During World War I the old czarist Russia imploded and the entente nations decided to take a piece of the fallen empire. The Germans took a large chunk of Belarus and Ukraine and to the south the Ottoman Empire wanted its share as well trying to get Armenia.
From 1915 the ottoman had started one of the worst genocides in history – killing Armenians by the hundreds of thousands. When the Russian empire imploded Armenia was left alone fighting for the survival of its people.
The ottoman army invaded the eastern part of Armenia and it had a superior force compared to the Armenian army and militia. But the Armenians were fighting for their existence so they were not going to cave in the face of the opposition. The Armenians decided to make a stand at Sardarabad. The ottoman had an army of around 12 to 16 thousands troops and 40 cannons as well – a far stronger fighting force than the Armenians 9,000 men. Nevertheless the battle resulted in a decisive Armenian victory and made the ottoman sue for piece. A peace treaty was concluded and Armenia became an independent nation – at least for a few years until the Soviet Union took over the briefly independent Caucasus nations.
Today at Sandarabad there is a huge memorial for the Armenian victory. The monument was actually built during soviet time to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the battle. Making it a special soviet war memorial with an Armenia twist. If you are driving from Yerevan you arrive to the memorial driving along a long straight street going straight towards memorial and you can see the impressive structure as you drive closer.
We park down below the memorial which is on the top of a hill. There is a long stair to the top which is guarded by two giant bulls standing face to face at the very top of the hill. The look up the stair is actually pretty impressive and we start heading up the stair.
Behind the bulls is another striking feature – a 35 meter tall freestanding bell tower where the bell rings every hour in memorial of the fallen at the battle.
If you turn right at the bulls when you get to the top of the stair you will find a small cemetery which isn’t for the people who fell at the battle. The cemetery is from a much more recent conflict – the Nagorno-Karabakh.
If you walk left instead at the bulls you go down a long path which is lined by giant eagles. At the end of the path is a semicircular structure with some carvings on it – the carvings are of horses which apparently symbolize victory – which was just what the Armenians got at this very location.
There are a restaurant next to the memorial and a museum as well – but both seemed to be closed while we visited so we just walked down the stair at drove away from the memorial.