ARTAK GHULYAN
CASTLES (PALACES) OF MELIKS OF ARTSAKH AND SIUNIK



MELIKAL PALACES

    1. The palace of Akanaberd (pl. 1) is situated in the citadel of Akana fortress-settlement, in the northern side of Akanaberd village of the district of Martakert of the NKR. According to the historical- bibliographical information, the palace is dated back 15th -16th cent. and refers to the one of descendents of families of meliks originated from Dopians princely house, as their residence-center. It consists of four adjoined halls with an rectangular plan surrounded by fortress walls and of a vestibule-corridor on their frontal part. It is remarkable with its tight and precise plan created with a compositional pivot of double glkhatuns (domed room) and defence peculiarities.
    2. The palace of Kashatagh (15th cent.) (pl. 2-3, I) is situated on the left bank of Tzitzernavanits tributary of the Aghavno river in the district of Kashatagh (Lachin). It refers to Melik-Haykaz the First (1450 - 1520), the founder of melikal principality of Kashatagh and is dated the end of the 15th cent.
    It is built on the slope of a hill, on the altitude created with brace walls. It consists of three smoothly covered, adjoined rooms, a colonnade arched hall and a two-storied vaulted hall adjoined to them from the west and the melik's flat is on the first floor and the open upper hall -the summer reception-throne hall -of Melik Haykaz is on the second floor.
    The compositional form created with a colonnade and two-storied hall of the fortified palace is the oldest and most entire one among the similar monuments.
    3. The palace of Khnatzakh (pl. 4) is among the dwelling structures in Kashatagh village of the region of Siunik of the RA. Khnatzakh became a melik-residence at the beginnings of the 16th cent. during the tenure of Melik-Hakhnazar, the son and successor of Melik-Haykaz the First. According to an epitaph dated 1551, Melik-Hakhnazar has ruled and died here, and the palace is dated 16th cent. Two entire constructions -the two-storied hall and the glkhatun covered by wood - as well as the remnants of the fortress walls have been preserved from the former entire building. Traces of structures adjoined with the glkhatun from two sides and niches of the facade walls evidence that a row of rooms adjoined by arched hall has existed here. The melik's flat is on the first floor of the two-storied hall and the summer reception-throne hall on the upper floor.
    The castle is a unique monument of the palace-building of the 16th cent. And together with the castle of Kashatagh presents a compositional peculiar type.
    4. The palace of Khndzoresk (18th cent.) (pl. 5, II) has been situated on the site of the village of Hin (Old) Khndzoresk of the region of Siunik of the RA, in a dwelling building on a slope of a mountain. The ruins of the monuments have been preserved in a comparably entire situation up to 1930s and had the repair inscription of Melik-Paramaz dated 1836.
    Separate fragments of the construction have been preserved up to 1960s. According to the preserved descriptions and photos, the castle-palace has had departments covered by stones and all facts evidence that it has been built at the least in the 18th cent. during the tenure of predecessors of Melik-Paramaz. The castle has exactly had a few stone glkhatuns, a two-storied vaulted hall with an open upper reception-hall, other vaulted halls with a colonnade arched hall adjoined to the latter.
    The composition of the castle-palace has mainly repeated the common resolutions of the two former monuments, belonging to the same type.
    5. The palace of Togh (1737) (pl. 6-8, III) is situated in the central part of Togh village of the district of Hadrut of the NKR. The gate of the main wall entrance, two vaulted rooms and the two-storied reception-hall, other attached constructions and fragments of the fortress wall have been preserved and are involved in dwelling buildings built in the 19th cent.
    According to the building large inscription of the entrance of the reception-hall of the second floor, the castle was built as a residence-palace of the reigning melik of Artsakh in 1737, during the tenure of Melik-Yegan of Dizak (1716 -1744) who had been approved as the prince of princes of five Armenian melikal principalities of Artsakh by Nader-Shah. Fragments of the castle preserved up to now show that it has been a large and walled building with circumference construction of the site. The gates with strong arched props and the reception-hall that is the most remarkable part of the palace are prominent here. Though the latter has communities with the reception-halls of meliks of Siunik, it is very special and represents a new variant of that remarkable composition.
    6. The palaces of the fortress of Gulistan (pl. 9-10, IV-V) are in the west from Gulistan village of the district of Shahumian of the NKR, one of them is in the citadel of the fortress attached to the top of the tremendous rock in the opposite of Mrav mountain, and the other is on the ruins of the fortress-settlement spread on its southern slope, on the bank of the Inja river.
