Rediscovering Armenia Guidebook- Shushi Region
- 1 Shushi Town
- 1.1 The newly found monuments
- 1.2 Protective Constructions
- 1.3 Shushi’s intensive building period
- 1.4 Ghazanchetsots St. Amenaprkich church
- 1.5 Mzkit (Mosques)
- 1.6 Springs and Water
- 1.7 Shuka
- 1.8 Historico- preserve zone of protecting Shushi’s monuments
- 1.9 Monuments of Berdadzor- Kaladars and its surroundings
Shushi looks like an observation post, rising high above the territory around it, with sweeping panoramic views all around. Below, to the E are fields and gardens, to the N is the capital city Stepanakert, and along the canyon to the S flows the Karkar River, which got its name from its stony riverbed. The nearly vertical 1600m cliffs on the S side, overlooking Karintak Village are beautiful from above or below. The N side of the town is protected by fortified city walls, due to the more gently sloping nature of the mountain on this side.
The newly found monuments
In 1981 during construction near the city walls in the northern part of Shushi plateau, workers found khachkars, gravestone slabs, capitals and traces of a large prior settlement.
The oldest of the five uncovered khachkars is dated “Summer of 420”, or 971CE. It is of medium size and has simple decorations. The other khachkar of interest, the inscription of which is partly obliterated is covered with interesting ornaments. The white limestone khachkar is dated to 1252, but the most valuable is the mentioning in the inscription the name of prince Hasan-Jalal, showing that in XIIIc the plateau together with the settlements near it was part of Khachen princedom.
The presence of this interesting group of khachkars already witnesses that the history of fort Shosh-Shushi begins no later than the XIIIc.
In the western side of Shushi, not far from the serf-walls is situated church surb Astvatsatsin (Holy Virgin) of village Haibali, built, according to the inscription “In the summer of 1145 (1696)”. Over the river, flowing through the neighboring to the village gorge, are put two one –span bridges, one of which was built in XIIIc, the second in XVIIc. They had been important spots on the once cheerful road, taking from Syunik to Artsakh, towards Varanda- Khachen- Berdadzor- Tsar.
By the southern foot of Shushi fort, in several 100 meters from it are placed settlements Karin-tak and Hunot, famous for their caves (Avana-karan, Meliki- karan, Honoti-karan, Alexana Khuzun-karan, Mosunts- karan, Ilkhhol) for over 200 mills, the rocky palace of the prince, the castle of Avan Haryurapet, the one-span bridge in Hunot (1720), which have considerably favored fastening the defense capability of Shushi, and have generally played an important role in the life of up-town.
Towards south-east from village Karintak stretches the second by size mountain-ridge- Kirs. On its slopes, joining the village, are fixed number of ancient settlements, cemeteries, half-destroyed churches, monuments, khachkars. The beautifully- ornamented khachkar of XIIIc is quite interesting in the area Pulur- art (round field). Not very large khachkars have preserved also in areas Khachin- aghbyur, Okhni- aghbyur, Tsort- aghbyur. These monuments remind about the existence in here once prosperous settlements.
The parish church of village Karin-tak was founded in 1816 in the place of previously existing chapel. This common vaulted hall is built from beaten stone. Another analogous church is situated in village Honut.
To Shushi from east joins vilalge Shosh- Shushikend, which is mentioned in inscriptions of early period and in manuscript sources of XVIc.
The settlement stretches on the hollow of the mountian- slope. By its northern part flows stream Shosh, which falls into river Karin-tak. Through the historical village Shosh- Shoshi passes the only road taking from Stepanakert and Shushi to Varanda valley.
In the village and its surroundings are situated three churches, two settlements, five cemeteries, over 20 khachkars, constructions of productive and engineer character. All these monuments obviously evidence about the great antiquity of village Shosh. In the village itself there are two churches, one of which, Surb Stepanos is situated in the cemetery, and the second is in the center of the village (in present is turned into a club). The two-nave basilica in scheme rectangular (sizes 17,5 x 10, 6m) that stands in the cemetery was built in the summer of 1104 (1655) of Armenian chronology. In the church there had been “ancient khachkars and gravestones with domestic reliefs”. The other church, rather old and destroyed is situated on a rising towards north from the village. The inscription on the khachkar put in the wall says “The summer of 909 (1454). I, deacon Ghoch Gogheretsi put his cross (for saving the soul) Aziz- my mother”. Around the church stretches a large cemetery, the gravestones of which are covered with interesting reliefs.
The most ancient sacred place of Shosh named Shoghasar is situatead 3km towards east from the village, on top of the mountain of the same name, near a very cold spring. During pagan period her existed a heathen temple and only later when Christianity was spread it was “sanctified” and turned into a Christian praying- hall”. The grave of the national sage and joker of Gharabagh Peli- Pukhi is situated in a not large grotto, placed below the motorway, between Shosh and Mkhitarashen settlements.
In Shosh were situated the motel-inn built in the end of XIXc (its building was turned into silk factory) , numerous mills, two stony bridges placed on the way to Shushi and Stepanakert. The village is surrounded with mulberry gardens. In the past Shosh felt the considerable influence of Shushi and in its turn made a large contribution in the town’s development.
The above- mentioned monuments once again confirm that in south-eastern canyon of Shushi fort, in a distance of 1-3km from the plateau, have existed more ancient settlements, sanctuaries, churches and khachkars.
In short they have existed before the foundation of sghnakh (i.e. fort) Shushi. Therefore it would be naïve to suppose that the inhabitants of as mentioned so not mentioned settlements were not informed about a such close situated in the bottom part of Shushi sacred place Kamu khach (wind’s cross), which is considerably older than the fort itself. A reader, who knows the history of Artsakh- Gharabagh will be surprised that the history of Shushi is described as it to the middle of XVIIIc, e.i. till Panah khan came this palace was deserted and uninhabited, and with him all these happened as on this plateau, so in the whole area. Gharabaghians were offended by this.
We have already presented to you 1000 of Armenian monuments, situated around Shushi, now let’s see what the archive documents tell about them.
Some people think that Shushi got its name from village Shosh, which now exists in the southern side of the town. Leo considered this origination uncertain, thinking that "vice versa", the village should have got its name from the fort, and the fort probably existed in old times".
50 years after Leo, academician Ashot Hovanisyan wrote, "The documents proclaimed by us give full basis to confirm that Shushi's serf-walls founded... Avan military leader in 1724, and not before that". The documents mentioned by the celebrated scientists were in the document collection published by Armenian history museum under 199, 200, 212 and other numbers. From the mentioned documents the 199th was arranged in January 4 of 1724, the 200th was arranged in January 12, and the 212th in February 22.
The first two documents were signed by Avan and Mirza military leaders, the other was signed by Tarkhan, Panin, Paghin and Sategh. The 200th document was written "In Shosho strategic camp in Armenian year of èÖÐ (1724), January". As is known, in the beginning of 18c thanks to efforts of Israel Ori, princes, military leaders and leading religious people the Armenians' self-protection in Gharabagh turned into great national liberation movement , which had a purpose to unyoke from Persia- urkey and obtain a political independence with Russia's help.
