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Tours - Visiting the Grandparents - Khor Virap-Noravank-Stepanakert (night)-Tigranakert-Gandzasar-Askeran-Stepanakert (night)-Shushi

Khor virap is situated in Ararat marz. In the place of the nowadays monastry-castle once there was a royal prison. Virap was a deep opening with poisonous snakes and insects, where the accused were kept. The legend said that the pagan king Trdat had sent Saint Gregor the Illuminator to prison because he had been propagating Christianity. The cave where St. Gregor was imprisoned later was known as Khor Virap. It is a 4th century complex viewing Biblical Mt. Ararat. The monastry of Khor Virap had served as an educational center. In the XIII century it had a church school with 40 pupils. It is one of the well known tourist sites of Armenia.

Noravank is a 13th century monastery, located 122 km from Yerevan in a narrow gorge made by the Darichay river nearby the city of Yeghegnadzor Armenia. The gorge is known for its tall, sheer, brick-red cliffs, directly across from the monastery. The monastery is best known for its two-storey S. Astvatsatsin church, which grants access to the second floor by way of narrow stones jutting out from the face of building. The architect Siranes and the remarkable miniature painter and sculptor Momik worked here in the latter part of the thirteenth and early fourteenth century. The complex was renovated in the late 1990s and early 2000s under the sponsorship of Mr. & Mrs. Hadjetian. The monastery is sometimes called Amaghu-Noravank, Amaghu being the name of a small recently destroyed village above the canyon, in order to distinguish it from Bgheno-Noravank Monastery, near Goris. In the 13th–14th centuries the monastery became a residence of Syunik’s bishops and, consequently. a major religious and, later, cultural center of Armenia closely connected with many of the local seats of learning, especially with Gladzor's famed university and library.

Stepanakert is the largest city and capital of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, a de facto independent republic which is recognized as part of Azerbaijan. The city population comprises about 50,000 ethnique Armenians.

In 1923 Khankendi (named in 1847) was renamed Stepanakert by the Soviet government to honor Stepan Shahumyan, leader of the 26 Baku Commissars, and, after the Shusha pogrom had resulted in major destruction at Shushi, the former regional capital, Stepanakert was made the capital of the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Enclave. During the Soviet Era Stepanakert grew to become the region's most important city. According to national records, Armenians form 99.6% of Stepanakert's population (49,840), whereas other ethnic groups comprise the remaining 0.4% (160). Tigranakert is a former Armenian city dating back to the Hellenistic period. Historical evidence of Tigranankert and of Artsakh includes a 13th century inscription at the famous Gandzasar Monastery left by a pilgrim from 'Tigranakert'.

Askeran (also, Khachen) is a town in Nagorno-Karabakh. It is the administrative center of the province.
The Fortress at Askeran, which is found in the southern suburb of the town, was built to defend Sushi.
Before its destruction in 1920 by the Musavatists, the Fortress was extensively used during the Russo-Persian War. It was renovated in 2002.
Askeran adjoins the Mardakert on the north, Tigranakert east. Hadrut and Shushi in the south, Martuni in the south east and Kashatagh on the west. The remains of the fort Avetaranots is at Askeran.

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