Saturday, November 27, 2010

My 2-day road trip. Day 2 - the free Artsakh welcomes us (part 1)

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 :)
source: Wikipedia
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.
Hotel Armenia
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.

7 comments:

Richard said...

This post brought back some wonderful memories. All Armenians should visit Artsakh to understand what's at stake. This place is in many ways the origin of Armenian culture and the people have suffered greatly to be free. Now we must help them.

Arpik said...

Perfectly said, richard!

thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.


Arpik

Ameur said...

wooow,the photos are Amazing,and you are prof in taking pic, thanks for sharing. Have a great day.
Ameur

Lusine said...

hey Arpik.... I read your blog very often it is fun! keep up the job ))here is an article I came across today and wanted to share with you, just in case you are interested:

http://blogs.fco.gov.uk/roller/lonsdale/entry/peacejam_in_yerevan

Antani said...

I went to Stepanakert and Gandzasar on July 2010 during a 20 days trip to Armenia, when I saw your picture I was happy to see how the new square in the capital has came out from the mess it was in july...did they ended the ugly ancient Rome style hotel near the stadium?
I found your blog while i was searching on the net some hints to send a gift in Vank, where a very kind girl helped me to take the right marshrutni from Stepanakert and then offered some tea by her house and at the end helped me to get back in the night to the capital. I say all these things because I think that the real appeal of Artsakh (and Armenia) lies not only in the claim of being the root of an ancient armenian identity but mainly in the great hospitality and interest in foreigners which characterized all the people I've met there.
I apologize for my english, but I am italian...and as everybody knows we can not speak any other languages except ours :)

Arpik said...

thanks for reading me, Lusine!

and thanks for the link. I read Mr Ambassador's blog occasionally :)

Arpik said...

Ciao Antani,

I am glad you enjoyed your trip to Artsakh.
I'm not sure which hotel near the stadium do you mean? I guess I just haven't seen that. We didn't walk much in Stepanakert.

Your English actually looks good. Based on my experience with Italians (which is quite big), I would never guess that you're Italian from your language :)

I happen to be one who speaks (and loves) your language too ;)