Encouraged by the kind treatment of Petros the First Gharabagh's liberation forces bare the brunt of the movement. The area becomes the origiation place of natioanl-political awakening, and here were created strategic camps.
One of these camps, as evidences the above mentioned document, Avan military leader built in 1719-1724 in the place of the present town Shushi.
The foundation and building circumstances of Shushi's strategic camp also were mentioned in Russian gereral Matyushkin's letter written in December 19, 1725. In that letter addressed to Russian court it is mentioned that ," Avan military leader, hearing the request of Gharabagh's population doesn't go to Gilan with his 100 men, but stayes in the strategic camp and builds a fort".
Another celebrated person of the time, Ivan Karapet, in his report about Gyanja's, Gharabagh's and Georgia's condition (In the beginning of February 1724) again tells about Shushi's strategic camp and its owners, Armenian princes and military leaders.
In many documents of the mentioned cellection the rocky mountian-plain is called "Shoshva ghala" or "Kar" (stone) in the meaning of "Fort".
From this original "kar" ("fort") was stuck also Karin tak village's name, which still remains and is situated on Karkar's bank in the southern side of the fort.
During 1770-1780 Russian- Caucasian intercourse an active part took also great Russian commander Aleandor Basilevich Suvorov. Throughout many years he had dealt with political problems concerning the fates of Caucasian people. The “Caucasian records” of his archives contain interesting information about the national- liberation movement, initiated in Gharabagh in 20’s of XVIIIc and about the Armenian princes. “… Melik Shakhnazar can gather an army of around 1000 people. This traitor of his country called Panakhan.., gave him his strong fort Shushikal and obeyed him together with his obedient sghnakh (fort).”
By the presence of the above mentioned and numerous other source- informations is refuted the misunderstanding spead by other examiner, accoding to which Shushi's fort was founded by Panah khan.
Meanwhile numerous facts and materials of sources doubtlessly and clearly point that Shushi as a sghnakh- fort has existed since the beginning of XVIIIc, and that its founder was Avan Yuzbashi.
Shushi's fort or rock is situated in Varanda princedome's territory, and so it belongs to Varanda's lord Melik -Shahnazaryan. The quarrels that started in middle of 18c between Varanda's prince Shahnazar II and Ghartabagh's other princes, made Shahnazar to be ally with a nomad tribe-leader Panahy Ali settled in Shah- Bulagh just to obtain influence over neighboring princes.
In 1750 Panah khan transferred to Shushi fort. But by its condition it didn't look as if it could resist the mighty enemies. That's why Panah khan starts the rebuilding of the strategic camp. About the rebuilding precess in 1750-1752 valuable information contains the "Artsakh region's history" written work in matenadaran named after Mashtots. Hakob deacon Poghosyan- Sakaryants- Shushetsi interestingly presents the rebuilding of Shushi fort and the difficult works of Gharabaghians on the construction. "... Khan's order is to gather a man from region's every house to put their efforts in building the fort. According to the command every village should have its prince. they also gathered the celebrated architects to the mountain. They founded a construction in 50 towers, 5000 feet long rampart". The over 2,5km long ramparts start from the high rock in the south- western side of the mountain- plain and "climbing" by the very slopy branches and cliffs they encircle the fort-town from west, then go down by a slope, turn to west and stick in a rock. Shushi's other, southern wing fully, the eastern and western ones are partly enclosed by natuaral huge (stony vertical) ramparts.
This important grographical position of the fort wasn't left out from Hakob Shushetsi's attention. "Only the half of this establishment belongs to the fort, the other half, as was mentioned, was fastened by God". From the point of view of present strategic technique the impregnable ramparts are from clay, they're 7-8m long and are fastened by half- rounded empty pyramids.
At first the north-eastern rampart was called Jraberd, then Gyanjay, Elizavetpoli, the south-western one - Yerevanian, the southern one- Amarasi, the eastern one- by Mkhitarashen names. But Jraberd - Gyanjay and Yerevan ramparts played great role in the town's life. By those main called ramparts passed the trading caravans, carts, horsemen, and the other auxiliary ramparts, which by a short road connected Varanda's villages with the town, were mostly foreseen for pedestrians.
According to the information that give the source- study materials the main gates had victory arches' solemnity, were fastened with thick double ramparts, 2 mighty pyramids and ornamented with interesting architectural solutions. The fort-town (as all the other forts in medieval Artsakh) had its secret- a secret rocky passage. From the eastern side of the mountain- plain, by the Yerevanian gate through a rock the secret-passage gradually goes down, then through cave's passages goes out to the deep canyon, where flows Karin tak river. We should mention that it only works during wars, and not everybody knows its place.
According to the found in here epigraphic inscription and also other written evidences, the building of serf-walls surrounding Avetaranots-Chanaghchi was finished in 1740, around 10 years before the beginning of rebuilding Shushi’s defense system (1750).
As Mirza Jamal Javanshir, so Hakob Shushetsi and also the later-coming examiners unanimously confirm, that after Berdavan was fastened here transferred villagers and smiths migrated from Lernaying Gharabagh, Mughan steppe, Syunik and Nakhijevan settlements. They settled inthe fort next to each other by area-principle and called their new districts by the former settlements. From Shushi's ancient districts are mentioned Gharazanchetsots, Sahatli, Aguletsots, Seidli, Meghretsots, Kecherli, Gharabaghaians, etc. Sometimes the districts wer called by tribes or area's name.
People lived in strategic camps, wooden or earth-wall ramsackle cottages, which are disorganizely placed in the eastern part of the plain. Even the religious and of social importance buildings were built- the churches from wood, the mosques from reed.
For building and architectural development of Shushi 1805 was a turning- point, for Gharabagh vilfully accepted Russia's supremacy, which was then confirmed by 1813 Russian- Persian (Gyulistan) peace agreement.
In 1820 Mesrob Taghiadyan comes to Shushi. From the information he tells about the building activities there we can see that at that time instead of former wooden churches were built beautiful stone structures, two story private residences, hotels, many shops, cultural-educational establishments and other buildings.
Construction activities mostly took place in the upper, free territory of the plain, with organized streets and social stressed centers.
At the same time the new Russian administration, taking into consideration the complicated historical situation, connected with Shah Iran's attack- danger, a great attention was paid to fortifying the protective abilities of Shushi. This circumstance, Shushi's strategic significance, found its reflection in the main scheme of town's rebuilding, which preserved in the central national historical- strategic archives. Unfortunately the scheme is not dated, as was mentioned it more followed protective considerations than town- building questions. All the facts show that it was arranged in 20's of past century by military engineers.
