There remains the ancient cemetery, traces of threshing-floors, walls of the oil mill, and ornamented khachkars, typical of the 13c.
  • Srashen village ruins are by a lake of the same name, and the woods have reclaimed it long ago. The tombstones in the cemetery are covered in such thick moss the inscriptions cannot be read. 5km from the ruins is a khachkar called Ander khach (ownerless/uncared for cross).
  • Sumin settlement ruins: is situated below Sranots. Between them lie the ruins of a monastery consisting of several constructions and a large cemetery with ornamented gravestones.
  • Tsos ruined settlement, a part of which is now a nut-tree orchard. There are several khachkars in the cemetery. After Tsos was last destroyed in the late 18c, the inhabitants moved to Gandzak's surroundings (today's Ganja).
  • Tkhkot settlement ruins are situated between the ruins of Tsos and Mtnadzor villages, near the Trghi river. Traces of dwelling foundations, a threshing-floor, khachkars and a mill-stone remain. Near the cemetery is a destroyed church.
  • Mtnadzor ruined settlement with ruined church, cemetery, ancient threshing-floors, and boundary marks of hill allotments. There is a spring in the settlement that once had an inscribed memorial stone, which has been lost. Locals say that there was once a large anvil situated near the spring on which two men could sit and eat.
  • Hamam (bathhouse) is situated on the way to Mtnadzor, on the right bank of the Trghi. It is also called Ghamshi. Ceramic water pipes remain, as well as a half-destroyed monastery, and khachkars with unreadable inscriptions.
  • Srin settlement ruins are situated near Sumin cemetery, which has khachkars and ornamented gravestones.
  • Hunot Pos Chapel - above the ruins of Hunot Pos settlement is a chapel with a large cemetery containing numerous khachkars.
  • Itsəkara Monastery ruins (Իծըքարա) of 13c are among the remains of a destroyed settlement. Today there are parts of trimmed pillars and walls, ornamented gravestones, khachkars and fragments of inscriptions.
  • Ghlen Kolen Monastery dates to the medieval period. Only the church remains, surrounded by a cemetery.
  • Saru khach or Sarukhach (mountain cross) is situated N of Aknaberd village, with noticeable traces of settlement. On the E edge is a standing chapel.
  • Həghəghoten (Հըղըղոտեն) village was destroyed in the 13c. The ruins are located between Ghlen Kolen Monastery and Sarukhach. Large ruins, threshing-floors, khachkars and gravestones remain.
  • Surb Vanes pilgrimmage place, situated not far from Terakan settlement’s spring. Only building foundations and individual trimmed blocks remain. In ancient times pilgrims came from the surrounding villages.
  • Tkoghnut settlement ruins are on the left bank of Trghi, near the confluence of the Trghi and Mrov rivers. There are noticeable traces of dwellings, mills and threshing-floors, as well as several intact khachkars.
  • Tvlen Kertsen Tak ruined village, half-destroyed monastery, and scattered ornamented stones. A natural opening in the cliff was closed-off with a wall and turned into a hiding-place, the only entry is 30m high. Numerous khachkars remain, as well as traces of a once large apple-garden.
  • Mrovi Ojakh cave (Mrov's hearth cave) is at a high elevation of Mrov mountain. Once a place of pilgrimmage.
  • Jani Khach is a forgotten place of pilgrimmage.
  • Dziavor Khach is the name of an area situated on the road leading to Mesis.
  • Tsnknavur is situated in the SW part of Haterk. The name is how chgnavor (pilgrim) is said in the local dialect. It is thought the name refers to a cult construction which would have existed here in the past.
  • Surb Sargis one of the pilgrimmage places of Haterk.
  • Havkakhaghats (Lachinaberd) is on the right bank of Tartar. A large rock rises out of dense forest with Lachinaberd encompassing a flat area on top. These cliffs were once the defense fort of Khachen’s leadership.
  • Berdakar fort is on Haterk's western side. It's protected by cliffs on three sides, and there were double serf-walls on the N.
  • Lchakner are two small lakes to the N and W of Haterk, on the shores of which are noticeable foundations of ancient constructions.
  • Mandur church of the 12-13c is about 2km NE of Haterk.
  • Dzithani Kar is an oil millstone from the 18-19c located in the village of Haterk.

