Historical and cultural riches of Shusha, southwestern Azerbaijan, makes it more than just a city for Azerbaijanis. The key town in the Nagorno-Karabakh region was liberated from the Armenian occupation of 28 years on Sunday.
Besides being one of the symbols of Azerbaijani history and culture, Shusha is also of strategic importance, as it is located on the road leading to Khankendi, the largest city in Upper Karabakh.
The great longing of the Shushans, forced to leave the city 28 years ago, has now ended.
Shusha, founded by Karabakh Khan Penahali in 1752, has numerous historical monuments, and many distinguished scientists, intellectuals and cultural icons were born here.
It is known as the “cradle of Azerbaijani music” because of its famous composers and musicians such as Jabbar Garyaghdioglu, Gurban Pirimov, Bulbul (Nightingale), Seyid Shushinski, Khan Shushinski, Uzeyir Hajibeyov, Rashid Behbudov, Niyazi, and Fikret Amirov.
Writers and thinkers including Hurshidbanu Natavan, Gasim Bey Zakir, Suleyman Sani Akhundov, Abdurrahim Hagverdiyev, and Najaf Bey Vazirov were also born here.
Ahmet Agaoglu, a politician, jurist, writer and journalist who left a deep mark both in Azerbaijan and Turkey, where he spent a part of his life, is also a native of Shusha.
Late President Heydar Aliyev termed Shusha “a holy city, castle, and monument” not only for the people of Shusha but for all Azerbaijanis.
Located at an altitude of 1,300-1,600 meters above sea level, Shusha also stands out for its natural beauty.
Famous for its healing springs, it was among the towns that welcomed most tourists in the region during the Soviet era.
The Jidir Plain in its southern part, surrounded by forests and numerous promenades, hosted horse races, festivals and other sports events for many years.
Shusha was one of the main targets of the Armenians. They first occupied Khankendi in 1991. On Feb. 26, 1992, the town of Khojaly fell into their hands, and then Shusha on May 8, 1992.
May 8 is marked as a holiday in Armenia, but in Azerbaijan, the day is remembered as a Black Day. Hundreds of Azerbaijanis were killed and went missing in the defense of Shusha.
The occupation, where 20,000 Azerbaijanis lived, also caused a loss to the Azerbaijani economy and culture. While thousands of people were forced to leave their homeland, more than 300 historical monuments were also destroyed.
*Writing by Merve Berker
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