Shusha (Azerbaijani: Şuşa), also known as Shushi (Armenian: Շուշի) is a town in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh in the South Caucasus. It has been under the control of the self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic since its capture in 1992 during the Nagorno-Karabakh War. However, it is a de jure part of the Republic of Azerbaijan, with the status of an administrative division of the surrounding Shusha Rayon. Situated at an altitude of 1400–1800 metres (4,600-5,900 ft) in the picturesque Karabakh mountains, Shusha was a popular mountain recreation resort in the Soviet era.
After serving as a town and an ancient fortress in the Armenian Principality of Varanda, Shusha was turned into the capital of the Karabakh khanate. The town became one of the cultural centers of the South Caucasus after the Russian conquest of the region in the first half of the 19th century. Over time, it became a home to many intellectuals, poets, writers and especially, musicians (e.g., the ashugs, mugham singers, kobuz players). Shusha was the only large settlement within the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast that had a predominantly Azerbaijani population. In 1977 Shusha was declared reservation of Azerbaijani architecture and history. The city was often referred to as "musical capital or conservatory of Transcaucasia".
The city was also a major center of Armenian cultural and economic life until the closing years of World War I. Along with Tbilisi; it was one of the two main Armenian cities of the Transcaucasus and the center of a self-governing Armenian principality from medieval times through the 1750s. It also had religious and strategic importance to the Armenians, housing the Ghazanchetsots Cathedral, the church of Kanach Zham and serving (along with Lachin district to the west) as a land link to Armenia. Following the capture of Shusha in 1992 by Armenian forces, its population diminished dramatically and is now almost exclusively Armenian.