Martakert Region

MartakertNerkin HorataghHaterkMokhrataghVaghuhas
TalishVankasar and TigranakertZaglikDrmbonCharektar
Yerits Mankants MonasteryHoly Mother of God (of Yeghnakert) and Napat ChurchesՀոռեկավանք Monastery of Apostle Elisha, JrvshtikSarsang Reservoir 

The region of Martakert occupies the main part of the historical Jraberd gavar and considerable parts of the Khachen and Gyulistan gavars of Artsakh. It has over one thousand and one hundred monuments of historic and architectural value.  Even before the forty-four-day war, five settlements out of its forty-six were still under Azeri occupation and some were not inhabited after war. More settlements were occupied in 2020.


Martakert town is the centre of the Martakert region, 75 kilometres from Stepanakert, on the right bank of the Tartar (Trtu) river, 450 metres above sea level. Before occupation in 1992 it was the third largest town in Karabakh after Stepanakert and Shushi. It was liberated in June 1993.

When the Martakert inhabitants had to leave the city, they were so confident that they would come back that they hid large canisters full of famous Karabakh vodka and red wine in their yards. These were not found by the occupiers and when Martakert was liberated, the beverages were dug out and put on the tables laid out for celebrations.

At the entrance of Martakert.
The building of the regional administration.
The Centre of Culture in Martakert

Սբ. Հովհաննես Մկրտիչ եկեղեցի

St. Hovhannes Mkrtich (John the Baptist) Church, Martakert, 1887

Nerkin Horatagh

Nerkin Horatagh village is 4 kilometres north of Martakert, 500 metres above sea level. It was destroyed in July 1992 and the population deported. Liberated in June 1993.

St. Holy Mother of God Church, Nerkin Horatagh, 19th c.
Mountains along the North-South motorway.
Sarsang Reservoir from the North-South motorway.
Sarsang Reservoir, Martakert region.
A scene in Martakert region.
A scene in Martakert region.


Haterk is 45 kilometres west of Martakert, 1000 metres above sea level. In ancient times, being on the road from Dvin to Partav, it had high economic and commercial importance. It was destroyed by the Kara-Koyunlu and Agh-Koyunlu tribes in the 12th-16th centuries and its inhabitants founded Lower Haterk in the 16th c. It was in Prince (Regent) Vakhtang’s palace in Haterk that Mkhitar Gosh completed his work “Code of Law.” It was a famous former seat of meliks.


On the way to Haterk.
Haterk village from afar.

On August 16, 1991, forty-three soldiers of the Soviet interior troops and their armoured vehicles were taken prisoner by the village self-defence group and women villagers. They demanded the release of the young people from the villages of Haterk and neighbouring Chapar, who were captured by the interior troops and turned over to Azerbaijani interior troops. They were released in exchange of these Soviet troops. 

The 12th c. The Holy Mother of God Church in the village is half-ruined. 

Haterk was occupied by the Azeris in June 1992 and liberated in February 1993.


Mokratagh village is 8 kilometres west of Martakert, on the bank of the Trtu (Tartar) river, at 540 metres above sea level. There is a  19th c. Holy Mother of God Church in the village and ruins of  monasteries as well as of a melik’s palace in its vicinity.

Mrav mountain range from Mokhratagh.


52 kilometres south-west of Martakert and 800-900 metres above sea level, Vaghuhas is one of the large villages of ancient Artsakh, at the meeting point of ancient Vaikunik and Berdadzor gavars. There are the ruins of the Hin (Old) Vaghuhas settlement and the Mairaqaghaq or Tiramair monastic complex (12th-13th centuries) in the vicinity of the village. Of the Vaghuhas Monastery in the village (12th century) there are only the ruins of the Chapel. 

Vaghuhas changed hands a few times during the Artsakh Liberation War: Azeris burnt almost all the homes, only a handful survived, over seventy people from the village were killed.

Construction of a new church in Vaghuhas in the years following the Artsakh Liberation War. 
Construction of a new school in Vaghuhas in the years following the Artsakh Liberation War. 
A view from Vaghuhas. 
A view from Vaghuhas. 

Vankasar and Tigranakert 

Occupied in the 2020 Azeri aggression.

The Vankasar Church is sometimes referred to as Vachagan’s Church in honour of King Vachagan the Pious, the most famous of the Aranshahik family. He reportedly built a church for each day of the year. Vankasar literally means “Mountain of the Monastery”. 

Excavations of Tigranakert are in the right part of the picture.
The Vankasar Church after partial renovation and before the placement of the cross. 
A view from Vankasar Church. 
A view from Vankasar Church. 


Tigran the Great (95-55 BC) founded four cities in his name, however their locations were not very clear. Since 2005  excavations carried out on the site of Artsakh Tigranakert have unearthed a section of the Citadel, the rocky foundations of the Fortified district, the Central district, a basilica church of that district from a later, early Christian period, and some other structures. 

It has become clear that Tigranakert was built according to a single plan, using modern methods and skills of Hellenistic construction and was a town of many districts built in white stone. 



The foundations of the early Christian basilica church in Tigranakert. 
The foundations of the citadel of Tigranakert. 

