Among the monuments of Shushi, the church of St. Hovhannes Mkrtich or the Kanach jam church in the upper district is of special interest. It was called Kanach Hour (green church) because the dome of the church was once green. On the upper part of the entrance to the church tower there is an inscription on the date of construction, Babayan Stepanos Hovhannes, in memory of the Baptist brother who died in 1847″.
Recently, some Azerbaijani social media users have returned to the thankless task of Russifying the green church. It should be noted that the fever of Russification of the church is not a new phenomenon in Baku. At one point, Fuad Akhundov mistakenly called it “Russian Orthodox.” In the mid-1960s, it was decided in Baku to clean up the Armenian part of the city in order to expand the “residential area” for Azerbaijani settlers and, of course, to erase the Armenian traces in Shushi. Meanwhile, three Armenian churches and a preserved Russian church were excavated, several Armenian graves with beautiful khachkars and monuments were destroyed.
The “green” church, which Fuad Akhundov wrongly considers “Russian Orthodox”, was turned into a gallery.
And what is the history of the church of Hovhannes the Baptist? Evidence has been preserved that in 1840 by special order of the authorities, all Armenians living in the Muslim environment of the lower district were moved to the future upper district: including 56 families who had a stone and wooden-roofed church of the Virgin Mary in the lower district, which corresponds to a large number of Armenians in the district. The document states that the Armenians were oppressed by the Muslims, which led to their resettlement.
From the same document, it is clear that after moving to the upper district, a wooden chapel was built in the new place, which was kept until 1848, when the stone church of St. Hovhannes Mkrtich was built in its place. The interesting thing is that for a long time this church was called the Church of the Holy Virgin of the Upper Town. In the lower part of the city, approximately on the site of the now covered market, there was a Byzantine style Orthodox church built with classical Russian architectural motifs for Russian officials and garrison, which unfortunately has not been preserved. We will study it separately.