The city of Nakhichevan is located very close to the border with Iran on the river Nahichivanchai.
It is the most ancient city of Azerbaijan. It emerged in the 6th century BC as one of the cities of Caucasian Albania. In the 11th century it became the capital of Seljuk state. In the 12 th – 13 th centuries it was the capital of Ildigizid state. From 1828 to 1923 it belonged to Russian Empire, after that it became a part of Azerbaijan.
The monuments of medieval architecture are considered as the major tourist attraction of the city: the mausoleums of Yusuf ibn Kuseiyr (11th century) and Momine Khatun (12 th century), Gyaur-Kala fortress ( Shahtahty, 2,000 BC) as well as unique Khudaferin bridges across the Araks river.
Nakhichevan has a university, a scientific center of A zerbaijan Academy of Sciences, theatres, literature and historical museums, and a picture gallery. Not far from Nakhichevan there is Alindzha-Kala fortress (11 th – 13 th centuries)
The people call this mausoleum "Atababa". This very beautiful building is built as an octahedral cylinder decorated by geometrical patterns from burnt brick crowned by a pyramid-shaped dome. Each side of the mausoleum is a piece of art; they are decorated with a geometric pattern from little bricks. The mausoleum has two levels. The upper part of the mausoleum is rounded with an inscription giving the name of the deceased and the year of its construction. The entrance is made in the form of a figured arch. The burial place itself is in the underground part of the mausoleum. The access there is through the hatch located in the floor of the upper structure
In the southeast of Nahchivan, close to the border with Iran, there is the city of Dzhulfa. Nearby on the bared top of the mountain towering in the middle of the wide plain is the ancient fortress called Alindzha-Kala (11th - 13th centuries) located on right bank of the Alindzha river. It is one of the most powerful defensive structures of that time guarding the main treasury of Eldegiz.
...Numerous defensive, hydro engineering, residential and palace structures of Alindzha-Kala occupy the mountain top its slopes. Powerful stone walls run in several lines from the foot of the mountain to its top. The pools for collecting melt and rain waters were hidden in the shade.
To the west of Dzhulfa right on the banks of the Araks river one of the biggest the caravanserais in Azerbaijan was found. The remains of it were found in 1974. Later the entire structures were dug out.
The excavation Dzhulfa caravanserai defined it as one of the largest caravanserais on the territory of Azerbaijan (the total length - 37 meters ). It was erected from well-ground square bricks with a spherical dome on top. Numerous rooms intended for dwelling were plastered with sheetrock solution. The east wing hosts a big room with deep niches - it must have been used for praying. Close to the caravanserai the remains of the bridge constructed by Nakhchivan ruler Khakim Ziya ad-Din in the early 14th century were found.
The ancient Gulistan Mausoleum is one of the most precious Nahchivan landmarks - a jewel of Azerbaijani art. Built from red sandstone it stands in a small green hollow nearby the Araks river. This structure has 12 sides covered with rich and complex but extraordinary subtle geometrical patterns.
The mausoleum towers on a mighty pedestal of unusual shape as if dressed from all sides to produce triangular wedges. Once the mausoleum was crowned with a pyramidal dome but it has not survived. The rest of it is in a perfect condition.
All sides are densely covered with geometrical ornaments-inscriptions. The top of the mausoleum is richly decorated with ornamental interlacing. The doorway is in the northern side of the mausoleum. You can go down directly to the bottom underground part of the mausoleum. It is poorly lit through little loophole windows. The mausoleum's interior is plain-looking.
The mausoleum was erected by atabek Dzhahan Pehlivan in April 1186 for his mother Momine-Khatun, who is considered with her husband, the first atabek Shams ad-Din al-Deniz (the father of Dzhahan Pehlivan) the ancestors of the Eldegiz dynasty and the founder of the state of Atabeks.
The most outstanding landmark Nachchivan is skillfully decorated with a complex geometric pattern and quotes from the Koran. Grand decahedral mausoleum was the real medieval skyscraper reaching 34 meters in height. Today it is only 25 meters high.
Each side of the surface is completely covered with exquisitely carved Arab writings in kufic style, styled as geometric patterns. What is more, ornaments of the nine out of ten (sides) are different. Only one repeats itself, on the recess where it was supposed to be an exit. The top of the mausoleum is decorated by a skilful stalactite composition.
