Azerbaijani cultural and historical heritage in Shusha restored after decades of Armenian vandalism
President Ilham Aliyev recently visited the Azerbaijani city of Shusha to inaugurate a series of restored iconic cultural buildings and historical monuments destroyed by Armenians during decades of occupation.
As part of his visit to the liberated territories last week, the President of Azerbaijan inaugurated the museum mausoleum complex and a large bust of the eminent Azerbaijani poet and politician Molla Panah Vagif.
“Dear friends, this is a very important day in the life of our country today,” President Aliyev said at the opening ceremony.
“We celebrate the opening of the Vagif Poetry Days in front of the mausoleum of the great Azerbaijani poet, statesman and vizier of Khan Molla Panah Vagif of Karabakh. I cordially congratulate you and the Azerbaijani people on this occasion, ”he added.
The Vagif Mausoleum was almost built from scratch after being destroyed and looted by Armenians during nearly 30 years of Shusha occupation. The restoration of the mausoleum was implemented by the Heydar Aliyev Foundation.
The original building of the mausoleum designed by Azerbaijani architects Abdulvahab Salamzade and Eldar Kanukov was built in 1982, at the place where Vagif was executed in 1797. The construction of the Vagif mausoleum was initiated and ordered by former Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliyev, then head of Soviet Azerbaijan.
Meanwhile, President Aliyev also attended a ceremony to unveil a new monument to the legendary composer Uzeyir Hajibeyli born and raised in Shusha. Earlier this year, the bust of Hajibeyli vandalized by Armenians was returned in Shusha and placed in its original place.
Iconic Azerbaijani composer Hajibeyli is widely known for forming the basis of modern Azerbaijani music and creating a synthesis of what has become a source of national pride and ethnic identity after mixing classical music with mugham in the early part of the 20th century.
As part of his visit to Shusha, the President of Azerbaijan also inaugurated the renovated House Museum of Azerbaijani People’s Artist Bulbul. He was the first to synthesize the best techniques of Azerbaijani national singing with Russian and European schools, creating a whole new vocal school in Azerbaijan.
The house, where Bulbul was born in 1897, spent his childhood and got acquainted with music, functioned as a museum until the occupation of Shusha in 1992. Armenians trashed nearly 9,000 documents and 10,000 exhibits from the house and presented them to the world community as examples of Armenian material culture.
Shusha is a key city in the Karabakh region (Garabakh) due to its geographical location and historical significance as one of the major cultural, economic and administrative centers of Azerbaijan.
The city was founded during the reign of the Panahali Khan of the Azerbaijani Khanate of Karabakh in the 18th century. According to historical sources, Panahali khan decided to build an “eternal and invincible fortress in a firm and impassable place in the mountains” given the unfavorable location of the previous castles. Construction of Shusha began in 1752 at about 1,600 meters above sea level, and the capital of the khanate was transferred to the city in 1756-1757.
Shusha is well known as “the temple of Azerbaijani culture and music” and the conservatory of the South Caucasus. It is home to one of the main schools of mugham, the traditional Azerbaijani genre of vocal and instrumental arts that has influenced music in the Caspian and Middle Eastern regions.
During the First Karabakh War in the early 1990s, Armenia occupied the city. The Armenian invaders pursued a policy of destruction of Azerbaijani historical and cultural heritage in Shusha and other cities and territories which remained under occupation for nearly three decades.
The Azerbaijani army restored Azerbaijani sovereignty over Shusha on November 8 during the 44-day counteroffensive operations from September 27 to November 9, 2020. The liberation of the city played a crucial role in the withdrawal of the Armenian forces and the end of hostilities in a ceasefire on November 10.
Shusha was declared the cultural capital of Azerbaijan in May 2021 to restore the historical aspect of the city, restore it to its former glory and reunite it with the traditionally rich cultural life.