Findings from the site were housed in the Tigranakert Museum located at the foot of the hill on which the foundations of the city walls have been unearthed. (See the Museums of Artsakh section). 

The Museum ceased its existence after the site fell into Azeri control after the 2020 aggression. 

Monastery of Apostle Elisha, Jrvshtik

The monastery is located on the forest-covered slopes of the Mrav mountain range, north-west to the Mataghis village of the Martakert region, on the grave of the St. Yeghishe (Elisha). It is a centuries-old shrine in the Eastern Parts of Armenia. Originally known as Nersmihr’s sanctuary, after Christianity was adopted in the region, it was re-named Jrvshtik after the waterfall nearby, and later was called the Monastery of Apostle Elisha. 

A view of the Jrvshtik Monastery. Photo by and courtesy of Samvel Karapetyan.

King Vachagan the Pious erected a memorial column on the spot where Elisha had been martyred and later built a chapel-tomb.                                   When Vachagan died, he was also buried at this monastery.                                                                                                                                      In 1244 the St. Yeghishe (Elisha) church of the monastery was built on the foundations of the older church.

Entrance to King Vachagan the Pious’ tomb. Photos by and courtesy of Samvel Karapetyan. 
Entrance to King Vachagan the Pious’ tomb. Photos by and courtesy of Samvel Karapetyan. 

The seven standing churches and chapels were built in 12th-17th centuries.

 Jrvshtik Monastery. Photo by and courtesy of Samvel Karapetyan.


Holy Mother of God (of Yeghnakert) and Napat Churches

These Churches are on the Mrav mountain range and direct witness to deportations of Armenians and fierce battles. It is not accidental then, that there are graves of Freedom-Fighters and monuments to those who perished during the deportations near these churches. The soldiers of the Defence Army make up their main congregations. 

The 18th century St. Holy Mother of God Church of Yeghnakert,
The 18th century St. Holy Mother of God Church of Yeghnakert, Martakert resgion.
 A grave to the volunteer Freedom-Fighters of the Tigran the Great detachment who died defending these parts.
Napat or Amenaprkich (Saviour of All) Church. 
A monument to those inhabitants of the Gyulistan village who were killed when the village was deported in 1992 and remained unburied.
Old khachkars on the site. 
Old khachkars on the site. 

Next to the monument to those perished during deportation, there is another monument to all those from the Shahumyan region who were killed and remained unburied during the deportations of January 13-14 of 1992.

Yerek Mankan Vank (Monastery of the Three Youths)

Photo by Davit Hakobyan.

The monastery is 10 kilometres south-west to the Tonashen village in the Martakert region on the southern slopes of Mrav. It was founded in the 17th century as a rival Catholicate to Gandzasar. The Church was built in 1691 by Simeon A. Khotorashentsi the rival Catholicos. The architect Sargis did his best for the church, a four-pillar domed basilica, to resemble the Hovhannes Mkrtich Church of Gandzasar. The monastery, a famous centre of manuscript production, incorporates a Catholicos’ palace, a refectory with a kitchen and an entry hall. A cemetery with 17-18th century tombstones lies nearby. The Catholicoi of Armenia tried to reconcile the Catholicoi of Gandzasar and Yerits Mankants Vank by inviting them to the Mother See of Etchmiadzin and urging that no other Catholicoi follow in Yerits Mankants. Two of the latter were ex-communicated by the Catholicos of Armenia and only Gandzasar Catolicoi recognized as legitimate. The confrontation came to an end in 1819 when the last Catholicos of the Yerits Mankants died and the Catholicosate ceased its existence. The monastery-fortress played an important role in the liberation movement in Artsakh in the beginning of the 18th c. During the war of 1991-1994, when large parts of the Martakert district were occupied by Azeri forces, local villagers-turned guerrillas used the monastery as a hiding place and were attacked by helicopters. Missiles fired at the monastery damaged the wall and took down the cross.

Monastery of the Three Youths.

The Monastery was named in honour of the three youths in the Bible who were thrown into fire because they refused to renounce their faith, however miraculously survived the flames.

 Mountains in Talish region.


Occupied since the 2020 Azeri aggression. 

Tallish village is 28 kilometres north of Martakert, 600 metres above sea level. It is one of the oldest villages of Artsakh and has been the seat of Gyulistan (Talish) Melikdom princes. Its Holy Mother of God Church was built in the 19th century, and there are the ruins of the palaces and family graveyards of Talish or Gyulistan Meliks and the Horeka Monastery nearby. 

Talish also suffered during the 2016 war, when several Azeri special forces soldiers penetrated into the village and killed a helpless elderly couple. It was seized in the 2020 war. Photos circulating on the Internet show that Azeris have resorted to their regular barbaric destruction, desecrating the village memorial complex devoted to the victims of the World War II and Artsakh Liberation War. Later destruction of Armenian homes followed, opening ground for the construction of new houses for illegal Azeri settlers. 

Talish Memorial, 2019.
Talish Memorial, 2010.
Talish Memorial, 2010.
Talish Memorial in 2020, after the village was taken by Azeris. Photos by Anush Ghavalyan.
Talish Memorial in 2020, after the village was taken by Azeris. Photos by Anush Ghavalyan.
On the way to Talish. 


