Stepanakert, Azerbaijan

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Hotels of Stepanakert

A hotel in Stepanakert is an establishment that provides lodging paid on a short-term basis. Facilities provided may range from a basic bed and storage for clothing, to luxury features like en-suite bathrooms. Larger in Stepanakert hotels may provide additional guest facilities such as a swimming pool, business centre, childcare, conference facilities and social function services. Hotel rooms in Stepanakert are usually numbered (or named in some smaller hotels and B&Bs) to allow guests to identify their room. Some Stepanakert hotels offer meals as part of a room and board arrangement. Hotel operations vary in size, function, and cost. Most Stepanakert hotels and major hospitality companies that operate hotels in Stepanakert have set widely accepted industry standards to classify hotel types. General categories include the following:

Upscale luxury hotels in Stepanakert
An upscale full service hotel facility in Stepanakert that offers luxury amenities, full service accommodations, on-site full service restaurant(s), and the highest level of personalized and professional service. Luxury Stepanakert hotels are normally classified with at least a Four Diamond or Five Diamond status or a Four or Five Star rating depending on classification standards.

Full service hotels in Stepanakert
Full service Stepanakert hotels often contain upscale full-service facilities with a large volume of full service accommodations, on-site full service restaurant(s), and a variety of on-site amenities such as swimming pools, a health club, children's activities, ballrooms, on-site conference facilities, etc.

Historic inns and boutique hotels in Stepanakert
Boutique hotels of Stepanakert are smaller independent non-branded hotels that often contain upscale facilities of varying size in unique or intimate settings with full service accommodations. Stepanakert boutique hotels are generally 100 rooms or less. Some historic inns and boutique hotels in Stepanakert may be classified as luxury hotels.

Focused or select service hotels in Stepanakert
Small to medium-sized hotel establishments that offer a limited amount of on-site amenities that only cater and market to a specific demographic of Stepanakert travelers, such as the single business traveler. Most Stepanakert focused or select service hotels may still offer full service accommodations but may lack leisure amenities such as an on-site restaurant or a swimming pool.

Economy and limited service hotels in Stepanakert
Small to medium-sized Stepanakert hotel establishments that offer a very limited amount of on-site amenities and often only offer basic accommodations with little to no services, these facilities normally only cater and market to a specific demographic of travelers, such as the budget-minded Stepanakert traveler seeking a "no frills" accommodation. Limited service Stepanakert hotels often lack an on-site restaurant but in return may offer a limited complimentary food and beverage amenity such as on-site continental breakfast service.

Guest houses and B&Bs in Stepanakert
A bed and breakfast in Stepanakert is a small lodging establishment that offers overnight accommodation and inclusive breakfast. Usually, Stepanakert bed and breakfasts are private homes or family homes offering accommodations. The typical Stepanakert B&B has between 4 and 11 rooms, with 6 being the average. Generally, guests are accommodated in private bedrooms with private bathrooms, or in a suite of rooms including an en suite bathroom. Some homes have private bedrooms with a bathroom which is shared with other guests. Breakfast is served in the bedroom, a dining room, or the host's kitchen. Often the owners of guest house themselves prepare the breakfast and clean the rooms.

Hostels in Stepanakert
Stepanakert hostels provide budget-oriented, sociable accommodation where guests can rent a bed, usually a bunk bed, in a dormitory and share a bathroom, lounge, and sometimes a kitchen. Rooms can be mixed or single-sex, although private rooms may also be available. Hostels are often cheaper for both the operator and occupants; many Stepanakert hostels have long-term residents whom they employ as desk agents or housekeeping staff in exchange for experience or discounted accommodation.

Apartment hotels, extended stay hotels in Stepanakert
Extended stay hotels are small to medium-sized Stepanakert hotels that offer longer term full service accommodations compared to a traditional hotel. Extended stay hotels may offer non-traditional pricing methods such as a weekly rate that cater towards travelers in need of short-term accommodations for an extended period of time. Similar to limited and select service hotels, on-site amenities are normally limited and most extended stay hotels in Stepanakert lack an on-site restaurant.

