Ganja (//; Azerbaijani: Gəncə [gænˈd͡ʒæ]) is Azerbaijan's second largest city, with a population of around 332,600. It was named Elisabethpol (Russian: Елизаве́тполь, tr. Yelizavétpol, IPA: [jɪlʲɪzəvʲɪtˈpolʲ]) in the Russian Empire period. The city regained its original name, Ganja, in 1920 during the first part of its incorporation into the Soviet Union. However, its name was changed again in 1935 to Kirovabad (Russian: Кироваба́д, IPA: [kʲɪrəvɐˈbat]) and retained that name through most of the rest of the Soviet period. In 1989, during perestroika, the city regained its original name.
City & Municipality
|• Mayor||Niyazi Bayramov|
|• Total||170 km2 (70 sq mi)|
|Elevation||408 m (1,339 ft)|
|• Density||2,848/km2 (7,380/sq mi)|
|• Population Rank in Azerbaijan||2nd|
|Demonym(s)||Ağali, Lələ, Küçəli|
|Time zone||UTC+4 (GMT+4)|
|Area code(s)||(+994) 22|
|Vehicle registration||20 AZ|
Even though some sources from medieval Islamic time attribute the building of the town to a Muslim Arab ruler, modern historians believe that the fact that the name Ganja derives from the New Persian ganj ("treasure") and in Arabic source the name is recorded as Janza (from the Middle Persian ganza) suggests that the city existed in pre-Islamic times and was likely founded in the 5th century. The area in which Ganja is located was known as Arran from the 9th to 12th century; its urban population spoke mainly in the Persian language.
According to medieval Arabic sources, the city of Ganja was founded in 859-60 by Muhammad ibn Khalid ibn Yazid ibn Mazyad, the Arab governor of the region in the reign of the caliph al-Mutawakkil, and so-called because of a treasure unearthed there. According to the legend, the Arab governor had a dream where a voice told him that there was a treasure hidden under one of the three hills around the area where he camped. The voice told him to unearth it and use the money to found a city. He did so and informed the caliph about the money and the city. Caliph made Muhammad the hereditary governor of the city on a condition that he would give the money he found to the caliph.
Foundation of the city by Arabs is confirmed by the medieval Armenian historian Movses Kagankatvatsi, who mentions that the city of Ganja was founded in 846-47 in the canton of Arshakashen by the son of Khazr Patgos, "a furious and merciless man".
Historically an important city of the South Caucasus, Ganja has been part of the Sassanid empire, Great Seljuk Empire, Kingdom of Georgia, Atabegs of Azerbaijan, Khwarezmid Empire, Il-Khans, Timurids, Qara Qoyunlu, Ak Koyunlu, the Safavid, the Afsharid, the Zand and the Qajar empires of Persia/Iran. Prior to the Iranian Zand and Qajar rule, following Nader Shah's death, it was ruled locally for a few decades by the khans/dukes of the Ganja Khanate, who themselves were subordinate to the central rule in mainland Iran and were a branch of the Iranian Qajar family. Ganja is also the birthplace of the famous poet Nizami Ganjavi.
The people of Ganja experienced a temporary cultural decline after an earthquake in 1139, when the city was taken by king Demetrius I of Georgia and its gates taken as trophies which is still kept in Georgia, and again after the Mongol invasion in 1231. The city was revived after the Safavids came to power in 1501, and incorporated all of Azerbaijan and beyond into their territories. The city came under brief occupation by the Ottomans between 1578–1606 and 1723-1735 during the prolonged Ottoman-Persian Wars, but nevertheless stayed under intermittent Iranian suzerainty from the earliest 16th century up to the course of the 19th century, when it was forcefully ceded to neighbouring Imperial Russia.
16th-19th centuries and Iran's ceding to RussiaEdit
For a short period, Ganja was renamed Abbasabad by Shah Abbas after war against the Ottomans. He built a new city 8 kilometres (5 miles) to the southwest of the old one, but the name changed back to Ganja during the time. During the Safavid rule, it was the capital of the Karabakh province. In 1747, Ganja became the center of the Ganja Khanate for a few decades following the death of Nader Shah, until the advent of the Iranian Zand and Qajar dynasties. The khans/dukes who de facto self-ruled the khanate, were subordinate to the central rule in mainland Iran and were from a branch of the Iranian Qajar family.