    6a. The citadel-palace (17th-18th cent.) has been the residence of the rulers of the province of Gulistan since the most ancient times. Historical-architectural observations show that it, together with the fortress, has been fully built and fortified since the 17th cent., then in 1720s it was rebuilt and became the main foothold of Abraham Sparapet, the commander of the sghnakh of Gulistan, and of his commander-brothers who had become known in the national-liberation struggle. Since the halves of the century it has been fortified during the tenure of Melik-Hovsepian, his successors, continuing to remain the one of the impregnable centers of the liberation combat of Artsakh. The Russian-Persian treaty of 1813 has been signed here.
    The general form of the plan is a subject to margins of rocks surrounding the site and consists of rows of rooms that are attached to the wall and divided by a corridor from the east to west. The rooms are two-storied and covered with wood. The large, two-storied hall that is the major construction of the house of melik and the glkhatun (the room of guards) in the opposite of it have been preserved on the margin of the rock.
    The citadel-castle is the most entire one from the small number of monuments that have been preserved up to now and gives imagination on the one of the variants of fortified palaces of meliks.
    6b. The small palace (18th cent.) is a building with a rectangular plan, four towers and is closed by walls and consists of an interior yard and compartments of the same size in its east side. The central compartment has been a vestibule with an open facade and the edge ones - vaulted halls. This small castle built at the foot of the fortress is not comfortable for dwelling in winter and probably it has served as a temporary settlement for the summer rest of the melikal family.
    7. The palace of Gulistan village (1722) (pl. 11-12, VI-VII) is situated in Gulistan village of the district of Shahumian of the NKR and it was the one of centers of the melikal principality of the same name. The building inscription of the monument preserved in the center of the village evidences that "the castle was built by Hakob, the ruler of the village and the son of Abraham Sparapet, in 1722." The previous composition of the castle has been mainly preserved. The castle-palace consists of a closing vaulted, domed glkhatun with an aperture in its roof and two rooms of equal length and adjoined from the two sides to each other. Each of the rooms has a separate vestibule-corridor. The vestibule of the glkhatun on the main facade reconstructed now has been colonnade and arched from the very beginning and the vestibules of the rooms have had arches opened to the yard.
    The palace with the preservation of the clear and compact entirety created around the compositional pivot of the stone glkhatun represents a great value in the typological row of similar monuments of the end of the century.
    8. Palaces of Horekavan (pl. 13-17, VIII-IX) are situated in the 5-6 km north from Talish village of the district of Martakert of the NKR, beside the Horeka or Glkho monastery, on the ruins of former residence-settlement of melikal principality of Gulistan.
    8a. The first palace (1727) is situated in the opposite of the monastery and according to a building inscription preserved up to now, it was built in 1727 during the tenure of Melik-Tamraz of Gulistan and his companion-in-arms, Horekavank's leader Paron Father Ohan. The castle-palace has been a complex with a small number of constructions directed at the interior yard and with walls forming a rectangle in the plan and fastened by circular towers in their corners. The fragment preserved up to now consists of three vaulted compartments of the same size, the middle one out of which is a vestibule and the edge ones are rooms with entrances opening from it.
    Being located near to the eastern borders of melikal principality, the palace has mainly been built for defence objectives.
    8b. The second palace (18th cent.) is built in the lower side of the slope of the hill of Horekavank and is preserved incomparably well. It is dated to the half of the 18th cent. and refers to Gulistan's Melik-Hovsep, one of the leader-fighters of Armenian liberation combat.
    From their width the entrances of the pyramidal, walled castle with a rectangular plan opened to the interior yard through which the complex is divided into two groups of rooms. The base southern wing consists of two domed glkhatuns, two margin vaulted halls, an arched hall along their facade and four other vaulted rooms adjoined from the east. The row of rooms of the northern wing is directed at the yard along the facade and consists of a central open and smoothly covered hall, two vaulted halls adjoined to it.
    The palace-castle is prominent with its exact plan and volume-spatial compositions, separate confrontation of dwelling, supplementary and solemn parts, steadfast processing of the facades looking onto the yard, peculiarity of tromp domes of the glkhatuns, characteristic description of the fortress-palace and it has an exclusive role in the affair of reveal of the general architectural value of melikal palaces.
    9. The palace of Mokhratagh (1771) (pl. 18-20, X) is situated 3-4 km west from Mokhratagh village of the district of Martakert of the NKR, on the place of Hin Mokhratagh village that was the residence of the melik of the province Jraberd, beside the Innmas monastery.
    According to the building inscription, that is not preserved now, this "house with beautiful arches and pictures has been built by reigning Melik-Adam in 1771" who was devoted to Artsakh's liberation and sovereignty struggle.
