We had just arrived in Stepanakert after a long ride from Martuni in Armenia, had passed the border with our newly acquired visa, and had reached Stepanakert just in time to be able to have a walk in the city. We wandered through the quiet streets, had a chat with curious people, until we reached the other side of town, where we found the memorial complex that we had passed before. The road was sloping upwards here, which made the complex look even bigger than it already is. Originally erected in memory of the inhabitants of Karabagh who died during World War II, the memorial complex now also includes a section where those who died in the Karabagh war in the early 1990s are buried.
When we entered the memorial complex, we soon realized we had done so in the latter section. Whenever I visit a cemetery, I cannot help but check the dates of birth and death - so as to see how much time the person had had on our planet. It soon dawned on me that, while calculating the age of the soldiers, that most of them were born around or in my own birth year, but died in the early 1990s - all died too young, all died when their lives should normally just have begun. Such is the cruelty of war. They were born here, and perished; I was born elsewhere, in a more peaceful part of the world (well, in my lifetime, that is), and lived to visit their graves. It was a moment of reflection on the relativity of things, of life. But in any case, it filled me with a sad feeling.
To underline the Armenian character of Nagorno-Karabagh, there are modern versions of all-time Armenian symbols like khackhars in this part of the memorial complex. We walked the stairs to the main platform. We stood at the foot of the obelisk that towers above the complex, where the eternal flame can be found. I decided to leave the flowers that friendly locals had given us on our walk here, next to other flowers. An old man with his wife approached us, and we tried to have a conversation with them; it turned out he had fought in the Karabagh war, had lost friends, had probably killed others who were laying elsewhere, on another cemetery. He showed us his wounds; and the tone of his voice and the look in his eyes immediately made me realize the impact the war had had on him as a young soldier. We walked around more, seeing the graves for those who died in World War II, when this was still Soviet Union, rows of graves, a common grave on a low hill - right across is a large hospital where wounded soldiers were taken. The skies had been dark all the time, and were only getting darker - an appropriate setting for this impressive monument. When it started to rain, we knew it was time to get going - within ten minutes, thick streams of water would run through Stepanakert.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Stepanakert Memorial Complex (Armenia). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Stepanakert Memorial Complex. Read more about this site.