GANJA - TRUE AZERBAIJANI FLAVOR
AN ENTERTAINING HISTORY OF THE AZERBAIJANI CITY OF GANJA

The city of Ganja is located at the foot of the Minor Caucasian Ridge, on the Gjandzhachaj river. It was founded approximately in the 6th AD. In the first half of the 7th century Ganja was destroyed by Persians and in the second half by Arabs. In the mid-10 th century Ganja became the capital of Shadadit - one of a smaller khanates on the territory of Azerbaijan.
In the mid-11th century Ganja was conquered by Seljuks. In 1139 there was a big earthquake which destroyed the city; in this connection it was transferred to another place. In the result of the earthquake a number of picturesque lakes was formed: Lake Gek - Gel, Lake Maral-Gel, Lake Dzheran-Gel, Lake Ordek-Gel, Lake Zaligehlyu, Lake Aggel, Lake Garagel and Lake Samlygel among them.
After disintegration of Seljuk state Ganja became the second capital of Atabek state (12th-13th centuries). In the 18th century Ganja became the center of Ganja Khanate.

In 1804 Ganja Khanate was occupied by Russian armies, and Ganja was renamed Elizabethpol. During Soviet time Ganja was renamed into Kirovabad and was the second biggest industrial and cultural city in Azerbaijan after Baku. The original name was given back to city after independence was won by the republic in 1991.
During centuries-old history the city became the owner of numerous historical and architectural monuments with strongly pronounced Azerbaijan national color. Among the survived landmarks are Gei-Imam cult complex (14th – 17th centuries), Djuma mosque (17th century) and a variety of picturesque old houses, well-known stone sculptures of horses and other pets abundant in the neighboring mountains.

The city takes pride in the fact that the greatest Azerbaijani poet Nizami Gyanjevi was born there. His mausoleum is the major tourist attraction.
The historical part of the city also called “Old Ganja” is known for its ruins of fortifications, towers, bridges (12th - early 13th centuries), a caravanserai (17th century) – place where merchant caravans could stay an have a rest, the building of former Khan office (17th century), mausoleums (14th – 17th centuries), mosques (17th centuries).

SHEIKH BAHAUDDIN COMPLEX

The main historical and architectural complex of Ganja was founded by Sheikh Bahauddin including Djuma Mosque (Shah Abbas Mosque), Chekyak-Khamamy (a medieval bath) and a caravanserai.

DJUMA MOSQUE

The mosque was constructed in the 12th century (1606) in the days of Shah Abbas whose name is also attributed to the mosque - the pride of Ganja. This year it has celebrated its 400th anniversary. The building was constructed under the project of the architect, the astronomer and vizier of shah Abbas - Sheikh Bahauddin the direct descendant of Nizami.
The red brick mosque is a stocky but a rather wide building. It consists from the hall for prayers divided into two rooms (for men and women) by a big screen and smaller adjacent rooms. The mosque's windows are decorated with patterned lattices-shebeke. A long time ago a market square surrounded by shops and century old plane trees was swarming with people in front of the massive gate of the mosque. The mosque's roof is a huge metal dome of 17 meters in diameter.
As if growing from the mosque two tall minarets crowned with observation posts tower over the complex. The minarets were restored and slightly modified in the 19th century. But all the same their original design is amazing.
It is known that Sheikh Bahauddin was a great astronomer. He used his knowledge in the mosque construction: exactly at noon the shadow falling on the western wall of the structure disappears. It has served as prayer time reminder for true believers. Even now the citizens of Ganja use the disappearing shadow to check the correctness of their watches - the accuracy is impeccable.
In the yard of the mosque is a madrasah constructed at the same time (it was demolished during the Soviet times). Today both the mosque and the madrasah have been restored and active.

CHEKYAK-KHAMAMY

Soon after the mosque was ready Sheikh Bahauddin built Chekyak-Khamamy nearby.
The bath consists of two connected halls. The big one has a pool and a fountain in the center for relaxation and the smaller - for bathing. Made of red brick the bath has two big and five smaller domes. On top of big domes are set semi-domes which worked like fans: from there aerating ducts ran inside the walls. Hot in winter, cool in summer the bath was heated by fire wood. The cellar was used for two steam boilers. The steam was fed to the halls via ceramic pipes running inside the walls and the floor. The steam circulated evenly and heated the entire building. This unique system of the 400-year-old bath worked like clockwork until 1963. And all these centuries the bath was very popular among the townspeople. The feeling that you bathe where shah Abbas spent his time gave special flavor to the procedure of bathing.
Since 2002 Chekyak-khamamy has been considered a landmark o international significance and is under protection of UNESCO.

NIZAMI GANJEVI MAUSOLEUM

Ganja is the birthplace of the great Azerbaijani poet Nizami Ganjevi who made the invaluable contribution to the history of not only Azerbaijani literature but also the world literature. Nizami Ganjevi was born in Ganja in 1141. He was one of the most educated people of the time. He became world famous as the author of "Khamme" (penta verse ) the collection of five poems which displayed not only the poet's great skill but also his ethical and philosophical views. The most part of the lyrics is devoted to love. Other world famous works by Nizami are poems "Khosrov and Shirin", "Layli and Medzhnun", "Iskander - nameh".
Nizami Ganjevi Mausoleum today is the place of pilgrimage and adoration of poets. It is located at the approach to city from the southwest. The mausoleum is a modern monumental construction of the cylindrical form of red granite dressed in semicircular shapes. Below there is the entrance to the mausoleum which seems just tiny in comparison to the majestic structure. The name Nizami is cut with golden letters right above the entrance.

ANCIENT GANJA GATE

In 1063 a smith named Ibragim ibn Osman made the famous Ganja Gate be the order of a Seddadid Dynasty ruler. It is a masterpiece of craftsmanship of that time. The gate made of cast iron was decorated with stamped ornaments and patterns from the outer side. The ornament contained the name of the master in kufi language and the date the gate completion.
In 1139 year a Georgian tsar Demeter I thanks to the earthquake, which had practically destroyed the city, attacked Ganja and captured the gate as his trophy. The gate weighing a few tons was carried by the survived citizens of Ganja on their backs. Only one half of the gate has survived. It is built in the wall of Kelatin Monastery across from the Georgian king David IV tomb.

JAVADKHAN MAUSOLEUM

More recently on the territory of the historical complex in the yard of the mosque on the site of the fearless ruler of Ganja - Javadkhan who was killed on January 3rd, 1804 in the battle protecting Ganja from foreign invaders the Tomb was built.
Javadkhan's mortal remains were brought there from the old city graveyard in the 1990s.
The construction which started in 2004 lasted several months. The builders adhered to the requirements of medieval architectural school. The monument was opened in 2005 and has taken a worthy place among other monuments of the 17th century.

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