|Elevation||369 m (1,211 ft)|
|• Total||Currently uninhabited|
Pre-war population was 28,031
|Time zone||UTC+4 (AZT)|
Agdam (Azerbaijani: Ağdam) is a ghost town and the nominal capital of the Agdam District of Azerbaijan. Founded in the early 19th century, it grew considerably during the Soviet period and had 28,031 inhabitants by 1989.
As Azerbaijani forces withdrew from Karabakh following political turmoil in the country, local Armenian forces captured Agdam in July 1993 during the First Nagorno-Karabakh War. The heavy fighting forced the city's population to flee eastwards. Upon the seizure, forces of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic destroyed the town. More damage occurred in the following decades when the then-abandoned town was looted for building materials. It is currently almost entirely ruined and uninhabited, prompting the locals to refer to it as the Hiroshima of the Caucasus.
The city's name is of Azerbaijani origin, meaning "white house", where ağ means "white" and dam is "house" or "attic", thus referring to a "bright sun-lit, white house" which was given by Panah Ali Khan of the Karabakh Khanate. Another possibility presented by Azerbaijani authors is that it was derived from ancient Turkic glossary meaning "small fortress".
In November 2010 it was renamed by the NKR government to Akna (Armenian: Ակնա). Prior to the return to Azerbaijani control it was administratively part of the town of Askeran, which is located some 10 km away.
Agdam was founded in the 18th century and granted city status in 1828. It is 26 km (16 miles) from Stepanakert. Before the First Nagorno-Karabakh War, butter, wine and brandy, machine, and silk factories, an airport and two railway stations functioned there.
First Nagorno-Karabakh War
Agdam was the scene of brutal fighting in the First Nagorno-Karabakh War. According to journalist Robert Parsons, Azerbaijani forces used Agdam as a base for attacks on Karabakh, launching BM-21 Grad rockets and bombing raids from there against civilians, while Armenian forces indiscriminately shelled Agdam.
According to Human Rights Watch, Armenian forces exploited the power vacuum in Azerbaijan at the time, and seized Agdam in July 1993. HRW reported that "during their offensive against Agdam, Karabakh Armenian forces committed several violations of the rules of war, including hostage-taking, indiscriminate fire, and the forcible displacement of civilians". After the city was seized, it was intentionally looted and burned under orders of Karabakh Armenian authorities, which HRW considers to be a serious violation of the rules of war. Parsons reported that every single Azeri house in the town was blown up to discourage return.
As the city fell, its entire population fled eastward.
An OSCE Fact-Finding Mission that visited the town in 2005 reported that the entire town of Agdam was "in complete ruins with the exception of the mosque in the center". FFM observed activity of scavenging for building materials in the town.
One of the buildings stripped of materials was the Agdam Mosque. In June 2010, Andrei Galafyev, a photographer who visited the mosque in 2007, reported that "[t]he floor in the mosque is entirely dirtied with manure of cattle, which wander on the ruins of Agdam in the daytime." His photographs showed cattle within the mosque. Its derelict condition, including a purportedly missing roof, drew criticism from Azerbaijani and Turkish communities, who wrote a letter in 2010 to Pope Benedict XVI asking him to warn Armenians (though Armenians predominantly follow a church which broke with Rome in the 6th century) about the situation.
Return to Azerbaijan
Shortly after the return to Azerbaijani control, a big clean-up of the city began. It is predicted to take 2–5 years for people to be able to live in the city again and that the last landmines should be removed in 15 years' time.
Reconstruction of Agdam
On May 28th, Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev visited the city of Agdam. There, he announced that reconstruction of the city had begun. He laid the foundation stones of the city's school No1, Victory Museum and Open Air Occupation Museum, the Industry Park, the first residential building, and other projects. He also visited the palace of the ruler of Karabakh Khanate Panah Ali Khan, the Imarat tombs and some other reconstruction projects.
The master plan of the city was presented, according to which 8 nearby villages will be merged with Agdam, and the population of the city will be around 100,000. The residential areas will consist of multi-storey buildings and private houses. The city will be surrounded by gardens. It will be rebuilt on the basis of a “smart city” concept, and will be a green energy zone. Inside the city, there will be a large green belt covering an area of 125 hectares, as well as an artificial lake, canals and bridges. The city will have motorways, pedestrian and bike paths, and public transportation will be electricity powered.
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (November 2014)
|Climate data for Agdam|
|Average high °C (°F)||6.2
|Daily mean °C (°F)||2.3
|Average low °C (°F)||−0.9
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||15
|Average precipitation days||4||6||7||7||10||7||3||3||4||6||5||4||66|
|1926||7,910||93.6% Turks (i.e. Azerbaijani)||Soviet census|
|1939||10,746||83.3% Azerbaijani, 8.7% Russian, 5.3% Armenian||Soviet census|
|1959||16,061||92% Azerbaijani, 3.6% Russian, 3.4% Armenian||Soviet census|
|1970||21,277||94.9% Azerbaijani, 2% Russian & Ukrainian, 2% Armenian||Soviet census|
|1979||23,483||97% Azerbaijani, 1.3% Russian & Ukrainian, 1.2% Armenian||Soviet census|
|July 1993: Capture by Armenian forces. Expulsion of the Azerbaijani population|
Before the First Nagorno-Karabakh War, butter, wine and brandy, machine factories and a railway station functioned in the city.
Music and media
Despite the invasion, the town is represented by a professional association football team competing in the top-flight of Azerbaijani football – Qarabağ FK, currently playing in the Azerbaijan Premier League.
Prior to the war, the city had bus and tram lines and an airport which no longer function. In November 2020, Azerbaijan Railways announced that it was discussing plans to build a 104 km railway line from Yevlakh to Khankendi via Agdam.
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (November 2014)
Prior to the city's destruction and subsequent abandonment, it contained 74 schools, none of which are functioning now.
Some of the city's notable former residents include military commanders Allahverdi Bagirov and Asif Maharammov, footballers Ramiz Mammadov, Mushfig Huseynov and Vüqar Nadirov, mugham singers Gadir Rustamov, Mansum Ibrahimov, Arif Babayev and Sakhavat Mammadov, actor Jeyhun Mirzayev, scientist Zakir Mammadov and singer Roya.
Twin towns and sister cities
- Azerbaijani Community of Nagorno-Karabakh
- Bread Museum (Aghdam)
- Tea House (Aghdam)
- Panah Ali Khan’s Palace
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- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-02-22. Retrieved 2014-06-03.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
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In July, Armenian forces forced out the defenders of Agdam, Azerbaijan.
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Cities like Agdam have been emptied of people.
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- "Dağlıq Qarabağ münaqişəsi". khatai.cls.az (in Azerbaijani). 23 July 2015. Retrieved 22 February 2021.
- AzerNews.az: Azerbaijani occupied town twinned with Hungary's Tiszavasvari
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ağdam.|
|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Agdam.|
- Video footage of Agdam before the occupation
- Aghdam: This is no Hiroshima
- Fleeing from Aghdam. Refugee poem
- Pictures of the deserted town: "Abandoned War-Torn City of Agdam, Azerbaijan"
- Pictures of the deserted town: "Aghdam"
- "Clashes Intensify Between Armenia and Azerbaijan Over Disputed Land". The New York Times. January 31, 2015.