Once a major city of 100,000 people, Agdam now lies completely empty. Aghdam was a sizeable town, formerly inhabited by Azeris, but it was destroyed by the Karabagh army after they captured it to prevent it falling back into Azeri hands
But more than simply being abandoned, like a fresh kill on the Serengeti the city has been picked cleaned by opportunity seeking vultures. The homes, businesses and schools now lie as skeletal remains strewn upon landscape. Other than the scrap collectors rifling through the remains, there are a few farmers using the land for their cows. The only building even remotely intact is a large mosque in the city.
But in some cruel punishment (either intentional or not) the mosque, holy building of the banished Muslims, is now a stable for the cattle of the Christian Armenians. Climbing the minaret of the mosque is the best way to try to fully grasp the enormity of the situation.
As one blogger who visited the area wrote, 'I can only compare the site to that of a mixture between post-Hiroshima bombing and the Chernoble nuclear disaster. For miles, the underbrush has grown to engulf the once vibrant town.'
Agdam lies on, what is essential, the front lines of the war. There are still reports of cross border shooting making the area very dangerous. And if that wasn't enough, the area is a highly sensitve military zone, so taking picutes is tantamount to spying. There's no public transport and no way to hitchhike.
To go there is either weird or depressing depending on perspective but many visitors do so. Beyond Aghdam, on the Martakert road, is the fortress and State Archaeological Museum of Tigranakert (about 36km north of Stepanakert, halfway between Askeran & Martakert; www.tigrankert.am; © daily 09.00-19.00). A medieval fortress sits at the foot of the dramatic site of the ancient city of Tigranakert, founded by Tigran the Great (95-55bc). The site covers some 50ha and excavations, started in 2005, are continuing. Already two of the main walls of the city and a 5th-7th-century church have been uncovered. The many finds, dating from the 5th century bc to the 17th century ad, are now displayed in the museum which opened in the medieval fortress in June 2010.