From the late 18th century, Russia actively started to increase its enroachments into Iranian and Turkish territory to the south. Following the annexation of eastern Georgia in 1801, Russia was now keen to conquer the rest of the Iranian possessions in the Caucasus. Russian expansion into the South Caucasus met particularly strong opposition in Ganja. In 1804, the Russians, led by General Pavel Tsitsianov, invaded and sacked Ganja, sparking the Russo-Persian War of 1804-1813. Some western sources assert that "the capture of the city was followed by a massacre of up to 3,000 inhabitants of Ganja by the Russians". They also claim that "500 of them were slaughtered in a mosque where they had taken refuge, after an Armenian told the Russian soldiers that there might have been "Daghestani robbers" among them".
Militarily superior, the Russians ended the Russo-Persian War of 1804-1813 with a victory. By the Treaty of Gulistan that followed, Iran was forced to cede the Ganja Khanate to Russia. The Iranians briefly managed to oust the Russians from Ganja during the 1826 offensive during the Russo-Persian War of 1826-1828, but the resulting Treaty of Turkmenchay made its inclusion into the Russian Empire definite. It was renamed Elisabethpol (Russian: Елизаветполь) after the wife of Alexander I of Russia, Elisabeth, and in 1868 became the capital of Elisabethpol Governorate. Elizavetpol was an uyezd of Tiflis Governorate before 1868. The Russian name was not accepted by Azerbaijanis who continued to call the city Ganja.
In 1918, Ganja became the temporary capital of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic, at which point it was renamed Ganja again, until Baku was recaptured from the British backed Centrocaspian Dictatorship. In April 1920, the Red Army occupied Azerbaijan. In May 1920, Ganja was the scene of an abortive anti-Soviet rebellion, during which the city was heavily damaged by fighting between the insurgents and the Red Army. In 1935, Joseph Stalin renamed the city Kirovabad after Sergei Kirov. In 1991, Azerbaijan re-established its independence, and the ancient name of the city was given back. For many years the 104th Guards Airborne Division of the Soviet Airborne Troops was based in the town.
Reconstruction in the 21st century has led to dramatic changes in the city's urban development, transforming the old Soviet city into a hub of high-rise, mixed-use buildings.
Ganja, located 400–450 meters (1312 to 1476 ft) above the sea level, lies on the Ganja-Gazakh plain in the Kur-Araz lowland in the west of Azerbaijan, 375 km (33 mi) away from Baku. It is situated at the north-eastern foothills of the Lesser Caucasus mountain ranges on the Ganjachay river.
The city borders on the administrative rayons of Goygol to the south, west and north-west and Samukh to the north-east.
|Climate data for Ganja (1981–2010, extremes 1890–2014)|
|Record high °C (°F)||22.8
|Average high °C (°F)||7.0
|Daily mean °C (°F)||3.2
|Average low °C (°F)||0.5
|Record low °C (°F)||−17.8
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||8
|Average precipitation days (≥ 0.1 mm)||7.0||7.0||8.0||8.2||9.0||7.0||4.0||3.0||4.0||6.3||6.5||6.0||76.0|
|Average rainy days||3||4||6||8||9||6||4||3||4||6||6||4||63|
|Average snowy days||3||5||2||0.2||0||0||0||0||0||0.4||1||2||14|
|Average relative humidity (%)||71||71||68||70||68||61||59||61||65||74||76||74||68|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||120||113||141||182||229||267||278||252||212||168||123||115||2,200|
|Source #1: Deutscher Wetterdienst (sun, 1961–1990)[a]|
|Source #2: Pogoda.ru.net|
Today, Ganja is divided into 2 rayons (administrative districts). The mayor, presently Niyazi Bayramov  embodies the executive power of the city. Ganja includes 6 administrative settlements, namely Hajikend, Javadkhan, Shixzamanli, Natavan, Mahsati and Sadilli.
Kapaz district (Kəpəz rayonu) was established on November 21, 1980 according to the decision of Supreme Soviet of Azerbaijan SSR. The district consists of 2 administrative territorial units and 6 administrative settlements. It has an area of approximately 70 square kilometers (27 sq mi) with the population of 178,000.
