Unexpected and sudden. The mist is almost unnoticeable. The city’s warmth and fast-pace is slowly winding down. You walk along the cosy streets of the city and the fog goes with you. A ghost-like city will force you to feel the power and resistance of Shushi. At that time it can be constantly walked and sometimes you can even turn back to see how the fog swallows buildings and streets in seconds. You realize that you can no longer cope with your own feelings because you have moved to another reality where you are powerless and surrounded by mystery. The city of Shushi is a unique museum of living history and historical-cultural monuments. After the war, the walls of the reconstructed buildings are full of surreal life. I’m now sharing with you just a few of the places I’ve been:
The second most important spiritual center of Artsakh after Gandzasar. The bell tower was built earlier than the church, another church of the 18th century was in the place of the temple. Before the new church was built, architects faced a great challenge. The thing was that before every liturgy, the priest conducting the service would ask for forgiveness of sins from another priest and hear these words. “Let your ears hear what your lips are saying.” But the church had one priest, the architects decided to build an underground room where a miracle would happen, the priest asked for forgiveness while listening to his own voice in the echo. This architectural trick is the only one of its kind in the world.
St. Ghazanchetsots is a symbol of Shushi’s revival. The temple is located in the center of the city. After being passed over to the Azerbaijani government, it was used as a barn and then a garage. At that time, the monuments of the angels were placed at the entrance to the temple. On October 16, 2008, a great wedding took place in the Republic of Artsakh. Of the 700 couples, 500 were wed in Ghazanchetsots and the rest were married in Gandzasar.
The Maiden Home
In Shushi, there was all-girls school, named after Mariam Ghukasyan. She died shortly before her brother and her brothers built the Mariamian school where only girls studied. Each year, about 300 girls went to school wearing uniforms. The goal was to prepare enlightened teachers and mothers. Lessons were taught in the native language. Russian language, Armenian history, arithmetic, calligraphy, embroidery, singing and other subjects were taught at the school. Today, the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Youth Affairs of the Republic of Artsakh has its offices in the building.
Meghretsots Church Altar
The Meghretsots Church in Shushi is also a remarkable monument. It was built by the migrants from Meghri. The plaques list the site as the Holy Savior Cathedral of Meghretsots, built by Mahtes Hakhumyants in 1833. The old architectural complex was demolished, adapted and transformed into a summer outdoor cinema in the 1960s.
St. Hovhannes Baptist (Green Hour) Church
Shushi is a unique museum of live history and historical-cultural monuments. The St. Hovhannes Church of the 19th century also stands alongside the ancient monuments, which the people have called the Green Hour. Why did they call the church green? Because the dome was destroyed and the people put a cross of wood, which, over the course of its time, grew green with moss. In Soviet times, the Green Hour was surrounded by sanatoriums, rest houses, and was turned into a bathhouse of mineral water baths by Azeris. As a result, the monument was severely damaged.
Shushi’s upper mosque
There are 4 mosques belonging to Islamic culture in Shushi. Arches of the main façade of the building are highlighted by two high altitudes. Today it is being reconstructed, after which it will function as a museum.
The hospital-sanatorium founded by Zhamharyan brothers
The five brothers who had grown up in a poor family, but had succeeded in Moscow in time, had a great impact on the city’s economic affairs. There were already well-known wealthy people in the Russian Empire and owned a large bank called Zhamharyan Brothers. In Shushi, they set up factories and shops. In 1850, they moved to Shushi and built a building that had 45 treatment halls, as well as a yard where the people could come and relax. Today it is an abandoned area with its amazing architectural solutions.
Nature creates such miracles that all you have to do is just look and enjoy. It is a well-known fact that Jdrduz located on the Hunot plane, used to host many horseback riding trips where the city’s high society would gather. Katarut or the Jdrduz plane is located on the edge of the city of Shushi.
Shushi Art Center
The carpet exhibition hall building was the second printing house in Armenia in 1827. Here you can see sophisticated Armenian carpets from Austria, Switzerland, Istanbul, and Germany. Today, the museum has about 300 carpets that were made from the 17th to the 20th century. In addition, the museum displays examples of Turkmen and Afghan carpets. The carpet culture has played an important role in the life of Armenians, and the ornaments are presented in their own way in the Armenian lifestyle.
Museum of Geology
The museum displays rare specimens, the oldest 1 billion 200 million years old. There are samples from Artsakh, the oldest of which is 146 million years old. The basis of the exposition is G. Gabrielyants’ personal collection, which he donated to the museum. About 400 samples from 50 countries worldwide. There is a room in the museum, where the fossilized minerals in the dark get a variety of shades.
A place that can be talked about forever. Each teacher in the school kept a separate book in which they catalogue everyday progress, laziness, and disorder of students.
History Museum of Shushi
The museum is considered to be a center of antiquity that covers the centuries-old past of the ancient city fortress of Shushi. The collection of the museum is rich in ethnographic information, where local artists representing masterpieces of real art are often gathered. A separate panel is devoted to the Shushi Liberation Army on May 8-9, 1992. Here there are stories of battles, the miniature model of “Wedding in the Mountains” military action accompanied by light effects.
Translator Alice Ananian