History and Geography
The region of Kalbajar was established in 1930. There is no exact information about how the name emerged. Local elders link Kalbajar to Karbalai (pilgrim) Hajar. The dome built on his grave was part of the district cemetery until 1993.
The region produced prominent Azerbaijani master of speaking Ashig Shamshir (1893-1980). Years after his death, in 1992, his native village was burned by the Armenians, as were all his handwritten poems. Many of his relatives were killed
The Kalbajar region has an area of 3,054 square kilometers (1,898 square miles). A mountainous region, its highest peaks are Gamish 3,724 meters (2,313 feet) and Dalidagh 3,616 meters (2,247 feet). With its 30,000 springs, hundreds of hot and mineral water sources, over 4,000 plants and different minerals, this land is described as a natural museum, while Kalbajar mountains can easily be compared to a green pharmacy. Over 200 healing herbs exist within the region.
Sources reaching to the 12th century have noted the healing properties of Kalbajar’s Istisu mineral water springs. Other notable cultural sites include ancient petroglyphs and ancient stone carvings.
First studied in 1976, more than 3,500 petroglyphs (rock drawings) were found near the Ayichyngyly and Parichyngyl Peaks, located on the banks of Karakol and Zalkha Lakes. These rock paintings, most of which date back to the Early Bronze Age, differ in size, composition, and drawing technique. The petroglyphs depict scenes from everyday life such as ritual dances, deer hunting, and images of wheeled carts with yoked oxen. Silhouettes of human beings and different animals, particularly panthers, are carved as petroglyphs.
Near these rock drawings, an ancient residential area was discovered in a high mountainous place along with earthenware crockery of the 3rd millennium ВСE, knives of obsidian and flint, arrowhead, and building remnants.
Lekh Castle, sometimes also referred to as Lev Castle, was constructed in the 13th-14th centuries and was founded on a high forest mountain’s ridge on the right bank of the Lekh/Lev River in the village of Kanlykend. The castle can only be entered through the single entrance at the castle’s northeastern edge from a narrow path from the northwest. Archeologists suspect that the castle was built to defend caravans traveling on the trade routes.
The Khaznadagh Temple Complex
The Khaznadagh Temple Complex was built in the 13th century. Located in the village of Vangli, it was constructed on the site of a pre-Christian temple. Hasan Jalal founded the temple in the complex in 1216–1238, which was built according to the traditions of Caucasian Albanian architecture and influenced by Seljuk and Ilkhanids styles. An example of Azerbaijan’s medieval architecture, the Khaznadag Temple Complex was the religious and cultural center of Caucasian Albania from the 13th century to the 19th century.
The Khudavankh Temple Complex
Khudavankh is located in the village of Vankh on the Terter River’s left bank and is one of the largest and most beautiful examples of Caucasian Albanian architecture. According to legend, the first Christian missionary in the Caucasus, Apostle Thaddeus, was buried there. The complex was mainly constructed in the 13th century. Islamic architectural influences and numerous stone carvings give the temple a unique artistic impression.
Stone carvings in the region consist of various horse and sheep figures, tomb memorial reliefs, and stone-carved human statues. As in other regions of Azerbaijan, stone figures such as sheep and horse figures in Kalbajar are memorial tomb monuments. Some of these figures have epitaphs and display scenes of everyday life.