The term «lower» is usually used to indicate the historical parts of Artsakh (Karabakh), connecting the former Aghdam, Fizouli, Zangelan and Kubatlou regions of the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic. These territories of Karabakh were liberated in the course of fighting and now, according to 12th of May, 1994 armistice treaty is under the jurisdiction of the Republic of Mountainous Karabakh.
Both upland and lowland of Karabakh was literally sown by numerous monuments of Armenian culture, and only the small part of it has remained to this day. Here the biggest city of East Armenia, Tigranakert, built by king Tigran the Great in the 1c BC, is situated, as well as several churches and monastic complexes of early Christian period. Since the end of 19c monuments of islamic culture, which are described in separate head, have appeared as well.
One of the remarkable architectural monuments of Artsakh, situated 18 km away from Martakert city, at the bottom of the mountain of Vankasar, was discovered by the archaeologists in 2006. Artsakh Tigranakert is one of the three cities of the same name built by order of the Armenian king Tigran the Great in the 1c BC. The ruins of fortress wall, surrounding the city, have already been excavated by the archaeologists, a rocky cave church turned into the Christian church later and traces of irrigative system are discovered as well. Within the city itself having been existed till 14c. a Christian church of the 5th century of AD is discovered.
Near the excavation spot the fortress of the late Middle Ages is situated. The fortress having the rectangular planning is fortified in the corners by the high towers. At the bottom of the hill, where the fortress was raised, wells out the most full-flowing spring that during the epoch of Persian domination got the name Shahbulagh (the spring of Shakh). Upon the travelers it amazes by the skill of ancient stone dressers: it is impossible to thrust through the huge stone blocks even a needle.
In the course of the archaeological excavations numerous monuments of the material culture of the according epoch have been discovered which are now at the investigation stage.
It gives the beginning to the full-flowing stream the water of which from time immemorial has been used for the irrigation of the fields nearby. Near the spring there has remained one of the constructions of the ancient coaching inn.
Not far from the ruins of Tigarnakert 290 m above the sea level raises the mountain of Vankasar. On the top of the mountain proudly raise high the cupola of the church built in the 5c. Dominating the surrounding it's an original observatory, from where one can see actually the whole Artsakh in the west and the Lowlands of Southern Caucasus up to the Great Caucasian range in the east.
The archbishop Makar Barkhudarian brought to our days a beautiful legend about this church in his book "Artsakh"(1895).
A shepherd was pasturing sheep at the mountain foot. A stranger asked him for a bit of milk to drink. The shepherd refused. The stranger went on his knees and asked God: "If you give me a flock of sheep I shall help all the strangers with milk". Having heard the prayer Jesus turned the white stones around into the sheep. The happy stranger took the sheep up to the mountain. Jesus appeared in front of him in the image of an 80-year old man and asked for milk to drink. But he got a cold refusal. God crossed himself and turned all the sheep with the shepherd into stones. Since then the nomads call this place Chobandag, or Armenian - Vankasar.
The ruins of the city destroyed in the course of fighting appeal the travelers to consider for a moment about the horrors of war and the values of peaceful life.
Here the Persian Mosque of the late 19th century end, the fortress and burial-vault of one of the nomad tribes, muslim cemeteries with gravestones have remained, some of which strike by the mastery of the ancient stone-dressers.
The tourists can also witness the ruins of winery of brothers Khublaryan, built here at the end of 19th century It was one of the most important providers of alcohol for the Yerevan Cognac factory of Shustov (nowaday Yerevan Cognac Factory “Ararat”).
During the excavations carried on in 2004-2005 there were discovered the ruins of the Armenian church of the Early Middle Ages not far.
The valley of the Araks River
The valley of the Araks river is one of the most picturesque places in Artsakh. Here the mountainous spurs smoothly turn into the lowland and merge with the valley of the most full-flowing river of not only in Artsakh, but in the whole South Caucasus. In ancient times the valley of the Arax was the favourite place of hunting of both Armenian kings and Persian shahs. It's rich in various specimens of wild fauna, such as wild boar, deer, and is attractive for tourists looking for adventures. The fertile field, the bright sun and life-giving water of the Arax give birth to the magnificent vineyards, from the berries of which the famous Karabakhian wine is made.
Two stone polyarched bridges of Khudaferin of 7th and 13th cc are all that has remained from the historical monuments in the valley. One of them connects Artsakh with the Islamic Republic of Iran up to this day.
Along the valley of the Arax there passes the state boundary between RA and Iran, as well as the highway connecting Hadrout with Kafan city in the Republic of Armenia.
Caravanserai of Gharghabazar
Situated on Hadrout-Martouni highway in the place of Gharaghabazar, not far from the latter, this architectural monument of 17c occupies a special place in the civil architecture of Artsakh. Built in the best traditions of Armenian architecture it represents a unique secluded world with its own customs and traditions. It had rooms for overnight stop, stable, tavern, as well as chapels for Christians and Muslims. Polylingual crowds of merchants, travelers from Persia to Armenia and vice versa filled up this coaching inn which was on the main caravan route leading from Artsakh to Persia.