Shushi (Nagorny Karabakh): Stronghold remains in ruins | The Family Without Borders

The Family Without Borders

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Nagorny Karabakh


Stronghold remains in ruins…

Mosque in Shushi (Nagorny-Karabakh)

Shusha (in Azeri), Shushi (in Armenian) by the second half of the 19th century had become the the second largest town in the Caucasus after Tbilisi. Hard to believe in it. Right now it’s an empty, melancholic place.

With leaflet from Azerbaijan (about Shusha – heart of culture) in our hands, we crossed the medieval wall which is surrounding the town. Town, situated in picturesque Karabakh mountains, at the plateau, just 9 km from the capital of Nagorny Karabakh. On the leaflet two beautiful mosques with color-pained minarets. For sure must-sees in the region.

What a sad view appeared when we finally found them. Like most of the town, mosques are also remain in ruins. Small kids, with no idea what their playing ground is, are jumping on the stairs of the entrance.

Shusha/i used to be a huge, very important city with predominantly Azerbaijani population. With the start of Nagorny Karabakh War in 1988 the town became the most important Azeri stronghold in Karabakh. Not for so long. At night from 8th to 9th of May 1993 everything have changed. The crucial turning point of the conflict took place at the steep cliffs, which were natural protection of Shusha/i. Armenian army attacked from down and took over the city and that was the beginning of the end.

Since that time there is no Azeri people to be found in the region but – very sadly – also no Azeri culture visible.

In contrast, huge Ghazanchetsots Cathedral was renovated not long ago.

But in general the town is reduced to the village, very sad one, with small signs of poor life around. What a pity that conflicts are so much connected with loosing, maybe forever, the cultural heritage.

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We have published our first book (for now just in Polish:) about our Central America Trip.
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  • Louis
    Posted October 14, 2010 at 13:51 | Permalink

    Nice !! I was there 4 monthes ago ! Hello to all the family !


  • Levon
    Posted April 15, 2012 at 22:07 | Permalink

    Interesting article, but there’re one very important thing about which here is not mentioned.

    Before the 1920, the city was consisted of two parts: Armenian and Turkic with proportions of 55/45.

    In the 1920 there were an event – after which the whole Armenian part of the city was burned into fire and all Armenian population became a refugees. So it’s not right to say that it was an Azeri city, because it became as an Azeri city only from 26/03/1920 to 08/05/1992 while Armenian population of the city were killed or runned of from the city.

    Btw, there’re also nothing mentioned, that the city during the war was usedby Azerbaijani forces for attacking from the highland by artillery on Armenian civilians in the lower town – the capital on RMK – Stepanakert.

  • Anar
    Posted May 8, 2013 at 09:35 | Permalink

    Shusha (Şuşa) is Azeri town it is reality.

  • Hakob
    Posted July 26, 2013 at 23:55 | Permalink

    This article is incredibly biased and one-sided and covered up many facts.

    As someone pointed out, Shushi is not, has never been, and never will be, an Azeri city. Shushi is and has always been an Armenian land, as has all of Artsakh (Karabakh). Azeris came later as guests. 80 years ago, if you went to Shushi, you would see mutilated corpses of Armenian civilians and a destroyed and ruined Armenian quarter. 30,000 people were massacred and burned alive. Women and children were raped. The town priest’s head was stuck on a pike. This is what the “innocent” Azeris occupying the town were capable of.

    You also forgot to mention that Shushi was used as headquarters of the Azeri invaders to attempt to kill every Armenian in the land. Shushi was their main base of operations in sieging Stepanakert, during which Armenian civilians were regularly bombed with illegal weapons used by the Azeris. Women and children were killed in their homeland! Again! Brave heroes who liberated the city from Azeri terror.

    Do not feel sad, soon the city will be completely populated once again with it’s rightful sons and daughters: Armenians.

  • Chelsea
    Posted September 9, 2014 at 16:35 | Permalink

    A few years ago, I spent 4 months in Shushi, living with two different families while there. Working at the school and arts center, I got to know many of villagers and I know or recognize all the people in your photos. It’s frustrating to see their images coupled with your dismissive captions and post. That “sad” place is their home and a home that they’re proud of. Additionally, after the war, the Armenians kept intact the Azeri cemeteries and mosques; there are three in Shushi alone. The Azeris, however, destroyed the Armenian churches and graveyards.

    I hardly think you can capture or begin to understand the lives and history of the people in a village simply by reading an Azeri pamphlet.

    • Dave
      Posted September 23, 2015 at 06:58 | Permalink

      It’s very obvious that you have lived in Shusha. Cos the original name is ShushA not ShushI. It has only changed after Armenian military force occupation in 90’s. I would like to ask you – have you got a permission from Baku for traveling and living in Shusha? I’m sure you didn’t. But you had to. Cos UN and major members of EU, also USA and other countries recognize it as part Azerbaijani territory. It calls Internationally Recognized Borders. Which you violated. I don’t know where you are from, but I’m sure your country as well respects other countries borders and cultural values.
      The article is absolutely correct. Of course Armenians are gonna say “it was Armenian land, we took it back from Azeries” and what so ever. That’s the way to cover up what Armenian forces did against it’s neighbor, it’s their crime and they are just trying to justify killing Azeri civilians. By your post, you are also supporting and justifying Armenian military crimes against humanity.
      Please do some research, see what was the population of Shusha before 1990 (before war) and the town built by who…. Let me tell you, it’s built by Azeries and it has always been 95% Azeri civilians. Did you ever ask a question where those Azeries are now ? Probably you got an answer “they all left”. Of course those poor living few hundred civilians (Armenians) are not gonna say we kicked them out and our military killed rest of them.

      Let me tell you this – there is a church right in the center of Baku. It’s a very high class area. And that church is Armenian church. It’s still there, it’s closed but nobody destroyed it. Did you know that there are thousands of Armenians are living in Baku and rest of Azerbaijan at the moment ?! No, you didn’t. I wish you could come to Azerbaijan before writing your judgmental comment.

    • Dave
      Posted September 23, 2015 at 07:14 | Permalink

      Just take a look at this, if you wanna see more of Armenian vandalism.
      In fact I dont agree which the headline. But just look at the article

  • Dave
    Posted September 23, 2015 at 07:10 | Permalink

    Loved this post. It’s absolutely correct. Shusha has been occupied by Republic of Armenia in early 90’s. In fact 95% of population was Azeries there before war. Anyways, I’m not gonna go through Wikipedia and try to find stupid proofs. You wanna proofs ? Just look at UN and EU decisions. All recognize it as part of Azerbaijan. Which is the truth. I hope peace will come soon. Azerbaijan will get all it’s occupied ed lands back and both nations will find a way to live in peace.


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