Timeshare and destination clubs in Stepanakert
Stepanakert timeshare and destination clubs are a form of property ownership also referred to as a vacation ownership involving the purchase and ownership of an individual unit of accommodation for seasonal usage during a specified period of time. Timeshare resorts in Stepanakert often offer amenities similar that of a Full service hotel with on-site restaurant(s), swimming pools, recreation grounds, and other leisure-oriented amenities. Destination clubs of Stepanakert on the other hand may offer more exclusive private accommodations such as private houses in a neighborhood-style setting.

Motels in Stepanakert
A Stepanakert motel is a small-sized low-rise lodging establishment similar to that of a limited service hotel, but with direct access to individual rooms from the car park. Common during the 1950s and 1960s, motels were often located adjacent to a major road, where they were built on inexpensive land at the edge of towns or along stretches of highways. They are still useful in less populated areas of Stepanakert for driving travelers, but the more populated an area becomes the more hotels fill the need. Many of Stepanakert motels which remain in operation have joined national franchise chains, rebranding themselves as hotels, inns or lodges.

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Travelling and vacation in Stepanakert

"Xankəndi" redirects here. For other uses, see Xankəndi (disambiguation).
From top left: Panoramic view of the Renaissance Square T-72 tank memorial of Karabakh War • Artsakh University Downtown Stepanakert • Stepanakert skyline Panoramic view of Stepanakert
From top left:
Panoramic view of the Renaissance Square
T-72 tank memorial of Karabakh War • Artsakh University
Downtown Stepanakert • Stepanakert skyline
Panoramic view of Stepanakert
Coat of arms of Stepanakert
Coat of arms
Stepanakert is located in Nagorno-Karabakh Republic
Location of Stepanakert in Nagorno-Karabakh.
Coordinates:  / 39.81528; 46.75194  / 39.81528; 46.75194
Country Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (de facto)
Azerbaijan (de jure)
Province Stepanakert
City status 1923
• Type Mayor–Council
• Body Stepanakert City Council
• Mayor of Stepanakert Suren Grigoryan
• Total 29.12 km (11.24 sq mi)
Elevation 813 m (2,670 ft)
Population (2015)
• Total 55,200
• Density 1,872/km (4,850/sq mi)
Time zone GMT+4 (UTC+4)
Area code(s) +374 47
Sources: Stepanakert city area and population

Stepanakert (Armenian: Ստեփանակերտ Stepanakert Armenian pronunciation: [stɛpanakɛɾt]) or Khankendi (Azerbaijani: Xankəndi), originally called Vararakn (Armenian: Վարարակն), is the capital and the largest city of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, a de facto independent republic, recognized as de jure part of Azerbaijan. As of 2015, the population of Stepanakert is 55,200.

Stepanakert: Etymology

Stepanakert meaning the city of Stepan is named after the Armenian Bolshevik revolutionary Stepan Shaumian. The name is formed of the words Stepan (Armenian: Ստեփան) and kert (Armenian: կերտ) meaning town.

Stepanakert: History

Stepanakert: Founding and Soviet era

Stepanakert countryside

According to medieval Armenian sources, the settlement was first mentioned as Vararakn (Վարարակն, meaning "rapid spring" in Armenian), a name that remained in use until 1847, when it was renamed Khankendi. Azerbaijani sources generally say that the settlement was founded in the late eighteenth century as a private residence for khans of the Karabakh Khanate, and was thus called Khankendi (Turkic for "the khan's village"). The settlement was initially called Khanin Kendi (Xanın kəndi), but then was shortened to Khankendi. After the conquest of the Karabakh Khanate by the Russian Empire the name Khankendi was charted on Russian maps.

In 1923 Khankendi was renamed Stepanakert by the Soviet government to honor Stepan Shahumyan, ethnic Armenian leader of the 26 Baku Commissars, and, after the Shusha pogrom had resulted in major destruction at Shusha, the former regional capital, Stepanakert was made the capital of the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast (NKAO). In time, Stepanakert grew to become the region's most important city (a status it received in 1940). Its population rose from 10,459 in 1939 to 33,000 in 1978.

In 1926, municipal authorities adopted a new city layout designed by the prominent Armenian architect Alexander Tamanian; two additional designs for expansion were approved later on in the 1930s and 1960s, both of which retained Tamanian's initial plan. Several schools and two "polyclinics" were established, and an Armenian drama theater was founded in 1932 and named after Maxim Gorky. Stepanakert served as Nagorno-Karabakh's main economic hub, and by the mid-1980s there were nineteen production facilities in the city.

Stepanakert: Nagorno-Karabakh War and independence

A view down Freedom Fighters' Boulevard

The political and economic reforms that General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev had initiated in 1985 saw a marked decentralization of Soviet authority. Armenians, in both Armenia proper and Nagorno-Karabakh, viewed Gorbachev's reform program as an opportunity to unite the two together. On February 20, 1988, tens of thousands of Armenians gathered to demonstrate in Stepanakert's Lenin (now Renaissance) Square to demand that the region be joined to Armenia. On the same day, the Supreme Soviet of Nagorno-Karabakh voted to join the Armenian SSR, a move staunchly opposed by the Soviet Azerbaijani authorities. Relations between Stepankert's Armenians and Azerbaijanis, who supported the Azerbaijani government's position, deteriorated in the following years and as a result, nearly all of the Azerbaijanis fled the city.

After Azerbaijan declared its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, Stepanakert was renamed by the Azerbaijani government back to Khankendi as part of a campaign against communism and Azerification. Fighting broke out over control of Nagorno-Karabakh which eventually resulted in Armenian control of the region and a connecting corridor to Armenia to the west. Prior to the conflict, Stepanakert was the largest city of the NKAO, with a population of 70,000 out of a total 189,000 (Armenians at the time comprised 75% of the region's total population). By early 1992, that figure had dropped to 50,000.

Renaissance Square
Downtown Stepanakert

During the war, the city suffered immense damage from Azeri bombardment, especially in early 1992 when the Azerbaijanis used the town of Shushi as an artillery firebase to rain down GRAD missiles upon it. So destructive was the damage caused by the incessant bombardment, that a journalist for Time noted in an April 1992 article that "scarcely a single building [had] escaped damage in Stepanakert." The Azerbaijani military staged several ground attacks against the city, which were successfully repulsed by Armenian forces. It was not until May 9, 1992, with the capture of Shusha, that the ground bombardment ceased. The city, nevertheless, continued to suffer aerial bombardment for the remainder of the war.

There has been an unofficial cease-fire observed since 1994.

Stepanakert: Geography and climate

Stepanakert has a humid subtropical climate (Cfa) according to the Köppen climate classification system and a semi-arid climate (BS) according to the Trewartha climate classification system. In the month of January, the average temperature drops to 0.5 °C (33 °F). In August, it averages around 22.6 °C (73 °F).

Climate data for Stepanakert
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 4.7
Daily mean °C (°F) 0.0
Average low °C (°F) −2.6
Average precipitation mm (inches) 19
Average precipitation days 6 6 10 10 14 10 4 4 6 6 5 4 85
Source: NOAA

Stepanakert: Demographics and religion

Saint James' Church
Azerbaijanis Others TOTAL

During the Soviet era, there were no traditional churches in Stepanakert, although most of the population of the city were members of the Armenian Apostolic Church. The late-19th-century church of Saint George was destroyed in the 1930s to build the Stepanakert Drama Theatre.

Currently, the church of Surp Hakob (or Saint James) opened in 2007 is the only church of the city. It was financed by benefactor Nerses Yepremian from Los Angeles. The church was consecrated on May 9, 2007, in honor of the 15th anniversary of the liberation of Shushi.

The construction of the Holy Mother of God Cathedral was launched on July 19, 2006. The cost of the project is around US$2 million and the architect of the church is Gagik Yeranosyan. However, the construction process was slow due to the lack of financial resources. The inauguration of the church is expected to take place in September 2016.

There is a small community of Armenian Evangelicals with around 500 members. The Evangelical community supports many schools, hospitals and other institutions through the help of the Armenian Diaspora.

