Qabala or Gabala (Azerbaijani: Qəbələ) is the most ancient city of Azerbaijan and the capital of the Qabala Rayon of Azerbaijan. The municipality consists of the city of Qəbələ and the village of Küsnət. Before 1991 the city was known as Kutkashen, but after Azerbaijan's independence the town was renamed in honour of the much older city of Gabala, the former capital of Caucasian Albania, the archaeological site of which is about 20 km southwest.
Qabala is ancient capital of the Caucasian Albania. Archeological evidence indicates that the city functioned as the capital of the Caucasian Albania as early as the fourth century BC. Ruins of the ancient town are in 15 km from regional center, allocated on the territory between Garachay and Jourluchay rivers. Qabala was located in the middle of the 2500 old Silk Road and was mentioned in works of Pliny the Younger as "Kabalaka", Greek geographer Ptolemy as "Khabala", Arabic historian Ahmad ibn Yahya al-Baladhuri as "Khazar". In the 19th century, the Azerbaijani historian Abbasgulu Bakikhanov mentioned in his book "Gulistani Irem" that Kbala or Khabala were in fact Qabala. In 60s B.C., Roman troops attacked Caucasian Albania but did not succeed in capturing the Qabala territory.
|View of an Ancient Fortress in Qabala, Azerbaijan|
In 262, Caucasian Albania was occupied by Sassanid Empire but preserved its political and economic status. In 464 AD, lost its independence due to years of invasions from the northern nomadic tribes and had to move its capital city to Partava (currently Barda in Azerbaijan). Qabala was occupied by Shirvanshah Fariburz, Georgian King David III of Tao in 1120, Mongol khan Timurleng in 1386, Safavid shah Tahmasib I in 1538, Persian Nader Shah in 1734 but was able to preserve its culture and identity. After the death of Nader Shah in 1747, Azerbaijan split into independent khanates and sultanates and Qabala became a Qutqashen Sultanate. It was also called Qabala Mahali.
After Azerbaijan was occupied by Russian Empire in 1813 it conducted administrative reforms and in 1841 Azerbaijani khanates were terminated and the territories were incorporated into governorates. Qabala area was added to Nukha uyezd of Elisabethpol Governorate. Due to archeological finds in Qabala, it was declared a National State Reserve in 1985.
|A Hotel in Qabala, Azerbaijan|
The city is rich with chestnut and hazelnut trees.
The economy of Qabala is partially agricultural, partially tourist based, with some manufacturing industries, mainly for food preserves, tobacco and silkworm cocoon drying.
Qabala is considered a popular tourist destination, thanks to the combination of a very good spring climate, woods along the mountains and excellent fauna was exploited by the construction of large numbers of hotels and apartments in city.
The city contains "Qabaland" amusement park, an ice skating rink and a Greek-style theatre, built especially for outside concerts.
A new international airport is being built and will operate from July 2012.
|Handicrafters, Gabala, Azerbaijan|
Since 2009, city has been home of Gabala International Music Festival, which included performances from classical and jazz performers such as Al Jarreau and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.
Gabala is renowned for the ruins of an ancient walled city, Chukhur Gabala, dating back to the 4th century BC. The city has an interesting cultural centre, with beautiful Soviet mosaics, a large war memorial, numerous ancient stone houses and the Rashidbek monument, which is shaped as a huge book.
Another landmark is the large Qabala Radar station, on the southern horizon as seen from Qabala town, is one of only two Daryal-type missile early warning stations in the former USSR.
The city has one professional football team competing in the top-flight of Azerbaijani football – Gabala FC, currently playing in the Azerbaijan Premier League. The team is managed by former England and Arsenal player Tony Adams. The clubs holds its home games in the newbuild Gabala City Stadium.
Notable people from Qabala:
- Ismayil bay Qutqashenli, military general
- Ibrahim bay Musabeyov, poet