Shusha   (Şuşa)

Suse (Shusha) - 250 years

This page is dedicated to the city of Shusha, in Karabakh region of Azerbaijan. To learn about the ancient history of Karabakh (Artsakh), a province of Caucasian Albania (Azerbaijan), visit the VAR Caucasian Albania webpage. For other rellevant historical facts and essays, visit VAR Qarabagh and History subpages.
Shusha is the pearl of Azerbaijan. This fortress town was established in 1750 by Panah Ali-khan Javanshir, founder and ruler of the independent Azerbaijani Karabakh khanate (kingdom), and became its capital. Situated around the picturesque Karabakh mountains, Shusha incarnates in it all the fascinations of nature. At first the town's name was Panahabad, in the honor of its founder. After some time its name was changed by Ibrahim Khalil-khan, son and successor of Panah khan, to "Shusha Galasi" (Shusha fortress), supposedly after the name of the nearest village of Shusha -- which could trace its name to pre-Median origin (also see the legend described in "Shusha: Heartbeat of Karabakh", below). Hence, he became known in official documents as Ibrahim Khalil-khan Shushinskii (of the city of Shusha) and Karabakhskii (of the khanate of Karabakh). The Karabakh khanate rapidly developed during the years of Ibrahim khan's reign, establishing diplomatic and commercial relations with other Azerbaijani khanates, as well as with Georgia, Ottoman Empire and Iran. Shusha achieved renown for its heroic defense against the Iranian Army of the Agha Mohammad Khan Qajar, Shah of Iran -- Qajar Shah dynasty were also of Azerbaijani descent as were the preceeding Afshar and Safavid Shah dynasties of Iranian Empire -- in 1795, who constantly tried to bring Karabakh and other northern Azerbaijani khanates, as well as Georgia, back under Iranian sovereignty. Due to rapid and powerful advances of the Russian army from the north waging cruel wars against Azerbaijani khanates, as well as devastating Russian-Iranian and Russian-Turkish (Ottoman) wars, Ibrahim khan decided to sign a treaty in 1805 with Russia to stop bloodshed. During the Russo-Iranian War of 1826-1828 -- which ultimately resulted in whole of North Azerbaijan being annexed by Russia according to the Gulistan (1813) and Turkmanchay Treaties (1828) -- the small garrison of Shusha heldout heroically for some 40 days against the Iranian forces of Abbas-Mirza. Shusha became a district capital of Elizavetpol' Gubernia (Province) in 1840 and the administrative center of the Stalin-inspired Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast (NKAO) within Azerbaijan SSR in 1923.

Shusha is a homeland to a great number of Azerbaijani poets, architects, musicians and other people of culture, as well as military leaders and generals.

"The people of Azerbaijan have retained their ancient musical tradition. For example, the art of ashugs, who improvise songs to their own accompaniment on a stringed instrument called a kobuz, remains extremely popular. Mugams, vocal and instrumental compositions, are also widely known, the town of Shusha being particularly renowned for this art." (Source: "Azerbaijan: Cultural Life" Encyclopædia Britannica).
Shusha is also well known for its ancient carpet-weaving, as Karabakh's rugs increased the fame of Azerbaijan carpet school in many countries of the world. Architecture of the 18th century is represented by two castles and the remains of fortress walls. The city has had numerous stone houses of the 18th and 19th centuries, that are characterized by the use of decorative painting and shebeke (ornamental window grills).

Due to the constant territorial claims by Armenia and renewed Armenian-Azerbaijani War, the city of Shusha was occupied by Armenian aggressors on 8 May 1992, after being greatly damaged, and completely cleansed of its Azerbaijani population (which was 98% Azerbaijani in 1989 according to the official Soviet census data). All of the cultural heritage which was not evacuated was either looted, destroyed or pilaged by the Armenians.