In Shushi was realized great strategic construction. A new mass immigration starts form neighboring villages and districts. Of course the strategic constructions were planned by Russian engineers, but the building was realized by Armenian stone- masters and thanks to that even in protective constructions is noticeable the integrity of Russian and Armenian styles. The same can be said about the buildings schemed by architect Kerbelay Sefi khanum and others, where is very noticeable the synthesis of Azerbaijani and Armenian building- art.
Perhaps by that is explained Shushi's unique architecture, thanks to which it won't be mixed with other Transcaucausian towns.
Already in 1837 Shushi had its second scheme, and in 1855 it was looked over by the dictation of town's unprecedented growth. The system creation of protective constructions and arsenals was combined with constructing dwellings and social buildings. Tiflis- Baku railway gave gave a wide swing to town's development, through which Shushi was connected with country's industrial centers. Already in the end of 19c Shushi was one of Transcaucausia's remarkable towns, where were 10 educational institutions, 185 shops, 2 print- houses, a theatre, 2 libraries, numerous work-shops, mills and hotels.
All the social constructions and churches were built by Armenian architectural traditions, just taking many things from this and that settlement, from where haed migrated the stone-masters.
In protective system of Shushi leading role performed the local numerous caves. The Hunot narrow and deep defile in southern side of the fort- town, through which makes noise Karin tak or as Russians call it Shushinka river, in two sides has high rocks. In the stony giantic "walls" as windows open Hunoti Karan, Avana Karan, Alexana Ghuzun, Yeghuniki Karan and Ameratner called caves. These late Stone- Age settlements during wars were used by local inhabitants as safe hiding places. Here (in 1966) were found numerous grave stones and khachkars with Armenian inscriptions. On one of the grave- stones is mentioned èÐ (1721) date.
The mentioned "... caves in their time have performed great role and helped Artsakh world as an impregnable fort. The history of caves hasn't yet disappeared from ntional memories and legends. In Hunot cave at first for a long time stayed Avan Yuzbashi, whose name Aghvan's Yesayi catholicos always remembers with praise. Then during 1826 Russian- Turkish war in the cave inhabited Tarkhanian Sapar Yuzbashi with his braves and constantly took flower and saved Shushi from starvation. So this way these caves were useful, just like Avan's and Amarat's caves".
As is known the last attempt to seize Gharabagh was initiated in 1826 by Persian prince Abas Mirza. With his army he in July- August of the same yar encircled Shushi. Shushi's heroic protection lasted 48 days. Thousands of area's villagers together with Russian few- numbered soldiers throughout 48 days stopped the enemy in Karkar canyon, under Shushi's mighty ramparts. At that period the Russian arsenals in Tbilisi had obtained a chance to get ready and to attack with wide front.
From the reports of Russian military leaders and the works of revolts decribing military activities it is seen that the area's inhabitants, even during the hardest days of Shushi's protection, preferred to die in native forts, convents, defiles and sacred places, than to be captives and die in slavery.
The garrison of Shushi fort consisted of 1300 soldiers and had 7 ordnances of various calibres. To the protectors of the fort joined 1500 armed Armenians from 22 villages of Gharabagh. During those hot days, when was being solved the question to be or not to be of the fort, when the Russian soldiers showed example of courage and bravery, the Armenians displayed their unshaken will to stand during danger for protection of a friend and an ally.
Surrounded with Persian satraps Shushi lived difficult days. The situation was fatal and rose a necessity to help from aside. But the siege circle was so strong that it was extremely risky to go out of it. And here one of the volunteers- Harutyun Altunyan from aTerk took up to do this important task. Risking his own life, at night he got down the rock, broke out the siege line, got to Tiflis and told the Russian commander about the created situation. After three days Harutyun returned with Yermolov’s letter. And what examples of heroism and courage showed Armenians of Gharabagh! Poghos, one who was making gun- powder every day made around 20-30 pounds of high-quality gun-powder and gave to the protectors of the forts for free, and Aghabek Kalantaryan, the grandfather of coming general Ivan Lazarev, led the defense of one of the fort-parts joining the gate of Elizavetpole. In those days for the protectors of the fort a great importance presented the water-mills of village Shosh, which obstinately defended brothers Safar and Rostom Tarkhanyans. “With heroism stood out even their wives, and one of them- Khatun, then knew whole Gharabagh”. These heroic deeds were adequately appreciated by Russian command. Reut, the commander of Shushi defense in one of his reports writes to Paskevich , that the Persians several times had come near the fort, but every time were thrown back by “brave chasseurs and loyal Armenians”. He informs Yermolov the following, “About defending the fort Armenians I consider my duty to inform that their services are worth attention, because they acted recklessly brave, resisting the many- numbered enemies and threw him back with great losses”.
Unfortunately, up to this day in our historiography weren't properly illuminated Shushi's heroic protection, the unfading fame, brave deeds and limitless firmness of home guards and Russian soldiers. The grateful people, as to keep their redeemer Russian soldier's memory bright, put many monuments, called many settlements by "Russian" and other names of Russian origin.
Lets mention some of them; in the place where Russian soldier was killed, 7km towards Aghdam from Martuni, on the right hill of the highway rises a memorial- gravestone with an inscription. There are immortality monuments put in the honour of Russian unknown soldier in Stepanakert, Hadrut, at the bottom of Chiman mountain in Khtsaberd village. From area- names are worth attention "Rusen bydaghen (flag) khut" (towards north from Hadrut region's Arpagyaduk mountain- village) , "Rusen tun (russian house)" (Near Badara village of Stepanakert region), "Rusen duz" or "Rusen Dasht (field)" , (in Khndzristan village's field in Stepanakert region), "Rusner (Russians)" or "Sunjinka" (towards east from Stepanakert, on Traget's right bank), "Rusen Zhan (church)" , "Rusen akhpur (spring)", "Kurapatkino" (near taghavard, Ghzdala, Govergavan settlements in Martuni region), another "Rusen akhpur" (on the right bank of river Tartar in Martakert region, in the depth of hornbeam forest), "Saldat kar" (soldier's stone) cave ( in Khndzristan village of Stepanakert region), etc.
It's interesting that beautiful legends and stories have preserved about some of those area- names. Such legends and stories are mostly connected with springs, with the nation connected its most sacred dreams and emotions about peace, freedom, longevity, love and other dignities.
In the present former report are very detaildly presented the details of repairing and fastening Shushi's serf-walls. According to Reut's in September 25 of 1826 written report, in the beginning of Shushi's enclosure the ramparts were in very umpromising condition. In some parts there were no ramparts, in many places the walls were ruined and split. The repairing was done by beforehand arranged scheme, under the enemy's artillery and shooter firing, with the help of thousands of people settled in the fort (including also aged grandmothers) and selfless efforts of children.
So, Shushi, as Shosh village's fortress, a field or simply "Shosh" ghala (fort)", "Kar" existed in medieval period. As a large strategic camp, an arsenal it was founded in the beginning of 18c, the rapairing of which was finished in 50's of the same century. And its liberation and repairing took place in the beginning of 19c, with the help of Russian liberation army.
