Qazax (Kazakh, Gazakh)
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Qazakh - Azerbaijan - location mapQazax is located in a military sensitive zone, between Agstafa and the Armenian border. In antiquity, this rayon was part of Utik, a historic province of the Kingdom of Armenia. The region was eventually conquered by several neighboring powers including the Sassanid Persians, the Byzantine Greeks, the Arabs, the Seljuq Turks, the Georgians, the Mongols, the Timurids, the Kara Koyunlu and Ak Koyunlu Turkoman tribes, and finally the Safavid Iran. By the 18th century Qazax was a semi-independent sultanate, being incorporated in the Russian Empire in the early 19th century. Stalin brought its decline, ceding most of its western territories to Armenia - Qazax province once reached till the shore of lake Sevan. In typical Stalinist style exclaves were also created: Yukhari Askipara and Barkhudali inside Armenia and Artsvashen inside Azerbaijan. The Nagorno Karabakh conflict dictated the ethnic cleansing of these 3 border abnormalities (and also of Karki). Part of the refugees from Yukhari Askipara and Barkhudali are still in Qazax.

The local economy has an agricultural base, in particular grapes. The war with Armenia resulted in the diversion of the water coming from across the border, leading to the decline of agriculture in Qazax.

Azerbaijan: Yukhari Askipara and Barkhudali - occupied exclaves, near QazaxThe town is rich in pleasant 18th century architecture reflecting past prosperity. The Juma mosque is elegant, facing the old but still operating Israfil Agha baths, with the traditional Turkish style domes. There are two centrally located churches, one Armenian (referred locally as Albanian) and presently used as a cafe-bar, and a later Russian Orthodox church, currently serving as a sports pavilion.

The urban space is rather enjoyable with a number of parks (the newest one named after Heidar Aliyev), a house of  culture and a museum with a good collection, located near the Orthodox church. There are a number of monuments to local figures, notice particularly the statue of Samed Vurgun, born in the nearby village of Yukhari Salahli.

Should you want to stay, there are two hotels, both small: a recent central hotel near the city hall and an older hotel above the bus station in the north-west part of town. There are both buses and trains to Baku.

Outside town, on the border area it is worth visiting the 16th century Didivan castle, in the village of Khanliglar. Have a look also at the Dashsalahli caves,  south-east of  mount Avey and the nearby Avey Caucasian Albanian Church. If you enjoy old engineering don't miss Sinig Korpu, i.e. "the Broken Bridge", a 12th century structure built over the Ehram river in the village Ikinji Shikhli.

(380 km north west of Baku)
See also: places, maps, Agstafa, Tovuz, maps, summary, places, photos
A to Z of Azerbaijan / A dan Z ye Azerbaycan