Nizami district (Nizami rayonu) was also established on November 21, 1980 according to the decision of Supreme Soviet of Azerbaijan SSR as Ganja raion of Kirovabad city. When Ganja's historic name was restored and the city was renamed as Ganja instead of Kirovabad in 1989, the district was also renamed as Nizami raion. The district consists of 2 administrative territorial units. The area of the district is roughly 39 square kilometers (15 sq mi) and population is 148,000.
|1 Georgians, Jews, Ukrainians etc. |
Ganja is the second largest city of Azerbaijan after Baku with about 332,600 residents. The city is also inhabited by a large number of Azerbaijani refugees from Armenia and IDPs from the Azerbaijani community of Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding areas. Their number was estimated to be 33,000 in 2011.
Historic Armenian communityEdit
In addition to Persian and Turkic-speaking Muslims, the city has had a numerically, economically and, culturally significant Armenian Christians community. Among the Armenians, the city is known as Gandzak (Գանձակ) The name Gandzak derives from gandz (Arm. - գանձ), the loan word from Old Iranian, which means treasure or riches. The city's historically important Christian figures include Kirakos Gandzaketsi, author of the History of the Armenians), Armenian philosopher Mkhitar Gosh author of the Code of Laws that was used in Armenia, Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia and Armenian diasporan groups in Europe, 13th century polymath Vardan Areveltsi and Grigor Paron-Ter, Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem. Among the modern time's prominent Armenian persons of the city were Russian-Armenian architect Karo Halabyan, secretary of the Armenian SSR Communist Party Askanaz Mravyan, and the Olympic champion Albert Azaryan, and Artyom Alikhanian a Soviet Armenian physicist, and one of the founders and first director of the Yerevan Physics Institute. He is known as the "father of Armenian physics", and Abraham Alikhanov a Soviet Armenian physicist, academic of the USSR Academy of Sciences.
The urban landscape of Ganja is shaped by many communities. The religion with the largest community of followers is Islam. The majority of the Muslims are Shia Muslims, and the Republic of Azerbaijan has the second highest Shia population percentage in the world after Iran. The city's notable mosques include Shah Abbas Mosque, Goy Imam Mosque, Shahsevenler Mosque, Qirikhli Mosque and Qazakhlar Mosque.
There are some other faiths practiced among the different ethnic groups within the country. The other faith worshipping places include Alexander Nevsky Church, German Lutheran Church, Saint John Church and Saint Sarkis Church. Before the Kirovabad Pogrom in 1988 a significant community of Armenian Christians existed.
According to the State Statistics Committee, as of 2018, the population of city recorded 332,600 persons, which increased by 31,900 persons (about 10,6 persent) from 300,700 persons in 2000. 162,300 of total population are men, 170,300 are women. More than 26 percent of the population (about 86,500 persons) consists of young people and teenagers aged 14-29.
The economy of Ganja is partially agricultural, partially tourist based, with some industries in operation. Ore minerals extracted from nearby mines supply Ganja's metallurgical industries, which produces copper and alumina. There are porcelain, silk and footwear industries. Other industries process food, grapes and cotton from the surrounding farmlands.
The city has one of the largest textile conglomerates in Azerbaijan and is famous for a fabric named Ganja silk, which received the highest marks in the markets of neighboring countries and the Middle East.
People are mainly employed in manufacturing, education, transportation, service sectors and catering. “Det.Al-Aluminium” is the largest employer operating in Ganja, followed by Ganja Auto Plant and Ganja Winery Plant 2.
Tourism and shoppingEdit
Traditional shops, modern shops and malls create a mixture of shopping opportunities in Ganja. Javad Khan Street is the traditional shopping street that is located in the old town. Constructed between 2014 and 2017, Ganja Mall is considered as the city's largest mall. Other shopping centers include Khamsa Park, Taghiyev Mall and Aura Park.
Ganja is one of the famous tourist destinations in Azerbaijan with its historic buildings such as Nizami Mausoleum, Ancient gates, Juma Mosque, Imamzadeh, Tomb of Javad Khan, Chokak Hamam, Shah Abbas Caravanserai and Ugurlu Bay Caravanserai.