Shushi’s intensive building period
For building and town-planning of Shushi the turning point was 1805, when Karabakh voluntarily accepted Russian supremacy, which was then confirmed by Russo- Persian peace pact in Gyulistan, 1813.
Since 1847 it got a town’s status, and being situated in a strategically important place of Central Transcaucausus, Shushi intensively grew and in the 60’s of the past century became one of the significant towns of the whole Transcaucausus.
In the conditions of favorable social- economical and political life Shushi is intensively built by the general scheme. Only in XIXc here were fulfilled three general projects, thanks to which the cut plateau with difficult relief was covered with a street-net , intersecting from north to south and from east to west. These projects are now kept in the Central governmental military historical archives.
From the information of Mesrop Taghiadyan, who visited Shushi in 1820’s, it’s known that in the place of the wooden churches were built beautiful architectural stony complexes, two-story light private residences, inns, numerous shops, social and cultural-educational buildings. In his work “Travelling to Armenia” Mesrop Taghiadyan gives true information about the ethnic structure of the town. “Its inhabitants are Armenians and Turks. Armenians were 500 families and had three churches- Aguletsots, Gharabaghtsots and the large stony church Ghazanchetsots, rebuilt by brothers Zohrap and Markos Tumanyans”.
The building initiated in the village was mainly concentrated in the upper, unoccupied part of the plateau, where soon appeared a straight line of streets with clearly outlined social centers.
At the same time the new Russian administration, proceeding from the difficult historical situation, connected with the danger from shah Iran, a great attention paid to fastening the defense power of the fort. The military- defensive importance of Shushi was taken into consideration also in the first general rebuilding scheme of the town, which is unfortunately not dated.
This rebuilding had rather strategic and defensive aims, then just town-planning. By the facts we can conclude that the project was planned in 20’s by Russian military engineers.
The large military building of Shushi needed working hands. And soon begins a mass migration from neighboring settlements. The military objectives were schemed by Russian engineers, but the building itself realized Armenian stone-masters which then used the local traditional building technique. The same can be said also about the buildings, built by the projects of architect Kerbal Sefi- khan and others, where is traced the synthesis of building art of Armenians and Azerbaijanis.
Most likely these contacts stipulated the creation of original architecture, thanks to which Shushi profitably differs from other towns of Transcaucausus. In 1837 was schemed the second general plan, which connected with the unforeseen speed of development already in 1855 was looked over and corrected. The creation of defensive construction’s system combined with the high rise of civil construction. The next developing period of the town is connected with building the railroad Tiflis-Baku (1883) and, especially station Yevlakh, through which Shushi communicated with the industrial centers of the world. A not less important role performed also building in Shushi highways, including also from Goris (1877). Already to the end of the past century Shushi became one of the business towns of Transcaucausus. Here numbered 10 educational establishments, 185 shops, 3 printing houses, theatres, a hospital, 2 libraries, worked many work-shops, water-mills, hotels and inns.
All the civil and social buildings, churches were built according to traditions of Armenian architecture, many things were copied from those settlements, from where had migrated the architects and masters of stone. In the constructions of Shushi the national coloring is displayed clearly and convincing.
Thanks to the intensive building of XIXc the former khan den became the cultural and administrative center of the area, preserving the secular architectural tradition.
Division of the town into separate districts was most likely conditional. The districts, joining continue each other, and it’s difficult to draw exact borders between them. The upper and bottom parts of the town were not separated either. From the Armenian large districts those which were situated considerably higher were called Gyavur khala (the fort of the godless). Then, towards left from it came district Yerevanian drner (gates). The northern part of the town, hanging over Haibalu ravine was called Verin district, or Kamu aghatsi (wind-mill). Below, towards the cemetery was situated district Ghumlughi, and from south-east was situated Hin hangstaran (ancient cemetery). By its place is noticeable district Bagants dzorer, where was situated Russian cathedral. But the decoration of Shushi was the Central district, surrounded with the above mentioned and Turkats (Azerbaijani) districts.
The central district crossed three large paved streets. On the Theatre street was situated the Armenian theatre, in the upper part of street Aguletsots was church Ghazanchetsots, and in the bottom part church Aguletsots. On the street Posti (post) were placed the post-telegraph and the bank. Besides the central district here were situated over 400 dwelling houses, hundreds of shops, work-shops, and also numerous productive and social buildings. The building of upper or Armenian part of the town, as has mentioned architect E. Avalov, was fulfilled by a definite town-planing principle- with straight streets and outlined social centers. This part of the twon-fort is characterized by regular planing and interperpendicular net of streets. By this directions are placed the dwelling, communal, educational and administrative buildings. To the second half of XIXc, as it is seen from the western part of the twon was already organized a large square, surrounded with monumental constructions, among which stood out 5 domed churches. In short, the Armenian part of Shushi, by figurative expression of Marietta Shahinyan, “served as a European appendage to the Asian town, which gave him economic basis and grew considerably larger then it”.
The fourth general plan of Shushi was schemed in 19132 by the town's’ architect Armenak Kongakhsazyan.
Again from archive documents it is seen that in the end of 19c Shushi town consisted of over two tens of districts, the division of which is conditional. All they form the organic continuation of each other and it's hard to put any boundaries between the.
Even the upper and bottom parts of the town are not separated, though as has noticed architect E. Avalov the upper, or Armenian districts' buildings passed with definite principle, by organized streets, with social stressed centers. This part of the fort-town is characterized with organized scheme and perpendicular system of streets. Along them were built dwelling, comunal, educational and administrative town-type constructions.
In the second half of 19c, as it ias also seen from the Shushi's third main scheme arranged in 1855, in the western part of the town was created a large square, around which were built interesting architectural monumental constructions, among which stood out six domed churches.
Ghazanchetsots St. Amenaprkich church
As was mentioned in one of the previous chapters the 16-19cc churches of Gharabagh were mostly basilica-type constructions without dome. The main reason of this phenomenon was the difficult economical and political condition. In fact the area, after ages of destruction, during Khamsa's princedoms, favored by the occasion of short peace, thanks to which were rebuilt the destroyed wordly and religious buildings and were even built new ones. But they had comparatively simple compositions, were realized with little expenses and little time was required for finishing the construction.
Among all the monuments built in Gharabagh (during mentioned centuries) meet six domed churches, five of which are in Shushi. One of them is Ghazanchetsots St. Amenaprkich church. The others are Kanach Jham (green church), Aguletsots, Meghretsots and Kusanats convent called churches.
In these buildings Gharabaghian constructors used old traditions and went back to domed constructions, which were most widespread during the 9-14cc. Really, Shushi's boast is Ghazanchetsots St. Amenaprkich Cathedral. Ghazanchetsots St. Amenaprkich church is a large monument, the face of which is covered with local finished white lime-stone.
