Latvian blogger Aleksey Vesyoliy has shared his impressions after a three day visit to Artsakh. Vesyoliy visited Artsakh with a group of journalists and bloggers from Russia, Latvia, Hungary, France, Algeria and Italy.
For the three days, together with a group of journalists, I went to discover the unknown land for me – Artsakh, which is also famous as Nagorno-Karabakh. Our journey started on a minibus in Yerevan, the driver is very experienced, swiftly maneuvered through mountain passes. Thanks to highlander-driver we never fell into a ditch or flew to the abyss, instead we were flying over mountains pretty swift. That’s exactly what our journey was: full of adventures!
By Aleksey Vesyoliy
Yerevan is a very warm city. Well, at least, much warmer than Riga or any other Baltic city. I was preparing for the cold, still February in the yard, and took a warm winter coat, but even just a jacket with a scarf was more than enough. All the time the sun was shining brightly and you could see many different cultures and architectural styles on the city street. If you have never been to Yerevan and think that you know it from the stories of friends, then I can assure you that you are deeply mistaken.
It is a different world, with its habits, traditions, culture. I must say Yerevan is located on a plateau and Armenia is a mountainous region. Highlanders live here!
In Yerevan, we did not stay long and went directly to Karabakh. The only open road in Artsakh lies past the ancient mountain of Ararat, it remains on our right hand.
Little miracle happen and Ararat got out of the misty haze. Whatever you say, it’s a good sign. Ararat is considered to be a sacred mountain. As ancient legends say, it’s the place of Noah’s Ark. The legendary mountain is very different from the way it looks on pictures.
Quickly bypassing the Armenian territory, we enter Artsakh. Here it is at last! Nagorny Karabakh is “nagorny” because it is uplands. Artsakh is located in the mountains, above the clouds! Can you imagine? It’s like living above the clouds! The sun is shining almost all the time in this beautiful land, the air is discharged and very clean.
The mountains amaze with their height, grandeur. Caucasian mountains! As if they were centuries-old giants, they settled in this cozy valley and look at the world for thousands of years through the clouds. The soil around is stony, there is not much land, but mountain grasses are everywhere. Here local folks grow honey, collect medicines. Oh, and your breathe is fine, the air seems to be curative.
When one climbes on the plateau, he wants to scream: AouooooOO! So that the echo would shake the mountains!
We are passing a very amazing cultural and historical phenomenon – abandoned cities of settlement in caves. It is more correct to say the city in the caves, namely the CITY. Have you ever seen the sci-fi films about the underground cities? Here it turns into reality. In each such settlement there are houses hollowed out in caves, ovens, everything necessary for everyday life. True in most of these settlements today no one lives, but there are also inhabited villages, and a hundred years ago such settlements were very popular.
Mountain springs, wine workshops and religious monuments can be found everywhere. We made a stop near one monument.. If you look around – there are mountains, mountains, endless mountains .. We tasted spring water from the hill it was very clean, tasted really refreshing!
Given the mountain specificity the roads here are quite good, which is even surprising. How local people manage to keep them in working order remains a mystery.
It is difficult to imagine that this whole magical land actually lives in a state of war and the earth is marked with deep scars. Artsaks is independent land of unique culture, people, and high value of Freedom. Everyone here speak Karabakh language, it is also unique, even people from Armenia hardly understand it.
There were epic battles around here. A lot of people died protecting their villages, families, lands in any of mountain corner. There are places where war is still going on. Some of the villages along the road have been completely destroyed, but they’re rebuilding thanks to local authorities and people.
You can see a lot of monuments dedicated to the fallen in the war for the independence of Artsakh. One can be amazed at the courage of people who live in here and is not afraid to build what is lost by war. Peace is really important here.
We came to Artaskh capital – Stepanakert in the evening and Artsakh hospitably opens the doors to the tired travelers.
The city is really shaked by war, but is rapidly rebuilding.
First impressions that you are in heavens. I will explain why: here we have witnessed a unique natural phenomenon – when the fog meets the clouds on the streets of the city. Maybe the Karabakh people have already got used to it and do not notice, but this is like a fairy tale: the two elements together create the feeling that the streets of mountain city are hovering in the clouds. Each ray of light from the metropolitan lanterns flashed in the clouds and gently diffused through the light microbursts scattered in the fog. It seems that you see every molecule of this cloud and fog instead of clouding your eyes illuminating the streets of the night city for travelers. And higher, above the fog and clouds are the stars. And you see all of them as they are directly above your head.
This is Artsakh, land of Highlands and Freedom.