Artsakh

Nagorno-Karabakh (with its original name Artsakh) is located in the south-eastern part of the Lesser Caucasus, corresponding to the north-eastern mountainous range of Armenia. 

The region stretches from the mountains that surround Lake Sevan to the East reaching the Araks River. During different historical periods, Nagorno Karabakh has been referred to under a variety of names: Urtekhe-Urtekhini, Orkhistene, Artsakh, Tsavdek, Khachen and Karabakh. These names may cause confusion. In the middle of the 1st century BC Armenia was one of the most powerful countries in this part of Asia. The Armenian King Tigranes the Great attached particular attention to the region. He built there the city of Tigranakert. It was one of the four beautiful cities, which bore the name of the king. The ruins of the ancient Tigranakert – huge stone blocks- can be seen near the city of Aghdam. Burial mounds, engraved in stone sculptures and sacred inscriptions carved into rocks have been preserved into present day.

In the early 4th century, Christianity spread in Artsakh. The invention of the Armenian alphabet led to an unprecedented cultural bloom both in Armenia and Artsakh. Not for nothing established Mesrop Mashtots the first Armenian school in the Artsakh monastery of Amaras. In the 5th c. the eastern part of Armenia and Artsakh fell under the Persian rule. In 451, a bloody revolt by Armenians went down in history as “the war of Vartanants’’.

In the 7th – 8th centuries, a distinctive Christian culture was being shaped in Artsakh. The monasteries of Amaras, Orek, Katarovank, Djrvshtik and others were transformed into powerful bulwarks of faith and spirit.

At the end of the 12th century and during the first half of the 13th century, Artsakh flourished. It was a period of economic and cultural growth. Valuable architectural ensembles such as the Hovhannes Mkrtich (John the Baptist) church, the portico of Gandzasar Monastery (1216-1260), the Dadivank Monastery Cathedral (1214), and Gtchavank Cathedral (1241-1248) were built. All of these churches continue to be regarded as masterpieces of Armenian architecture.

The years 1918-1920 are among the most traumatic periods in the history of the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh. During this time the area of Artsakh became a bone of contention between Armenians and Azerbaijanis.