The majestic dome leans on four pillars. The exterior ways are luxurious, there are ornament- carvings everywhere, especially on the arches of doors and windows.
In the southern door's head there is the following building inscription;
- "With the help and mercy of Almighty God was built this wonderful sacred temple Ghazanchetsots St. Amenaprkich church for the town of Shushi, the building of which started in 1868... and was finished in 1887...".
Dimensions: 34.7m long, around 23m wide and 35m high.
During the church repair while cleaning the floor was discovered an inscription, thanks to which became known the cathedral’s architect’s name. In the lower part of the altar’s butt-end was carved, “the sacred image is gift in the memory of church’s constructor Avetis Yearamishents… in the summer of 1886. Architect Simeon Ter- Hakobyants”. This inscription enriched the list of masters and architects of XIXc by two bright names.
One of the newly found inscriptions of the church preserved on the tympanum of window-passage in the northern font- “ A gift from Badkes Michael Hovsepyan and his mother Hripsime 1885-9-25 (September 25 of 1885)”. On the window-bed of the opposite façade is carved; “This wall is a memory of pilgrim Hovsep and his wife Bakumays Kocharyants. Summer of 1896”. The next inscription in the upper part of western front says, “Presented c(itizen) of Sh(ushi) Khachatur- bek Alanverti from Jalalyants famiy. 1883”. Here, under the arch is carved, “Savor’s face. 1868”. On the northern wall is written “Saint Spirit of God”, on the eastern “God Father”, on the western “All-saver. 1868”. On the typmanum of the cruciform window in the southern front is carved, “Presented T. Tamirents- c(itizen) of Sh(ushi) in the memory of my uncle-pilgrim Margere and Baba and my parents. Summer of 1885”. Inside, on the casing of the font around the cross- picture is written “Jusus Christ. John the Baptist. One who was not born from water and spirit can’t get to the God’s kingdom. 1871”.
On the western side rises a three-story chapel. In the upper-corners of the first floor are put four stony statues of a man's height "...which blow the trumpet with terrified looks". The chapel was built by Shushetsian Abraham Khandamiryants.
The stony chain of the chapel is a pretty sample of sculptor art.
The building inscription of the chapel is put from outside in the eastern wall. In its 10 lines are carved “the chapel is built in the memory of the deceased Gabriel Hovsepyan- Batiryants, who is from Ghazanchi and of pilgrim Mkrtich Margaryan- Khandamiryants, of his wife Balasan and their sons Arup and Stepan and all Ghazanchiants. Let’s remember God in his glory and for the sake of saving all the souls of the dead and the deceased. Summer of 1858”. As is seen from the inscription the building of the chapel started 10 years earlier than the church. This unusual circumstance (normally they first build the church, then the vestibule, and only then the chapel) lets us suppose that here had functioned another church (also called Ghazanchetsots), built in XVIIIc and probably with less architectural merits which they tore down and replaced. The previous church is mentioned in the book “Traveling to Armenia” by Mesrop Taghiadyan, who visited Shushi in 1820.
Aghuletsots St. Amenaprkich Church "is in the center of the town... built on four pillars", has a rounded stair- pedestal, with exterior rectangle and interior domed composition. In two corners of the inside stage the vestries are two-story, the entries of which rise from the stage's side.
The gable roof is covered with trimmed stone, on which rise three chapels. The largest of them is situated in the center of the church' roof, the others are in eastern and western ends, just like was Amaras' church in 16c. Neither these, nor the three-story chapels adjacent to the eastern wall of the church have survived. In Shushi's undated scheme attract attention the large, almost connected with each other buildings, situated in the wing of Aguletsots church. The preserved documents confirm that the church had also "its own land, in its southern side 12 shops and in northern side 15 shops". So the row of buildings mentioned in the scheme were from the shops that saw M. Bakhutaryants.
On the squared beam stone of monument's southern door has preserved the church's large building inscription; "With God's will Holy Virgin senior church was built by efforts and expences of nation's dear princes Zohrap Hovhanja, Markos and Baba ter Mateosean Tarumeants... in 1822".
Several decades, before Ghazanchetsots church was built, this church was considered town's largest religious center, for which it was called "senior". At the same time, it, as a monument of architectural significance considerably influenced on the formation of town's center. Later on around it were built Ghazanchetsots church, Khanamiryan theatre with 350 spectator- seats, a three- story club, the town's park, number of educational and trading beautiful buildings. So the center became a place for large social gatherings. The streets coming from town's top and bottom parts came to the social center situated on the axis from west to east.
To the aesthetic impressiveness of the center add the park near the square, the stony springs and slab streets. All the buildings of the center were built from cream- colored stone with vault- motives peculiar to Armenian Architecture.
Meghretsots church built almost by the same principle as Aguletsots church is also a noteworthy monument. In inscriptions it was also called St. Amenaprkich Meghretsots church, which was built in 1833 with Mahtes Hakhumyants' expences.
The praying- hall (24,75x 12,77m) had a rectangle scheme with quite strained symmetry- volume. The vaulted arches leaned on four pillars rising in the middle of the hall and on three pairs of wall-pillars. The chapel is again three- story from trimmed stone. Another small chapel, which more looked like an octahedral rotunda, was situated in the center of the church' roof. From former architectural complex only the foundation walls remain.
Kusanats Convent called church, which in sources is also remembered by Anapat (monastery) name, is considered the town's most ancient religious monument. Anapat is situated in the park, in the center of the town. It was built in 1816 with kind lady Hripsime's help. The church used to be a nice building enclosed in rectangle scheme, built from trimmed cream- colored stone. The praying- hall (20x 9,45m) consisted of an abside, two vestries and a hall. Anapat had two entries in southern and western fronts, there were wall- pictures on the inside walls. The monument's appearance was simple and primitive. The doors had luxurious ornaments and repeated the spread type of doors of medieval Artsakh.
The preserved photos show that the three-story, with slender spire church was situated in the door opening in western front. It was comparatively higher than the surrounding dwelling building and by the light-some look rising from greens, leaves an impressive influence on the similar domed chapel's ensemble rising in different sides of the town. The monastery had borders with upper and bottom gates, number of auxiliary constructions and a hall- vernatun. In the complex’s yard preserved a cannon cast in Turin in 1813. In 1826, during Shushi’s siege Armenian volunteers under the command of arch-bishop Khoren protected Hont revine with this very gun. The gun was last used in 1905. Now the gun is exhibited in the local museum.
The monastery complex from west finishes with two-story dwelling building for girls. The building was divided by partitions into numerous comfortable rooms with unique balconies. On the first floor were situated cellars, the kitchen and the dining-room. As the contemporaries witness the building had hiding-places with a secret- passage. In the southern part of the monastic church, near the chapel was buried famous Shushinian doctor Baatryants. Over the grave raised a large, skillfully ornamented grave-stone.