Stepanakert: Culture

The Vahram Papazyan Drama Theater of Stepanakert was founded in 1932. In 1967, the monumental complex of Stepanakert known as We Are Our Mountains was erected. It is widely regarded as a symbol of the Armenian heritage of Nagorno-Karabakh. After the independence of Armenia, many cultural and youth centres were reopened. The cultural palace of the city is named after Charles Aznavour.

Stepanakert is home to the Mesrop Mashtots Republican Library opened in 1924, Artsakh History Museum opened in 1939, Hovhannes Tumanyan Children's Library opened in 1947, Stepanakert National Gallery opened in 1982, and the Memorial Museum of the Martyred Liberators opened in 2002. A new cultural complex of the Armenian heritage of Artsakh is under construction.

Stepanakert: Transportation

Stepanakert Airport
A routed taxicab minibus in Stepanakert

Stepanakert: Bus

Stepanakert is served by a number of regular mini-bus lines. Old Soviet-era buses have been replaced with new modern buses. Regular trips to other provinces of Nagorno-Karabakh are also operated from the city.

Stepanakert: Air

Stepanakert is served by the nearby Stepanakert Airport, north of the city near the village of Ivanyan. In 2009, facilities reconstruction and repair work began. Though originally scheduled to launch the first commercial flights on May 9, 2011, Karabakh officials postponed a new reopening date throughout the whole of 2011. In May 2012, the director of the NKR's Civil Aviation Administration, Tigran Gabrielyan, announced that the airport will begin operations in summer 2012. However, the airport still remains closed due to political reasons. The OSCE Minsk Group, which mediates the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, reaffirmed that the operation of this airport could not be used to support any claim of a change in the status of Nagorno-Karabakh, and urged the sides to act in accordance with international law and consistent with current practice for flights over their territory.

Stepanakert: Railway

Stepanakert used to be connected through a railway line with the Yevlakh station on the Baku-Tbilisi railway. However, trips between Azerbaijan and NKR are abandoned since the start of the war between the two sides.

Stepanakert: Economy

Dusk over Stepanakert

Stepanakert is the centre of the economy of Artsakh. Prior to the Nagorno-Karabakh War, the economy of Stepanakert was mainly based on food-processing industries, silk weaving and winemaking. The economy was severely damaged during the war. However, in recent years, the economy has been developed mainly due to investments from the Armenian diaspora.

Most developed sectors of Stepanakert and the rest of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic are tourism and services. Several hotels have been opened by diasporan Armenians from Russia, USA and Australia. "Artsakhbank" is the largest banking services provider in Nagorno-Karabakh, while the "Karabakh Telecom" is the leading provider of mobile telecommunications and other communication services.

Stepanakert is also home to many large industrial firms including the "Stepanakert Brandy Factory", "Artsakh Berry" food products and "Artsakh Footwear" factory.

Construction is also one of the leading sectors in the city. The "Artsakh Hek" company is the leading firm in construction, while the "Base Metals" company is the leading in mining and building materials products.

Stepanakert: Education

We Are Our Mountains

Stepanakert is the centre of educational institutions in Nagorno-Karabakh. Currently, five higher educational institutions are operating in the city:

  • Artsakh State University, founded in 1969 as a branch of the Baku Pedagogical Institute. In 1973, it was renamed Stepanakert Pedagogical Institute and following the independence of Nagorno-Karabakh, in 1992, it received its current status. The university offers courses spread across seven departments and has an attendance level of 4,500.
  • Stepanakert campus of the Armenian National Agrarian University.
  • Grigor Narekatsi University (private).
  • Mesrop Mashtots University (private).
  • Gyurjyan Institute for Applied arts (private).

Many new schools in Stepanakert were opened during the last decade with the help of the Armenian Diaspora. Existing schools were also renovated with the donations of the diasporan Armenians.

The Artsakh State Museum in Stepanakert, has an important collection of ancient artifacts and Christian manuscripts.

The large monument known as We Are Our Mountains at the north of Stepanakert, is the symbol of the city and the self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.

Stepanakert: Sport

Stepanakert Republican Stadium

Football is the most popular sport in Nagorno-Karabakh and the city has a renovated football stadium. Since the mid-1990s, football teams from Karabakh started taking part in some domestic competitions in the Republic of Armenia. Lernayin Artsakh is the football club that represents the city of Stepanakert. The Artsakh national football league was launched in 2009.

The non-FIFA affiliated Artsakh national football team was formed in 2012 and played their first competitive match against the unrecognized Abkhazia national football team in Sukhumi on 17 September 2012. The match ended with a 1-1 draw. The following month, on 21 October 2012, Artsakh played the return match at the Stepanakert Republican Stadium against Abkhazia winning it with a result of 3-0.

There is also interest in other sports, including basketball and volleyball.

Karabakh sportsmen also take part with the representing teams and athletes in the Pan-Armenian Games, organized in the Republic of Armenia.

Stepanakert: Notable people

Serzh Sargsyan, President of Armenia
  • Aghabala Aghasadighovich - Azerbaijani musician
  • Nikolay Yenikolopyan - Soviet Armenian chemist, academician
  • Armen Abaghian - Armenian academic
  • Telman Hasanov - National Hero of Azerbaijan
  • Don Askarian - Armenian filmmaker
  • Zori Balayan - Armenian writer
  • Robert Kocharyan - Second President of Armenia
  • Serzh Sargsyan - Third President of Armenia, incumbent
  • Fakhraddin Manafov - Azerbaijani actor
  • Samvel Babayan - Armenian military general
  • André - Armenian singer
  • Vladimir Arzumanyan - Armenian singer, winner of the Junior Eurovision Song Contest 2010
  • Karen Karapetyan - Prime Minister of Armenia

Stepanakert: International relations

The Ministry of foreign affairs

Stepanakert: Twin towns – Sister cities

Stepanakert is twinned with:

  • Seal of Montebello, California.png Montebello, United States: On 25 September 2005, Montebello, California and Stepanakert became sister cities. This prompted a complaint by the ambassador of Azerbaijan to the United States, Hafiz Pashayev, who sent a letter to California leaders, stating that the decision jeopardized peace talks between his country and Armenia. The letter was sent to then-California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who deferred the letter to Montebello mayor Bill Molinari since it concerned a local, not a state, issue. Molinari responded to Pashayev that the city would go ahead with its plans to inaugurate Stepanakert under the sister city program. Stepanakert's relationship with Montebello is aimed at revitalizing the capital's economic infrastructure and building cultural and educational ties, as well as developing trade and health care between the two cities. Azerbaijan has described this as a contradictory foreign policy of the United States that purportedly supports the NKR government and Armenian aggression against Azerbaijan.
  • Coat of Arms of Yerevan.png Yerevan, Armenia: Yerevan and Stepanakert, the capitals of the two Armenian republics, became sister cities after a partnership agreement signed on September 28, 2012 between the mayors of the two cities.
  • Escut Donostia.svg San Sebastián, Spain: San Sebastián (Donostia) and Stepanakert signed a cooperation agreement on 15 September 2014.

