The Cultural and Spiritual Heritage of Nagorno Karabakh
Historically Karabakh was the northeastern province
of Armenia. The spread of similar language, culture, religion, traditions
and economic activity of inhabitants of the entire Armenian plateau
reinforces the fact that Nagorno Karabakh (Artsakh by its Armenian name)
along with other regions of Armenia constitutes a single entity. Numerous
archeological facts of the eneolite, bronze and iron ages prove that
the culture of Nagorno Karabakh is in fact a branch of the Armenian
culture and many parallels could be drawn with the monuments of the
Armenian Plateau of the same period.
The ancestors of modern-day Karabakh Armenians left
a remarkably vast cultural heritage despite frequent wars in the past.
There are more than 1,700 historic architectural monuments on the territory
of the former Nagorno Karabakh Autonomous Region (known by its Russian
abbreviation NKAO) alone: fortresses, monasteries, churches and chapels,
bridges, palaces and khachkars (cross-stones) and more than 1,000 wall
and tombstone signs written in ancient Armenian. These 1,700 monuments
are spread around the former NKAO tiny area of 4.5 thousand square kilometers
(1,737 square miles), many more monuments are located in the remaining
two thirds of Karabakh's historic territory. The bulk of the historic
monuments found on the territory of Artsakh are Christian worship edifices
approximately 60 monastery complexes and more than 500 churches
that chronologically reveal all stages of Armenian medieval history
(starting from 4th century AD, when Christianity was adopted as the
Armenian state religion.)
There are also monuments from the prehistoric age,
which are mainly campsites, ruins of ancient Armenian settlements, sepulchers,
cult statuettes of early Armenian epoch, carved stones from Armenian
Artashesids dynasty, capitols, various home utensils and coins. Thus,
the summer residence of Ararat King Rus I (1st millennium BC) was found
on the territory of what is today Istisu village. The largest and the
most renowned settlement of the pre-Christian period on the territory
of Artsakh is the city of Tigranakert, which was founded by the Armenian
King Tigran II in the 90s BC. Interestingly enough, this was the first
out of four cities founded later by Tigran II in the different parts
of the Armenian plateau baring his name. The ruins of that settlement
were found on the territory of the present Agdam region near the border
of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic (NKR).
The vast material on Artsakh's medieval history, which
can be found in the writings of Armenian, Persian, Byzantine and Arab
historians, geographers and travelers as well as the ancient maps of
Armenia (4-6 century AD), unequivocally prove the Armenian ethnocultural
nature of the region. Thus, Artsakh is mentioned as the tenth province
of Armenia. Ancient epic songs and fairy tales, which live today in
the minds of the people of Karabakh, as well as the genre, plot, artistic
and expressive means of Artsakh folklore also affirm their local origin.
* * *
Today, Nagorno Karabakh Republic's cultural establishments
include the State Drama Theater, song and dance companies, libraries,
Houses of Culture, Houses of Youth, clubs, museums, galleries, musical
schools, an art school and historic-architectural monuments.
- Karo Alvaryan, a celebrity of the Armenian theater stage, established
the well-known Stepanakert State Drama Theater named after
M. Gorky in 1932. Recently the theater was renamed after Vahram Papazyan,
a renowned Armenian actor, which performed in a number of the Republics
of the former USSR and was granted the Order of the Badge of Honor
- The State Dance and Song Company of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic
was established by Telemakh Ter-Avetisian, a renowned figure in the
cultural life of Armenia. (1985). The Dance and Song company performed
in many republics of the former USSR as well as in France (24 March
- 7 April, 1996).
- The "Karabakh" State Song Company was established
in March of 1997 and it performs works of Armenian and foreign composers.
- The Chamber Choir "Vararakn", which was established
in 1991 is the first professional choir in Artsakh. It received the
title of the "State Choir" in 1997. The choir performed
- "Artsakhi Balikner" (Children of Artsakh) ensemble
was established in 1992. It has performed in the Republic of Armenia,
the Netherlands, France, USA and Greece. During a music festival,
organized by a Belgian "Amadeus" organization, the "Artsakhi
Balikner" Ensemble took seven gold medals and the Grand-Prix.
Today the festival is a traditional annual event. The ensemble was
granted "State Ensemble" status in 1997.
- The Artsakh Museum of Natural History was established in
1938. More than 30 Artsakh cultural exhibits are housed there
from the Stone Age up to the modern era. A special attention should
be paid to the ethnography department. There is also a large exhibition
dedicated to the national-liberation movement of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh.
- There are two national libraries in Nagorno Karabakh, one is named
for Mesrob Mashtots, the other for Hovhannes Tumanian. Mashtots library
was established in 1924. When it first opened its doors to the public
there were 20,097 volumes, now it has 189,322. Tumanian Children's
library opened in 1965. There were 120,000 volumes before the Artsakh
liberation movement, sadly, as the result of artillery fire and bombings,
about 70% of those volumes were destroyed. There are only 40 thousand
volumes left in the library, 10 thousand of which are in Armenian.
- Artist's Union was established in 1988. There are 12 members in
that Union, whose paintings have been shown in various galleries of
the Republic as well as abroad.
- There are six regional Houses of Culture, 127 village clubs, 136
village libraries, seven Museums of Natural History, six musical schools
and an art school.
- Ten youth sport schools function in Nagorno-Karabakh, attended by
nearly 3,000 boys and girls in 200 different sections. There is also
the Central Chess House and a Chess School in Stepanakert. There are
two stadiums Stepanakert Central, which sits 15 thousand people
and Mardakert stadium, which can hold 5 thousand. Some village secondary
schools have sport gyms, but most were seriously damaged during artillery
shelling and air raids.
- Track and field, soccer, volleyball, basketball, table tennis, chess,
sambo, and karate championships of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic are
held regularly during the recent years, in the memory of Artsakh War
heroes. The sportsmen of Nagorno-Karabakh have also competed successfully
in open championships of the Republic of Armenia as well.
- There are ten sport federations in Nagorno-Karabakh in chess, table
tennis, soccer, karate, oriental martial arts, weight lifting and
For further information please contact NKR Ministry
of Education, Culture and Sports at firstname.lastname@example.org