Monday, June 18, 2012

Nakhchivan; a Historic City in Azerbaijan

View of Nachchivan City, Azerbaijan
Nakhchivan City (Azerbaijani: Naxçıvan şəhəri; also, Nachitschewan, Nakhchyvan, Nakhicevan, Nakhichevan’, and Nakhjavan) (Arabic: نختشیفان) (Urdu: نخجوان), is the capital of the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic of Azerbaijan, located 450 km west of Baku. The municipality of Nakhchivan consists of the city of Nakhchivan and the villages of Başbaşı, Qarağalıq, and Daşduz. It is spread over the foothills of Zangezur chain, on the right bank of the Nakhchivan river at an altitude of almost 1000 m. 


Variations of the name Nakhchivan include Nakhichevan, Naxcivan, Naxçivan, Nachidsheuan, Nakhijevan, Nakhchawan, Nakhitchevan, Nakhjavan and Nakhdjevan. According to the 19th-century language scholar, Johann Heinrich Hübschmann, the name "Nakhichavan" in Armenian literally means "the place of descent", a Biblical reference to the descent of Noah's Ark on the adjacent Mount Ararat. Hübschmann notes, however, that it was not known by that name in antiquity. Instead, he states the present-day name evolved to "Nakhchivan" from "Naxčavan". The prefix "Naxč" was a name and "avan" is Armenian for "town". Nakhchivan was also mentioned in Ptolemy's Geography and by other classical writers as Naxuana. Modern historian Suren Yeremyan disputes this assertion, arguing that ancient Armenian tradition placed Nakhichevan's founding to the year 3669 BC and, in ascribing its establishment to Noah, that it took its present name after the Armenian phrase "Nakhnakan Ichevan" (Նախնական Իջևան), or "first landing." 
Nakhchivan in Azerbaijani Map
According to other versions, the name Nakhchivan derived from the Persian Naqsh-e-Jahān ("Image of the World"), a reference to the beauty of the area. The medieval Arab chronicles referred to the area as Nashava. 


The Brockhaus and Efron Encyclopedic Dictionary notes that according to legend the city of Nakhchivan was founded by Noah, and the date of the town on the Persian sources in 1539 BC. 

In the 2nd century, Nakhchivan was already known to Ptolemy under the name Ναξουὰνα. Iranian historian and geographer of the 14th century Hamdollah Mostowfi in his book Nuzhat al-kulub (hearts delight), believed that Sassanid Iranian military commander was the founder of Nakhchivan, who lived in the end of 6th century. 

At the end of the 18th century, city became the capital of independent Nakhchivan khanate. 


Traditionally, Nakhchivan was home to trade industry, handicraft, shoemaking and hatmaking. These industries have been largely replaced. The restoration enterprises and development industry, liberalization of foreign trade and the extension of the customs infrastructure, which has been largely responsible for Nakchivan's growth in the last two decades, are now major parts of Nakchivan's economy. 
Momine Hatun Mausoleum in Nakhichevan

The city has a wide range of cultural activities, amenities and museums. 


Nakchivan’s signature cuisine includes plov with gravy (made with mutton, hazelnuts, almonds and dried fruits), dastana, komba, tendir lavash and galin. 

Museums and galleries: 

The main sight in the city is the heavily restored 12th century Momine Khatun Mausoleum, also known as 'Atabek Gumbezi'. Momine Khatun was the wife of Eldegizid Atabek Jahan Pahlivan, ruler of the Atabek Eldegiz emirate. The 10-sided monument is decorated with intricate geometrical motives and Kufic script, it uses turquoise glazed bricks. It shares the neighbourhood with a statue of its architect - Ajami Nakhchivani - and a bust of Heydar Aliyev. Also from the 12th century and by the same architect, is the octagonal Yusuf Ibn Kuseir tomb, known as Atababa, half abandoned near the main cemetery. 

Huseyn Javid mausoleum in Nakhchivan
More recent (1993) is the white marble mausoleum of Hussein Javid. The Azeri writer died in the Gulag under Joseph Stalin. Both the mausoleum and his house museum are located east of the theatre. 

Although being a recent construction, Huseyn Javid's mausoleum is of great iconic importance, representing the ability of the exclave to live despite the Armenian embargo and becoming a symbol of Nakhchivan itself. 

The city also has many historical museums, the literature museum of Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic, Nakhchivan State History Museum, The Nakhchivan State Carpet Museum, and the house museums of Jamshid Nakhchivanski and Bahruz Kangarli. 

There is also an archaeological museum on Istiqlal Street. The city has a few interesting mosques, particularly the Juma mosque, with its large dome. 

Modern museums in Nakchivan include the museum under Open Air, and along the memorial museum and Heydar Aliyev museum. 

Nakhichevan Airport - front view

Nakhchivan has a continental semi-arid climate (Köppen BSk) with short but cold, snowy winters and long, dry, very hot summers.


Nakhchivan Airport (NAJ), in the north of the city, serves a number of domestic and international destinations including Turkey, mainland Azerbaijan, Iran and Russia.

Currently, light rail line is working from Nakchivan to Ordubad beyond to Sharur.


There are 3 professional, 6 musical, 22 secondary schools and a military cadet school in Nakchivan administered by the city council.

Universities and Colleges: 

Nakchivan is one of the Azerbaijan's main centres of education and home to numerous universities:
  • Nakhchivan State University 
  • Nakhchivan Private University 
  • Nakhchivan Teachers Institute 
Youth center, Nakhchivan city

Football and Futsal are the most popular sports in Nakhchivan. The city's Araz Naxçivan is one of the top futsal clubs in the European futsal arena and regularly participates in UEFA Futsal Cup.

Notable Natives
  • Afiyaddin Jalilov — Chairman of the Council of Ministers of Nakhchivan ASSR (1989–1990), Chairmen of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of Nakhchivan ASSR (1990), Chairman of the Supreme Majlis of Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic (1990–1991).
  • Ajami Nakhchivani — architect. He is also the founder of the Nakhchivan school of architecture.
  • Amiraslan Aliyev — National Hero of Azerbaijan.
  • Aziz Sharif — specialist in literature, translator, Honored Worker of Science of Azerbaijan SSR (1963).
  • Bahruz Kangarli — painter, graphic artist and painter. Was one of the founders of Azerbaijani realist easel Painting.
  • Jafargulu Khan Nakhchivanski — general Governor proclaimed in 1918 the Republic of Araks.
  • Gamgusar — poet. 
  • Jalil Mammadguluzadeh — writer.
Heydar Aliyev
  • Jamshid Nakhchivanski — Russian Imperial, Azerbaijani and Soviet military commander. He rose to the rank of Combrig in the Soviet army. 
  • Heydar Aliyev — First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Azerbaijan SSR (1969–1982), president of Azerbaijan (1993–2003). 
  • Heyran Khanim — poetess. 
  • Huseyn Javid — poet and playwright, founder of the progressive romanticism in Azerbaijani literature. 
  • Huseyn Khan Nakhchivanski — Russian Imperial Cavalry General and General-Adjutant of the Emperor of Russia. He was the only Muslim to serve as General-Adjutant of the Russian Emperor. 
  • Kalbali Khan Nakhichevanski — Russian, Azerbaijani and Iranian military commander, General. 
  • Nicholas Zolotarevski — Hero of Socialist Labor. 
  • Rza Tahmasib — film director and actor, People's Artist of Azerbaijan SSR (1964). 
  • Sakina Aliyeva — Minister of Education of Nakhchivan ASSR (1961–1963), Chairmen of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of Nakhchivan ASSR (1964–1990

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