Ghazanchetsots Church

Ghazanchetsots the Holy Saviour Church

Occupied since 2020. The cathedral church was deliberately hit by precision missiles during the war and its exterior altered afterwards.

An aerial view in 2011.
After two missile attacks: Photo by Davit Ghahramanyan.
A general summer view of the Church before 2020 invasion of Azeris. It was re-consecrated after the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord, on July 19th, 1998.
St. Amenaprkich Ghazanchetsots Church general view in winter, before the bombing in 2020 and further “restoration” by Azeris afterwards. . It was built by the architect Simon Ter-Hakobyan and reveals the latter’s desire to make it resemble the Cathedral at the Mother See of Holy of Echmiatsin. 

When Karabakh was annexed to Russia the beginning of the 19th century, the role of the Gandzasar Catholicosate was reduced and after some time the centre of the Diocese was moved to Shushi, which was an important centre of Armenian culture. In the 16th-19th centuries only nine domed churches were built in Artsakh and five of them were in Shushi. The St. Amenaprkich (Saviour of All) Ghazanchetsots Cathedral, a landmark of Artsakh Armenian architecture was founded in 1868 and completed in 1878. Only two churches of Shushi, Ghazanchetsots and Hovhannes Mkrtich (John the Baptist), popularly known as the Green Church (Kanach Zham) survived Azerbaijani rule and raids on the city and they were shut down in the 1930s. In 1988 Azeris completely drove Armenians out of the city and set about destroying whatever Armenian had remained after the infamous 1920 destruction and killings, and their seventy-year old rule. They toppled the statues of the angels from the belltower and destroyed them, and used the church as an ammunition warehouse. (See After the liberation of the city in 1992 the Church was restored to its former glory, became a functioning Church and is the seat of the Artsakh Primate and the main Cathedral.

The interior of St. Amenaprkich Ghazanchetsots Church in Shushi. Ghazanchetsots is one of the largest churches in Armenian architecture, at 35 metres long, 23 metres wide and 35 metres high.
After missile attacks: Photo by Davit Ghahramanyan.
The unique three-storey bell-tower was built by a Shushi benefactor, A. Khandamiryan, who also sponsored other large-scale projects for the city at the end of the 19th century. The four large-size angel statues placed at each corner of the bell-tower were toppled and destroyed by Azeris.
A fresco of St. Peter at the entrance of the Ghazanchetsots Church 
A Baptism ceremony at Ghazanchetsots.
A family  lighting candles at St. Amenaprkich Ghazanchetsots Church.


Archbishop Pargev is a religious leader actively involved in the Karabakh movement. He was been the Primate of the Artsakh Dioceses from1989 to 2020. Pargev Martirossyan was ordained a Bishop in 1988 and an Archbishop in 1999. He was the one to offer Holy Mass in the St. Hovhannes Mkrtich (John the Baptist) Church in Gandzasar, for the first time in 70 years on October 1, 1989. The Archbishop took part in almost all self-defence and liberation combat actions, blessing the soldiers. He personally participated in the liberation of Shushi, organized the restoration work at St. Amenaprkich Ghazanchetsots Cathedral, and is the editor of the “Gandzasar” magazine of the Artsakh Diocese. Well-educated in Armenia and Russia, he is also an author of several theological works. 


Archbishop Pargev Martirossyan, the former Primate of the Artsakh Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church.