|- City -|
Location of the Republic of Dagestan in Russia
|Administrative status (as of April 2006)|
|Federal subject||Republic of Dagestan|
|Administratively subordinated to||City of Derbent|
|Capital of||Republic of Dagestan|
|Administrative center of||City of Derbent, Derbentsky District|
|Municipal status (as of October 2012)|
|Urban okrug||Derbent Urban Okrug|
|Administrative center of||Derbent Urban Okrug, Derbentsky Municipal District|
|Population (2010 Census)||119,200 inhabitants|
|- Rank in 2010||136th|
|Time zone||MSK (UTC+04:00)|
|Citadel, Ancient City and Fortress Buildings of Derbent|
|Name as inscribed on the World Heritage List|
|Inscription||2003 (27th Session)|
Derbent (Russian: Дербе́нт; Azerbaijani: Dərbənd; Lezgian: Кьвевар; Avar: Дербенд; Lak: Чурул, Churul; Judæo-Tat: דארבּאנד/Дэрбэнд/Dərbənd; Persian: دربند. Its etymology derives from the Persian Darband ("locked gate"); known to the Arabs as Bāb al Abwab ("Gate of Gates") and to the Turks as Demirkapı ("Iron Gate") is a city in the Republic of Dagestan, Russia, located on the Caspian Sea, north of the Azerbaijani border. It is the southernmost city in Russia, and it is the second most important city of Dagestan. Population: 119,200 (2010 Census); 101,031 (2002 Census); 78,371 (1989 Census).
Derbent occupies the very narrow, but the primary, gateway crossing between the Eurasian steppes to the north and the Middle East to the south, through a very narrow coastal crossing between the Caspian Sea and the Caucasus Mountains. Often identified with the legendary Gates of Alexander, Derbent claims to be the oldest city in Russia (8th century BCE). Since antiquity, the value of the area as the gate to the Caucasus has been understood, and Derbent has archaeological structures over 5,000 years old. As a result of this geographic particularity, the city developed between two walls, stretching from the mountains to the sea. These fortifications were continuously employed for a millennium and a half, longer than any other extant fortress in the world. Over the years, different nations gave the city different names, but all connected to the word gate; its name in Persian is Darband, which means "closed gates".
Derbent has an important strategic location in the Caucasus: the city is situated on a narrow, three-kilometer strip of land between the Caspian Sea and the Caucasus mountains. Historically, this position allowed the rulers of Derbent to control land traffic between the Eurasian Steppe and the Middle East. The only other practicable crossing of the Caucasus ridge was over the Darial Gorge.
The first intensive settlement in the Derbent area dates from the 8th century BCE; the site was intermittently controlled by the Persian monarchs, starting from the 6th century BCE. Until the 4th century CE, it was part of Caucasian Albania and is traditionally identified with Albana, the capital. The modern name is a Persian word (دربند Darband) meaning "gateway", which came into use in the end of the 5th or the beginning of the 6th century CE, when the city was re-established by Kavadh I of the Sassanid dynasty of Persia.
The 20-meter (66 ft) high walls with thirty north-looking towers are believed to belong to the time of Kavadh's son, Khosrau I. The chronicler Movses Kagankatvatsi wrote about "the wondrous walls, for whose construction the Persian kings exhausted our country, recruiting architects and collecting building materials with a view of constructing a great edifice stretching between the Caucasus Mountains and the Great Eastern Sea." Derbent became a strong military outpost and harbour of the Sassanid empire. During the 5th and 6th centuries, Derbent also became an important center for spreading the Christian faith in the Caucasus.
