EDITOR’S NOTE: Recently Asbarez was contacted by the Artsakh Tourism Department, which works under the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic’s Economy Ministry, with a request to publish a series of articles about tourism in Artsakh and the growing industry that has been burgeoning there in recent years. We begin a series on Artsakh tourism in hopes that our readers who visit Armenia, consider Artsakh as a destination as well and share these articles with their friends—Armenian and non-Armenian alike.
During the recent years more and more people choose Armenia and consequently Artsakh as travel destinations. More people have become informed about NKR as a country of interest for tourists and not as a former conflict zone. So why do people visit Artsakh instead of the traditional destinations? The answers maybe different: from the safety of tourists (according to NKR tourism authorities, there wasn’t any incident involving tourists in Karabakh, since the country had become a part of international tourism) to really extraordinary and fascinating beauty of nature, cultural heritage and local’s lifestyle.
Karabakh has a real potential to become an alternative tourist destination for the whole region. The “wow effect” for Karabakh is… Karabakh itself, with its unique people, untouched nature and historical heritage with more than 2000 years old history.
Besides that, several archaeological and historical-cultural monuments were developed for receiving more tourists and provide a wide range of services on site (Tigranakert reserve, Gandzasar monastery, Hunot Canyon, Platan Tree, Thermal Springs, etc.). The development of aforementioned sites wasn’t initiated accidentally: several tourist routes were established by the Government and the development program is being implemented on these routes every year. The Southern and Northern tourist routes of Artsakh involve almost all tourist sites with necessary infrastructure.
As a travel destination Karabakh offers different types of tourism: cultural, religion, adventure, rural, archaeological, etc. Almost every tourist with his interests will be satisfied visiting Artsakh. Numerous archaeological sites, historical architectural monuments, villages with preserved authenticity, open to the visitors.
Karabakh is a unique place for religious tourism. Every year thousands of pilgrims visit Artsakh for worship in the ancient monasteries of Gandzasar, Dadivank and Amaras.
Hiking is also quite popular among the tourists visiting Karabakh, in fact Karabakh is rich of mountains appropriate to hike. The routes that were tested by professionals are marked for travelers that hike for the first time. Hunot Canyon, in the vicinities of Stepanakert, is a paradise for hikers. Historical-cultural and natural monuments are concentrated here and several routes with several levels of difficulty were made.
Rural tourism is also popular in Artsakh. The significant part of the Karabakh population lives in villages with more than three hundred years old history. Artsakh villages with preserved traditions, historical heritage and interesting lifestyle are attracting tourists from all over the world. In some of them bed and breakfasts and taverns were built for receiving tourists (villages of Tsaghkashat, Vank, Togh, Mets Tagher, Patara, etc.).
Artsakh is a really hidden treasure, which needs to be discovered by every traveler interested in rich culture of Armenian people.
P.S. This post can be considered as a foreword to the next articles about tourism in Karabakh. I will try to give comprehensive information about each particular tourism sphere from infrastructure development and PR to the programs and strategies.