Jabrayil (Azerbaijani: Cəbrayıl, IPA: [dʒæbɾɑˈjɯl] (listen)) is a ghost city in Azerbaijan, nominally the administrative capital of Azerbaijan's Jabrayil District.

City and municipality
Ruins of the city after the First Nagorno-Karabakh War
Ruins of the city after the First Nagorno-Karabakh War
Jabrayil is located in Azerbaijan
Coordinates: 39°24′00″N 47°01′34″E / 39.40000°N 47.02611°E / 39.40000; 47.02611
Country Azerbaijan
569 m (1,867 ft)
 • TotalCurrently uninhabited
Pre-war population was 6,070[1]
Time zoneUTC+4 (AZT)

A town with Azerbaijani majority and Armenian plurality at various times during the Russian imperial era, and Azerbaijani majority since the Soviet times, it is abandoned since its destruction by local Armenian forces during the First Nagorno-Karabakh War.[2][3]


Russian EmpireEdit

In tsarist times, Jabrayil was a village in the Dzhebrail Uyezd (created in 1868) within the Elisabethpol Governorate of the Russian Empire. According to the annual reference book Caucasian Calendar, the population of Jabrayil in 1855 consisted of Shia Tatars (later known as Azerbaijanis).[4] According to the 1897 Russian census, the population of the Uyezd was 66,360, of which 49,189 (74%) were Turko-Tatars (later known as Azerbaijanis), 15,746 (24%) were Armenians, 893 (1.3%) were Russians, 398 (0.6%) were Kurds and other minorities.[5] The village of Jabrayil itself, with a population of 520, had an Armenian plurality: 228 Armenians; 186 Turko-Tatars; 76 Russians.[2]

Soviet UnionEdit

According to the 1926 Soviet census, the population of Jabrayil District in was 10,653. No ethnic breakdown is listed for the village itself. Of those in the district 97.2% were Turks (i.e. Azerbaijanis), 105 (1%) were Russians, 57 (0.5%) were Armenians and 24 (0.2%) were Persians.[3] The 1979 Soviet census registered 4,825 inhabitants, almost all (99,5 %) ethnic Azerbaijanis.[6] As the administrative center of the eponymous district, Jabrayil developed considerably during the Soviet era and by the beginning of the 1950s, there were two seven-year schools, a secondary school, a cultural centre, summer and winter cinemas, two libraries and a club.[7] The town's main economic products were butter, cheeses and carpets.[8]

Armenian controlEdit

On 23 August 1993, during the First Nagorno-Karabakh War, the city was occupied by the forces of Armenia and the breakaway Republic of Artsakh, causing the displacement of its population. Like most other cities in the seven districts of Azerbaijan captured by Armenian forces, Jabrayil was looted and destroyed and remained a ghost town following its capture.[9] Within Artsakh, it was renamed Jrakan (Ջրական), and also called Mekhakavan (Մեխակավան) and was administered as a part of the Hadrut Province.[10][11]

Restoration of Azerbaijani controlEdit

After 27 years, on 9 October 2020, Azerbaijan regained control of the city during the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war.[12]

In the context of the war, on 4 October 2020, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev announced that the Azerbaijani Armed Forces had taken control of the city following a day-long battle;[13] however, Shushan Stepanyan, the Press Secretary of the Minister of Defence of Armenia denied this.[14] On 5 October, the Artsakhian President, Arayik Harutyunyan, claimed that he had visited the city.[15] However, on 9 October 2020, footage released by Azerbaijan Ministry of Defence showed Azerbaijani soldiers raising the flag of Azerbaijan in the centre of the ruined city.[16] Reporters from Euronews visited the city on 17 October, confirming that it had come under Azerbaijani control.[17]

