Ancient Ganja: a city with a rich history

Ancient Ganja: a city with a rich history

Ganja, one of the oldest cities in Azerbaijan’s western part, is located at the foot of the Minor Caucasian Ridge, on both sides of the Ganjachay River (right tributary of the Kur River) and along the Baku-Tbilisi railway route. The distance from Baku to Ganja is 363 km.

According to some medieval Arabic sources, the name of the city was recorded as Ganza, while Persian sources called it Ganja and other sources Gandzak. Some other sources explained the name of the city as a ‘large place.’ One more meaning of the city originates from the Persian ganj meaning treasure.  

The city is believed to have been founded in VII AD or in the early Middle Ages. 

Ganja was rebuilt a few kilometers to the east of its previous location in the 12th century. Ganja, rebuilt along the main caravan route, became one of the main trade centres in that time. Ganja was one of the major cities. Ganja had remained a capital city for a long time, therefore the city was home to many palaces for sultans, rulers, state officials, clergymen, as well as mosques and bathhouses. The city saw increasing architecture and other spheres of art. Ganja was one of the most developed cities in the Near East in XII-XIII centuries.  

Today Ganja is one of the scientific and educational centres and the second largest city in Azerbaijan. 

The Nizami Mausoleum built in honor of the 12th-century poet Nizami Ganjavi, stands just outside the city of Ganja. The mausoleum was originally built in 1947 in place of an old collapsed mausoleum, and rebuilt in its present form in 1991.

In 2017, some 504 historical monuments were registered in Ganja, 288 of which are protected by the State.