Artsakh Region


Area: 11,458 km2

Population: 150,932 (2015)

The Republic of Artsakh or Nagorno-Karabakh is a de facto independent state that borders Armenia, Iran and Azerbaijan. Artsakh is considered to be the second Armenian Republic. The capital of Artsakh is Stepanakert. It is the largest city of the Artsakh Republic, its cultural, educational and economic centre.

Stepanakert is located on the eastern slopes of Karabakh mountain chain, at the left bank of the Vararakn River. Originally, the capital was named as the river Vararakn but later it was renamed in honour of a Bolshevik politician and revolutionary Stepan Shahumyan. Stepanakert is a modern city with wide and clean streets, new buildings and nice parks.

Historical Sights of Artsakh

"We are our mountains" monument

The famous monument "We are our mountains", also known as the statue of Grandfather and Grandmօther ( “Tatik and Papik” in Armenian) is located north of the capital Stepanakert. The monument was built of tufa stone in 1967. It presents an elderly couple in folk clothes. The sculptor is Sargis Baghdasarian. The monument “We are our mountains” is depicted on the coat of arms of Nagorno Karabakh.

Saint Hakob church

The church of Saint Hakob is located in the Hekimian district of Stepanakert. The church was founded in 2005 and the construction of the church was finished already in 2007. The founder was American- Armenian Nerses Yepremian. The church was named in the memory of Nerses' late son, Hakob Yepremian.

Holy Savior Cathedral

The heroic city of Shushi is considered to be “an open sky museum”. The church of Surb Hovhannes Mkrtich (or “Green church”, 1847) and the famous Ghazanchetsots Cathedral are located in Shushi.

Holy Savior Cathedral commonly referred to as Ghazanchetsots was built in 1868-1887. The cathedral is considered to be the second most important religious centre in Artsakh. The church was built by local residents; the architect was Simon Ter- Hakobyan. It was consecrated in 1888. The architectural complex consists of a Church (1868-1887) and a bell tower (1858).

Gandzasar monastery complex

Gandzasar monastery complex is located in the town of Vank. The monastery was built in the 10th-13th centuries. The church was named after the mount in front of the monastery. The mountain is famous for its silver and other metals mines. Gandzasar Monastery Complex is surrounded by high walls and includes the St. Hovhannes Mkrtich Church, the churchyard, the cells, the refectory (1689) and a two-story school building (1898). There is an old cemetery in the south of the monastery.

According to Anania Mokatsi,  the Church of St. Hovhannes Mkrtich was built in 1216-1238 by the prince Hasan-Jalal. The church is named after St. Hovhannes Mkrtich (St. John the Baptist), as his relics are buried beneath the church.


Dadivank is one of the most beautiful churches in Artsakh built in 9th-13th centuries. The church was also called Khutavank because it was built on a hill (Khut is an Armenian word for hill). The monastery was founded by St. Dadi - one of the followers of Apostle Thaddeus who spread Christianity in Armenia. The relics of Saint Dadi were discovered under the altar of the main church.

The first buildings of the monastery complex were built in the 9th century. In the 12th century, the complex was set on fire by the Seljuk invaders. It was restored only about two decades later.

Surrounded by high mountains, dense forests, and gorges, this wonderful place is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the region.

The climate of Artsakh

Artsakh has a very difficult mountainous terrain. The climate is mild and humid. The average annual temperature is +10.5° C. The hottest months are July and August (+21.5°C). The average temperature of the coldest months (January-February) is about 0° C. 36% of the country is covered with forests with more than 2000 species of plants. The Republic of Artsakh is really very beautiful and it is certainly worth a visit.

Population of Artsakh

According to the calculations of 2015, 150 932 people live in Artsakh, more than 99 % of them are Armenians. There also live Russians, Greeks, Ukrainians and about 0.1 % of representatives of other nationalities.



The city of Stepanakert is the capital of Nagorno Karabakh or Artsakh, as well as the cultural, administrative, and economic centre of Karabakh. It is located on Artsakh plateau, right at the centre of the Republic of Artsakh, and at an average height of 813 meters above sea level. The population of Stepanakert is 54,000.

In 1992 the city was renamed in honour of politician Stepan Shahumian (a Russian Bolshevik revolutionary). Earlier it was named after the river Vararakn at the bank of which it is located. The residence was founded at the beginning of the 19th century. The first plan of the city was designed by the famous Armenian architect Aleksandr Tamanyan.

Sights of Stepanakert

One of the most recognizable symbols of Artsakh and Stepanakert is the memorial-monument called “Tatik and Papik” (Grandmother and Grandfather in Armenian) or “We are our mountains” (1967). It is a large and unique monument symbolizing the vigour and willingness of the locals, comparing them with the mountains of Artsakh. 

Among the interesting places in Stepanakert to visit is The Artsakh State Museum which has an important collection of ancient artefacts and Christian manuscripts. 

You can also visit the Stepanakert National Gallery, the Artsakh History Museum, the Mesrop Mashtots Republican Library of Stepanakert (1924) and the Memorial Museum of the Martyred Liberators opened in 2002․

You can as well go to the Vahram Papazyan Drama Theater of Stepanakert which was founded in 1932 in the area of a destroyed church of Saint Gevorg. 

Many cultural and youth centres were reopened in the capital of Artsakh after the independence of Armenia. The cultural palace of the city was named after Charles Aznavour, a worldwide famous Armenian singer. 

Until 2019 the only church in the area of Stepanakert has been St Hakob church which is located in the Hekimian district of the city. It was founded in 2005 and already in 2007, the construction of the church was finished. The founder of Saint Hakob was American-Armenian Nerses Yepremian. The church was named after the memory of Nerses’s son - Hakob Yepremian.

In 2019 the construction of the Church of the Intercession in Stepanakert (also known as Astvatcamor Surb Hovani Mayr Tachar) was finished and it was officially consecrated. The construction of the church lasted 12 years. The architecture of the church is very impressive indeed. In many ways, it resembles the ancient cathedral of Zvartnots.  



Gandzasar Monastery

Gandzasar monastery complex is located in Vank town, the Republic of Nagorno Karabakh. The monastery was built in the 10th-13th centuries.

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