In November 2020 Azerbaijani media visited the recently recaptured city and reported that except for a newly built military base, no building was left intact since the capture of the city in 1993.[18] Several ambassadors who visited the ruined city in February 2021 expressed their shock at the state of the city[19] and added that a number of graves had been defaced or dug up.[20] A BBC report noted that the homes and graves of Azerbaijanis had been completely destroyed during the Armenian occupation.[9]

In 2017, the Zoravor Surb Astvatsatsin (St. Mary's)[21] Armenian church was opened at the Armenian military base in Jabrayil.[22][23] Construction of the church drew condemnation from Azerbaijan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.[24] In March 2021, BBC journalist Jonah Fisher visited the site of the church using geolocation and observed no trace of it remained. When he asked the police escort what happened to the church, the latter initially said that the church was "destroyed during the war" but then when confronted with the fact that videos clearly showed the church was still intact when the area had come under Azerbaijani control, he said that "they [Armenians] destroyed it themselves". When Fisher showed the images to Head of Foreign Policy Affairs Department of the Presidential Administration Hikmet Hajiyev saying "the church has been destroyed", Hajiyev replied "because it's a proper geolocation I don't know, I need to check", then adding that "in Jabrayil never ever Armenian lived [sic]" and that "building any religious site of changing any religious character of the region is a violation of international humanitarian law," and then changed the subject to the destruction of Azerbaijani cities by Armenians.[9]

In early February 2021, foreign ambassadors accredited to Azerbaijan, military attachés and heads of international organizations visited Jabrayil. They, in particular, visited the destroyed House of Culture and the cemetery.[25] In September 2021, the British company Chapman Taylor won a tender to prepare a draft master plan for Jabrayil.[26] In October of the same year, on the anniversary of Azerbaijan regaining control of the city, President Ilham Aliyev laid the foundation stone for the central district hospital, school, and the first apartment block.[27]

