After a rest in this wonderful valley, we return back to the highway, heading to the village Knaravan, where the fortress Handaberd is situated. Fortress, known with glorious historical past, is constantly mentioned in the history of Armenia. It was

Near the village Knaravan you will find the fortress Handaberd. The fortress is located on top of a steep wooded hill and is surrounded by deep canyons on three sides.

The only way runs along the south-west wall and reaches the gate on the north. The castle walls are up to eight meters high. Perched on top of an impregnable rock, it impresses visitors with its grandeur.


Handaberd holds a special position among the fortresses with a strong defensive system not only in the province of Tsar, but throughout Eastern Armenia in general. Located on the right bank of the Lev River, from the bank the fortress has a height of 280 m, and is located at 1665 meters. It has forged gates and eight guard towers, rock pools for collecting rainwater.

Handaberd’s glorious historical past has been repeatedly mentioned by Armenian historians. According to Kagankatvatsi, the son of Sahl Smbatyan, the head of the Aranshahik dynasty, the ruler of the northern provinces of Artsakh, Atrnerseh built a fortress in the second quarter of the 9th century. Atrnerseh died, due to his participation in anti-Arab movements, the Bugha commander sent him to the Caliph’s residency Samara. Therefore, the fortress was built before this events.

According to the inscriptions on the cross-stone from the Dadivank monastery, in XII century the fortress belonged to the principality of Vakhtangyan - rulers of Upper Khachen. In 1312 Handaberd is also mentioned in the memorial record of the “Gospels of the Targmanchats Monastery” in Khachakap, as one of the strategic structures of the principality of Dopyan. Near the fortress many architectural monuments have been preserved, during the study of which inscriptions related to Handaberd were found.

On the right bank of the Lev River is the Handaberd Monastery complex, (XII-XIII c.) consisting of different buildings: chapels, depository-chapels, belfries and cemeteries (necropolis).

Handaberd is one of the most famous castles of Artsakh. When planning to visit the fortress, take into account that you can reach it only on foot. Be sure that it is worth it.

Credits: Arevik Tsatryan, Edgar Harutyunyan, Gevorg Arakelyan.