The fate of the site is not known after the occupation of Talish in 2020.

The monastery is 3-4 kilometres to the south-west of the Talish village. There used to be a settlement near the monastery, now there is only a cemetery and ruins of Melik Beglaryan’s manor about 100-120 metres from it.

The monastery was built in the 13th century and has been an important medieval shrine.


The large cemetery nearby is still used by the Talish village. Its older part was the family cemetery of the Gyulistan meliks. Their tombstones are of white stone and marbles: some have been deliberately damaged. Melik Abov’s tombstone, (founder of the Melik Beglaryan dynasty) has the date of 1632. 



Vank is a village 53 kilometres south-west of Martakert, 1100 metres above sea level, on the left bank of the Khachen river, at the foot of the mountain of Gandzasar. It is named after the Gandzasar Monastery (13th century) to the west of the village, originally called the village of Gandzasar or the village of the Monastery (vank), and later - simply Vank. The Khokhanaberd fortress (12th century), Darpasner fortified palace (13th century), and a number of monasteries and historic monuments lie in its vicinity. In later centuries Vank was the seat of the Jalalian meliks, heirs of Hasan Jalal. 

Many houses of the village were destroyed by artillery fire during the Artsakh Liberation War. Vank is now one of most interesting places in Karabakh and a tourist destination from many parts of the world.

A ship-shaped hotel in the Vank village.
 A statue of schoolchildren, a boy giving a girl a lift to reach the drinking-water fountain on the grounds of the Vank secondary school.

The specific sense of humour of Artsakh is well demonstrated in the village of Vank. 

Near the Hotel ‘Sea Stone’, the mermaids have in fact turned into “merboys” filling the pool. 
Reminders of Azerbaijani rule have been put to good use. Number plates from those times have been collected to decorate a village street and the walls of a public toilet.
Donkeys have sprouted wings to fly.
With some imagination a cave in a rock has turned into a terrifying lion.


Zaglik village is 40 kilometres west of Martakert, on the bank of the Tartar river, 800 metres above seal level. 


Drmbon is a village 30 kilometres south-west of Martakert at 750 metres above sea level.  There are several sites of religious significance around the village. It was occupied by Azeris in 1992 and liberated in February 1993.


Charektar Monastery in Martakert region on the bank of the Tartar river, was built in 12-13th centuries. 

St. Anton Church in Zaglik. 
St. Anton Church in Zaglik. 
A factory fence in Drmbon with Mrav mountains in the background. 
Charektar Monastery.


The village is in the Martakert region of the NKR, 45 kilometres south-west to Martakert, 1000 metres above sea level.

St. Hakob ('s) Monastery

St. Hakob Monastery, 9th century. 

The monastery is at the edge of Kolatak, historically in the upper part of the Khachen gavar. It has been also called Metsarants vank in literature. Metsirank was one of the Artsakh gavars that had its bishop who resided in the Monastery. The Monastery is officially called St. Hakoba (Hakob’s) as the right hand of Hakob, the Patriarch of Mtsbina (St. Jacob of Nisibis, later sanctified), was kept there. Inscriptions mention that reconstruction works were carried out in the Monastery in 1212 and 1619 and the building style denotes it was constructed before the 9th century. The Monastery had seven-eight churches encircled in a wall, three of the churches being quite old. There used to be living quarters for the monks adjacent to the churches but they are now in ruins. The Monastery had been for times also the Catholicos’ seat and throughout centuries was a centre of study and pilgrimage. A scholarly expedition in 1960-1964 researched inscriptions on Armenian monuments in the historic province of Artsakh and recorded a huge volume of such texts. A volume that covers 1071 inscriptions from of the period of 9th-18th centuries, published in 1982, lists 41 inscriptions at the St. Hakoba Monastery of which the oldest is from 853.

A tributary called the Kolatak water flows through the village into the Khachen river. There are several monuments in and around the village: the Koshik hermitage, Havaptuk Monastery, Hndzan Church, Kachaghakaberd and Khokhanaberd fortresses. 

Everyday life in Kolatak.
A view from Kolatak village.
A view from Kolatak village.


The village is 45 kilometres to the south-west of its centre Martakert, at an altitude of 850-900 metres. The Holy Mother of God Church dates to 1668 and there are two churches carved in the rock in its vicinity (13th century), as well as two sites of ancient villages, called Hermitage and Red Church near Arajadzor. Tombs dating back to the 3rd millennia BC have also been discovered not far from it.



St. Stepanos Church (12th century) in the village of Tsmakahogh which is 47 kilometres south-west of Martakert and 850 metres above sea level, is half-ruined. Churches Harava, Manqa, Anknunq are nearby. 


During the 1991-94 war Kichan was taken a few times but never remained in the hands of the Azeris, even for a day. The khachkars were unearthed along the North-South motorway a few years ago and are seen by passers-by. 

The Harava Church and the village cemetery.


A small waterfall not far from Dadivank.
A scene in the Tartar river valley.