Notable peopleEdit



  1. ^ "Всесоюзная перепись населения 1989 г. Численность городского населения союзных республик, их территориальных единиц, городских поселений и городских районов по полу". Demoscope.ru (in Russian). 1989. Retrieved 6 October 2020.
  2. ^ a b Первая всеобщая перепись населения Российской Империи, 1897 г. т.63 Елисаветопольская губерния. Н.А.Тройницкий, С.-Петербург, 1904. стр. 138
  3. ^ a b "ДЖЕБРАИЛЬСКИЙ УЕЗД (1926 г.)" [Jabrayil Uyezd (1926)]. Retrieved 4 August 2011.
  4. ^ Кавказский календарь на 1856 год [Caucasian calendar for 1856] (in Russian) (11th ed.). Tiflis: Tipografiya kantselyarii Ye.I.V. na Kavkaze, kazenny dom. 1856. p. 412. Archived from the original on 9 December 2021.
  5. ^ "Первая всеобщая перепись населения Российской Империи 1897 г. Распределение населения по родному языку и уездам Российской Империи кроме губерний Европейской России" [First All Russian Imperial Census of 1897. Population split according to languages spoken; uyezds of Russian empire except for governorates in European part of empire]. Retrieved 4 August 2011.
  6. ^ Джебраильский район (1979).
  7. ^ «Джебраил». Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 1950.
  8. ^ "ДЖЕБРАИЛ - Большая советская энциклопедия (БЭС) - Словари". www.cyclopedia.ru.
  9. ^ a b c Fisher, Jonah (28 March 2021). "Who Won the Karabakh War". BBC Our World. Retrieved 28 March 2021.
  10. ^ "'This Is A Different War': Nagorno-Karabakh Refugee Shudders At Video Showing Neighbors' Execution". RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty. 30 October 2020. Retrieved 24 November 2020.
  11. ^ "Armenian company: Employee dies, others wounded after blast near storage room in Karabakh's Martuni". news.am. 26 October 2020. Retrieved 24 November 2020.
  12. ^ "Cəbrayıl şəhərində Azərbaycan Bayrağı dalğalanır - VİDEO" (in Azerbaijani). Ministry of Defense of Azerbaijan. 9 October 2020. Retrieved 9 October 2020.
  13. ^ "President Ilham Aliyev: "Azerbaijani Army liberates Jabrayil city and several villages of the region"". APA.az. 4 October 2020. Retrieved 4 October 2020. "Today, the Azerbaijani army liberated the city of Jabrayil and several villages in the region. Love to the Azerbaijani army! Karabakh is Azerbaijan!", President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev wrote this on his Twitter page today, APA reports.
  14. ^ "Քիչ անց կներկայացնենք փախուստ Մատաղիսից վավերագրությունը․ Շուշան Ստեփանյան". hy.armradio.com (in Armenian). Armenian Public Radio. 4 October 2020. Retrieved 6 February 2021.
  15. ^ "Fighting spirit of the boys and the confidence in victory are just contagious. Artsakh President". 1lurer.am. 5 October 2020. Retrieved 6 February 2021.
  16. ^ "Флаг Азербайджана развевается на освобожденных территориях Джебраила" (in Russian). 9 October 2020.
  17. ^ "Съемочная группа Euronews побывала в городе Джебраиле". youtube.com (in Russian). Euronews по-русски. 17 October 2020. Archived from the original on 21 December 2021. Retrieved 6 February 2021.
  18. ^ Mushvig Mehdiyev (19 November 2020). "Azerbaijani President Visits Liberated Districts, Vows to Rebuild Damaged Villages and Cities". caspiannews.com. Caspian News. Retrieved 6 February 2021.
  19. ^ "It's really painful to see such scenes in Jabrayil - Croatian ambassador". azernews.az. AzerNews. 6 February 2021. Retrieved 6 February 2021.
  20. ^ "Afghanistan's ambassador: The sight we saw in Jabrayil was terrible". apa.az. APA. 6 February 2021. Retrieved 6 February 2021.
  21. ^ "Azerbaijan Destroys Another Armenian Church After War – Asbarez.com".
  22. ^ "Մեխակավան (Ջեբրայիլ) բնակավայրում օծվել է Զորավոր Սուրբ Աստվածածին եկեղեցին (լուսանկարներ)" [Holy Mother of God Church has been consecrated in the settlement of Mekhakavan (Jabrayil)]. 168.am. 3 October 2017. Retrieved 25 March 2021.
  23. ^ Kucera, Joshua (26 March 2021). "What happened to the church?". Eurasianet. Retrieved 4 April 2021.
  24. ^ "Azerbaijan says Armenia's actions contradict basic principles of Christianity". 5 October 2017. Archived from the original on 25 March 2021. Retrieved 26 March 2021.
  25. ^ "Азербайджан показал иностранным дипломатам последствия 27-летней оккупации Джебраильского района". Archived from the original on 21 February 2021. Retrieved 26 March 2021.
  26. ^ Р.Ахмедов (17 September 2021). "Chapman Taylor LLP подготовит проект генплана города Джабраил". Media.az. Archived from the original on 12 November 2021. Retrieved 12 November 2021.
  27. ^ Р.Ахмедов (4 October 2021). "В городе Джабраил будут построены больница, школа и многоквартирное здание". Vesti.az. Archived from the original on 12 November 2021. Retrieved 12 November 2021.
  28. ^ "Ахмедов Джамил Мамед оглы". Heroes of the country.
  29. ^ "Кулиев Теймур Имам Кули оглы". Справочник по истории Коммунистической партии и Советского Союза 1898 - 1991.
  30. ^ "Məşhurlar Cəbrayılın azad olunmasını belə qarşıladı". Xeber.media (in Azerbaijani). 4 October 2020. Retrieved 1 December 2021.
  31. ^ Ambartsumian, Victor (1982). "Suren Shandunts". Հայկական սովետական հանրագիտարան (Soviet Armenian Encyclopedia) (in Armenian). Vol. 8. p. 412.

External linksEdit