You may read about the Day 1 here
then go on with this :)
I'm not the same person after this trip.. I've got lots of answers to questions about that territory i had in my head, but also, more questions popped out in my head...
I've always felt guilty and underprivileged for not having visited the historical Armenian land of Artsakh. It wasn't that hard to do, and there have been many occasions. The majority of my friends has been constantly going there, but somehow I wasn't lucky with it. I've been encouraging the tourists to visit it, while myself... well.
Now I'm actually glad that all the other opportunities to visit Artsakh before didn't work out. I'm happy I visited it in November for the first time and with someone who had lots of details and stories about these places to tell.
The first thing I saw in Artsakh was the Lachin/Berdzor corridor
.. long, curvy road we passed by the dark, seeing the "Free Artsakh welcomes you" signs which made me feel very positive :)
There wasn't much to be seen in the dark and it took about 2,5 hours to reach the capital Stepanakert. We stopped at the Armenia hotel in the main square, just near the newly reconstructed Parliament building.
|Nagorno-Karabakh Republic's Parliament building|
The hotel was really nice and comfortable with almost all rooms occupied.
In the morning we had a small walk in the city center...
|A cute elderly couple strolling on the square|
|it was really touching|
|Nagorno-Karabakh Republic's Government building|
|a new fancy park with free wi-fi in the center of Stepanakert!|
And here I finally met THEM. Grandmother and Grandfather (Տատիկ և պապիկ). The landmark, the symbol of the high spirit of this brave nation. Also known as the "We Are Our Mountains" monument representing the mountain people of Karabakh.
|We Are Our Mountains|
|me and Papik :) (tatik didn't mind)|
We left Stepanakert to go deeper into the beautiful and forested mountains of Artsakh. The weather was perfect. It was much warmer than in Yerevan. I've been regretting that I didn't wear a plain thin shirt.
The whole way I was staring at the autumn landscapes and layers of endless mountains all around... The roads were in a very good condition (North-South Highway constructed with the help of Armenians of the world
Most of the time I was just smiling to the contrary wind and sun through the open window, sometimes taking pictures right during the drive.
The whole way I was hearing stories from the war, about the land mines, about the battles. Even though there are not so many evidences left from that bloody time, you can feel the cost... the reason why this land was worth fighting for and liberating.
Our destination was Gandzasar
.. A truly magical place. A magnificent 13th century monastery located on the hilltop near the Vank village.
|a cemetery. graves of those who gave their lives for liberating their land|
On the way here I heard the story about how the monastery's priest solely protected the church when the enemy attacked it before our soldiers came for help during the war.
|Vank village seen from the monastery|
|On this image you can actually see the holes made by enemy's bullets. The monastery stands still and reaffirms firmness of faith.|
|the monastery had amazing and unique carvings|
The one thing that amazed me most about this place was the overwhelming feeling of sanctity - peace and silence.
|Chilingaryan family tree|
|i had a very peaceful time on this bench for a while|
|inside the church|
Second part of my (mostly photo) story about Artsakh is here