Susha historical and architectural reserve

Date of Submission: 24/10/2001
Criteria: (i)(iv)(v)(vi)
Category: Cultural
Submitted by:
Azerbaijan National Commission for UNESCO
Coordinates: Lat. 39°82' N / Long. 46°7' E Central Azerbaijan
Ref.: 1574


In the South Caucasus, in the first half of XVIII 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 XVIII century, Karabakh khanate was founded, and it's 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 1 84 1. 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 were no defending inner- stronghold residence inside Shusha, since Shusha itself is a wholly huge ressidence on top of the mountain. The forshtad.-outer town wasn't founded in Shusha because of the topographic features of the area. The landscape of the area played the main part in distinction of disposition of strongl,,old'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 strongholdes 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 an 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 Karabah 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 fa3ades are like dwelling houses. but their interior is in accordance with the all requirements of the religious architecture. The mosque bui Idings 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, springsd, the houses of city aristocracy. It is valuable model of Azerbaijan architecture of XVIII-XIX centuries. Shusha in 1977 was declared a historical and architectural reserve of Azerbaijan Republic.