Gohar Agha Upper Mosque restored, inaugurated as Armenian-Iranian Cultural Center in Artsakh
STEPANAKERT, OCTOBER 14, ARMENPRESS-ARTSAKHPRESS. A solemn event dedicated to the completion of Gohar Agha Upper Mosque’s restoration in Shushi took place on October 14th at the initiative of the Revival of Oriental Historical Heritage Foundation within the framework of the Aurora Forum.
Supporting the initiative of the Government of Artsakh, Revival of Oriental Historical Heritage Foundation started the program of the Upper Mosque restoration in 2014. The project was carried out as part of Initiatives for Development of Armenia (IDeA) Foundation’s Artsakh development program.
Artsakh’s Minister of Culture, Youth Affairs and Tourism Lernik Hovhannisyan delivered opening remarks at the event. He said that yet another monument has been restored in Artsakh, the purpose of which is to provide cultural diversity.
“Our monasteries and churches are being restored in the Islamic Republic of Iran. The monuments of Iranian culture which are located in Artsakh’s territory, particularly in Shushi, have also gotten our care because the Armenian-Iranian friendship has deep roots. The mosque will function as an Armenian-Iranian Scientific Cultural Center. This complex will contribute to the strengthening of the Armenian-Iranian ties,” Hovhannisyan said.
Armenia’s Minister of Education, Science, Cuture and Sports Arayik Harutyunyan said in remarks that the significance of the opening of the center is that it can become one of the important centers of studying Islamic culture.
He said the Armenian ministry is carrying out an initiative in this direction aimed at inventorizing existing samples of Shia culture in Armenia, which can be regularly displayed at the territory of the Shishi mosque.
IDeA Artsakh Development Program head Suren Amirbekyan thanked the Government of Artsakh and the philanthropists whose joint forces made the project a success.
“The restoration of the mosque is meaningful: it is a way of paying homage to another culture. I hope this will become a tourism site. Let me inform that we have a great number of tourists impatiently waiting to see the Iranian mosque in Artsakh,” he said.
IDeA co-founder, businessman Ruben Vardanyan, who was also in attendance, told ARTSAKHPRESS that he is very happy and grateful to all those who were involved in this project.
“The idea of carrying out this project emerged when we visited Shushi with friends. Shushi is Artsakh’s important cultural center which must be preserved and developed. We must preserve what we have and respect our history. If we want other countries to preserve our culture we must preserve theirs too. Our foundation is working to preserve Armenian values and culture all over the world,” he said, adding that they have other upcoming projects.
Archbishop Pargev Martirosyan, the Primate of the Diocese of Artsakh of the Armenian Apostolic Church, said he highly appreciated the restoration of the Iranian mosque in Shushi. “On May 9, 1992, I said that no one must touch any of the mosques in Shushi and Akna. This is an integral part of our history and we are facing our history with love, unlike the neighboring two other nations who are erasing the traces of other religion or culture. This mosque is a religious cultural monument which our friendly Iranian people have built. They are preserving and restoring our monasteries, and we must do the same. We are not a nation who is breaking down monuments,” he said.
Artsakh’s President Bako Sahakyan, Speaker of Parliament Ashot Ghulyan and other government officials were in attendance.
Edited and translated by Stepan Kocharyan