Shushi: A Photographic Journey

As the former capital of Nagorno-Karabagh, Shushi has played a pivotal role in the cultural and economic life of the entire Caucasus—particularly in the period prior to the 20thcentury. Today, the region stands as an architectural reserve and continues to recover from decades of turmoil.

St. Hovhannes Mkrtich

Situated in the Varanda province is an impregnable fortress that was strategically used by Azerbaijan to combat the Armenian side in the Karabagh War. The entire town was subjected to Azerbaijani rule as a military base for the war. From 1991-92, militia from Shushi intensely fired upon locals in Stepanakert, Karintak, and other Armenian settlements, killing hundreds. Constant bombing and raids significantly damaged the region. On May 9, 1992, Shushi was finally liberated and new horizons opened for its longtime Armenian inhabitants. As of late, approximately 3,000 Armenians reside in the town, of whom a considerable part are refugees from Sumgait and Baku.

Many artists and intellectuals in various fields—including culture, science, government, and military—were born in Shushi during the Soviet era. Some celebrated individuals include the following: Aram Manukyan, a leading member of the Dashnaktsutyun Party; Major-General Nelson Stepanyan, a Soviet bomber pilot in World War II; and Major-General Andranik Ghazarian. All three men were awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union; Manukyan and Stepanyan received the honor twice. Other prominent figures include Arakel Babakanian, an authoritative historian on Armenia, author of the multi-volume History of Armenia; economist Artashes Arakelian; Soviet statesman and politician Ivan Tevosian; painter and People’s Artist of the USSR Stepan Aghajanian; actor and People’s Artist of the USSR Vagharsh Vagharshian; actor and People’s Artist of the USSR Gurgen Gabrielyan; famed doctor Rafael Gabrielyan; and Soviet architect Samvel Safarian.

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All the roads lead here (Jdrduz in Shushi)
Naregatsi Art Institute
One of Shushi’s old streets
At the intersection
Al. Manukyan Street
The novelist Grigor Ter-Hovhannisyan (penname “Muratsan”) lived in this house in Shushi from 1854-78.
Al. Manukyan Street
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Arevik Danielian

Arevik Danielian is a 21-year-old photographer born and raised in Stepanakert. She contributes monthly articles and photographs to the Armenian Weekly.
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6 Comments

  1. Shushi is Armenian. It needs to always be. The Azeri’s want it because of the elevation and strategic location.. Those lands do not belong to Azerbaijan as being given to them by the Bolsheviks doesn’t constitute “Azeri lands”… Armenians gave their lives for those Armenian lands..They must remain under Armenian control..

  2. I have book on NK Artsakh that is by Prof.George Bournutian.Very un biased, he does explain in detail how that land has always been populated by armenians,albeir incoming hoards from the Central Asia¨squattered¨therein.Also he does mention that the Persians also came in establishing their khanate there for a while.But the Armenian Meliks(see Raffi´s Khamsai Melikutyunner) the Armenian princes stood fast the ground and when Artsakh was attched in the lowlands, they found refuge and strengthened themselvs fortified in sort of BERTS Castle/Towers and defended that part in the highlands-Artsakh ,admittedly has has been bone of contention,even arabs found their way into it for a while but then were driven out.Dait Beg and Mkhitar Sparabed fought against all very valiently.
    Even the soviets did NOT OUTRIGHT PLACE IT WITHIN AXERBAIJAN,but rather they placed the Autonomous REgion of Karabagh within Axeri jurisdiction. However, to refresh memories.Artsakh or Nakhijevan are not the ONLY LANDS THE ABOVE MENTIONED HOARDS HAVE sneaked into…
    Our main adversary with whom we waged a ferocious war in 1918 and won at Sadarabad,is THE MAIN ISSUE ,QUESTION.They then(great Mustafa Kemal Turkey,refurbished well by with arms and ammo and food that the Brits left in Kars reporganized and attacked Armenian Republic and this 2nd time over war they were the ones who sort of won it and dictated either to surrendur or be wiped out.We chose the RED ARMY units comprised of both Armenian and russian elements and thence it became SSRA or Armenian soviet spociañlist Republic.thanks to this latter we regained Independdene on its premises in 1991 ,rather re-independence.
    hence, We shall from now on concentrate on the Armenian Genocide issue Blood Money issue ,leaving the Land issue in Western Armenia,for when the other thick problem for great Turlkey, i.e. K U R D I S T A N become ripe

  3. Among the names mentioned and many others, we should also add to that list Armenia’s former deputy minister of defense, military leader in Artsakh liberation war and the commander in charge of the liberation of Shushi itslf Arkady Der-Tadevosyan, Արկադի Տեր-Թադևոսյան.

  4. I guess “liberate” is the term all aggressors use when take over other people’s houses. Shame on you! Do you know where the hundreds of thousands Shusha Azeris are living now? In tents. Even if, even if (and that is a huge IF), you are say that 1000 years ago it was Armenian … imagine the mess the world would be in if everyone did what you Armenians did: go and “liberate” the land they think they had 1000 years ago! Amazing line of thought!

    Now, if I was an honest Armenian, I would say this about Shusha: “They were bombing Stepanakert from there. We had to neutralize the treat. And we we took over it by force for our security. And if we wanted to be independent, for practical reasons we had to get rid of the islands within Karabak that were Azeri-populated.” Simple and to the point. I woudl never insult my own intelligence by calling the operation an operation of liberation. Shame on you!!!

    • Ali,

      I wonder if you care or know where 500.000 Armenians that you violently drove out from Baku, Sumgait and Kirovabad live now. What happened to their houses and apartments? Tell you government to kindly provide those houses and apartments to those refuges who live in tents.
      I do not think you or any Axeri or Turk are or will be in a position to give any morality lessons to Armenians.

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