Movses Kagankatvatsi left a graphic description of the sack of Derbent by the hordes of Tong Yabghu of the Western Turkic Khaganate in 627. His successor, Böri Shad, proved unable to consolidate Tong Yabghu's conquests, and the city was retaken by the Persians. In 654, Derbent was captured by the Arabs, who transformed it in an important administrative center and introduced Islam to the area. Because of its strategic position on the northern branch of the Silk Route, the fortress was contested by the Khazars in the course of the Khazar-Arab Wars. The Sassanids had also brought Armenians from Syunik to help protect the pass from invaders; as Arab rule weakened in the region at the end of the ninth century, the Armenians living there were able to establish a kingdom of their own, which lasted until the early years of the thirteenth century.
Excavations on the eastern side of the Caspian Sea, opposite to Derbent, revealed the Great Wall of Gorgan, the eastern counterpart to the wall and fortifications of Derbent. Similar Sasanian defensive fortifications there—massive forts, garrison towns, long walls—also run from the sea to the mountains.
The Caliph Harun al-Rashid spent time living in Derbent and brought it into great repute as a seat of the arts and commerce. According to Arab historians, Derbent, with population exceeding 50,000, was the largest city of the 9th century Caucasus. In the 10th century, with the collapse of the Arab Caliphate, Derbent became the capital of an emirate. This emirate often fought losing wars with the neighboring Christian state of Sarir, allowing Sarir to occasionally manipulate Derbent politics. Despite that, the emirate outlived its rival and continued to flourish at the time of the Mongol invasion in 1239.
In the 14th century, Derbent was occupied by Timur's armies. In 1437, it fell under the control of the Shirvanshahs of Azerbaijan. During the 16th century, Derbent was the arena for wars between Turkey and Persia ruled by the Iranian Safavid dynasty. The Ottoman Empire gained control of the city following the Battle of the Torches in 1583, and Ottoman ownership was secured with the Treaty of Istanbul of 1590.
By the 1735 Ganja treaty, Derbent fell within the Persian state. In 1722, during the Russo-Persian War, Peter the Great of Russia wrested the town from the Persians, but in 1736, the supremacy of Nadir Shah was again recognized. In 1747, Derbent became the capital of the Derbent Khanate of the same name.
During the Persian Expedition of 1796, Derbent was stormed by Russian forces under Valerian Zubov. As a consequence of the Treaty of Gulistan of 1813—between Russian and Persia—Derbent became part of the Russian Empire.
A large portion of the walls and several watchtowers have been preserved in reasonable shape till our days. The walls, reaching to the sea, date from the 6th century, Sassanid dynasty period. The city has a well-preserved citadel (Narin-kala), enclosing an area of 4.5 hectares (11 acres), enclosed by strong walls. Historical attractions include the baths, the cisterns, the old cemeteries, the caravanserai, the 18th-century Khan's mausoleum, as well as several mosques. The oldest mosque is the Juma Mosque, built over a 6th-century Christian basilica; it has a 15th-century madrassa. Other shrines include the 17th-century Kyrhlyar mosque, the Bala mosque and the 18th-century Chertebe mosque.
The modern city is built near the western shores of the Caspian Sea, south of the Rubas River, on the slopes of the Tabasaran Mountains (part of the Bigger Caucasus range). Derbent is well served by public transport, with its own harbor, a railway going south to Baku, and the Baku to Rostov-on-Don road.
To the north of the town is the monument of the Kirk-lar, or forty heroes, who fell defending Dagestan against the Arabs in 728. To the south lies the seaward extremity of the Caucasian wall (fifty metres long), otherwise known as Alexander's Wall, blocking the narrow pass of the Iron Gate or Caspian Gates (Portae Athanae or Portae Caspiae). This, when entire, had a height of 29 ft (9 m) and a thickness of about 10 ft (3 m) and, with its iron gates and numerous watch-towers, formed a valuable defence of the Persian frontier.
|Climate data for Derbent|
|Record high °C (°F)||17.0
|Average high °C (°F)||5.0
|Daily mean °C (°F)||2.7
|Average low °C (°F)||0.6
|Record low °C (°F)||−14.0
|Precipitation mm (inches)||13.1
|Avg. precipitation days||15.3||15.3||10.2||7.6||5.8||2.8||2.9||6.6||7.7||10.1||10.6||10.0||104.9|
Administrative and municipal status
Within the framework of administrative divisions, Derbent serves as the administrative center of Derbentsky District, even though it is not a part of it. As an administrative division, it is incorporated separately as the City of Derbent—an administrative unit with the status equal to that of the districts. As a municipal division, the City of Derbent is incorporated as Derbent Urban Okrug.