    An oblong building that hangs out with its volume from the initial composition has been adjoined to the eastern wall in the same century.
    The rooms of the previous composition are disposed in two rows forming a rectangle towards the yard and are grouped around the four arched and colonnade vestibules, from which 2-3 vaulted rooms of different sizes open.
    The stress of the complex is the glkhatun and it is covered by an octahedral pyramidal dome. The construction added to the opposite side of the row of the glkhatuns consists of a central open and smoothly covered hall directed with its length at the yard, and of two margin vaulted halls.
    The palace with the number of its rooms, comparably total preservation of the previous composition and stressed defence nature is one of not numerous patterns of melikal fortified palaces, and represents this compositional type very characteristic of this period.
    10. The palace of Kaghakategh (17th-18th cent.) (pl. 21-24, XI) is situated 2 km west from Maghavuz village of the district of Martakert of the NKR, in the center of the other known fortress-settlement named Kaghakategh or Mayrakaghak of Jraberd province.
    The reconstruction of the castle-palace traditionally refers to Melik-Adam, while the historical-architectural examination finds out that before it in the 1720s during the tenure of Jraberd's Melik-Yesayi, a prominent participant of the struggle of sghnakhs, it has been restored-replenished on the remnants of melikal palace of the 17th cent. The wood-covered ten rooms of the nearly same kind and characteristic of this period through which the interior yard and rectangular plan entirety of the construction become common, are separated in the ruins of the castle. The vaulted throne-hall having a niche and windows looking onto the ravine and two two-storied cells, the ground-floor of which links to the ravine through a secret track are prominent monuments.
    The preserved remnants give an opportunity to imagine the plan and volume-spatial compositions of the castle-palace which are prominent with beneficial resolution of dwelling and defence problems in the difficult place and with architectural peculiarity.
    11. The palace of Jraberd (17th-18th cent.) (pl. 25, XII) is situated in the citadel of the fortress embracing the mountain mass on the bank of the Tartar river and on the left bank of its Trghi tributary, in the region of Martakert of the NKR. Based on the architectural communities of the preserved ruins and other castles-palaces of meliks, it should be dated 17th -18th cent., the period of the existence of the melikal principality of Jraberd.
    The citadel-palace is very irregular in the plan and from the outside repeats the outline of the rocks edging the place. It consists of wood-covered rooms attached by walls along the two sides of the entry.
    The monument is a unique one among the monuments of the simplest type and together with Gulistan's citadel- castle represents a particular fastened variant of melikal palaces.
    12. The castle of Gulatagh (1799) (pl. 26, XIII) is situated in Gulatagh village of the district of Martakert of the NKR and its fragments have been preserved in the base walls of the school of the village. At the end of the last century the castle has had a building inscription dated 1799 and has consisted of five vaulted two-row rooms with a rectangular plan and is included in pyramidal walls. Now the two semi-demolished towers and some fragments of the lower rows of the exterior walls remain.
    The palace is one more pattern of a rectangular melikal palaces having four towers.
    13. Palaces of Avetaranots (pl. 27-28, XIII) have been situated in Avetaranots village of the district of Askeran of the NKR and have formed a large palace complex in the residence-citadel of Varanda's Melik-Shahnazarians.
    13a. The first palace (18th cent.) has not been preserved and is not dated. But the investigation shows that t has been erected during the tenure of Melik-Bagh the Second, in the first quarter of the 18th cent. and as the eye-witnesses evidence, it has consisted of two stone glkhatuns disposed in one line, vaulted halls and other buildings. The information on this large complex, fragments of which have been preserved up to the beginning of the 20th century, evidence about the traditions of melikal palaces with glkkhatuns and represent a great value.
    13b. The second palace (18th cent.) has not been preserved, either, and it is known that it has been demolished at the end of the last century. According to mentions, it has belonged to Melik-Husein the First, i.e. it has been built after the previously mentioned palace until 1736, before this prominent melik was died. Being built on the top of the rocks in the western side of the village, the castle together with the latter has supposedly been demolished totally.
    13c. The third palace (1786) is the only preserved castle-palace in Avetaranots while it was demolished very much. The building inscription that is not preserved up to now says: "Seyin-Bek, the son of Melik-Shahnazar, has built this palace, 1786." Only one entire and one semi-demolished glkhatuns, as well as the remnants of the halls, arched hall and wall of the building out of the three glkhatuns forming the base composition of the palace and vaulted halls adjoined to them, have been preserved. The preserved glkhatun has a closing vaulted, domed roof with an aperture and is prominent with its two big and arched fire-places built in the side wall.
