Our second day in Karabagh, or Artsakh, as it's also known. After exploring Stepanakert’s streets and markets, and even being interviewed by the local news the night before, we set off toward Agdam, a city on the buffer zone between Karabagh and Azerbaijian. This was the line drawn during the 1994 ceasefire and conflict still arises in this area. It is dry and desolate with sloping hills, but still stunningly beautiful. Crumbling Azeri homes abandoned during the war dot one side of the road. There are also Azeri cemeteries here; Armenia’s were destroyed, another example of assault on cultural heritage.
We end up at the ruins of the fortress of Tigranakert, and witnessed its excavation in progress. Climbing up the mountain toward the ruins and looking out over this land was surreal and hard to describe, like standing at the edge of a precarious point. As we continued on to our next stop at Gandzasar, a 13th century monastery, the land changed to lush green mountains and valleys that extended as far as the eye can see.
This is one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen.