At the top of the mountain range of Gevorgasar between the villages of Ptretsik and Kolotak in the Republic of Artsakh, there is an impregnable fortress called Kachaghakaberd. It can be seen from the road to the capital of Artsakh Stepanakert and on the way to the mountain Gandzasar.
According to local residents, to get there, a person needs to be physically and morally trained since the location itself and the path to it are dangerous.
“In the distance, the fortress seems small, but in reality, it occupies a very large area. To get to Kachaghakaberd, tourists prefer to begin the ascent from the village of Kolatak. However, due to the fact that there is simply no entrance to the fortress itself, one can only get there by climbing the dangerous rocks,” Artavazd Khloyan said.
According to historians and researchers, there was an entrance from the south side of the fortress, but at the present time, it simply does not exist (it eventually collapsed or got covered by vegetation). But what was the reason for the entrance being constructed on that side of the mount in the first place?
According to Khloyan, because of low rocks, the southern walls of the fortress were additionally fortified with limestone solution. Such a masonry passed along the whole perimeter of the slope, and it was easier to penetrate the fortress from the south.
Kachaghakaberd was built in the 8th century. Its name in Armenian means “Magpie Fortress” (kachaghak (կաչաղակ), magpie, and berd (բերդ), fortress).
“It was very difficult to get to the fortress, hence its name. The invaders tried to climb the rocks near the fortress and failed each time. The only living things other than Armenians that managed to reach Kachaghakaberd were birds. That’s how the fortress was named “Magpie Fortress”, from where an amazing panorama of the high mountains and the Tartar River opened.”
According to historians, the fortress was built not only as a military camp but as a refuge in which people could hide from invaders. Inside the fortress were hidden secret passages, loopholes for throwing stones, as well as water supply through a hole for rainwater dug in the middle of the fortress. As for fresh water, it was most likely delivered from a spring that was located at the foot of the mountain.
According to Armenian historian Movses Kaghankatvatsi, princess Spram managed to shelter in the fortress during a bloody battle in the 9th century. Along with her daughter and other survivors, she reached the fortress and disappeared there forever.
“There is a high probability that the remains of the princess and residents are still inside the fortress,” Khloyan thinks.
More than 50,000 soldiers were trained in such military bases. Among the main commanders in the history of the armed forces of Kachaghakaberd are the Catholicos of Aghvan Yesayi Hasan-Jalalyan, Avan Yuzbashi, and David-Bek. Today, only the name of the fortress remains in Artsakh.