Stepanakert is the capital city of Artsakh, or as it is worldly known, Nagorno Karabakh. After going through a lot of challenges, from Russian Empire, Soviet rule to war with Azerbaijan, Stepanakert rises like a phoenix and continues to develop! find information such as its airport, weather, hospital and etc here!
Stepanakert is a city with full of adventures, marvelous nature and quite a lot interesting places to visit. Continue reading and we will explore this unique city together. One thing is clear: you should visit it as soon as possible!
General Information about Stepanakert
Stepanakert is the capital city of Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. It is also the largest city of Nagorno-Karabakh and was originally called Vararakn. Its present-day name is derived from the Soviet Armenian Bolshevik’s, Stepan Shahumyan’s name.
The population of this capital city is under 55200. Native people mainly speak Russian and Armenian, they are very friendly towards tourists and willing to help them. English is widely taught in the schools, so it’s also becoming more and more popular in Stepanakert.
Stepanakert is a developing city in the sphere of education, culture and economy. The soviet influence on Stepanakert is vividly visible. So, there are not many churches there. However, most of the population belongs to the Armenian Apostolic Church.
The weather of the city is humid subtropical. That’s why Stepanakert amuses us with its rarely beautiful nature.
The weather is mainly very mild and pleasant. Stepanakert is the economical. So, even the weather of this unique capital city tempts us to visit there.
Economy and Healthcare
Though the economy of Stepanakert was cruelly damaged during the Nagorno-Karabakh war, it was specialized mainly on food production, winemaking, silk weaving etc. The war brought a hard-economic collapse.
The economy of Stepanakert has developed a lot during the recent years, and mainly thanks to the investments of Armenian Diaspora. Stepanakert is also on its way of development in the sphere of healthcare. Every hospital in the capital city is being equipped with newest technologies and is trying to keep in line with international standards. One of them is Stepanakert Republican Hospital.
As Stepanakert is has always been a place where wars were inevitable, the existence of well equipped Military Hospital has always been essential. Military Hospital of Nagorno- Karabakh is the main military hospital of the country, which is situated in Stepanakert.
How to get to Stepanakert
The first thing the visitors must do in Karabakh, is to obtain Nagorno-Karabakh visa. It will take only a few minutes. They can obtain visa in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Nagorno-Karabakh. You can get to Stepanakert both by car and by bus.
The most economic way of getting Stepanakert from Yerevan is traveling there by bus. Buses and microbuses, or so called Marshrutkas are rather cheap (less than $20). Usually buses and marshrutkas depart at 6:00, 7:00 and 8:00 am.
However, sometimes it depends, that’s why it’s preferable to come a bit earlier. You will find at least one daily bus from Yerevan. For catching the buses, you need to go to Kilikia bus station in Yerevan, Armenia. Before the Nagorno Karabakh war there was an opportunity of train travel from Yerevan to the capital city Stepanakert. However, after 1994 train connections were fully suspended.
Air travel is not available in Stepanakert, In spite of the existence of Stepanakert Airport. In 1980-s, this airport used to serve passenger flights from Yerevan to Stepanakert. With the rising conflict of Nagorno-Karabakh Azerbaijan SSR blockaded Armenian SSR. Now Armenia aircraft doesn’t have any access to this airport in threat of being shoot down.
In 2009 the authorities of Nagorno-Karabakh began the reconstruction and repair of the airport. The opening of the airport was organized in 2011, however it had been postponed throughout the whole 2011. Later it was announced that the airport will officially be opened in 2012. However, the airport remains closed because of political reasons till our days.
War and Independence
The routes of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict come from early ages of history. However, the new era of the conflict started in 1980s. In 1985 General Secretary Mickail Gorbochov initiated political and economical reforms.
Armenians both in Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh were already tired of the burden of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, so, they decided that those reforms were a perfect opportunity to reunite Armenia and Nagorno –Kharabakh. There were mass demonstration of anger and demand in Stepanakert Square. The situation got worse when after declaring its independence Azerbaijan renamed the city as Khankendy.
Before the war broke out the population of the city was 70000 out 189000. Armenians were the 75% of the population, and already in 1992 it hardly reached 50000. The city was damaged greatly during the war from Azeri bombardment.
The damages in the city were so immense that a journalist for “Time” stated in 1992 “Scarcely a single building escaped damage in Stepanakert”. Though the capital city of Nagorno Karabakh has faced a lot of hardships, it prospering nowadays and day by day becomes more beautiful.
Places to visit in Stepanakert
Places to visit #1: Stepanakert Shuka
When being in Stepanakert you should probably visit Shuka. Here you can find almost everything: fresh and tasty fruits, spices, shoes and clothing etc. This unique market has become larger after the ceasefire.
The majority of sellers are those who lost their jobs during the period of war, such as cooks, sewers, grocers. The atmosphere is very warm and friendly there just like the Nagorno-Karabakh nation. While being in the shuka you should not forget to buy the most famous and tastiest thing in whole Stepanakert: Jengyalov hats. People living there take the making process of jengyalov hats as an art, and indeed the different kinds of greens are so delicately mixed in this delicious food, that it’s like a piece of art.
Places to Visit #2: We are Our Mountains
“We are our mountains” also called “Papik &Tatik” (Grandpa & Grandma) is a large monument situated in Stepanakert. This unique monument depicts the courageous soul of Artsakh people. The monument has become the symbol of whole Artsakh and very often, when we talk about Artsakh, the first thing it is associated with is the monument “We are our mountain.
The name of the monument has also its explanation. As Karabakh is a rather mountainous place, people of Karabakh consider themselves courageous mountain people, with unbreakable will, who have always fought for their land despite the age and gender.
Places to visit #3: Artsakh State Museum of Local History
If you want to get acquainted with history of Artsakh with more details, then you should visit Artsakh State Museum of Local History. Here you will find a complete history of Nagorno-Karabakh, starting from its formation, including the period of war till our days.
The museum is rather large, containing about 50000 artifacts, which tell us about rich cultural heritage of Nagorno-Karabakh. There you’ll also have an opportunity to hire an English-language guide who will introduce everything in details.
Places to Visit #4: Stepanakert Carpet Factory Showroom
Another nice place, which perfectly reflects the valuable cultural heritage of Karabakh: here you can see handmade carpets which are made so delicately and high professionalism, that have become a piece of art.
Karabakh has always been famous for its carpets. During several decades Karabakh carpets were sold throughout the world and were considered as the best. In this factory showroom you will find carpets survived from ancient times and the newest ones. The new carpets keep the identity and cultural elements typical to Karabakh and are definitely worth seeing!
Places to Visit #5: Museum of Fallen Soldiers
Karabakh has always been in the center of forced conflicts. So, the war has always been inevitable in this area as well. This museum reflects the losses Karabakh faced during the war. The museum consists of 3220 portraits of soldiers, 132 of which missing, who were killed during the war.
The atmosphere there is rather sober․The museum staff has taken care that all portraits of the fallen soldiers were there. The photos are black and white, which once again emphasizes the dark and gloomy atmosphere possessing there. This museum demonstrates the respect towards the fallen ones and shows that they will never be forgotten.
Other Related Posts of Stepanakert Guide | Airport, Weather, Hospital, Find Out More About the Capital City of Nagorno Karabakh
- Tigranakert of Artsakh, a Ruined City in Nagorno Karabakh Region
- Gandzasar Monastery in Nagorno-Karabakh | a reflection of Armenia’s Christianity
- Nagorno Karabakh Travel & Tourism Landmarks You Should Consider