Destruction of khachkars in Nakhichevan

The destruction of khachkars in Nakhichevan is considered by many to be one of the most significant acts of cultural destruction of the 21st century. The region of Nakhichevan was formally established as an autonomous region by the Soviets in 1920, but by that time, fewer than 3,000 khachkars were left due to decades of plunder.

Subsequent efforts by the Azerbaijani government to erase Armenian cultural history in the region have resulted in the destruction of at least 108 Armenian monasteries, churches, and cemeteries, with US researchers confirming that 98% of cultural Armenian heritage sites in Nakhichevan were destroyed by Azerbaijan.

One of the most devastating events was the systematic destruction of thousands of khachkars in Jugha (Old Julfa) in Nakhichevan, which was carried out by the Azerbaijani army in 2005 using sledgehammers, effectively eliminating thousands of remaining khachkars. This campaign of cultural cleansing has been ongoing for the past 30 years, resulting in the erasure of the country’s historic Armenian heritage. [1][2][3][4][5]


  1. Monumental loss: Azerbaijan and ‘the worst cultural genocide of the 21st century’
  2. US Researchers Confirm 98% of Cultural Armenian Heritage Sites in Nakhichevan Destroyed by Azerbaijan
  3. Tragedy on the Araxes
  4. CULTURAL DESTRUCTION, CULTURAL MEMORY: The Heritage of the Khachkars of Jugha (Old Julfa)
  5. The destruction of Julfa Khachkars

The destruction of khachkars in Nakhichevan refers to the deliberate destruction of Armenian khachkars (cross-stones) by the Azerbaijani government in the Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic, an exclave of Azerbaijan, between 1998 and 2005. Khachkars are a unique form of Armenian cultural and religious expression that date back to the 9th century, and many of the ones destroyed in Nakhichevan were over 800 years old.

The destruction of khachkars in Nakhichevan has been condemned by the international community and human rights organizations, as well as by Armenians around the world. The Armenian government has called for the protection of Armenian cultural heritage in Nakhichevan, and has urged international organizations to take action to prevent further destruction.

The destruction of khachkars is seen as part of a wider campaign by Azerbaijan to erase evidence of Armenian presence in Nakhichevan and to rewrite the history of the region. The Armenian population of Nakhichevan was largely expelled during the Armenian Genocide of 1915, and since then the Azerbaijani government has pursued a policy of erasing evidence of their presence in the region.

Despite international condemnation, the destruction of khachkars in Nakhichevan continues to this day. Many of the khachkars that remain in the region are in a state of disrepair, and there are concerns that they may also be destroyed in the future.

Vigen Avetisyan


Cultural Destruction, Cultural Memory: Heritage of the Khachkars of Old Julfa | NAASR

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