Cathedral of Saints Thaddeus and Bartholomew in Baku

The white-stone church, with its golden covering, was indeed beautiful both inside and out. However, in the early 1930s, according to a Bolshevik decision, this magnificent structure was demolished.

It resisted destruction for three continuous years—it wouldn’t fall. Eventually, there was no option but to resort to explosives, yet the foundation, which was in the shape of a cross, proved invincible. The concrete mix, blended with egg yolks, remained unyielding.

The architects who were commissioned to construct a conservatory on its site had to adapt their design to incorporate what remained of the original foundation.

Locally, the cathedral was known as Budagov Cathedral, named after Yenok Budagov, who funded its construction.

The Budagov family chose Ovanes Kajaznuni as the architect, even though, in the design competition, his project ranked third after those of Ter-Mikelov and Petrovsky.

From the History of the Cathedral

The Armenian Cathedral of Saints Thaddeus and Bartholomew (Budagov Cathedral) in Baku, Azerbaijan – Demolished by the Authorities of Soviet Azerbaijan in 1937

The cathedral was constructed between 1906 and 1914, funded by Armenian entrepreneur and public figure Yenok Kalustovich Budagov (Yenok Galustovich Budagyan). The design was crafted by architect Ovanes Kachaznuni, who in 1918 became the first Prime Minister of the First Republic of Armenia.

In honor of its patron Budagov, the cathedral was popularly known as “Budagov Cathedral,” and Caspian Street, where it was located, was renamed Budagov Street. In the same area were situated the Budagov Market and several Budagov income houses, including those for low-income populations.

Witnesses attest that the Cathedral of Saints Thaddeus and Bartholomew was the most beautiful building in Baku, impressing with its external and internal beauty and masterfully drawn architectural compositions. The church drew attention with its monumentality. Its white stone coloring and golden cover, under the sun’s rays, bestowed a special majesty upon the church. The light falling from the colorful stained-glass windows produced rich colors.

The historical Armenian style of the building was blended with Gothic elements. Kachaznuni’s architectural composition for the church was considered a new Armenian national style – “new Armenian Gothic.”

It resisted demolition for three continuous years—it wouldn’t fall. Eventually, in 1937, they were forced to use explosives. Witnesses recounted that the stones broke, but not the seams—such was the strength of the construction.

In place of the church, a conservatory building was constructed, which is now known as the Uzeyir Hajibeyov Baku Music Academy.

In 1937, Ovanes Kachaznuni was arrested and executed in a Yerevan prison in 1938. Kachaznuni’s daughter, Margarita Ovanesovna, preserved the cathedral’s blueprints as a most treasured possession; these could not be found during a search following Kachaznuni’s arrest.

According to tradition, Apostles Thaddeus and Bartholomew were the first to bring Christianity to the extensive territory of Transcaucasia and Northern Iran. Their activity marks the beginning of the first Christian communities in Armenia, and thus these saints are deeply venerated by Armenians.

Some photographs of the cathedral, sourced from the family archive of the architect, have been published online by the architect’s great-grandson. Source:

Source: Michael Osipov

Translated by Vigen Avetisyan

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