This place is completely off the wall (excuse the pun). Here’s an overview on visiting Askeran Fortress in Nagorno Karabakh. When backpacking in Nagorno Karabakh, nothing will be normal or even remotely straight forward. My journey to Askeran could have been made easier by getting a direct Marshrutky from Stepanakert out to the site. However I decided to head to the destroyed city of Agdam first (against the conditions of my visa) and down to Askeran from there.
How to get to Askeran Fortress
Most people reading this will be heading there from Stepanakert, with this in mind and unless you have a rented car, leaves you with two main options:
1. Hire a driver to take you there (and to other places)
2. Get a Marshrutky out there
Hiring a driver is easy to organise and you can tell him where and when you want to go to places. Try and tie in a visit to Askeran Fortress with Agdam, Tigranakert and Vankasar if you can. Bargain down, and prices will vary depending on where you go and for how long. As a guide, we paid 1,500 Dram for a share taxi from Vank to Stepanakert, but for Askeran I ended up having to hitch a ride from Agdam as I got stranded!
Getting a Marshrutky out to Askeran is simple. Just go to the main bus station in Stepanakert (you won’t get lost – there’s only one – on Azatamartikneri Poghota) and ask for Askeran. For sure the bus number 202 goes there as I got this one to Agdam and it passed Askeran Fortress.
Where is Askeran Fortress?
It’s north east of Stepanakert in Nagorno Karabakh. You will of course need a visa to visit Nagorno Karabakh to start with (details on getting a Nagorno Karabakh visa). It slices the road in two and stretches out into the green hills and countryside. This land may be claimed by Azerbaijan, but it’s Armenians living here. It’s about 14 kilometres outside of Stepanakert.
What is Askeran Fortress?
It’s an 18th century walled fortress which is still standing, despite a war in the region. The fortress is sometimes referred to as Mayraberd (also the name of the international airport in Nagorno Karabakh). It was built by Panah Khan and was once over a kilometre long. These days you can walk along the walls and enjoy some cracking views. The fortress is open all the time, though at night it won’t be lit up. There are not many resources on line about it, so I’m glad to share my story and photos with you, however Wikipedia does a decent overview.
What is there to do at Askeran Fortress in Nagorno Karabakh?
Walk around, marvel at it, take photos and that’s it! There is no museum, just an information board. I went to Askeran because it was a handy stop over on the way back from Agdam. A lot of travellers prefer the Shah Bulart fortress which is further north and closer to Tigranakert, a lost settlement built by Tigran the great.
Is Askeran Fortress Touristy?
No – not at all. There are very few tourists or backpackers in Nagorno Karabakh. I was surprised. It’s a really cool off the wall spot to head out to and I’d recommend it. I’ll be writing a load more about Nagorno Karabakh in times to come.
One of my videos from Askeran Fortress in Nagorno Karabakh: