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Martouni

Martouni region occupies the south-eastern part of RA. It borders with Askeran region  in the north-west and in the west and in the south with Hadrout region. Martouni state boundary with Azerbaijan passes in the east and north-east. The eastern part of the region is occupied at present time by Azerbaijan. Comparing with other regions Martouni has more flat landscape, the river of Varanda with tributary of Amaras flows along its territory. The territory of the region is 951 sq.km., the population is 23 200 people. The regional center is Martouni city situated 45 km away from the capital of RA, Stepanakert. In the old times the historical province of Myus Aband, and later part of the province of Varanda, was situated here. The numerous monuments of antiquity has remained here, among which the monastery of Amaras (4-17cc), Bri Eghtsi,  the fortress Kusaberd-Akhchkaberd,  the monument to the fallen soldiers in Berdashen are of great interest. The huge tree – the oldest plane tree in the village of Skhtorashen, the age of which according to some researchers is more than 2000 years, as well refers to the interesting sights of the region.

MARTOUNI CITY

 Martouni city is situated in the hilly country that gradually turns in steppes of Mugan plain. The population is 5000 people (2008).

There is a new church, historical museum of local lore in the city.The palace of Culture, that is the exact small copy of the famous opera house in Yerevan, is of special interest. Martouni region is a real edem for the true connoisseurs of wine, it's even figuratively called "Artsakh Shampaigne", as almost all locals make wine which is famous not only in Artsakh but far beyond its borders, too.

AMARAS MONASTERY

Amaras monastery, the famous religious and cultural centre of medieval Armenia, is situated in the province of Myus Aband of the historical Artsakh. According to the Armenian historian of the 4-5th centuries Pavstos Byuzand the church of Amaras monastery was built at the beginning of the 4th century by Grigor Lousavorich (Gregory the Illuminator). Unfortunately, no information of the initial architectural composition of the church important for the history of Armenia has survived. Amaras reached more popularity in the mid of 4th century, when here the grandson of Grigor Lousavorich, the bishop of Grigoris that according to the historian of the 7 century Movses Kaghankatvatsi, built all the churches of Atrpatakan (the nowadays Iranian province of Azerbaijan), was buried here. Grigoris died in 338 and was buried from the eastern side of the church, founded by Grigor Lousavorich. At the beginning of the 5th century the creator of the Armenian alphabet Mesrop Mashtots opened in Amaras the first school of Artsakh. That furthered the spreading of Christianity in Artsakh-Utic. At the end of the same century, in 489, the king of Aranshahik, Vachagan III (the Pious) finds already forgotten grave of Grigoris, builds a temple over it and reconstructs the church built by Gregory the Illuminator. It is this temple that has remained to this day almost without any changes under the altar of the church of Amaras monastery. However, at the end of 5th century the tomb of Grigoris was near the church. Later in the process of numerous reconstructions immediately over the temple- burial vault, the church was built. In the 5th century Amaras becomes one of the biggest religious centres of Armenia. In 821 Amaras, as well as the whole region, was conquered by the Arabians, in 13 century it was plundered by Mongol hordes, and in 1387 it was destroyed by the army of Tumberlaine. Nevertheless, the monastery with persistely functioning school, continued to be the religious and cultural center. In 15-16 centuries under difficult conditions of permanent invasions of the enemies numerous valuable manuscripts were created by the monks of Amaras. In 17 century the monastery was basically rebuilt. The Catholicos from Gandzasar Petros in the 2nd quarter of the 17 century reconstructed Amaras, which was the center of Varanda episcopacy, and bulit a church of St. Grigoris in the village of Herher that served as a summer residence of the bishop. In the second half of the 19 century. After the annexation of Eastern Armenia to Russia, the monastic complex of Amaras, having quite powerful defensive constructions, was used as a frontier fortress, and in 1832-1844-as the Russian-Persian custom house. In the mid of 19 century Amaras became depopulated. Archimandrite and scientist Sargis Jalalyants visited Amaras at that period, noted with great pain the changes, that took place here after his first visit. In all likelyihood, the monastic church was damaged, because unlike defensive wall and civil constructions that remained unchangeable, the church was fully restored, up to its full reconstructing. Actually, on the place of the old church was built a new one: the composition was fully changed. Before that event, in 1848, the Gandzasar metropolitan Ter Bagdasar got from King the right to return Amaras monastery into the bosom of Armenian Apostolic Church

The church was built in 1858 on the benefits of Armenian – the residents of Shoushi. The gravestone of Grigoris was constructed by the Shoushi architect Michael Ter-Israelyan in 1858 was placed in its northern nave. At the end of 19c the monastery had estates, plough-lands, gardens and mill. Southward of the moanstery, on the high slope of the right bank of the river of Amaras, the traces of constructions can be followed, one can also meet clay pipes, grave-stones. These are supposed to be the ruins of Amaras settlement.


Virtual tour in Amaras Monastery


2000 YEAR OLD PLANE TREE IN THE VILLAGE OF  SKHTORASHEN

37 km north from Stepanakert, not far from the north-south highway near the village of Skhtorashen a huge plane tree goes high into the air. The plane tree was giften a passport of the oldest and highest tree on the territory of the ex USSR.  The hollow of a tree trunk is of 44 sq.km. On its area 100 persons can stand freely. The base perimeter is of 27 m, the height is 54 m. The shaded area under the tree is 1400 sq.m. The plane tree of Skhtorashen excels in its sizes the famous trees on the island of Kos in Agean Sea and trees in Piruz canyon near Ashkhabad. According to the legends, the creator of the Armenian alphabet Mesrop Mashtots (5c. AD), the legendary singer – ashugh Sayat-Nova (18c) rested under the shade of the tree. In the suburbs of the plane tree (Tnjre, Chinar) numerous historical monuments have remained. The most remarkable of them is the early medieval basilica and the ruins of the ancient cemetery with numerous magnificent khachkars (cross-stones). Since 2008 in the suburbs of the plane the works on improving of the nearby territory have been carried on.

Virtual tour in the territory of Platan tree

KUSABERD-AKHCHKABERD FORTRESS

Akhchkaberd fortress (maiden fortress) is situated near the village of Berdashen, on the peak of the rock mass. The fragments of the fortress wall and artificial reservoir have remained here. The locals find the remains of clay pipes of the ancient water supply up to this day. The clay pipes found here point that the water came into the fortress through a secret path from the Pilek spring. On the peak of the rock there persisted slabs with images of crosses. Besides underground habitation places hewed in the rocks have persisted under the fortress. The maiden fortress is an example of the well planned mountain fortification served from time immemorial as a shield of Artsakh land. A picturesque view of the surrounding mountains opens from the fortress. The rock mass with vertical walls is of great interest for tourists keen on mountaineering.

The village of Berdashen is known for the highest monument in RA as well. The monument to the Artsakhians, fallen in the years of Great Patriotic War, was built by the fortieth anniversary of the end of World War II. The monument represents founded of aluminium the statue of a woman with bay leaf in her hand. The height of the monument is of 32m. Here the historical museum of local is also situated which home for a big collection of exhibits is found during the digs of Akhchkaberd fortress (The maiden fortress) and ancient settlements near it. The route leading to the village of Berdashen passes along the lowland, and the monument is built on  the peak of the mountain, and due to it and its sizes it is seen from many kilometers.