Other tourist and entertainment spots include Javad khan street, Triumphal Arch near Heydar Aliyev Center, the Bottle House, Flag square, Hajikend resort zone. Goygol National Park with the sceneries of lake Goygol, lake Maralgol, Mount Kapaz and Mount Murov are located near Ganja.
In 2016, Ganja was selected as the European Youth Capital by the final decision of international jury at the General Assembly of the European Youth Forum. Ganja became the first city to win the title of European Youth Capital among the former Commonwealth Independent States (CIS) and non-EU cities. It was an event with a budget of 5.7 million euros, projected to boost tourism by about one-fifth.
The city has many amenities that offer a wide range of cultural activities, drawing both from a rich local dramatic portfolio and an international repertoire. The city is known for its famous metal handicrafts industry during the Middle Ages. The most notable works of that period includes Gates of Ganja and Ancient Ganja Gate.
Ganja State History-Ethnography Museum is the oldest museum in the city, with over 30,000 artifacts. The city is also home to Nizami Ganjavi Museum, which was built in 2014. The museum contains a research section, a library, a conference room, and corners for guests and tourists’ relaxation.
Other museums include Heydar Aliyev Museum, House Museum of Mir Jalal Pashayev, Memorial House-Museum of Nizami Ganjavi, Memorial-House Museum of İsrafil Mammadov, Ganja branch of Museum of Miniature Books, "Ganja Castle Gates - Archaeology and Ethnography Museum" monument complex, Cultural Center named after Mahsati Ganjavi, Museum of Modern Art and Museum of Mirza Shafi Vazeh.
Ganja is primarily known for its Azerbaijani and Islamic architecture, but its buildings reflect the various peoples and empires that have previously ruled the city. During Ganja Khanate period, the Khans proceeded to make an indelible impression on the skyline of Ganja, building towering mosques and houses from red bricks.
Among the oldest surviving examples of Islamic architecture in Ganja are the Nizami Mausoleum and Shah Abbas Caravanserai, which assisted the Shahs during their siege of the city. The area around and inside the mosques, contains many fine examples of traditional architecture like Chokak Bath.
Another interesting building is the Bottle house of Ganja.
Music and mediaEdit
Ganja State Philharmonic was established in August 1990 according to the decision of Ministry of Culture of Azerbaijan SSR. On 21 January 2012, president Ilham Aliyev laid the foundation of Ganja State Philharmonic. The facility includes a 1,200 concert hall, an open-air cinema theatre, a drawing gallery, an urban center and an observation tower. The new building of the Philharmonic Hall was put into use in 2017. Goygol State Song and Dance Ensemble, Orchestra of Folk Instruments and Ganja State Chamber Orchestra operate under Ganja State Philharmonic.
Bottle house in Ganja, a local icon entirely made of glass bottles
Ganja State Drama TheaterEdit
The building of the Ganja State Drama Theater was built by the German entrepreneur Christofor Forer in the 1880s. Ganja Drama Theater was established in 1921 in Baku as “Tənqid-təbliğ” (literally means “Criticism-propaganda”). In 1935 the theater moved to Ganja with its staff and continues its activity here under different names until 1990. The Theater has been called Ganja State Drama Theater since 1990.
Ganja State Puppet TheaterEdit
Ganja State Puppet Theater was established according to the Decree No.299 of Council of Ministers of Azerbaijan SSR in September, 1986. Before receiving “state theater” status in 1986, it was functioning as public theater. Ganja Puppet Theater operates in the building of Lutheran church constructed in 1885 by German settlers.
Parks and gardensEdit
Ganja has many well-maintained parks and gardens, with the Khan's garden being one of the most scenic parks, and one of the city's most known landmarks. It features interesting landscaping, and consists of a wide variety of trees and plants in an open concept.
Other prominent parks and gardens include Heydar Aliyev Park Complex, “Ganja 2016 European Youth Capital Park”, “Ganja river” park-boulevard complex, Istiglal Avenue, Fikrat Amirov Park, Fuzuli Park, and Narimanov Park. Heydar Aliyev park-complex includes an Amphitheater considered for organizing large outdoor events for up to 5000 people.
The city has one professional football team, Kapaz, currently competing in the second-flight of Azerbaijani football, the Azerbaijan First Division. The club has three Azerbaijani league and four cup titles.
