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gem icon Kachaghakaberd (Fortress) [Suggest Edits]

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Kachaghakaberd is a ruined 9th century fortress situated atop a rock pinnacle (1,700 meters, 5,500 feet) overlooking the Kolatak and Khachen Valleys. The tongue-twisting name means "Fortress of the Magpies" and was given the moniker supposedly because only the birds could easily reach it.

The sheer 50 meter vertical cliffs on three sides of the pinnacle protrude above the forest making it a natural citadel with excellent visibility of the surrounding territory. Fortification walls (some of which can still be seen) protected the more vulnerable southern side which still presents a challenging rock scramble today. The site has the remains of foundations, secret passages, hollowed out nooks in the cliffs, and special slots for throwing rocks at the enemy. Two reservoirs were dug into the cliff to fill with rainwater and snow melt in case of siege. The fort was built to defend the region against Arab, then later Seljuk and Mongol invasions.

Known historically as Khachen Fort, it figures prominently in the medieval history of Artsakh and the Principality of Khachen which was one of the last autonomous Armenian regions from ancient times until the 19th century. Historian Movses Kaghanakatvatsi wrote in the 9th century that a local Princess by the name of Aprsamik, having lost her husband (apparently during a siege), "gathered her courage and taking her surviving daughter, overcame a tortuous night's journey and fled to Khachen Fort."

A legend tells of the fort being once surrounded by invaders who were unable to capture the stronghold and retreated to a camp below it. Weeks passed when one day they noticed a large number of magpies circling above the fortress and sent troops to investigate. The scouts at last entered the fortress without resistance to discover all the Armenians had starved rather than surrender to the enemy.

Half-Day Hike: The site is accessible from Janapar Trail 09 - Patara to Kolatak. It is also accessible from Khnzoristan Village via jeep tracks.

Gem Type: Rock Formation

Shared by:
Janapar Trail

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Shared by Janapar Trail on Sep 4, 2019. All Page Views: 10. Last Month: 4.