Shushi

Shushi is a city in the distance of 8 km south from Stepanakert, the capital of Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) Republic. The castle of Shushi was built in the 18th century in the place of an ancient Armenian castle. Since then it was the centre of the Karabakh Khanate, part of Iran. It was the biggest Armenian city during the Russian rule, having 1.5 times more than Yerevan till the WWI. Following the Shushi massacre in 1920 by Azerbaijani forces and their Turkish supporters, the Armenian half of the population of the city was mostly killed or expelled, and the city reduced to a town with a dominant Azerbaijani population. Shushi is situated at an altitude of 1,500 m, where Jdr-duz (straight wall in Arabic and Turkish) or Katarot (apical) in the South-West of Shushi Fortress. From there the liberation of Shushi (1992) started.

It is possible to descend into Hunot Canyon via the stone ledges of the Katarot plateau located in the eastern part of the city. It amazes with its unbelievable beauty. From the highest point of Katarot you can see 250 m high walls of the canyon. Travelers, preferring walking tours in the canyon, will have the chance to see awesome waterfalls, thick forests, caves, which were inhabited during Stone Age, ruins of Hunot village, ancient bridges. And all these are surrounded by huge mountains and a river. Cave–spring is fresh water, which flowing from the cave riches "Mamrot Kar", and getting the creek, creates the impression of natural «mossy umbrella». All the roads, leading to the attractions of «Hunot Canyon» are marked on the tablets.
 
During the Soviet period, when Artsakh was annexed to Azerbaijani SSR, the 7 churches of Shushi were destroyed or ruined: now you can see only two of them. What about the period of independence, when Azerbaijanis are not living here, all the three mosques were kept, even one of them (the oldest non-Armenian building in Artsakh, dated to the second half of the 19th century) now is being restored by Armenians as a cultural monument. The Muslim population of Shushi was the main in Artsakh: very few Muslim-inhabited villages were in the country. According to population census the Armenians were 95% out of almost 300,000 before WWI, and Muslims were just 7,000. During the Soviet period the Muslim population multiplied 6 times (43,000) and the Armenian population was decreased 2 times (146,000).

The dominant architectural feature of Shushi is the Church of Holy Saviour, also called Ghazanchetsots. The church was built in 1868 from white limestone on an open area in the city centre. It is skillfully decorated by thin, expressive grooves, and rises to a height of about 40 m. The dome leaves an especially strong impression of constructional grandeur, elegance and spirituality. Near the cathedral rises a bell tower, which has four sculptures of angels in the top corners of the ground floor construction. The angels are depicted with a menacing look blowing the horn - an exceptional phenomenon in the national cult building. Under the altar of the church is located, awe-inspiring, a special room with unique acoustic feature. It changes your voice beyond recognition, and the echo of your voice is heard as if somebody whispers near you.

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