Stepanakert: Notes

  2. Tourism department of ministry of economy of NKR
  3. General Characteristics of the NKR
  4. (Armenian) Mkrtchyan, Shahen. «Ստեփանակերտ» [Stepanakert]. Armenian Soviet Encyclopedia. Yerevan: Armenian Academy of Sciences, 1985, vol. 11, pp. 124-125.
  5. ISBN 0-226-33228-4.
  6. "Dağlıq Qarabağ münaqişəsi: Tammətnli elektron materiallar məcmuəsi" (PDF) (in Azerbaijani). Azerbaijani Presidential Library. 2005. p. 123. Retrieved 5 June 2016.
  7. Kaufman, Stuart (2001). Modern Hatreds: The Symbolic Politics of Ethnic War. New York: Cornell Studies in Security Affairs. p. 61. ISBN 0-8014-8736-6.
  8. Lobell, Steven E.; Philip Mauceri (2004). Ethnic Conflict and International Politics: Explaining Diffusion and Escalation. New York: Palgrave MacMillan. p. 58. ISBN 1-4039-6356-8.
  9. Carney, James. "Carnage in Karabakh." Time. April 13, 1992. Retrieved August 2, 2007.
  10. (Armenian) Hakobyan, Tatul. Կանաչ ու Սև: Արցախյան օրագիր [Green and Black: An Artsakh Diary]. Yerevan-Stepanakert: Heghinakayin Publishing, 2008, pp. 506-08, Appendix Documents 38-39.
  11. "Xankandi (Stepanakert) Climate Normals 1961–1990". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved March 22, 2015.
  12. (Russian) [1]
  13. De facto and De Jure Population by Administrative Territorial Distribution and Sex Census in NKR, 2005. THE NATIONAL STATISTICAL SERVICE OF NAGORNO-KARABAKH REPUBLIC
  14. [2] Statistics in NKR, 2010. The National Statistical Service of Nagorno-Karabakh Republic
  15. Grigorian, Laura (May 10, 2007). "ST JAMES CHURCH WAS OPENED IN STEPANAKERT". Armenian News. Archived from the original on 2012-04-04.
  16. Stepanakert Church
  17. The construction of Stepanakert Cathedral is at its final stages
  18. Stepanakert cultural complex of the Armenian heritage
  19. "Karabakh To Reopen Stepanakert Airport". Asbarez. 5 October 2010. Retrieved 11 October 2010.
  20. "Nagorno-Karabakh Flights On Hold Despite Airport Reconstruction". RFE/RL. May 16, 2011. Retrieved May 16, 2011.
  21. (Armenian) "«Հայկական ժամանակ».Ստեփանակերտի օդանավակայանը վերջապես շահագործման կհանձնվի" [Haykakan Zhamanak: Stepanakert Airport will Finally Become Operational]. Yelaket Lratvakan. May 30, 2012.
  22. Statement of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs.
  23. Hayrumyan, Naira. "Recovery and Concern: Regional Unrest Reminds of NKR's Years of Progress While Raising Anxiety." AGBU Magazine. Vol. 18, № 2, November 2008, pp. 34-37.
  24. (Armenian) Anon. "ԱՐՑԱԽԻ ՊԵՏԱԿԱՆ ՀԱՄԱԼՍԱՐԱՆ (Arts'akhi Petakan Hamalsaran, Artsakh State University)." Azat Artsakh. August 29, 2006. Retrieved September 4, 2009.
  25. "Armenia Fund Opens 600-Student School in Stepanakert." Asbarez. September 14, 2010. Retrieved December 4, 2010.
  26. Nicholas Holding, Armenia with Nagorno Karabagh, 2nd ed. (London: Bradt, 2006; Buy book ISBN 1-84162-163-3), p.210.
  27. (Armenian) "Աբխազիայի ու Արցախի հավաքականները բաժանվեցին խաղաղությամբ՝ 1:1 [Abkhazia's and Artsakh's Teams Peacefully Part Ways, 1-1." September 25, 2012. Retrieved November 7, 2012.
  28. "Armenia’s newly formed second national football team to face Abkhazia." September 14, 2012.
  29. " Artsakh Soccer Team Beats Abkhazia 3-0." Asbarez. October 22, 2012.
  30. Wright, Pam. "Montebello's newest Sister City program has come under fire from an ambassador for the Republic of Azerbaijan." Whittier Daily News. November 19, 2005. Retrieved August 2, 2007.
  31. "Azeri pressure group appeals to US envoy over twinning reports." BBC News in BBC Monitoring Central Asia. November 24, 2005. Retrieved August 2, 2007.
  32. "Yerevan - Partner Cities". Yerevan Municipality Official Website. © 2005-2013 Archived from the original on November 5, 2013. Retrieved 2013-11-04.
  33. "Երևանի և Ստեփանակերտի քաղաքապետերը բարեկամության համաձայնագիր են ստորագրել." [Mayors of Yerevan and Stepanakert Sign Friendship Agreement]. September 28, 2012.
  34. Stepanakert, Donostia sign cooperation agreement
  • Stepanakert Municipality (hy)
  • 360 Panoramic view of the City Center (en)
  • Karabakh Tourism Office (en)
  • Stepanakert on Lonely Planet (en)
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