Nagorno-Karabakh A Non Existing Country

#armenia #Nagorno_Karabakh #Stepanakert

The landlocked mountainous “country” of Nagorno-Karabakh is the subject of an unresolved dispute between Azerbaijan, in which is located and its ethnic Armenian majority.

Nagorno-Karabakh is technically a country that doesn’t exist, but you still need a visa to visit it.

Nagorno-Karabakh is, in fact, an independent republic located in South Caucasus, bordering south-east Armenia. It is officially a part of Azerbaijan but under Armenian control.
Be careful if you are planning to visit Azerbaijan on the same trips as your visiting Nagorno-Karabakh. Azerbaijan will refuse your visa application if they can see you have been to Nagorno-Karabakh.

So if you’re planning to visit both places, you should visit Azerbaijan first since it doesn’t recognize the legitimacy of it as a country.

The territory remains internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, which has not exercised power over most of the region since 1991. Since the end of the Nagorno-Karabakh War from 1988 to 1994.

One of the most interesting places to visit is the Ghost Town “Agdam” it was a city in Southern Azerbaijan.
Today the city, which bustled with life just 15 years ago, is under Nagorno-Karabakh control, completely deserted and in ruins; it is known as the “Hiroshima of Azerbaijan” and is under Armenian control.

The official travel advice for Nagorno-Karabakh is to stay away from the city of Agdam, due to its close proximity to Azerbaijan border. But that´s no fun.

But to reach Agdam you first have to reach the capital city of Nagorno-Karabakh, Stepanakert.

Stepanakert it’s not a big city, the population is no more than 55.000, So it’s easy to walk around and see the whole city in a few hours.
This city offers a few nice sights like the Artsakh University, Stepanakert Dramatic Theatre and small and nice park around the Shahumyan square.

#Stepanakert #armenia #police
two very young locals in Stepanakert, They were in training to become police officers

For some reason wasn’t allowed to take any photos of the city, every time I took out my camera I was told by a police officer to put it away. So the only photo I have from Stepanakert is a photo from one of the backstreets.

#Stepanakert #armenia #soviet #Nagorno-Karabakh
Stepanakert back streets, gray and depressing

One thing you can see and take photos of is Grandma and Grandpa statue, the most famous sight in all of Nagorno-Karabakh

#armenia #Nagorno_Karabakh #Stepanakert #Nagorno-Karabakh
Grandma and Grandpa, the memorial features an elderly Artsakh couple.

The statue is located an easy 20min walk outside Stepanakert.

But back to my visit to the ghost town of Agdam.
There is no public transportation to Agdam, so the only way to get there is by taking Taxi, you might have to ask a few taxi drivers to take you there since the first 3 I asked refused to take me. They told me it was too dangerous, luckily the 4th driver I asked was willing to drive me there. I paid 10Euro for a return trip.

#Armenia #Agdam #war #ruins #Nagorno-Karabakh
The ruins of Agdam.
#Agdam #mosque #Nagorno-Karabakh
Agdam Mosque

The Agdam Mosque was one of the few buildings not destroyed during the siege. The first floors are inhabited by cows these days, but you can climb one of the minarets. From the top of the minaret, you will see most of the abandoned city.

There is still a lot of military around Agdam, but they were friendly enough and they invited me over for a cup of tea.

Additional info about Nagorno-Karabakh.

Visa/Permit

You will need to get a visa/permit to enter Nagorno-Karabakh, the visa/permit is a full page sticker in your passport (you can get it on a separate piece of paper if  you want)
You can get the visa/permit from Permanent Mission to the Republic of Armenia, 17A Nairi Zaryan St, In Yerevan the capital of Armenia.
Tourist visas cost 3,000 Armenian drams (10 US$ or 6 €) and are usually valid for 21 days after issue.

Or you can get in upon arrival at the Armenia/Nagorno-Karabakh border.

It will be easier to obtain the visa in advance if your planning to travel by bus. There is a big change the bus won’t wait for you at the border while you are getting the visa.

How to get to Nagorno-Karabakh

There is one daily bus from Yerevan to Stepanakert, leaving from the main bus station in Yerevan, the price is 4300Dram (about 9usd) the ride takes about 8 hours.

Also, you can find few shared minibuses and taxis going a day, they work on no fixed time, and will leave when there are enough people.

Hitchhiking is also easy. While I took a shared minivan to reach Stepanakert, I hitchhiked back to Armenia without any problems.

Where to Sleep

There are tons of homestays and even a hostel in Stepanakert.
I can not recommend any particular place to stay only because there was no name or sign on the place I stayed.
But I paid 5usd for a full apartment as a homestay that included kitchen and I was the only one there.

Money

The official currency of Nagorno-Karabakh is the Armenian Dram (AMD).
1USD = 480Amd.
Dollars, Euros and rubles can be exchanged almost anywhere in the country-
Exchange booths do not charge a commission and rates are almost always quite honest.
ATMs are available in larger towns. But they are often empty.

Like it? Share it! Pin it!

#Nagorno-Karabakh Travel Tips
Nagorno-Karabakh Travel Tips

 

12 Comments
  1. I’ve never heard of Nagorno Karabakh, how interesting! Why do you think people were so convinced that it was dangerous? Did you witness anything scary?

    1. Hi, Agdam is still considered to be a war zone. This is the Foreign Travel Advice from the UK government about traveling to Nagorno-Karabakh:

      “Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all travel to Nagorno-Karabakh and the military occupied area surrounding it. There have been ceasefire violations along the Armenia-Azerbaijan border and Line of Contact which resulted in a number of deaths and casualties”

      I personally didn’t witness anything scary, but I got told by locals that I had just walked trough an minefield

  2. Looks like a really interesting place, shame they wouldn’t let you take more pictures! I find these countries that aren’t really countries fascinating – would love to visit Transnistria in Moldova as well, sounds completely bizarre.

    1. Hello.Stepanakert got a few interesting sights that i would have liked to take photos off, hopefully next time:) Im planning to return to Nagorno-Karabakh and hike the Janapar trail, so i hope i will mange to take some more photos then.

      I have been to Transnistria as well, i will make a post about my short visit there soon.

  3. That’s so interesting. I have actually never heard of this place or the two associated with it. But now that I know, and like you said, it may be more fun to explore knowing how restricted it is. Thank you for sharing this!

    1. Hii Jojo

      Exploring restricted and rare places is at least for me more fun, you have no idea what to expect or what to do in the area since guidebooks haven’t been there, the locals are also “allways” more friendly and curious about you.

      Christian

  4. hello.
    i am Armenian ( not sure if it makes a difference 🙂
    i have been to Karabakh twice. took lots of photos of every place i visited.
    nobody told me not to.

    only once in Yerevan, one of the metro stations. they told me its not allowed. but that was 20 years ago . now even that is safe :))

    just saying..

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Featured On
Join me on my adventure