Zardakhach (125p. Զարդախաչ; Zardaxaç in Az.) has a 19-20c cemetery in the village, with at least one 13c khachkar. There are a few other khachkars in the village. Krhonj church (Քրհոնջ) of the 17c is 1.2km NW, with a likewise 17c cemetery. There is a Kisov tomb of the 2-1 millennium BC 1km NE of the village. Another tomb, this one a Muslim tomb of the 14-15c is 2km SE of the village. Varsikin Khach is a 12c cross found 1.5km W of the village.

Chapar (248p. Չափար is an old name inscribed at Charektar Monastery which means fence in dialect; Çapar in Az.) is located in an area once rich with settlements. In the Tartar ravine on the way to Dadivank alone, there are 36 old ruined of settlements with half-destroyed churches, chapels and cemeteries. The Armenians of all of these settlements - including notable settlements such as Yeranshagh, Khot, and Mesropavan of the former Rəstak region - were forced to move to Persia at the beginning of the 17c during a scorched-earth resettlment policy by Shah Abas I. Some of those settlements were later settled by Kurds and Azeris during the Armenians' exile, and some by returning Armenians after the area was incorporated into the Russian Empire.

Hakaraka Berd is a fort located 3km from Chapar. The high and sheer cliffs where the fort was built were fortified with double serf-walls. The reservoir of the fort is intact, the water level of which remains unchanged throughout the year.

Surb Minas ruined church is 4-5km NW of Chapar. The one-nave basilica had trimmed-stone-walls. Approximately 2km N of Old Chapar stretches a large cemetery with khachkars and gravestones.

Ojakh holy place is about 3.5km N of Chapar, by a mountain path. The side walls are all that remain of previous structures. In years with abundant rain a spring flows in the ruins.

Poghos Chgnavor ruined old settlement is near Old Chapar. It is surrounded with gravesones and large khachkars, dating to the 12-14c.

Burial Mounds of Artsakh
by Raffi Kojian

Similar groupings of burial mounds are found in the valleys of Khachen and Tartar rivers. The mounds stretch along the rivers and their streams, from plains towards the mountains. Those in fields near the lower elevation rivers form large groups, while in mountainous areas they are more spread out or even found individually. There are a large number of grave-mounds on the southern side of Arajadzor village. There are 10 grave-mounds of different sizes found on either side of the road, 3 of which were excavated by Ryosler and Khachik Dadyan. One of the mounds that they did not excavate measures about 36m in diameter and 6.5m in height. On the right bank of the Khachenaget river are another group of grave-mounds below Hakobavank Monastery, which have also seen some excavations by Khachik Dadyan.

The Tartar valley has burial mounds starting at Haterk and continuing to the old Sarsang bridge, which today is submerged in waters of the large Sarsang Reservoir.

Several groups of gravemounds are noticable on the right and left sides of the road. On the right bank of the river they can be seen almost touching each other, but on the opposite bank they are spread out in the foothills. Where the river enters the reservoir, there are 4 gravemounds on either bank of the river. A little down from theTartar gorge, in the area of Mets Shen village, there are rows of newer grave-mounds. The road to these passes through a long-ruined settlement before reaching the grave-mounds close to the road. The ruined settlement and the grave mounds give cause to believe an old road passed along the same path as the current road.

In the lower parts of the Tartar, near Mataghis are around 12 grave-mounds. Another large group of grave-mounds is NW of the town of Martakert, which the local inhabitants call "Krapashti tumb" (Կռապաշտի թումբ). Besides the aforementioned grave-mounds, there are also grave-hills in the following places in Martakert region.

  • Chldran village's W side
  • Tbghlu village's S side, near the old Ulupapi bridge
  • On the Khachenaget's right bank in Artsakh's Tsaghkadzor valley
  • From Amaghlu village, heading 300-400m towards Hlajen plain (no reference to this village seems to exist other than Mkrtchyan's)
  • Above Vank (Gandzasar) village, in an area known as Tana Okh there are 4 large and 18 small burial mounds
  • In the Voloki Okh area near Drmbon, by the bank of the Tartar are 4 large burial mounds, with 3 others not far
  • N of Vank village, in a field known as Mets, there are 2 large burial mounds. At the edge of one of the mounds is a 2.88m high untrimmed and uninscribed stone - most likely a monolith
  • Nareshtar village's Kharban area has about 100 burial mounds
  • In Haterk village's forests and fields, there are burial mounds all over
  • Mehmana village has 8 large and 12 small burial mounds
  • To Maghavuz village's NW are 4 not very large burial mounds

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