Historical sites of the village Togh

St. Hovhannes church - XIII c., castle - XVIII c..

Togh (Hadrut district of Artsakh) has been mentioned in written sources since the battle of Armenians against Arab invaders.

St.Stepanos Nahatak (St.Stephan the Martyr) church is situated in the SW side of Togh, in the large, old cemetery. In place of the present church existed a more ancient monument, which was wholly-destroyed, and the stone was used in the new temple. Many of Artsakh’s XVI-XVIII cc monuments were built in the place of buildings destroyed during the XIV-XV cc. The first church built here was very similar to the pagan temple that preceded it. At some point in medieval times a monastery was built and the church at that time was the cathedral of the monastery complex. The walls of the church have 51 khachkars built into them. Decorated with various bright ornaments, they are an interesting collection showing the chronology of the place.

On the north-western side of the cemetery, on a slope is situated a simple church, almost half-way underground. Nearby remainders of cells and dwellings are noticeable as are ancient gravestones. One of the tombs belongs to Prince Bakhtum, who was betrayed and killed by Ibrahim Khan. The inscription goes on to say that Ibrahim «started such a tyranny in this land, during the course of which part of Togh’s Armenian population of princely residence was forcibly Islamized, even many representatives of Melik-Yegan’s house». The khachkar built into the front of the church, has «St.Vardan Cross» inscribed on it and was most likely at one time a freestanding khachkar. The church seems to have been called St.Vardan as well.

St.Hovhannes church is situated in the central part of the village and is in good condition. The church was built on a slope, with its N wall halfway stuck in the rock, and the S wall open with the foundations visible. The only entry of the church, from west, opens towards the ramparted yard. On the SW corner of the yard is the rounded tower, with a panoramic view. Built in approx. the XIII cc, the church-yard is the burial place of much of the regions royalty.

The plain two-story palace of Dizak’s princes is found in central Togh (38 x 13.24m). The complex was built in parts, with inscriptions showing that the first floor was built in the 20-30’s of the XVIII cc, and the second floor in XIX cc.

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In Togh, especially in its ancient gardens very often you’ll find stone wine-presses and huge clay pitchers. In these parts there existed an interesting custom: on the day a child was born, his parents, dreaming of his wedding day, buried pitchers full of red wine underground (their tonnage is usually from 150 to 300 liters). They opened them on the wedding day. Being under ground for years, the wine became crystal transparent and aromatic. Exactly such wine was served on the wedding table to the dear guests and fighters, who had come back home.

Another ancient custom was when they sent their son to the army they would plant a mulberry tree in his honor. Over time the number of these trees grew and grew, turning villages into mulberry havens.

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