- Lezgins (32.6%)
- Azerbaijanis (31.7%)
- Tabasarans (15.4%)
- Dargins (5.5%)
- Russians (5.0%)
- Aghuls (2.9%)
Jews began to settle in Derbent in ancient times and during the Khazars' reign it was an important part of the city. Jews living there are mentioned in the 12th century by Benjamin of Tudela, and in the 13th by the Christian traveler Wilhelm of Rubruquis. The first mention of Jews in Derbent in modern times is by the German traveler Adam Olearius in the 17th century. Derbent Jewry endured frightful sufferings during the wars in the 18th century; Nadir Shah of Persia forced many Jews to adopt Islam. After the Russian conquest many of the Jewish occupants of rural Dagestan fled to Derbent, which became the spiritual center of the mountain Jews. The Jewish population numbered 2,200 in 1897 (15% of total population) and 3,500 in 1903. In 1989, there were 13,000 Jews in the city, most of whom immigrated after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. In 2002, there were 2,000 Jews living in Derbent with an active synagogue and community center operating in the city. The chief rabbi in Derbent is Obadiah Isakov, who became a rabbi in 2004. On July 25, 2013, an assassination attempt on Isakov's life was made by unknown person near his home, badly injuring him. The incident sparked concerns among the local Jews of further acts against the Jewish community.
Economy and culture
The city is home to machine building, food, textile, fishing and fishery supplies, construction materials and wood industries. It is the production center of Russian brandy. The education infrastructure is fairly extensive; there is a university as well as several technical schools. On the cultural front, there is a Lezgin drama theater (named after S. Stalsky). About two kilometers (1.2 miles) from the city is the vacation colony of Chayka (Seagull).
Derbent, being in practice a huge museum and with magnificent mountains and shore nearby, a great potential for development of the tourism industry exists, further increased by UNESCO's classification of the Citadel, Ancient City and Fortress as a World Heritage Site in 2003; however, instability in the region has not allowed further development.
- Michail Dadashev, writer, poet, economist, translator and historian of Mountain Jews language and heritage.
- Sergey Izgiyayev, poet, playwright and translator of Mountain Jewish descent
- Yagutil Mishiev, writer
- Israel Tsvaygenbaum, artist
- Igor Yusufov, politician
- Rustam Khabilov, sambist and UFC fighter
- Bella Nisan, ophthalmologist
Twin towns and sister cities
Derbent is twinned with:
- Law #16
- Law #6
- "Всероссийская перепись населения 2010 года. Том 1" [2010 All-Russian Population Census, vol. 1]. Всероссийская перепись населения 2010 года (2010 All-Russia Population Census) (in Russian). Federal State Statistics Service. 2011. Retrieved June 29, 2012.
- Правительство Российской Федерации. Постановление №725 от 31 августа 2011 г. «О составе территорий, образующих каждую часовую зону, и порядке исчисления времени в часовых зонах, а также о признании утратившими силу отдельных Постановлений Правительства Российской Федерации». Вступил в силу по истечении 7 дней после дня официального опубликования. Опубликован: "Российская Газета", №197, 6 сентября 2011 г. (Government of the Russian Federation. Resolution #725 of August 31, 2011 On the Composition of the Territories Included into Each Time Zone and on the Procedures of Timekeeping in the Time Zones, as Well as on Abrogation of Several Resolutions of the Government of the Russian Federation. Effective as of after 7 days following the day of the official publication.).
