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Coordinates: 39°59′35″N 46°55′50″E / 39.99306°N 46.93056°E / 39.99306; 46.93056

From top left: Shahbulag Castle Shahbulag Mosque Imarat cemetery Agdam Mosque Bread Museum Panah Ali Khan’s Palace Ruins of Agdam
Agdam is located in Azerbaijan
Coordinates: 39°59′35″N 46°55′50″E / 39.99306°N 46.93056°E / 39.99306; 46.93056
Country Azerbaijan
369 m (1,211 ft)
 • TotalCurrently uninhabited
Pre-war population was 28,031
Time zoneUTC+4 (AZT)

Agdam (Azerbaijani: Ağdam) is a ghost town[1] and the nominal capital of the Agdam District of Azerbaijan.[2] Founded in the early 19th century, it grew considerably during the Soviet period and had 28,031 inhabitants by 1989.[3]

As Azerbaijani forces withdrew from Karabakh following political turmoil in the country,[4] local Armenian forces captured Agdam in July 1993 during the First Nagorno-Karabakh War.[5] 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.[6][7] It is currently almost entirely ruined and uninhabited,[8] prompting the locals to refer to it as the Hiroshima of the Caucasus.[9][10]

As part of an agreement that ended the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war, the town and its surrounding district were returned to Azerbaijani control on 20 November 2020.[11][12]


The city's name is of Azerbaijani origin, meaning "white house", where 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.[13] 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).[14][15] Prior to the return to Azerbaijani control it was administratively part of the town of Askeran, which is located some 10 km away.[16]


Agdam Mosque on an Azerbaijani stamp, depicted as it looked before the Karabakh war

Agdam was founded in the 18th century and granted city status in 1828.[17] 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.[18][19]

First Nagorno-Karabakh War[edit]

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.[20][21]

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.[21] Parsons reported that every single Azeri house in the town was blown up to discourage return.[20]

As the city fell, its entire population fled eastward.[22]

The Armed Forces of Armenia used the city as a buffer zone until November 2020, as a result Agdam was empty, decaying, and usually off-limits for sightseeing.[23][24]

Armenian occupation[edit]

The ruined city once had a population of almost 30,000 people,[3] but today it is an almost entirely uninhabited ghost town.[25][1]

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.[26]

According to former U.S. Co-Chair of the OSCE Minsk Group Carey Cavanaugh, the city was destroyed not in fighting, but by being dismantled "brick by brick".[27]

One of the buildings stripped of materials was the Agdam Mosque.[28] 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."[29] His photographs showed cattle within the mosque.[30] 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.[31]

Return to Azerbaijan[edit]

As part of the agreement that ended the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war, the town and its surrounding area were returned to Azerbaijani control on 20 November 2020.[11]

On 24 November 2020, President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and his wife, Mehriban Aliyeva visited the ruined city and made a speech.[32]

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.[33]

Reconstruction of Agdam[edit]

On May 22, 2021, Azerbaijani news outlets reported that Agdam city center will be rebuilt. In addition, construction of a road between Barda and Agdam started.[34][35]

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.[36][37][38][39]

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.[40]



Agdam has a cold semi-arid climate (BSk) according to the Köppen climate classification.

Climate data for Agdam
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
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
Source: NOAA[41]


Year Population Ethnic groups Source
1923 1,660 [42]
1926 7,910 93.6% Turks (i.e. Azerbaijani) Soviet census[43]
1939 10,746 83.3% Azerbaijani, 8.7% Russian, 5.3% Armenian Soviet census[44]
1959 16,061 92% Azerbaijani, 3.6% Russian, 3.4% Armenian Soviet census[45]
1970 21,277 94.9% Azerbaijani, 2% Russian & Ukrainian, 2% Armenian Soviet census[46]
1979 23,483 97% Azerbaijani, 1.3% Russian & Ukrainian, 1.2% Armenian Soviet census[47]
1989 28,031 Soviet census[3]
July 1993: Capture by Armenian forces. Expulsion of the Azerbaijani population
2005 0 [citation needed]


Before the First Nagorno-Karabakh War, butter, wine and brandy, machine factories and a railway station functioned in the city.


