Tigranakert

Tigranakert is a ruined Armenian city, in the distance of 33 km from Stepanakert, the capital of Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) Republic. It's dated back to the Hellenistic period. It is one of several former cities in the Armenian plateau with the same name, named in honour of the Armenian king Tigranes the Great (r. 95-55 B.C.). It occupies an area of about 50 hectares. It was a large city on the way from Ararat plain via Selim pass to Caucasian Albania, inhabited till the 14th century. Excavations at Tigranakert began in March 2005, when it was first discovered, and are currently ongoing. Archaeologists have uncovered two of the main walls of the city, as well as Hellenistic-style towers and an Armenian basilica dating to fifth to seventh centuries. In June 2010, a museum dedicated to the study and preservation of artifacts unearthed from Tigranakert's ruins was opened in the adjacent Shahbulag Castle.

Vankasar church was built in the 7 th century on top of Vankasar mountain. It looks like a cross with a dome in the middle. Masters who built Vankasar left marks on all of its stones; many of them are in Armenian. There are Armenian inscriptions on the walls of the church that earlier used to be cross-stones. During Azerbaijani rule one of the cross-­stones was taken to Aghdam; today it stands in the courtyard of Askeran church. A cross-­shaped ornament could be seen earlier on the lintel of the western entrance. In 1970s they renovated the church and completely changed its original appearance. Azerbaijanis tried to turn a shell damaged Vankasar church during the Artsakh Liberation War weakening its walls. They were later fixed by the Artsakh diocese. The monastery was built in cross-style form.

Shahbulagh, an 18th-century castle was founded by Panah Ali, who was the first khan of Persian Karabakh administrative region. Eventually, Panah Ali Khan moved the capital to its final location, Shushi, a natural fortress located on a hardly penetrable mountain rock. The castle was called "Shah's spring". The complex which included mosques, houses, baths and a market was built in 1751-52. During the construction, limestone and dimension stone were used. The castle has a rectangular architectural design and its external walls are reinforced with circular and semi-cylinder towers. The castle walls are 7 metres (23 ft) high, and the towers are 8.5 metres (28 ft) high. The mosque built during the construction of the castle is on the northwestern part of it.

Mayraberd (Mother castle) fortress in Askeran is on the banks of the Karkar River. It's an ancient Armenian castle, which was built in front of the valley to stop the nomadic Turkish tribes enter the mountainous Artsakh. Later it was rebuilt by Panah Ali Khan. It consists of two sections. The left-bank section features a double line of stone walls. Between Tigranakert and Askeran, Aghdam, a ghost town is located. t was founded in the early 19th century, it grew considerably during the Soviet period and had 38,000 inhabitants in the town, and 140,000 in the region by 1989. The heavy fighting forced the entire population to flee eastwards. More damage occurred in the following decades when locals looted the abandoned town for building materials. It is currently almost entirely ruined and uninhabited.

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