"I could see the crumbling turrets of a mosque down the road and asked him to drive me closer. There were two mosques close to each other, both in appalling condition. There was also a ruined Turkish bathhouse, which an Armenian camera crew was filming." (Sarah Hurst, A Road Less Traveled, Transitions Online, Summer 2000)

Shusha: Heartbeat of Karabakh
Read this introduction to Shusha from Azerbaijan International magazine

Shusha from
Shusha description from the site "A to Z of Azerbaijan"

Fuad R. Akhundov: On Shusha and Karabakh


Karabakh: Famous Musical Families of Azerbaijan
Website on Bul-Bul house-museum in Shusha
Karabakh rugs



(1) Here is a photo of one of 3 monuments of the prominent figures of Azerbaijani culture in Karabakh, the Azerbaijani poetress and daughter of Kharabakhi Khan, Natavan. The monuments were used as a target for shooting by Armenians, and then plunged to Georgia for utilization as a simple copper.

Local Azerbaijanis bought the monuments and transported to Azerbaijan, where they are on a public display near the Art Museum.

"Everything has been destroyed and plundered in the places they used to live. I don't want to stir up emotions connected with the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict. Instead, I want to do my best to restore peace. In the courtyard of the Art Museum of Baku there are bronze statues to the outstanding people of Azerbaijan such as Uzeyir Hajibeyov, Byul-Byul, Natavan. These statues were raised in the native land of these great people - in Shusha which is now occupied by Armenian military forces. These statues were fired at. Later we found out that they were being sold as bronze in one of the regions of Georgia, so we paid $500,000 to non-official structures to get those statues back. Now they are in the territory of the Museum. Look at the vandalism committed towards those statues!"
(From "REFUGEES" book by Heydar Aliyev, 1997).

Shusha’s 250-year anniversary to be marked

Baku. 20.12.2000. /AzadInform/. The Ministry of Culture reports, a commemoration dedicated to 250-year anniversary of Shusha’s foundation (Shush is an ancient city of Azerbaijan occupied by Armenians in 8 May of 1992) will be arranged in Musical Comedy Theatre December 22 at 3:00 p.m. A scientific-practical conference and exhibition dedicated to Shusha’s history will be held within frameworks of the measure.

Zerkalo, 14 March 2001.



Вчера в Аздраме прошла научно-практическая конференция, посвяшенная 250-летию основанию Шуши (Панахабада). Здание этого старейшего театра в последние годы, возможно, не видело такого количества народа, как это было на этот раз: сесть было негде.
Много выступило известных в стране людей: говорили о Шуше и великих шушинцах - государственных деятелях, ученых, людях искусства, рассказывали о роли этого города в развитии культуры азербайджанских тюрок. Были и музыкальные номера.
Поражало одно: имея столько фактологических материалов, Азербайджан все еще отстает в спорах о принадлежности этого города. К счастью, о возникновении Шуши написано много и все эти труды в свое время переведены на русский язык.
Фундамент города заложен в середине 1750 года правителем Карабаха Панахали ханом и на первых порах город, наряду с названием Шуша (Шише), называли и в честь хана Панахабадом. В годы его правления - до 1757 года, возникли городские стены, здания госучреждений, первые торговые кварталы. Во времена правления его сына Ибрагимхалил хана город вырос, построены оборонительные валы и крепости. В период феодальных междоусобиц Шуша не раз "сдавала экзамены" на крепость и побеждала.
Во время русского колониального правления Шуша, в которой подавляющую часть населения составляли тюрки, оставалась административным и экономическим центром всего карабахского региона и не переставала развиваться. Хотя советский конструктивизм оставил свой некрасивый след в городе, все же созидательный гений восточного зодчего Кербалая Сафихана удивлял гостей этого высокогорного, типично азербайджанского города.
...Слушаю выступления и поражаюсь: в течение двух веков армяне ни на минуту не прекращали свои вредительские действия против Шуши и шушинцев, но город каким-то образом выжил, выстоял. Но он не устоял девять лет тому назад, перед преобладающими силами противника. Но не он в этом виноват, а мы...
Конференция наглядно продемонстрировала, что Шуша не забыта и не может быть забыта никогда. Контроль над городом потерян временно, то есть он физически недосягаем, духовно же он с нами. И это немаловажный и обнадеживаюший фактор. В недалеком будущем Шуша вновь будет с Азербайджаном, как и весь Карабах. Пусть это учтут все, кто лелеет несбыточные надежды о присоединении Карабаха к Армении.


Home | Links & Resources | History & Research | Karabakh (Qarabagh) | Refugees | Reference & Misc | Sports |

Copyright © 1999-2005 by Adil, part of VIRTUAL AZERBAIJAN REPUBLIC (VAR) website.