Music and media[edit]

Mugham music, a tradition in the Karabakh region, is an important part of Agdam's musical heritage; the city was home to Agdam Mugham School, which produced "Karabakh nightingales" ensemble.[48][49]


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.[50]

The Imarat Stadium, which was Agdam's only stadium, was also destroyed by bombardments from Armenian military forces during the First Nagorno-Karabakh War.[51][52][53]


Prior to the war, the city had bus and tram lines and an airport which no longer function.[54] In November 2020, Azerbaijan Railways announced that it was discussing plans to build a 104 km railway line from Yevlakh to Khankendi via Agdam.[55]


Prior to the city's destruction and subsequent abandonment, it contained 74 schools, none of which are functioning now.[56]

Notable residents[edit]

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.

International relations[edit]

Twin towns and sister cities[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "No-Man's-Land: Inside Azerbaijan's Ghost City Of Agdam Before Its Recapture". RFE/RL. 25 November 2020. Retrieved 21 April 2021.
  2. ^ Gai︠a︡nė Novikova (2004). The Nagorno Karabakh Conflict: In Search of the Way Out : To the Question of the Readiness of Azerbaijani and Armenian Societies to a Compromise Resolution of the Conflict. Amrots Group. p. 138. ISBN 9789994131273.
  3. ^ a b c "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-02-22. Retrieved 2014-06-03.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ De Waal, Thomas (2003). Black Garden: Armenia and Azerbaijan Through Peace and War. New York: New York University Press. p. 213. ISBN 0-8147-1944-9.
  5. ^ "Caucasus City Falls to Armenian Forces". The New York Times. 24 August 1993. In July, Armenian forces forced out the defenders of Agdam, Azerbaijan.
  6. ^ "Azeris return to their ruined old homes". The Economist. 16 December 2020. Retrieved 21 April 2021.
  7. ^ "'I don't even know if my home still exists.'". National Geographic. 5 February 2021. Retrieved 21 April 2021.
  8. ^ Specter, Michael (2 June 1994). "Azerbaijan, Potentially Rich, Is Impoverished by Warfare". The New York Times. Cities like Agdam have been emptied of people.
  9. ^ "The story of FK Qarabag: How a team born from war now prepares to host Chelsea in the Champions League". 22 November 2017.
  10. ^ Musayelyan, Lusine. "Life Among Ruins of Caucasus' Hiroshima". Institute for War and Peace Reporting.
  11. ^ a b "Azerbaijanis celebrate Karabakh deal". Anadolu Agency. 10 November 2020.
  12. ^ "Azerbaijan Army Enters Agdam As Armenians Flee". RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty. Retrieved 2020-11-20.
  13. ^ "Agdam city". Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Azerbaijan. Archived from the original on 20 July 2012. Retrieved 26 July 2010.
  14. ^ "Armenian separatists rename Azeri town". 3 November 2010.
  15. ^ "July 23 marks 21st anniv.Aghdam liberation". PanARMENIAN.Net. 23 July 2014.
  16. ^ Musayelyan, Lusine (26 April 2011). "Life Among Ruins of Caucasus' Hiroshima". Institute for War and Peace Reporting.
  17. ^ Значение слова "Агдам" в Большой Советской Энциклопедии (in Russian). Soviet Encyclopedia. Retrieved 26 July 2010.
  18. ^ Агдам (Азербайджан). (in Russian). Archived from the original on 9 March 2012. Retrieved 26 July 2010.
  19. ^ Girchenko, Yuriy. Юрий Гирченко. В Союзе все спокойно... (in Russian). Retrieved 26 July 2010.
  20. ^ a b Parsons, Robert (3 June 2000). "Tug-of-war for Nagorno-Karabakh". BBC News. Archived from the original on 27 April 2010. Retrieved 26 July 2010.
  21. ^ a b Azerbaijan: Seven Years of Conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh (PDF). Human Rights Watch/Helsinki. December 1, 1994. pp. 18–35. Retrieved 3 June 2021.
  22. ^ Paul, Amanda. "Agdam – an Azerbaijani ghost town". Archived from the original on 19 May 2011. Retrieved 18 May 2011.