Here are situated three monastic gardens, surrounded with high fence. One of them was called the first bakhcha; here grew various flowers and fruit-trees. The other garden, named in the honor of one of the girls- bakhcha Usti- baji, stood out with beautiful paths, where girls spent their leisure-time. In the third- bottom bakhcha- were cultivated garden crops.
Here, in the paths, situated in separate groups are placed richly ornamented, with laconic epitaphs gravestones of the girls. And all this was mercilessly demolished by bulldozers in 1960-1970.
Among Shushi's monuments is also famous Verin Tagh or Kanach Jham church, which has preserved almost unharmed. According to the building inscription the church was built in 1818 in the place of the former Gharabaghtsots wooden church (in bottom eastern part of fort-town, existed in the second half of 18c). In the walls is placed the former church' inscription. The dome of the ramparted churchy and its chapel are seen from very far. the latters have architectural innovations.
The church has a cruciform scheme. In course of placing side-chapels under the alter rising, the eastern façade of the church and the chapel joining to it from west stand out with unique interior decoration, thanks to which this monument isolated among the analogous architectural constructions. Over the entry, crowned with chapel’s dome is carved the inscription, “Babayan Stepanos Hovanes. In the memory of the deceased brother Mkrtich. 1847”.
Though the chapel is directly joined up with the church, but by means of pilasters it definitely separates from the temple. By this is even more outlined the solemnity of the entrance portal. The praying hall is divided into two halls by means of pilasters. The first, almost square in scheme hall has a close vault peculiar to national houses. The second hall is crowned with large dome, which leans on pilasters from trimmed stone. The floor-level of the praying-hall, as it is seen by the exterior cornice-belt and the stairs of the chapel’s entry, is 2m higher compared with the yard-level.
In the architecture of Kanach zham attract attention the close, some not peculiar to Armenian church architectural details; a comparatively large bay of domes, placing the side-chapels under the stage, the eastern half-round wall. These new constructive methods, in particular the unique solution of the cover considerably enriched the construction. If add to this the vegetation, the white- cream tinit of walls, built from trimmed chipped stone, then it’s easy to guess, that the monument from the point of view of town-planing performed a definite organizing function. Kanach zham is well seen from almost all dwelling districts of the town, thanks to harmoniously raised domes and the chapel.
Now the church, surrounded with resting houses and sanatoriums, is turned into a mineral water-testing hall. In course of rashly realized rebuilding separate parts of the interior were altered or concealed. In peculiar, situated on the altar the iron cistern, hid by an odd picture, completely covered and separated the altar from the praying-hall. The stairs of the western entry of the church were taken away and instead of them along the northern façade were built new ones, dissonant to the monument, in course of which the layer under the central window was destroyed. The often pouring from the cistern water falls on the side- chapels and destroys the walls.
Of course, using historical monuments in present life is a rather necessary, but serious work. As is clearly pointed in corresponding laws, using monuments with other purposes is not to disturb its integrity.
In the bottom part of the town, approximately in the place of the present covered- market was situated a majestic church with Russian classic architectural motives, which (like Meghretsots and Kusanots churches) unfortunately hasn't preserved.
During Shushi Khan’s reign (1756- 1822), and in the second half of 19c a number of religious and secular Azeri buildings were built.
Mets Meched Mosque was built in 1883 by architect Kerbelay Sefi. Fully repaired by the Soviets, it became Shushi town's history museum, but was subsequently damaged during the Karabakh war. There has been recent talk of Iran funding a new restoration. The walls are built from simple and roughly- trimmed stone, finished with lime-mortar plaster. Two minarets rise from southern and northern sides. Their cylinder- shape volumes are covered with red, white, blue resin bricks.
In 1874-1875 by the project of architect Kerbali Sefi- khan by means of Shushi landowner Gevkhar Aghi was built the bottom mosque. The bottom mosque has architecture similar to Mets Meched in size, layout and materials.
Of Shushi’s notable historical monuments the following were comparatively well preserved (at least until war broke out when the Soviet Union collapsed): the non-classical secondary and Ghukasian school- buildings. Mehmandarovs' palace, the houses in which lived Zhamharyans and Natavan, Gara Mets khan's palace, old water- cisterns, spring- monuments, Kyovhar- agha's mosque, the two-story motel, aGhuletsots church (without dome) and a few others.
In 1913 Ruben Asryan , a book-seller from Shushi took pictures and by his own means published in Tiflis (Tbilisi) fifteen postcards of Shushi, which have today become valuable relics and important historical documents. These and other rare, already discolored photos give us a good idea of the old towns appearance before its destruction.
Shushi's (multi-roomed, built from white lime-stone) residences were mostly 2-3 story. With their side-balconies and sloping roofs the buildings are rectangular shapes, which are placed along the streets. The narrow side of the house faced the street in order to place as many buildings as possible along the streets, and to create larger enclosed courtyards.
In 1955 national architect of Soviet Union Rafael Israelyan visited Shushi. “When you walk along Shushi’s streets” he writes “it doesn’t occur to you that all the houses without exception are built by one type. The buildings as a rule divide into stories by stony belts. All the portals are from stone, all the windows have the same sizes and are bordered with stony casings. The houses differ from each other only by length and number of stories. So, from architectural point it’s impossible to differentiate one building from another. Variety was achieved mostly by the places of the buildings; one building stands out from the main row, the second stands in the corner, the third is a private house, the fourth stands out by its length, etc.” All the dwelling buildings of Shushi are built from chipped light-bluish lime-stone, the joints of which are plastered. The wall-facades are separated by stony-belts, cornices, window-passages with patterned metal gratings. The stony belts, separating the stories, the framing of window-passages stand out not only as functional- compositional details, but also have decorative significance. The belt built from trimmed stone, portals and casings of the windows are a unique form of local architecture, which give smart appearance to the buildings.
From buildings of cultural-educational character of pre-revolutionary Shushi is worth remembering the building of the non-classical secondary school. On the façade of the building with capital Russian letters is carved : “The building was built in 1901-1908 on financial capital donated by hereditary respectable citizen Grigor Martin Arafkelov”. It won’t be exaggeration if we say that this building (presently boarding- school) by its volume- space and architectural merits, functional expedient solution does not have its equal in the whole town. Opposite the non- classical secondary school on the side of Zhamharyan street (now Pervomayskaya), along the read line of building is situated the two-story building of tonw-hospital with 46 beds, which used to belong to Zhamharyans (presently the sleeping part of the boarding-school). It was the first professional hospital in Lernayin Gharabagh, where they treated sick people and performed difficult operations. Next to the hospital is placed Zhamharyan’s house.