There are Olympic Sports Complex with 2 buildings (put into operation in 2002 and 2006 respectively), Ganja City Stadium with a capacity of 27000 put into use in 1964 and other sporting facilities in Ganja.
İn September 2017 “Ganja Marathon 2017” was organized involving 11000 people from different regions of Azerbaijan, as well as foreigners under the slogan “Be with us in the Marathon”. The race started from Triumphal Arch and finished at the Heydar Aliyev Park Complex covering a distance of 17 kilometers.
Ganja has a large urban transport system, mostly managed by the Ministry of Transportation. In 2013, Ministry of Transportation stated that the city, along with Nakhchivan and Sumqayit will have a new subway line within the framework of the 20-year subway program. The city had a trolleybus system, functioning from 1955 to 2004.
Ganja International Airport is the only airport in the city. The airport is connected by bus to the city center. There are domestic flights to Baku and international service to Russia and Turkey.
Ganja sits on one of the Azerbaijani primary rail lines running east–west connecting the capital, Baku, with the rest of the country. The Kars–Tbilisi–Baku railway runs along the line through the city. The railway provides both human transportation and transport of goods and commodities such as oil and gravel.
Ganja's Central Railway Station is the terminus for national and international rail links to the city. The Kars–Tbilisi–Baku railway, which directly connects Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan, began to be constructed in 2007 and completed in 2017. The completed branch connects Ganja with Tbilisi in Georgia, and from there trains continue to Akhalkalaki, and Kars in Turkey.
The first seminary in Azerbaijan aimed at professional training of school teachers was opened in Ganja in 1914 which was united with Girls Seminary in 1927 and renamed as Ganja Pedagogical Technical School (Azerbaijani: Gəncə Pedoqoji Texnikumu).
Ganja is home to four major institutes for post-secondary education. Ganja State University was founded as Ganja Teachers Institute after Hasan bey Zardabi in 1939. In 2000, the President of Azerbaijan renamed the institute to Ganja State University. The university includes 8 faculty departments and 10 offices. The city also includes Azerbaijan State Agricultural Academy, Azerbaijan Technological University and local branch of Azerbaijan Teachers' Institute.
There are also schools offering secondary specialized education like Ganja Music College, Ganja Medicine College, Ganja State Regional Collage (established by combining Ganja Humanitarian Collage and Ganja Technical College in 2010).
There are a total of 7 schools offering vocational education in Ganja, being located as 3 vocational lyceums and a vocational school in Kapaz raion, a vocational lyceum and 2 vocational schools in Nizami raion.
Because of its intermittent periods of great prosperity as well as being one of the largest cities in Azerbaijan and one of the most ethnically and culturally diverse in the Caucasus, Ganja prides itself on having produced a disproportionate number of notable figures in the sciences, arts and other fields. Some of the houses they resided in display commemorative plaques. Some of the many prestigious residents include: poet Nizami Ganjavi, Olympic champion Toghrul Asgarov, ruler of Ganja Khanate Javad Khan, poets Mirza Shafi Vazeh, Mahsati Ganjavi, Nigar Rafibeyli, writer Ibn Khosrov al-Ustad, composer Fikrat Amirov and prime minister of Azerbaijan Artur Rasizade.
Twin towns — Sister citiesEdit
- İzmir, Turkey, (since 1994)
- Kars, Turkey, (since 2001)
- Newark, New Jersey, United States, (since 2004)
- Dnipro, Ukraine, (since 2005)
- Gaziantep, Turkey, (since 2012)
- Olomouc, Czech Republic, (since 2012)
- Khujand, Tajikistan, (since 2012)
- Eskişehir, Turkey, (since 2013)
- Kutaisi, Georgia
- Tabriz, Iran, (since 2015)
- Derbent, Russia
- Bursa, Turkey
- Ankara, Turkey
- Elâzığ, Turkey
- Moscow, Russia
- Rustavi, Georgia
- Dushanbe, Tajikistan
- Konya, Turkey
- Ordu, Turkey
- Vũng Tàu, Vietnam
- Multan, Pakistan
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|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Ganja.|
|Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article Elisavetpol (town).|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ganja.|
- City administration
- Ganja at the Azerbaijan Development Gateway
- Imamzadeh Mausoleum, Ganja
- Ganja (as Gəncə) at GEOnet Names Server