  23. ^ Hannigan, Chris. "Ghost Towns: Ağdam, Azerbaijan". Archived from the original on 13 August 2010. Retrieved 26 July 2010.
  24. ^ Chauffor, Célia. "Report: Agdam, ghost city". Caucaz Europenewz. Archived from the original on 1 July 2010. Retrieved 26 July 2010.
  25. ^ "20 Abandoned Cities from Around the World". Daily Cognition. Retrieved 26 July 2010.
  26. ^ "Report of the OSCE Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) to the Occupied Territories of Azerbaijan Surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh (NK)" (PDF). OSCE. 28 February 2005. Retrieved 21 April 2021.
  27. ^ Cavanaugh, Carey. "Twit of Nov 18, 2020". Twitter. Retrieved 20 April 2021.
  28. ^ Carlotta Gall and Anton Troianovski (11 December 2020). "After Nagorno-Karabakh War, Trauma, Tragedy and Devastation". The New York Times. Retrieved 12 December 2020 – via
  29. ^ "Велопоход по Армении и Нагорному Карабаху 2007". Retrieved 2020-11-23.
  30. ^ Qureshi, Shahid (13 July 2020). "Armenians converted 'Aghdam Jamia Mosque' into Pigsty in Occupied Qarabakh – why no Protests?". The London Post. Retrieved 3 December 2020.
  31. ^ "Turks complain to Pope on vandalism in Karabakh mosque by Armenians". Archived from the original on 20 July 2010. Retrieved 26 July 2010.
  32. ^ "President Ilham Aliyev and First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva visited the liberated city of Agdam". 24 November 2020.
  33. ^ "Nagorno-Karabakh: Tough rebuilding ahead for devastated city of Agdam". France 24. 2020-11-28. Retrieved 2020-11-28.
  34. ^ "Ağdam sıfırdan qurulur - Fotolar". May 23, 2021.
  35. ^ "Reconstruction work underway in center of Azerbaijan's Agdam [PHOTO]". May 22, 2021.
  36. ^ "Visit of Ilham Aliyev to Aghdam". Official web-site of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan. Retrieved 1 June 2021.
  37. ^ "Prezident İlham Əliyev Ağdam şəhərinin bərpasının təməl daşının qoyulması mərasimində iştirak edib, rayon ictimaiyyətinin nümayəndələri ilə görüşüb YENİLƏNİB -2 VİDEO". (in Azerbaijani). Retrieved 2021-05-30.
  38. ^ "Ağdam şəhərində inşa olunacaq ilk yaşayış binasının təməli qoyulub YENİLƏNİB VİDEO". (in Azerbaijani). Retrieved 2021-05-30.
  39. ^ "Azerbaijan lays foundation for restoration of Armenian-destroyed Aghdam city [PHOTO]". 2021-05-28. Retrieved 2021-05-30.
  40. ^ "President Ilham Aliyev attended ceremony to lay foundation stone for restoration of Aghdam city, met with members of general public". AZERTAC Azerbaijan State News Agency. 31 May 2021. Retrieved 1 June 2021.
  41. ^ "Agdam Climate Normals 1961–1990". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved 22 March 2015.
  42. ^ "Azərbaycan".
  43. ^ "Агдамский уезд 1926".
  44. ^ "Агдамский район 1939".
  45. ^ "Агдамский район 1959".
  46. ^ "Агдамский район 1970".
  47. ^ "Агдамский район 1979".
  48. ^ Shirinov, Elnur. ""Qarabağ bülbülləri" nin yaradıcısı kimdir". Retrieved 14 November 2014.
  49. ^ Золотой голос Карабаха – Гадир Рустамов. (in Russian). Archived from the original on 22 December 2015. Retrieved 14 November 2014.
  50. ^ Adil Nadirov: «Bizi az qala döyüb öldürəcəkdilər" Archived 2016-03-19 at the Wayback Machine (20 April 2010) (in Azerbaijani)
  51. ^ "Vaxt olmayan yer". Archived from the original on July 6, 2011.
  52. ^ Ermənilərin xarabaya çevirdiyi Ağdamın «İmarət» stadionu Archived 2016-03-22 at the Wayback Machine (8 June 2010) (in Azerbaijani)
  53. ^ "Qubadlı rayonu - VİDEO". Archived from the original on July 6, 2011.
  54. ^ "Ağdam". (in Azerbaijani). Archived from the original on 2017-03-02.
  55. ^ "Агдам, Ходжалы и Ханкенди соединит железная дорога".
  56. ^ "Dağlıq Qarabağ münaqişəsi". (in Azerbaijani). 23 July 2015. Retrieved 22 February 2021.
  57. ^ Azerbaijani occupied town twinned with Hungary's Tiszavasvari

External links[edit]