Aghdam Region

History and Geography

Established in 1930, the Aghdam Region of the Republic of Azerbaijan lies in southwest Azerbaijan on the western part of the Kura-Aras Plain. Its highest elevation point is 14,700 feet (1,365 meters) above sea level. Its terrain is flat with some low-lying mountains.

Aghdam City is the region’s capital and at a distance of 223 miles (358 kilometers) from Baku, sits in the Karabakh valley where the Kura-Aras Plain borders on the Lesser Caucasus. First mentioned in written sources in 1357, an inscription in the city’s ancient cemetery dates a fortress on the site of the city to at least 1174.

Cultural Highlights

Many archeological and architectural sites that date from prehistoric times to the late Middle Ages in the Aghdam region exist in the region of Aghdam. The region also boasts many historical attractions such as Shahbulag Castle, the Tomb of Gutlu Khaja Musa Oglu, Aghdam Juma Mosque, the palace of Panahali Khan, and ancient stone carvings in the village of Boyahmadli.

Famous for limestone quarries, carpets, and winemaking, the Aghdam region was also Azerbaijan’s leading cotton producing district in the 19th century. In the early 20th century, Aghdam became an important economic center in the region, as well as in Azerbaijan. Once a city of over 150,000 people, it is currently uninhabited due to the Armenian occupation.

Shahbulagh Castle

Khan Panah Ali (founder of the Karabakh Khanate) constructed the Shahbulagh Castle complex near Shahbulaghi (the Shah’s Spring), 6 miles (10 kilometers) away from the city of Aghdam. The complex was finished in 1751-1752, and served as his rest area. Mosques, houses, public baths, and a market were constructed within the Shahbulag Castle (pictured, left) complex, but only the castle and the mosque have survived. Restored in 1985, the castle is an example of the utilitarian military architecture of Azerbaijan Khanates.

Palace of Panahali Khan

The palace known under this name used to be near Aghdam City and has only survived as ruins; it consists of two structures. It was built in the early years after Panahali Khan left the service for Nadir Shah in Khorasan in 1738 and started creating the Karabakh Khanate. The perpendicular buildings of the palace do not look like Khan’s luxurious headquarters, but resemble houses of the 18th century’s Karabakh rich. Their façades used to face the yards. Relatively large, the main building of the palace had a rather complicated configuration and consisted of different-size rooms. The veranda hall occupies the central position in this one-floor building. The nearly 50-square-meter hall with plenty of deep alcoves in its walls is covered with an octagonal dome. Lantern-like light-and-ventilation holes are installed in the dome top. The hall door leads to the three-beam deep veranda, whose pointed beams rest on solid-stone pillars. Two-room open-entry premises join the veranda hall and are covered with beams. Longer than 16 meters, the front façade of this interesting 18th century house faced the South, in keeping with the traditions of Azerbaijan’s house architecture. The second building of the palace is rectangular and consists of two rooms. The front door and windows facing the yard in the eastern direction, those rooms are covered with beams, which is typical for stone construction.

Aghdam Juma Mosque

When Aghdam became an important trade center in the 19th century, the Juma Mosque (pictured, right) was erected by the leading architect of the period, Kerbalayi Sefi Khan. Completed in 1870, the mosque has a four columned square plan and is adorned with two beautiful minarets, which are traditionally part of medieval Azerbaijan architecture.