Vank is an extraordinary place that you can’t believe it exists. This wannabe tourist resort is nestled into unknown countryside in the enigma that is Nagorno Karabakh. Vank is a small town which has some crazy things going on in it, and is also the perfect base for exploring Gandzasar Monastery. Local lad Levon Hairapetian had this idea to make the town into some rich looking world class resort full of colour and vibrancy. So it’s his brainchild and he’s done a good job – all he’d need now is the tourists! Not many people go backpacking in Nagorno Karabakh, but we really loved the place and recommend it. Here are my top 5 things to see and do in Vank.
1. Stay in the Eclectica Hotel
This is a Hotel in the shape of a boat!! Everyone in Nagorno Karabakh knows about it and they nickname it the Titanic. The Hotel is one of the craziest, funkiest and most artistic places I have ever stayed. Even better – it’s not that dear. We got a double room for 12,000 Dram including breakfast. That works out at 6,000 Dram each, which is just over 10 Euros!! Hot showers, comfy beds and sublime views make this a top place to stay, not just in Vank but on your entire travels!
2. Gandzasar Monastery
Let’s be honest – it’s a bit silly visiting Vank and not seeing the Gandzasar Monastery. The monastery is 3 kilometres from Vank, walking up a hill. It’s an elaborate complex and is most people’s reason for visiting Vank. Do the expected thing and walk up to it. If you’re feeling lazy, you can always pay a local to drive you to the top. Visiting Gandzasar Monastery in Nagorno Karabakh.
3. The Number Plate Wall
I couldn’t work out whether the bizarre “number plate wall” was a dig at the Azerbaijanis or a serious war memorial in respect of those who died in the Karabakh War. My heart says the former, my head hopes the latter. Basically it’s a wall made up of lots of Azerbaijan number plates from cars captured during the Karabkh war, or cars abandoned here or stolen.
4. Town Centre
Walking through the town centre you will see the War Memorial, a Hospital, a School, some nice shops and just an odd town that doesn’t quite fit. The work of Levon Hairapetian has made this normal town into a quirky tourist resort. Wander around at leisure and talk to the locals.
Vank is blessed with hills of forests, valleys and mountains and something I crave…pure, fresh air. Life feels nice here. Take time out to walk around and enjoy it. We were there in November and there was a cool chill in the air that felt good!
I’ll be writing more on Nagorno Karabakh and the crazy time there, here are my videos from Vank: