In 1805 after the victorious war of Russia with Persia part of the territory of historical Armenia, including Karabakh, was allotted to the Russian Empire. Immediately after that the first Russian settlements began to appear in Karabakh. The Russian element became stronger when here, particularly in Hadrout, Shoushi and Stepanakert, frontier Cossack regiments of the emperor's army were quartered. In places of concentration of the Russian population Orthodox churches, engineering structures and others were built. All these constructions were built according to centuries-old canons of Russian architecture with some elements of the local traditional art of building.
Tsar's barracks of Khan-Candy
Perhaps the most remarkable constructions of that time were the barracks of the 1st Sunjen-Vladikavkaz regiment of Tver Cossack army, as well as the Russian Orthodox church in the village of Khan-Candy (nowadays Stepanakert), distinguished by its beauty and architectural prowess.
The foundations of the church were laid by 16th Grenadier Mingrel regiment during its station here in 1864 and were illuminated in honor of the Transfiguration of the Christ on 9th of February, 1868. Seating about 1000 people, the cross-domed church with a bell-tower is built of locally sourced white limestone. During Soviet times it was rebuilt and served as clubhouse for the military unit quartered here. The church, as well as the emperor’s barracks surrounding it, has persisted till our days, though with considerable restoration. Not far from the barracks a fine two-storied building of the regimental department is situated, the so-called «Government house», where in 1861 the emperor Alexander the Second stayed, when he came to Karabakh to "commit army examination". Now this building is being reconstructed into a tourist center with hotel.
The Russian Church of Shoushi
In one of the squares of Shoushi, not far from the central market, the St. George Russian Orthodox Church was built in 1840. Parishioners of the church were families of the Emperor’s officials living in Shoushi and soldiers of the Russian army, one of the regiments of which was quartered in this city. Impressive in size, the building was of great importance in shaping the city and was the center of Russian culture in Shoushi. After the collapse of the Russian Empire and the carnage of Armenians in Shoushi in March 1920, the church lost its parishioners and came to serve as a storehouse and cinema building. In the 1960s the church, as well as everything in the Armenian quarter, was demolished by the command of Azeri authorities. Afterwards, in its place and in the place of the Russian cemetery surrounding it an administrative building was built. However, in public cemeteries of Shoushi a number of monuments with Russian names have persisted until today.
The Russian Church of Gevorgavan
The only Russian Church of Karabakh that fully persists to this day is the Church of the Blessed Virgin in the area of Gevorgavan, not far from Martouni, built in the beginning of XX century in the traditional orthodox style of architecture. The parishioners of this church were Russian settlers who have lived here for a very long time. The church had also a small school. In 1989 the restoration works were launched, which were later interrupted by military actions. In the period of short time occupation of the territory by Azeri army the church was partially demolished. Nowadays the government plans to restore the church and is in search of sponsors for the launching of restoration works.
The Russian toponymy of Karabakh
The names of many springs, settlements and camps of Karabakh have Russian origin.
Here are examples of some known memorable places. At a distance of 7 km from the regional center of Martouni, on the spot of the death of a Russian soldier, on the right side of the road, on the high hill a gravestone with a Russian inscription is established.
Monuments in honor of unknown Russian soldiers are also raised in Stepanakert, Hadrout, at the bottom of the mountain of Chimak not far from the village of Khcaberd. Here are several names of memorable places of our land which are harmonious with the word «Rus». This is «The height of the Russian flag” (north from the village of Arpagyadu in Hadrout region) or “Russian house” (not far from the village of Badara of nowadays Askeran region). “The Russian field” and “The Russian valley” on the territory of Khndzristan in Askeran region are also harmonious with these words.
“The Russian” or “Sunzhinka” are the names of a small farm not far from Stepanakert on the bank of the river Traket. People got used to the names “The Russian chapel» or «The Russian spring», or «Kuropatkino», nor far from the inhabited locations of Taghavard, Berdashen and Gevorgavan. And if you get on the right bank of the river Tartar in the primeval forest in Mardakert region you can slake your thirst in «The Russian spring». Our historical names obviously originated from the direct causality … “The soldier’s stone” not far from the village of Khndzristan in Askeran region, “The Russian Bridge” on the territory of the village of Mariamadzor in Hadrout region, “The Russian water” near the village of Magavuz, “The Russian spring” near the old village of Berdadzor and so on.
In the vicinity of Berdashen and neighboring Ashan villages a canyon is situated. In the beginning of XX century a small Russian regiment was deployed for some time in the meadow of the same name. In honor of the Russian soldiers - Cossacks - people of the surrounding villages started to call this place «Cossack meadow».