- Zonn, Igor S; Aleksey N Kosarev, Michael Glantz, Andrey G. Kostianoy (2010). The Caspian Sea Encyclopedia. Springer. p. 160.
- "Численность населения России, субъектов Российской Федерации в составе федеральных округов, районов, городских поселений, сельских населённых пунктов – районных центров и сельских населённых пунктов с населением 3 тысячи и более человек" [Population of Russia, its federal districts, federal subjects, districts, urban localities, rural localities—administrative centers, and rural localities with population of over 3,000]. Всероссийская перепись населения 2002 года (All-Russia Population Census of 2002) (in Russian). Federal State Statistics Service. May 21, 2004. Retrieved February 9, 2012.
- Demoscope Weekly (1989). "Всесоюзная перепись населения 1989 г. Численность наличного населения союзных и автономных республик, автономных областей и округов, краёв, областей, районов, городских поселений и сёл-райцентров." [All Union Population Census of 1989. Present population of union and autonomous republics, autonomous oblasts and okrugs, krais, oblasts, districts, urban settlements, and villages serving as district administrative centers]. Всесоюзная перепись населения 1989 года (All-Union Population Census of 1989) (in Russian). Institute of Demographics of the State University—Higher School of Economics. Retrieved February 9, 2012.
- Derbent - Russia’s oldest city: 5,000 and counting
- See (Armenian) Sedrak Barkhudaryan, “Դերբենդի հայ-աղվանական թագավորությունը” (“The Armenian-Caucasian Albanian Kingdom of Derbend”). Patma-Banasirakan Handes . № 3, 1969, pp. 125-147.
- (Armenian) Matthew of Edessa. Ժամանակնագրություն (Chronicle). Translated by Hrach Bartikyan. Yerevan: Hayastan Publishing, 1973, pp. 151-152, 332, note 132a.
- "Climatebase". Retrieved June 8, 2012.
- "Twin-cities of Azerbaijan". Azerbaijans.com. Retrieved 2013-08-09.
- Народное Собрание Республики Дагестан. Закон №16 от 10 апреля 2002 г. «Об административно-территориальном устройстве Республики Дагестан», в ред. Закона №23 от 4 апреля 2006 г «О внесении изменений в некоторые законодательные акты Республики Дагестан в связи с прекращением полномочий Государственного Совета Республики Дагестан». Вступил в силу со дня официального опубликования. Опубликован: "Дагестанская правда", №81, 12 апреля 2002 г. (People's Assembly of the Republic of Dagestan. Law #16 of April 10, 2002 On the Administrative-Territorial Structure of the Republic of Dagestan, as amended by the Law #23 of April 4, 2006 On Amending Several Legislative Acts of the Republic of Dagestan Due to the Termination of Powers of the State Council of the Republic of Dagestan. Effective as of the day of the official publication.).
- Народное Собрание Республики Дагестан. Закон №6 от 13 января 2005 г. «О статусе и границах муниципальных образований Республики Дагестан», в ред. Закона №60 от 5 октября 2012 г. «О внесении изменения в статью 9 Закона Республики Дагестан "О статусе и границах муниципальных образований Республики Дагестан"». Вступил в силу со дня официального опубликования. Опубликован: "Дагестанская правда", №8, 15 февраля 2005 г. (People's Assembly of the Republic of Dagestan. Law #6 of January 13, 2005 On the Status and Borders of the Municipal Formations of the Republic of Dagestan, as amended by the Law #60 of October 5, 2012 On Amending Article 9 of the Law of the Republic of Dagestan "On the Status and Borders of the Municipal Formations of the Republic of Dagestan". Effective as of the day of the official publication.).
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press
- Some text used with permission from www.travel-images.com. The original text can be found here.
- Derbent - Russia's oldest city: 5,000 and counting
- History and attractions of Derbent
- A mosque. A prison. And a mosque again. Derbent - the oldest Djuma-mosque in North Caucasus.
- Pictures of Derbent