12 kilometers (7.5 miles) east of Stepanakert, on the bank of Qarqar river the fortress of Askeran is located. Its place name is associated with the word ‘us’ meaning divine, heavenly, and ‘kar-an’ meaning stone, stony. In the past the fortress and the nearby settlement were called Mairberd – mother fortress. It served as a gateway to the visitors of Shushi. Even today the main road lies through the fortress.