Ancient Saint Places of Shusha

Video-material about the historical land of Azerbaijan-Shusha

The ancient history of Shusha, the cradle of music and culture of Azerbaijan, is reflected in many local and foreign sources and scientific studies. This documentary material presented to your attention also features the history of Shusha, its religious monuments and places of worship that are as old as it is.
The oldest of these monuments are the historical mosques with two minarets, known today as “Yukhari Govhar Agha Mosque” (Upper Govhar Agha Mosque) and “Ashagi Govhar-agha Mosque” (Lower Govhar Agha Mosque)) that are included in the list of rare architectural pearls of Islamic East. However, first of all, it should be emphasized that when the Karabakh Khan Panahali Khan started the construction of Shusha city at the beginning of the 18th century — in 1752, in the first place he paid special attention to the construction of houses of worship — mosques and churches where local people used to go.
Another point that we should know and remember about the history of these two ancient Shusha mosques is who gave them the name “Govhar agha” and why they were immortalized by this name.

Yukhari Govhar Agha Mosque (The mosque in 2021)

Govhar agha: (Photo) — the full and real name is Govharnisa bayim;
daughter of the third khan of Karabagh khanate — Ibrahimkhalil Khan Javanshir;
was born in Shusha in 1790;
in her youth, she was distinguished by her beauty and deep mind;
at the age of 16 she was married to Jafarqulu khan Khoyski, famous Sheki khan;
soon after moving to Sheki, lost her husband and in 1814, returned to Shusha;
dedicated the rest of her life to religious services, education and charity;
thanks to her generosity, enlightenment and charitable deeds, she gained great respect not only in Shusha, but throughout Karabakh region.
In addition to her enlightenment and charitable activities, Govharnisa paid special attention to the places of worship in Shusha. She built two-story tall mosques with separate halls for women and men on the site of two small mosques left by her ancestors. These mosques, built of natural building materials, with altars, basement floor and minarets, decorated with the ancient “guldeste” (“bouquet”) ornament belonging to Karabakh, are of particular importance in the history of architecture of Shusha and Karabakh in general.
Remains of many other worship places, such as Julfalar Mosque, Haji Yusifli Mosque, Kocharli Mosque, Mamay Mosque, Mardinli Mosque, Guyuluq Mosque, Saatly Mosque, Seyidli Mosque, Chol Qala Mosque, Khoja Marjanly Mosque, Taza Mahalla Mosque, built in each of the 17 separate districts of Shusha have survived to the present day.
The engravings of the ceilings and walls, columns and minarets of most of these mosques, designed by the famous architect of his time Karbala Safikhan Garabagi, belong to the famous engraver Karbala Safarali.
As early as 1752, there were religious schools in Shusha, mainly educating teenagers the basics of Islam, Arabic language, the interpretation of the Holy Qur’an and the perfect study of Qur’an recitation. The city’s ancient sacred shrines and places known as Hazrat Ali Cave, Hazrat Abbas Healing shrine, Saqqakhana and Pirgah shrines, Seyid Mirfasih Tomb, Mir Mehdi Agha’s shrine, Gasim Agha’s shrine have become a sacred place of faith for Muslims from different regions of Azerbaijan.
Throughout history, along with Muslim temples in Shusha, ancient Albanian temples have been treated with respect and reverence. The ancient Albanian-Christian temples known as Gazanchi Church, Green Church and Gala Church have always been under the protection of the Azerbaijani state.
Interesting facts are also found in the memoirs and stories written about the religious figures and seyid-mullahs of Shusha. Of particular interest is the famous dialogue that took place in 1918 between Nuru Pasha, a Turkish General, the commander of the Caucasian Islamic Army, and the mullah of one of the mosques in the city.
The story goes that while being in Shusha, Nuru Pasha, who heard the plaintive azan from distance, entered the mosque and after getting acquainted with the mullah of the mosque he gave him a handful of gold coins and said:
– If you agree to come with me to Istanbul, I will pay you twice as many gold coins per month. Representatives of many nationalities live in Istanbul, whoever hears the azan that you recite will become a Muslim.
The mullah replied to Nuru Pasha’s proposal:
– Thanks a lot, Pasha. I would gladly accept your offer, but I’m afraid that I will disappoint you…
When Nuru Pasha asked the mullah about the reason for the “disappointment”, he said:
– It is Shusha that gave me this voice… It is its air, water, soil makes me sing so … I don’t believe that my voice will remain as it is if I leave this land.
‒ But… all these beauties, the culture with an ancient rich history… became a prisoner and a victim of the aggressive “Armenian” policy that enveloped the world like a spider web with its greed for land and territory, and was engraved in the memory of history with bloody massacres, mass expulsions and acts of genocide…

…The end of the 80s… Events taking place in the territory of the former USSR that was close to collapse… In this fateful, chaotic period of time, Azerbaijan, which left the Soviet Union and declared its independence, but had not been yet formed as an independent state… And taking advantage of vortex of these controversial social and political events, Armenia, which managed to implement its traditional occupation policy, starting from the end of the 19th century under the patronage of Tsarist Russia and later Soviet Russia and other protectors, step by step with its fabricated history and the “Armenization” program, with its Nazi-bandit formations brought into Azerbaijani lands, committed merciless, cruel, dirty deeds… During that terrible time (period), the local population of the legendary Shusha was expelled, its ancient monuments, temples and tombs, quarters were turned into ruins…
…Years passed… The patient and resilient Azerbaijani people had been waiting for the historic day ‒ November 8, 2020 ‒ when they would be reunited with their native land, beautiful Shusha, exactly after 28 years… days full of pain, sorrow and longing… But they did not bend, did not break, could resist the world’s policy of double standards… They turned the pen into a weapon and the ink into blood, and wrote their own destiny… And… like in all instructive tales and legends, betrayal, evil and injustice bowed down before justice and bravery, darkness melted and disappeared in the sunlight, Law and Justice again won…
On November 8, 2020, thanks to the decisive will of the victorious Supreme Commander-in-Chief Ilham Aliyev and the valiant army of Azerbaijan, the heart of Karabakh, the city of Shusha — the cradle of mugham and gazelles was liberated from occupation… Jabrayil , Fuzuli, Zangilan, Gubadli, Aghdam, Kalbajar, Lachin and finally … holy Shusha were reunited with their native Azerbaijan … The ancient city began to breathe and flourish …
Today, the native Shusha — the cradle of ancient music and culture of Azerbaijan being constructed and renovated — has turned into a centre where international cultural events, musical, poetry and culinary festivals are held; historical monuments and temples amaze the world with their mysterious beauty…