I visited Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) during my five plus months backpacking trip through Central and Eastern Europe. After few days of walking around the capital city of Yerevan, Armenia, I joined a three days organized tour to unrecognized Republic of Artshakh.
Warning: Every government in the world issue travel warning against visiting Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) region as it can be extremely dangerous, it is a conflict zone and war can occur at any moment between Azerbaijan and Armenia. The U.S. government is unable to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in Nagorno-Karabakh as U.S. government employees are restricted from traveling there.
Artsakh, formerly known as Nagorno-Karabakh, is a self-proclaimed republic of the former Soviet Union, recognized by NO country in the world. It is located in the south of Caucasus region, laying between Armenia and Azerbaijan. It is located within Azerbaijan’s internationally recognized borders but run by ethnic Armenians.
This landlocked enclave is the subject of a territorial and ethnic conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan and was subject of a devastating war during 1991 to 1994, which cost around 30,000 lives and displaced a million people, that is more than 5 times current population of Artsakh which is less than 200,000.
At present, Azerbaijan maintains its claim on this conflicted region, though Artsakh has kept its de facto autonomy. As a matter of fact, Artsakh can only be accessed through Armenia, and it is considered illegal entry into Azerbaijani territory by Azerbaijani authorities. So once you enter Artsakh, Azerbaijan may black list you, I heard stories about people getting deported from Baku airport.
I will keep my focus on Photos and will not go in detail about politics and war, though I highly recommend that anyone planning to visit this unrecognized country should read the history and about it’s conflict.
Update: Many areas we visited during my three days visit to Artsakh were returned to Azerbaijan on 20 November 2020 per the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh ceasefire agreement following the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war.
Stepanakert (Armenian) or Khankendi (Azerbaijani), originally called Vararakn, is the capital and the largest city of the de facto Republic of Artsakh. As of 2015, the population of Stepanakert is 55,200, one third of the total population of Artsakh.
“We Are Our Mountains” locally known as “Tatik-Papik” (Grandma and Grandpa), is a large monument north of Stepanakert, the capital city of Artsakh. The sculpture, completed in 1967, is widely regarded as a symbol of the Armenian heritage of Nagorno-Karabakh. The monument is made from volcanic tufa and depicts an old man and woman hewn from rock, representing the mountain people of Karabakh. The sculpture is prominent in Artsakh’s coat of arms.
Photos below are of many interesting places we visited during next two days in Artsakh.
Agdam is a ghost town in South West Azerbaijan and part of the disputed region of Artsakh. During the war of 1993, the town was captured by Armenian forces and the residents forced to flee, leaving it as a ghost town. At Present, the area is abandoned and used as a buffer zone between Azeri and Armenian forces. As the area is considered part of a war zone it is officially off-limits for tourists.
Update: This region is returned back to Azerbaijan following the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh War.
Virtually all the buildings of Agdam are destroyed, and driving through the ruins is a surrealistic experience.
Few pictures below are of military weapon storage and/or maintenance facility.
In May 2017, 23 days before I was going to complete 50 years, grabbed an opportunity and took an early retirement.. Picked up a backpack and traveling ever since.. Love to travel around the world, experience different culture, local cuisine & drinks .. and take pictures.. so far been to 108 countries and still counting...