Until 1920 in Shushi had 22 newspapers, 20 of which were in Armenian, as well as 2 in Russian. In the printing house of the town were published 150 books and brochures. The first Armenian book in Shushi was published in 1828. In the end of XIXc in the town functioned six schools and colleges. The first large school, Armenian parish, was opened in 1838, the town school was opened in 1875, the non-classical secondary school in 1881, the Royal girl-college Maryamyan in 1894, the Azerbaijani school in 1896. Besides these in the town worked 5 small Armenian schools for boys. In the Armenian part of the town functioned two clubs- winter and summer. The two-story building of the winter club had many rooms, driven under the billiard-room, a hall for visits, the concert, ball, reading, etc. halls. The library reading-room was opened in 1889 by the local branch of Armenian Charity community. Here were gathered around 4000 various books and magazines in Armenian and Russian.
The three- story building of the town- meeting’s summer club with a luxuriant flower-garden was equipped taking into account all the conveniences for visitors, as for elder (a large hall with a stage, a library, a reading-hall, a café, a restaurant, etc) so for children, teenagers and youth (children’s play-ground, a sport- ground). The second meeting of Shushinians with Shakespeare took place in this club in 1914-1917, where they watched “Othello” and “Hamlet” in Armenian language by unsurpassed performance of Vahram Papazyan.
The town avenue was the favorite place for resting and pastime of Shushinians. The town had its park, where mostly gathered the affluent level, and the other level of the town-population preferred to gather near sacred places during holidays and weekends, especially sacred place Nahatak gerezman (cemetery).
Starting since 50-60’s of XIXc, in the parish school’s building by efforts of the local amateur group have been performed plays. But the reviving of town’s musical- theatrical life greatly favored opening in 1891 the theatre- building, built on expenses of Mkrtich Khandamiryan, director of the theatrical group. The theatre- hall was calculated for 350 spectators. The opening ceremony of the theatre took place in July 7, 1981. With the participation of the local amateur group was performed the historical drama of Muratsan –“Ruzan”.
Though from outside the theatre’s architecture did not present special interest, but the building had some conveniences inside it. In first and second floors were placed library reading-halls and different rooms for organizing cultural leisure time. In the third floor was the auditorium with a comfortable stage and a cruch-room. Khandamiryan’s theatre for around 15 years has constantly been in the centre of interest of all our famous actors and theatre troupes, which every year came to Shushi for tours, favoring the public education and rising its aesthetic taste. During the events of 1905, in only a day was robbed the whole center of the town together with the theatre, from which were left only ruins.
In the Armenian part of the town were situated town bathing-houses, banks, military infirmary, the two-story barracks, drug- stores of Visotsi and Sahinyan, printing-houses of Ter-Sarkisyants, Asryan and Babajanyan, the large town market Tophkani- shuka, 8 inns.
The town had around 570 various work-shops, industrial spots, factories, fabrics, presenting the whole economical potential of Shushi. From them we should mention the carpet- maker fabric (120 workers) founded in 1906-1907 on public principles, on initiation of ladies- philanthropists of the town: Khachiyan Matilda, Shakaryan Nataly, Melik- shakhnazaryan Margarit and others. Founding the fabric had certain humane aims- to give work and existence means to women, who had lost their husbands during the first carnage of Shushi in 1905.
Every year in the fabric were produced 600-700 carpets, most part of which was exported.
Springs and Water
Spring-monuments played a very important role in Shushi until the construction of an 18km long water pipe in 1896 at the expense of Tamiryan.
Since ancient times one of the most favorite resting- places of Shushetsians was considered Petkhi famous spring- monument. It is situated in the depth of hornbeam tick forest, at the bottom of high-fixed and majestic mountain, in the northern side of the town, 2-3km distant. In the middle of last century master Isahak of Shushi repaired that spring, built a monument, enlarged the water-cistern and left an inscription. The grateful Shushetsis called the spring-monument Isahak spring, and Azerbaijanians called it Isabulagh.
By the spring was Tamiryants’ factory, which produced bricks and pottery, and below, on Vararakn’s bank was situated the silk factory of David Nersesyan.
Tophani shuka. Its name is connected with the fact that there had been Russian guns (top = gun, han = place) there in the past. The other market- Turki meydan was situated in the Azerbaijani part of the town. Contemporaries say the market amazed its visitors by wealth and bright eastern coloring. Here were found products of local masters such as jewelry objects from “blue” silver, high-quality carpets, various wooden and ceramic objects, as well as consumer goods exported from European countries, India, and even Hong Kong.
The residents of Shushi have originated from various (as it is seen from the names of the districts) ethno-cultural backgrounds (Armenian, Azerbaijani, Russian, Persian, etc). Naturally, they have brought with them domestic, work and economical traditions of various levels and characters, certain building experience and habits of work. Working together they built a multicultural town over the course of a century, but only 3 days were necessary to destroying it altogether.
In March of 1920, Musavatsians destroyed the Armenian district, occupying over half of town’s territory. Over 7000 buildings were destroyed, the first town sewer in Transcaucausus was harmed, libraries, schools, and shops and were robbed and set on fire.
In three days the population decreased by 65%. Later on about this with pain remembered Sergo Orjonikidze, who had been in destroyed Shushi in May of 1920. “Today I remember with horror those pictures, which we have seen in 1920 in Shushi. The beautiful Armenian town was destroyed to the ground and lay in ruins…”. Over 75% of Shushi’s buildings were ruined. There are photos of burnt building’s frame-works, and vacant lots overgrown with weeds. Much the same condition as it is in today after the 1990s conflict.
Historico- preserve zone of protecting Shushi’s monuments
In the beginning of 1970’s Shushi was been declared protected architecturally. Only the eastern (Azerbaijani) district was included however and it underwent some renovations which altered the original style in many cases. And more. In Shushi, especially in its eastern part a great work is done for rebuilding ancient buildings and using them in present town environment. But here is noticeable obvious yearning for “correcting” the town’s history and architecture, to present the wanted as a reality. As a result the original style of these constructions is lost. They acquire completely different, and sometimes contrary to its essence (not characteristic for other monuments of Shushi) architectural look.
It’s not enough that Armenian sites stayed outside the borders of protected zone and don’t reckon among the lists of cultural monuments, they moreover became victims of “vandalism” acts- were dug out with the purpose to find the treasures of rather large and richly- decorated gravestones.
Unfortunately, the largest grave, which is situated on the northern approaches of the town, is opened by “green masking”, the others are about to collapse.
All this sometimes happened by the appeal of Azerbaijani town-builders. This way in “Builder” newspaper published in Baku (#9, since February 2, 1966) was written an article of architect K. Saidov “the problems of health- resort town Shushi”. Afer it in Shushi took place mass destruction of Armenian cemeteries, and the gravestones were used as building material. Similar fate was prepared also for the three-nave basilica Aguletsots, church Meghretsots, which was re-equipped into a summer cinema.
Acts of discrimination such as this against Armenians caused a desire on their part for self rule.
Monuments of Berdadzor- Kaladars and its surroundings
On the south- western slopes of Artsakh mountain-ridge’s central part are situated settlements Kanach- tala, Yeghtsots, Mets- Herkhan, Pokr- Herkhan, Hinshen (now Kirov), historical Berdadzor, Mets-shen or Kalandarsi, Tevanatun, Dashtahogh, Hrchak.
