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Nakhchivan city-Capital of Islamic culture in 2018

Azerbaijan, one of the important cultural centers in the Near East, is rich with historical-cultural monuments of ancient and middle ages, including the various architectural samples. Development of ancient architecture reached its highest level during the Middle Ages. Starting from the middle of the VII century, adopting Islam, in Azerbaijan all reconstruction works, including architectural monuments began to reflect Islamic patterns side by side preserving local Turkish traditions. 

There appeared Azerbaijani craftsmen who preserved the ancient architectural traditions and developed them creatively, had masterly enriched these traditions with the specific elements of Islam, made their synthesis, and as a result, the monuments of Azerbaijan architecture had become the component of Islamic culture as well. Taking into account the above mentioned, Mr. Ilham Aliyev, the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan declared 2017 year “The Islamic Solidarity Year”. On the Decree dated January 10, 2017 he noted that “Azerbaijan has been one of the centers of Islamic civilization throughout the centuries. Azerbaijan had played a very significant role for the spread of Islam and the establishment of a Muslim renaissance as well. All of these had made a grounding to form material and non-material heritage from the very beginning of Islam”.

As all parts of Azerbaijan, in Nakhchivan, one of the cultural centers of Azerbaijan, the monuments of this heritage have reached up today survived or half destroyed, during last century, in Soviet times when atheism was promoted, there was a careless attitude towards Islamic heritage and some of them were deliberately destroyed. But after Azerbaijan’s independence, adaptation of Law “On freedom of religion”, the measures implemented by the national leader Heydar Aliyev, the attitude towards our ancient cultural heritage has changed. So, the historical-cultural monuments, including architectural examples, all monuments belonging to Islamic culture are surrounded by governmental care.  As a result of it, a large part of these monuments have been restored and returned our people, have been widely promoted both in the country and international scale.

In connection with the execution of the Order of Chairman of the Supreme Majlis of Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic dated December 6, 2005 “On the organization of certification works and preservation of historical and cultural monuments on the territory of Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic”, currently more than 1,200 historical monuments are registered and certificated in the republic. It was a very remarkable event. On the basis of these monuments which a large part of these belongs to the period when Azerbaijan adopted Islam, “The Encyclopaedia of Nakhchivan Monuments” was prepared and published in Azerbaijani and English languages. During the past period most of these monuments had been destroyed because of weathering and reached up our time half destroyed. Therefore, with the care and attention of the Chairman of the Supreme Majlis of Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic more than 60 various historical-cultural monuments have been restored and returned their previous view, a lot of measures have been carried out in the field of their investigation and promotion. Most of these monuments are mosques, imamzadehs, khanagahs, tombs and other Islamic monuments. This work is still continued successfully. Just in 2016, restoration works finished in Alinjagala and Gulustan tomb which is considered an unique examples of Azerbaijan architecture in Julfa region and  Imamzadeh in Khanliglar village of Sharur region, a marvelous mosque was constructed and put into usage of people in Nehram village of Babek region,  there began restoration of Garabaghlar Tomb Complex of XII-XIV centuries. In recent years, in some settlements of the autonomous republic the magnificent monuments of Islamic architecture, specially mosques have been constructed and put into operation.

The head of the autonomous republic who always displays his respect towards our national and spiritual values, every year, lays Ramadan table during the holy month and attends  Ashura ceremony in the month of Muharram along with the members of the government. All of these are in the focus of scientists, tourists, state representatives and other people visiting the autonomous republic from foreign countries including Islamic ones. As a result, at the sixth conference of the culture ministers of member states of the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation held in Baku in October, 2009, was adopted a decision to declare the city of Nakhchivan the capital of Islamic culture for the year 2018. The President of the Republic of Azerbaijan signed an Order dated June 2, 2016 “On the establishment of Organizing Committee in connection to grant the status of Islamic Culture Capital to Nakhchivan in 2018”. The preamble of the order says: “This resolution is the reflection of high assessment to the rich cultural-spiritual heritage of Nakhchivan, the ancient land of Azerbaijan, which has made valuable contributions to the dialogue among civilizations. Historically, Nakhchivan, as one of the grand cities of the Near and Middle East, throughout his great history has played an important role in the preservation and development of a decent age-old achievement of Islamic culture”.

The very Order will play an important role in the field of to preserve the national-spiritual and Islamic values preserved throughout centuries and surrounded by governmental care, to preserve the monuments of Islamic culture, their restoration, development and promotion in Nakhchivan city which is the capital of Islamic culture in 2018, as a whole in the territory of Nakhchivan. 

According to the Order, the Organizing Committee which was established under the leadership the Chairman of the Supreme Majlis Vasif Talibov held its first meeting on November 25, 2016. At the meeting, Vasif Talibov, the Chairman of Supreme Majlis of Autonomous Republic, the Chairman of the Organizing Committee made a speech and said: “This decision is justified. Thus, Nakhchivan, 5 thousand years old city of Azerbaijan, is rich with examples of Islamic culture and has made valuable contributions to world civilization”.

The chairman also stressed that the autonomous republic is very rich with the examples of Turkish-Islamic culture and religious monuments, and it is planned to include some of these monuments into list of UNESCO and to publish books on the religious monuments, mosques and sanctuaries of the autonomous republic. Some parts of fulfillment are the responsibility of scientists, especially historians. Therefore, all Azerbaijani scientists, especially the researchers from Nakhchivan and representatives of associated organizations have to make efforts achieve a successful resolution.

Institute of History, Archaeology and Ethnography of Nakhchivan Branch of ANAS together with the editorial office of the newspaper “Sharg Gapisi” (Gate of East) will publish articles titled “Monuments of Turkish-Islamic culture of Nakhchivan”. The next editions will cover monuments of Turkish-Islamic culture of Nakhchivan.


Fakhraddin Safarli

                     Director of Institute of History, Archaeology and

Ethnography of Nakhchivan Branch of ANAS,

Correspondent Member of ANAS

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Date: 26-02-2024
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