Kachaghakaberd (translated from Armenian as magpie’s fortress) is a mountain-top fortress in the Martakert Province, Artsakh. The fortress was an important fortification of the medieval Armenian Principality of Khachen. It is located at a height of more than 1700 meters, surrounded by vertical limestone cliffs with the heights of 50–60 meters, has a hard-to-reach entrance from the southern side of the fortress. During its history no one could ever storm the fortress. Parts of the defensive walls remain standing. The territory of the fortress occupies a large area, though it seems small. Many rooms, secret passages cut into the cliffs, and special “loopholes” for throwing stones at enemies are inside its territory. The water supply problem was solved by a unique method: two rock-cut reservoirs to store rain and melt-water are in the center of the fortress. Fresh water was brought from a spring at the foot of the mountain.
The well-established transport infrastructure of Armenia allows to get to Kachaghakaberd Fortress by a private car or with the help of various travel companies which offer regular excursions and tours to different sights of the country. Due to the geographical location of Kachaghakaberd Fortress the trip will not seem long.
The high season in Armenia lasts for a long time due to the pleasant climate conditions. Warm days in Armenia start in March and last until late autumn; winter is usually snowless and not long. The high precipitation season is variable. The tourist season for Kachaghakaberd Fortress depends on the weather conditions.
Kachakhakberd in Armenian means “Fortress of magpies”. There is a story related to the origin of the name. Once a conqueror laid siege to the fortress, but realizing its inaccessibility, he immediately refused to capture and decided to wait until the besieged gave up. A few months passed. The enemy was convinced that there should not been left any food in the fortress, but to his surprise no one came out. When the order to retreat was already given, the conqueror was attracted by a strange phenomenon ... In this area there were a lot of magpies that often flew near the walls of the fortress. But on that day, early in the morning, too many birds appeared above the fortress. Seeing this, the conqueror sent several soldiers to the fortress. From their presence, the magpies scattered, and the dead remained under the birds. Armenians, entrenched in the fortress and at the same time protecting it, died of hunger, but did not give up. Thus, the magpies told the enemy that no one was left alive at the top, and the conqueror took a barely liberated fortress without resistance. Since then, the fortress is associated with the name of those living beings once surrendered it.
People called the fortress Kachaghakaberd, as it is accessible only to magpies (kachaghak - magpie). Locals call the fortress "Sghsghan" (sghsghan – slide, slip): there were many cases when people slipped from the top of the mountain and did not reach the walls of the fortress.
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