In this region of Shushi, in Kanach tala territory there are various and numerous monuments.
In the western side of the mountain-pass, in Tashtahogh (Dashtahogh) area of Kanach Tala village there are two large and ten small mausoleum- hills, during partly excavation of one of which were discovered clay vessels, beads, human and animal bones.
Mineral, ferriterous, alkaline and raw sources (colse by composition with the famous Narzan (kind of mineral water)), placed near settlement Lisagor had been used on medical purposes still in ancient times. Till lately here were noticeable traces of a bath-house with a paved floor, built in the style of Armenian memorable springs, gravestones, khachkars.
Among the monuments of Berdadzor- Mets-shen and its surroundings some interest present over 10 churches, numerous chapels and castles, settlements- caravansaries, dwellings, beautiful khachkars, gravestones and bridges. Yeghtsun- khut, situated 2-3km from village Hinshen (presently Kirov) is rather large. Here have preserved a church, cemetery and memorable springs. According to the inscription the church was built in 1661. The building of the church has characteristic peculiarities of developed medieval period and belongs to one-nave rectangular basilica-type monuments.
In a distance of 1km towards west from the church is situated a large cemetery, and for that the area is called Gerezmanatun (gerezman- cemetery). Besides the gravestones here have also preserved the wall- foundations of the chapel. The inscriptions on them have long ago rubbed off and only the bereliefs and khachkars are in comparatively good condition.
In 3km towards south from Kirov, in Vardot area have preserved traces of various constructions, pieces of capitals and gravestones. In the village were accidentally found ceramic vessels, large pitchers and lamps. This settlement and settlement Yeghtsu- glukh got water from the spring, situated near the foot of mountain Amdzasar. The ceramic water-pipe has preserved till our days. One of the significant monuments of Berdadzor is chapel Ziravor-tsar, situated towards east from the village.
Here are still noticeable traces of dwellings and the ancient cemetery- an evidence of a large settlement. The other chapel is situated towards north-east from Kirov, on top of mountain Andzasar.
The pass called Khach is situated towards east from Berdadzor. Here has preserved beautifully ornamented khachkar, in the past considered a relic from the local sacred place. The next analogous khachkar is situated in Jambarakhach area. On the gravestone has preserved name Karink.
In area Pulen glukh are situated ancient earth-houses and ruins of a large ijevanatun (inn) with stalls. Toponym Pulen glukh can be translated as money, capital. It’s not known in what historical conditions has originated its name. Because not far from this place has passed one of the branches (through Artsakh and Syunik) of trading road Persia- Russia, we can imagine, that the caravansary played important role in serving trading caravans and in developing trade. Most likely here were performed various trading-financial operations, because of which the area caravanatun-ijevanatun got its name.
The largest cemetery of Berdadzor called Kaghataghi hangstaran is placed on the left bank of Akari towards east from the village, at the foot of khozhoraberd mountain. The gravestones are covered with reliefs of domestic and military theme, ornaments and inscriptions. the large gravestones are decorated especially beautifully. In the number of ancient destroyed settlements stand out settlements Ilanats and Bkhlavar, where are noticeable traces of dwellings, large cult and secular constructions.
Numerous paleontological sites were discovered in areas Kapen- dzor, Tsak-kar, Tslan-aghpyur. In the mentioned places also meet artificial heap of stones, under which are settlements, known as houses of primitive man. By interior they quite resemble the Armenian glkhatuns. Their light- passages widen downwards just like the yerdiks (roofings). One can get down to those houses by stony stairs. The settlements are connected with each other by narrow underground corridors.
In ancient times Berdadzor was the name of a large province, occupying the upper and middle streams of Agari river. There are many castles and forts, caves and other defensive constructions in here. Here are some of them. Tumasar fort. It is situated in 3km towards south-west from village Kirov, on the impregnable spur of the high mountain. From here the whole valley of river Agari till Araks could be held in constant observation. As Berdadzorians tell, the fort for the princedom of the province served as a permanent military station (sghnakh). The other fort is situated on the hill near interflowing place of Shor-jur and Chiman streams. In the place have preserved only separate parts of the fort-fence. The ravine, stretching below the serf-wall is called Khlen tak. Here were placed several mills of Berdadzor. Judging by the place of the fort and its defense system, we can conclude that the fort had under control the roads, going from Araks valley to Tsar and from Syunik to Khachen.
The third fort- Hin berd is situated on the rising by the western foot of mountain Saghsaghan. The forth fort- Oshapi kar is situated on the conical rock in the southern side of the same mountain. The cliff- fort is isolated from the surroundings by vertical side-walls of 100-200m. People tell legends about the impregnability of this fort. Even today only very few people manage to go up by this rocks and get to the fort. Just like other forts of Artsakh, here too there is a secret passage called Jragoghi antsk. In fort Oshapi kar there are number of caves. They are connectged with each other by a labyrinth of artificial passages. The fifth, a stronger fort is situated towards north from Berdadzor. Its not of human making fence from natural cliffs stretches in rather long distance. The church is closed by the only vulnerable passage in Mets-dzor ravine, where since ancient times has been situated a village. By uniting words berd (fort) and dzor (ravine) originates Berdadzor vilalge’s name. Later on the newly arrived foreign population translated into their language this toponym and people started calling the village Karakishlag or Kaladarasi. Berdadzor is many times mentioned in medieval Armenian sources as the name of a fort, settlement or province. This not large village in the recent past had 5329 inhabitants, and was also called Mets-Shen (i.e. large village). One of the tower-cliffs of the fort is called Karmir kar, the other is Shinakar.
Among the historical monuments of Berdadzor special importance present constructions of industrial and engineer character. In this connection is worth attention settlement Yukhutants gomer, where they not only kept cattle, but also made gun-powder, bred thoroughbred Gharabaghian horses. Berdadzor was famous for its brave fighters. The historic “Russian” spring is situated in the thick forest towards west from village Mets shen.
The parish church of Berdadzor- Mets-shen is built on the foundations of an ancient basilica from chipped stone. There is an analogous church also in village Hinshen or Kirov. From architectural point a considerable interest presents village Kherkhan’s church. Though the foundation date isn’t known, but comparing it with the analogous constructions of the region, we may refer it to XVIIc. The other church was built in XVIIIc, and the quite harmed church in Yeghtsahogh, according to the inscription was built in XVc.
The one-span bridge is the most ancient and beautiful bridge of Berdadzor region. According to the inscription the bridge was built in XIIIc and over it (later on rebuilt) passes Goris-Stepanakert highway. Built from trimmed whitish stone in traditional style of Armenian bridge-building art, the bridge is one of the interesting engineer constructions of this type.
We have enumerated the monuments of only a small part of historical Berdadzor, the one, which is now part of Shushi region. Description of monuments of other part of the province, now placed in Lachin region’s territory, is beyond the limits of real work.