AZ   |   EN

Susha historical and architectural reserve

In the South Caucasus, in the first half of the 18th century, in political unstable conditions, some independent khanates were appeared. In this period, the necessity for building the defensive town stronghold was the reason of appearance the stable town types in Azerbaijan. In the middle of the 18th century, Karabakh khanate was founded, and its center - Shusha was one of such cities. The Karabakh khan, Panah Ali khan found Bayat stronghold in 1747, Shahbulag stronghold in 1752 and at least in 1753, at the top of Caucasus mountain he founded Shusha city. In this period of Russian occupation this khanate has been destroyed and Shusha being the capital of Karabakh khanate turned into capital center after 1841. Shusha is densely surrounded with woods, and was founded at the top of the mountain, which was a natural stronghold, surrounded with steep precipices from three sides. The tough relief and the terraces spreading from the South to the North sides make the site like a truncated cone and stretched out amphitheater. The highest point of the town is on 1600 meters above sea-level, the lowest part of the town's wall is on 1300 meters above the sea-level. As the foundation site of the town is surrounded by the impregnable rocks from the South, East and West sides, there was built the only Northern wall for the defense. Another strategic advantage of the site is a clear view of the environs. This excludes the possibility of a sudden attack. Unlike the others feudal towns founded in XVII-XVIII centuries, the building of Shusha's stronghold and Khan's residence took place at the same time, also the walls of the town and stronghold were built simultaneously. Unlike other Khanate's centers of that period, there was no defending inner- stronghold residence inside Shusha, since Shusha itself is a wholly huge residence on top of the mountain. The landscape of the area played the main part in distinction of disposition of stronghold's walls and truckles. The truckles of the stronghold jut ahead from the walls, what considerably raises the opportunities of the defense. The conformity of artillery and measures gives to stronghold one more strategic advantage. In Shusha, like in other strongholds of Caucasus, founded on the basis of natural conditions, there was established a unity of environment and architecture. An outstanding beauty of tough relief mountain surroundings, sheer cliff and thick wood together with the white-bricks stronghold's walls and the yards on the terraces makes impressible views. Shusha was built in three stages. In the first period - 1753-1754 years - there were established stronghold's walls, towers and nine districts on the low part of the East side; in the second period - 1756-1805 years - there were built eight districts on the high part of the East side and twelve districts on the West side. In the third period after the Karabakh Khanate was annexed by Russia the town's territory was widen and the new districts were built on the tougher relief on the West side. After the flourishing period there were no construction works in Shusha, so it preserved its historic architectural-planned composition. Like in other Near East's towns the districts of Shusha are the elements of finished town-building. In each district, besides the dwelling houses, there are madrasah, mosque, spring, and bath-houses. The mosques of the districts are right-angled and there facades are like dwelling houses, but their interior is in accordance with the all requirements of the religious architecture. The mosques were built of the white local stones while their minarets are from baked bricks. The most memorial religious buildings in Shusha is a Friday Mosque Yuhari Govhraga (1855). Shusha took an active part in the international trade especially in the silk trade, and the confirmation of this may be the trade centers, which developed in the city structure and the caravan sheds. The rich Shusha legasy consists of some streets and squares, stronghold walls, palaces, the Palace of Panah Ali khan, the Church (XX century), the mausoleums, springs, the houses of city aristocracy. It is valuable model of Azerbaijan architecture of the 18th-19th centuries.

By resolution No. 280 of the Council of Ministers of the Azerbaijan SSR dated August 10, 1977, Shusha was declared a historical and architectural reserve of the Republic of Azerbaijan. 

There were a total of 549 ancient buildings, 1203 meters of paved streets, 17 neighborhood springs, 17 mosques, 6 caravanserais, 3 tombs, 2 madrasas, 2 castles and fortress walls in Shusha. Also, there were 72 significant art and historical monuments, houses of statesmen and other celebrities.

The region of Shusha is the administrative region of the Republic of Azerbaijan. It is located in territory of Karabakh Chain of Minor Caucasus. Its area is 290 km2; the population is 29,700 (01.01.2011). The central town is the city of Shusha. The region has been under Armenian occupation since May 8, 1992.

The region covers the following districts and villages: the city of Shusha; district of Turshsu and villages of Malybayli; Yukhary Gushchular; Ashaghi Gushchular; Khalfali; Armudlu; Dukanlar; Hasanabad; Garabulag; Agbulag; Zamanpayasi; Shushulu; Mirzalar; Gaybaly; Lachynlar; Shirlan; Chaykend; Pashalar; Mamishlar; Khanaly; Imamgulular; Jamillar; Safikhanlar; Khanlygpaya; Allahgulular; Hasangulular; Boyuk Galaderesi; Kichik Galaderesi; Goytala; Onverest; Zarysly; Nabilar; Sarybaba; Dashalty; Naghilar; Khudaverdiler; Imanlar and Turabkhan.

Landscape is mountainous. The highest peak is the Mount of Boyuk Kirs (2725 m).

Prior to the occupation, the sanatorium and resort zone of nationwide importance ran its consistent activities in the city. Livestock breeding played the main role in the region's economy. The following educational and social institutions were active before the occupation: the Shusha branches of the Azerbaijani Pedagogical Institute and Azerbaijani Oil and Chemistry Institute; 24 secondary schools; 6 extra-school institutions; medical school; 8 music and fine arts schools for children; the vocation school of culture and education; the vocational school of music; the vocational school of agriculture; the vocational school; the forestry and health school; the recreation house; cinema house; 5 museums; art gallery; club; library; central regional hospital; 11 maternity points; sanitary and epidemiological station; children sanatorium; ambulance station; city policlinics and dentistry service center.

During the pre-occupation period, 248 historical monuments protected by the state were in the region. 

Susha historical and architectural reserve was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List in Need of Urgent Safeguarding on October 24, 2001.

On November 8, 2020, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Victorious Commander-in-Chief Ilham Aliyev announced the good news about liberation of Shusha in his address to the nation from the Alley of Martyrs and congratulated the people of Azerbaijan on this occasion.