    The palace complex of Avetaranots is a matter of great interest in the history of the sphere not only because of its unique compound of three castles but also of the existence of two exclusive glkhatuns within the one of them and two within the other.
    14. Palaces of Shushi (pl. 29-30, XIV-XV) are situated in the south-eastern part of the town and are not far from each other. They have slipped of Armenian researchers' attention, while Azerbaijanians presented them as palace-castles of khans, supposedly referring one of them to Panah Kan or Ibrahim Khan and the other -to Mets (Great) Khanum (Kara Beyuk Khanum), the daughter of the latter.
    Nevertheless, the historical-architectural examinations show that the construction is not anyhow related to the Muslim khans ruled in the town in the second half of the 18th cent., but it is the result of the building activity of Armenian meliks in that period.
    14a. The first palace (18th cent.) is situated on a hill of the south-eastern side of the town and according to its four-tower composition with a square plan, it has existed as an independent defence structure before the reconstruction of the town-fortress, during the tenure of Panah Khan ruled here in 1750 - 52. It is shown that just this fortified palace is the newly-constructed palace of Karaglukh in 1724 by the commander of "sghnakh of Shosh," Avan Sparapet which is mentioned numerous times in the documents of the beginning of the century. In addition, the place of the monument is known with a name of "Amarat of Avan." The castle has later been inherited by Varanda's meliks and then Shushi's khans.
    From the outside the monument is standing, the buildings attached by walls are only demolished, while remnants of walls and the vault have been maintained. The only entrance is on the northern side and is fastened with a vaulted room coming out from the wall.
    The palace-castle is one more pattern of melikal palace-fortresses with simplest four-tower composition and belongs to the same sub-type of Horekavan's first and Gulatagh's castles.
    14b. The second palace (18th cent.) is situated a little south-east from the first one, on the edge of a ravine. With its general sizes and fortified composition, it nearly repeats the former one and with its architectural resolution it is very close to the overspread forms of melikal palaces in the 18th cent. So it also belongs to the period before establishment of khans in Shushi and has probably been built in the second quarter of the 18th cent., during voluminous building activity of the meliks of Varanda's (including Shushi) owner Melik-Shahnazarian kin. Undoubtedly, the castle is the one of the "two stone houses of the estate list of the further bequest of Melik-Jumshud mentioned in one of historical records of 1780s. So it is the remarkable evidence of the right of the real owners of Shushi."
    The rectangular plan entirety, the right wing of which consists of the palace with corner circular towers, is constructed with rows of rooms in the right and left sides of the yard located in the opposite of the entrance.
    Three compartments are built along the whole length of the wall. The central compartment is fully open and the edge ones are vaulted halls of the nearly same size and have windows looking onto the yard. The opposite wing has had a composition similar to the former but its margin halls also have had vaulted two rooms attached to each other.
    The two newly-known castles of Shushi evidence the history of the initial formation of the town-fortress and with their compositions characteristic of melikal fortified palaces re-affirm the tradition of their construction by Armenians of Artsakh in the late Middle Ages.
    15. The palace of Tukhnakal (18th cent.) (pl. 31, XVI) is situated on the site of Tukhnakal village of the district of Askeran of the NKR. The monument refers to Melik-Dolukhanian family who are mentioned in records of the 19th cent. as a known noble family in Varanada. The compositional community of the castle-palace with the melikal palaces of the 18th cent. evidences that it has also been constructed at the ends of the same century during the tenure of Melik-Dolukhanians ruled in this village of Varanda.
    The building preserved up to now forms a rectangular entirety in the general plan and consists of closing vaulted glkhatun, vestibule and two edge vaulted rooms along them.
    The castle-palace is a latest period's monument of the melikal palace with glkhatuns and belongs to the chronological row of this remarkable, compositional type.
    16. The palace of Tegh (1783) (pl. 32-33, XVII) is situated in the north-eastern side of the St. Gevorg church, in Tegh village of the region of Siunik of the RA. According to the maintained building inscription, "this palace was built by Melik-Barkhudar's son Davit-Bek, in 1783" who is mentioned in other records of the same century as one of the active participants of the liberation struggle of the end of the century.
    The palace consists of one-line two adjoined vaulted halls on their both sides and an arched hall of the facade looking onto the yard. During further repair the latter has been partly closed by two-storied rooms and in the lintel of the entrance of the first floor of the one of them the slab of the building inscription has been hewed and adapted. The complex has had walls surrounding the yard and the remnants of the walls have remained under the nowadays additional constructions. The melikal palace of Tegh is the only preserved monument of the composition built with stone glkhatuns in Siunik and evidences that this type has also been used for traditional aims in the same period of time.