Shushi, The Capital of Artsakh – Photo from Before the Massacre of Armenians in 1920

Shushi, The Capital of Artsakh

Until 1920, Shushi was the capital of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh). It was home to 40 thousand people who were living in two different parts of the city – Muslim (occupying 35% of the city) and Armenian (65% of the city).

The Muslim area consisted of 7 quarters which housed one mosque, madrassas, several prayer houses, and music schools.

The Armenian part consisted of 18 quarters with 12 churches, 7,000 residential buildings, a real school, several public schools, two printing houses (which printed 23 newspapers, including 20 in Armenian and 3 in Russian), 2 theaters, several museums, etc.

All buildings in the city were built in the same architectural style – the walls were made of white stone and the roofs of red tiles or metal. Houses (usually two-story) were built close to each other. The city was distinguished by its European layout with wide central streets and narrow courtyard streets with a large number of street lamps.

The end of the city of Shushi came in March 1920 when a large and well-armed Turkish army assisted by the Tatar masses from the Muslim part of the city organized medieval barbarism in the Armenian quarters of Shushi.

In 3 days, 6-10 thousand Armenians were killed and 2 thousand captured. The rest managed to escape from the city. After the massacre, massive plunder of Armenian property began. Finally, all 18 Armenian quarters were burned.

The ruins of the Armenian city have lied deserted like a ghost for more than 40 years until in 1961, the government of Soviet Azerbaijan decided to raze them to the ground and in their place build faceless Soviet five-story buildings which would be inhabited exclusively by ethnic Azerbaijanis.

Of the 12 Armenian churches of the city, only 2 have miraculously survived to this day.

Read also: Shushi, Capital of Artsakh – Photos After the Massacre of Armenians in 1920




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