Multicultural heritage of Artsakh
Every country has influences from other countries and we would like to refer to them as a part of our multicultural heritage which is mainly Persian and Russian. For centuries, Arstakh has been under the rule of Iran becoming the residence of the Iranian rulers and their families, and at the end of the 19th century gradually became the seat of the nomadic tribes professing Islam. After Artsakh joined Russia, its capital Shoushi was at the crossroads of trade routes linking Iran with Russia. The rapid development of trade between Iran and Russia resulted in the formation of the Shiite Muslim community in the city.
Probably one of the most famous monuments of Islamic Persian culture is the mosque of Shoushi. It was built in 1883, designed by the Iranian architect Kerbala Sefi Khan in the central Muslim part of the city. The main facade of the mosque with three arched entrances emphasizes two tall minarets. Both minarets are elaborately decorated with colorful geometric patterns. An octagonal pool with a fountain was built in front of the mosque. During Soviet times, the mosque was transformed into a historical museum. In May 1992, during the war for the liberation of Shoushi, the mosque was badly damaged. Currently, it is under reconstruction.
Inner Mosque, or Mosque of Gezhara Aga, was built in 1875, designed by the same architect Kerbala Sefi Khan. Basically, it repeats the architectural solutions of the Uptown Mosque. The area in front of the mosque is surrounded by buildings, which housed a religious school-madrasah. A mosque with minaret was restored in 2005, also prayer houses in different parts of Shoushi are preserved.
Built in 1889 by the project of already known to us the architect Kerbalayi Sefi Khan. almost repeats the shape of Agdam mosque.
Agdam Mosque was built in 1870 by the architect Kerbalayi Sefi Khan. According to the project, it is a copy of the Uptown Mosque of Shoushi. Somehow damaged during the hostilities, it is nonetheless in a satisfactory condition. The two minarets of the mosque on the two sides of worship house, are built of brick and decorated with geometric patterns.
This beautiful building of the 19th century is located in the centre of Askeran, close to the stadium, consists of residential buildings and reception, built of local limestone. The exterior walls are beautifully decorated with cornices and stone carvings. You will find near the mausoleum-burials of the Panah Khan’s family. The complex is preserved to this day unchanged. It’s another evidence of Persian heritage.
In 1805 as a result of Russian-Persian war, Persia gave up some areas of Armenia in favor of Russia, and Artsakh became a part of the latter. Russian ethnic element further was enhanced when, frontier Cossack regiments of the Imperial Army accomodated, particularly, in Hadrout, Shoushi and Stepanakert. In these places of concentration of Russian population there were built Orthodox churches, engineering constructions and other building. All these buildings were built according to the age-old canons of Russian architecture, with use of some local elements of traditional architecture.
Perhaps the most remarkable structure of that time were the barracks of the 1st Sunzha-Vladikavkaz Regiment of the Tersk Cossack Army, with luxurious Orthodox Church in the town of Khankendi (now Stepanakert).
The church was founded by 16th Grenadier Mingrelian Regiment during its parking here in 1864 and lit in honor of the Transfiguration of the Lord on February 9th 1868. This beautiful building hold up to 1,000 people, a cross-domed church with a bell tower, built from the local white limestone. During the years of Soviet power it was rebuilt and served as a clubhouse for the military unit deployed there. The church and the surrounding imperial barracks have not survived, but there are served the beautiful two-storey building of the regimental headquarters which was located nearby them, the so-called "Government House", where in 1861 stopped the Emperor Alexander II, who arrived in Artsakh for "perpetrated inspection of the troops." Now the building is reconstructed to a tourist centre with a hotel.
At one of the squares of Shoushi, near the central market you will come across Russian Orthodox Church of St. George which was built in 1840. The parishioners were living in Shoushi family of imperial officials and soldiers of the imperial army, a regiment of which was stationed in the city. The impressive building for its architecture played a large city-forming role and was the centre of Russian culture in Shoushi. After the collapse of the Russian Empire and the massacre of Armenians in Shoushi in March 1920, the church lost its parishioners and in Soviet times served as a warehouse, then as cinema. In 1960, by the order of the leadership of Azerbaijan, Russian church, as well as remaining ruins of the Armenian part of the city, were demolished.
The only completely preserved Russian Church in Artsakh is the Blessed Virgin church in the place of Gevorgavan, near the town of Martouni. Built in the early 20th century in the traditional style of Orthodoxy, the church was intended to serve the religious needs of Russian settlements, located here in the old before. There was a small school In the church. The restoration works of the church began in 1859, interrupted by military fighting. During the short-term occupation by Azerbaijani army, the church was again partially destroyed.