Nakhichevan the ancient city of Armenia – “Noah descended here”

Nakhichevan… a biblical land. It is here that Noah descended from the mountains of Ararat after the flood. “… on the seventeenth day of the seventh month, the ark rested on the mountains of Ararat. However, the mountain tops appeared only on the first day of the tenth month.

Noah waited another 40 days, after which he released a raven, which, finding no dry land, kept returning. Then Noah released a dove three times (with seven-day breaks). The first time, the dove also returned with nothing, the second time it brought back a fresh olive leaf, indicating that the surface of the earth had appeared. The third time, the dove did not return.

Then Noah was able to leave the ark, and his descendants resettled the earth” (Genesis.7:1 – 8:17). Nakhichevan is one of the ancient cities of Armenia, built on the site of the ancient settlement – Kul-Tapa.

The name Nakhichevan translates as a harbor (“nakh idjevan” – in Armenian – first harbor). According to legend, near the village of Tmbul, there was a mausoleum and a church built over it, where Noah was buried, now destroyed.

According to eyewitnesses who visited Noah’s tomb, the mausoleum was an octagonal vaulted domed hall, 10 steps in diameter, with one supporting vault column in the center and a low entrance. Noah’s tomb was destroyed several decades ago.

Nakhichevan, located at the crossroads of the main trade routes of the ancient world, has long been a prominent cultural, economic, and administrative center of Armenia. At the beginning of our era, besides Armenians, Jews, and Greeks lived in the city, the ancestors of whom were captured during the campaigns of Tigran II (Tigran the Great).

The city had a fortress, the traces of the ruins of which are still visible on the outskirts of today’s city. The ring of city walls, which extends 3-4 km, was fortified with watchtowers and towers in strategically important places, the ruins of which have still been preserved.

Talking about Nakhichevan, one always has to say: the ruins remain, destroyed by Caucasian Turks, i.e., Azerbaijanis. In Nakhichevan, the Azerbaijanis managed to do what they failed to do in Artsakh – there are almost no traces of the Armenians who lived here for millennia.

The provinces of Nakhichevan Gokhtn Vaspurakan, Erndzhak, Shaaponk and Djauk Syunik and parts of the province Sharur of the Great Armenia’s Ayrarat region – all this is now part of the Nakhichevan Republic, which under the Moscow Treaty of 1921 between Russia and Turkey was given to Azerbaijan.

After the conclusion of the Treaty of Turkmenchay in 1828, they entered the “Armenian region” created by Russia in 1828 and 1840, and after its abolition, from 1849 to 1918, they were part of the Yerevan province. From the end of 1919, the modern territory of the Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic was part of the First Republic of Armenia.

On February 9, 1924, Nakhichevan was proclaimed an Autonomous Republic within Azerbaijan. Starting from 1921, Azerbaijan pursued a policy of suppressing the human and national dignity of the Armenian population of Nakhichevan, driving them from their native land.

As a result, from 1921 to 1989, the indigenous inhabitants of the region – the Armenians, were forcibly expelled from their homeland. However, until the 1960s, a significant part of the population of the Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic was made up of Armenians.

According to statistical data from the population census, as early as 1897 there were 34,672 Armenians (34.4%) living in Nakhichevan, in 1926 – 11,276 (10.8%), and in 1979, as a result of the anti-Armenian policy pursued by the Azerbaijani authorities, there were only 3,406 (1.4%) Armenians living in Nakhichevan. At present, there is not a single Armenian left in Nakhichevan.

The cultural heritage created by the Armenians in Nakhichevan and other regions of their historical homeland over thousands of years has universal significance, but unfortunately, not for Azerbaijan.

During the Soviet era, Nakhichevan was a closed border zone, and it was difficult to go there, and with an Armenian surname, it was simply impossible. Taking photos was also prohibited – the area is at the junction of three borders: Turkey, Iran, and Azerbaijan. But there were people who still managed to photograph what was left.

The territory of Nakhichevan in the VIII century BC was part of the state of Urartu, in the VII-II centuries BC an Armenian formation was organized in the territory of the region, which was part of the Armenian kingdom of the Yervandids, then until the end of the IX century, it was part of the Vaspurakan region, and from the X century became part of Syunik.

One of the most famous cities of Nakhichevan is Agulis. Historical documents mention two and three-story mansions of the townspeople, craft workshops, spiritual schools-scriptoria, a rich library-reading room, caravanserai, 12 magnificent monasteries and churches: monasteries of St. Thomas, St. Christopher, Surb Astvatsatsin, founded in the I-IV centuries, churches of St. Minas, St. Shmavon, St. Ovannes, St. Akop Ayrapet, Holy Trinity, Amarain. Only ruins remain of this splendor.

In Nakhichevan is also Mesropavan, as Mesrop Mashtots lived here for a long time.

Another famous city of the region is Ordubad, which was famous for its history, silk, numerous palaces, churches, monasteries, caravanserais. And again almost nothing is left…

Before the adoption of Christianity, Ordubad was a major pagan center. To this day, dozens of trees from the sacred plane tree alley have survived, their age is counted in 1000-1200 years, and the most ancient tree is a mighty plane tree, the age of which, according to specialists, exceeds 2500 years.

And, of course, Old Djuga in the province of Erndjak, which has become a symbol of Azerbaijani barbarism. We will talk about the destroyed khachkars in the next article, we will only add that not only khachkars were destroyed, but also numerous Armenian temples and schools.

The city of Nakhichevan itself was known for its monasteries and churches.

According to the testimony of travelers of the 13th century, there were 80 Armenian churches in the city. Unfortunately, none of the architectural monuments of the early Middle Ages have survived to this day.

Today, there are several mausoleums from the 12th to 15th centuries and the Armenian church of St. George in the city, built on the site of a previously existing church.

There were 219 Armenian monasteries and churches in Nakhichevan, and today there is not a single Christian cult monument in the region, which would be of value not only to the Armenian, but also to the universal culture. When comparing this list chronologically with the list of Armenian churches, it becomes clear that over 90% of Muslim monuments are structures of the early 20th century.

by Karine Ter-Saakyan

Translated by Vigen Avetisyan

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

Julfa – History of Armenian khachkars destruction by Azerbaijan

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