The burial place of Momine-Khatun is under the building but there is no entrance to it. Inside the mausoleum has a round shape. The only decorations of its interior are four round medallions covered with inscriptions and ornaments. These medallions are placed on inner side of the spherical dome of the mausoleum and bear the names of the Prophet Mohammed, and four rashidun (caliphs) - Abu Bakr, Omar, Osman Ali, Hasan, Hussein.
The Mausoleum of Momine-Khatun is one of the most monumental buildings of Azerbaijan architecture and is distinguished by an imperial grandeur.
Karabaglar Mausoleum is located in a quiet small village of the same name. Long time ago the place was full of life. You can tell that looking at the ruins of small mausoleums scattered over ancient sepulchral fields and the fortifications with towers. Once there were 10,000 houses, 70 mosques, mausoleums 40 of them with minarets. One of them - Karabaglar (named after the place) has survived until now and making impression on the numerous visitors.
The mausoleum is only a part of the complex in the center of which tower slender minarets connected (in the middle) by the portal. From a distance this structure looks similar to the city gate. There are no ruins of fortifications, instead of them stand rectangular prisms on each side of the minarets. Their bottoms are decorated with a figured laying. The laying's pattern transforms into a wide belt of Arabian inscription beginning on the trunk of one minaret and ending on the other's. The inscription is made in terracotta on a turquoise background.
The tops of the minarets are heavily damaged. Inside the minarets one can find narrow spiral staircases. The mausoleum itself is round; it is divided into 12 sides. Only these sides are not flat - they are semicircular which is characteristic of the structures of those times. The surface is coated by a multi-color carpet of figured facing. The milky-white glaze of the inscription and bright turquoise of the vegetative ornament are distinctly seen on the deep blue background. The mausoleum has four portals. The ornamental patterns of the portals have the elements of golden palette. From above the mausoleum is decorated with a small spherical dome the internal part of which was reveted by a mirror cross. The mausoleum's date of construction is unknown; approximately it was built in the 12th-13th centuries.
The remains of Khudaferin Bridges between villages of Kumlakh and Khudaferin connect the northern and southern banks of the river Araks. They are outstanding monuments of architecture and samples of construction hi-tech. Historians believe that they were constructed in the 12th - 13th centuries.
The first bridge (12th century) was built during the epoch of Eldegizids and incorporated fifteen spans. This bridge was erected from river stones and square burnt bricks. As bridge foundations (in both structures) natural spurs of granite rocks were used. That is why the bridges are so well preserved. the length of the bridge is 200 meters, its width is 4.5 meters. The highest point of the bridge reaches 10 meters above the water. Ancient historians said that the 15-span bridge had been made in the 7th century during the intrusion of Arabs into Azerbaijan. But modern scientists think that the bridge was constructed much later.
Today 15-span bridge is in working order. But it has been restored several times because of serious damages. Its last big destruction is dated 18th century.
The second bridge consisted of eleven spans and was built (restored) during the epoch of Ilkhanids (13th century). The overall length of this bridge reached 30 m, its width - 6 m, and the maximum height was 12 m above the water. The outline of the lateral arches is almost semicircular. The bridge is reveted with well - dressed blocks of limestone. The smaller bridge is located approximately 800 meters to the west of the 15-span bridge. The smaller bridge was restored when the 15-span one was working. For what reason? Scientists relate it to the massive movements of people during that period. The matter is that military actions of Ilkhanids versus the Golden Hordes took place on the territory of Azerbaijan and consequently there was a need for numerous armies transition to the north.
The smaller Khudaferin bridge is practically destroyed; only 3 middle spans have survived. That is why the people named it "synyg kyorpju" ("the broken bridge"). But even in the destroyed condition it makes grandiose impression.
Khudaferin Bridges were one of the basic points of the Great Silk Way and were great international significance. These bridges served as the main routes for migration of various armies and nations.
The constructive system of both bridges is traditional for the architecture of the Middle Ages - the curvilinear arches of the spans rest on heavy breakwaters and strong foundations. This reliable system sustained masses of people, cavalry and caravans.
Except for their steady design Khudaferin Bridges are attractive in their artistic-aesthetic expressiveness. The architects' skill has transformed this residential structure into monumental architectural product.
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