Julfa, Azerbaijan (city)
City and Municipality
|Time zone||UTC+4 (AZT)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC+5 (AZT)|
Julfa (Azerbaijani: Culfa, Ҹулфа, جولفا), formerly Jugha (Armenian: Ջուղա, sometimes transliterated as Djugha) and also rendered as Djulfa, Dzhul’fa, Jolfa, Dzhulfa, Džulfa, Jolfā, Jolfā-ye Nakhjavān (Persian: جلفای نخجوان), is the administrative capital of the Julfa Rayon administrative region of the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic in Azerbaijan.
Traditionally, the king of Armenia, Tigranes I, was said to have been the founder of Julfa. Existing as a village in the early Middle Ages, it grew into a town between the 10th and 13th centuries, with a population that was almost entirely Armenian. For a time, Julfa was one of the most important settlements in medieval Armenia. It became prosperous during the 15th to the 17th centuries due to the role it played in international trade, as it was located along the ancient trade routes from Persia, the Middle East, South-East Asia, India, to Russia, the Mediterranean, and North-West Europe.
In 1603, during the Ottoman-Safavid War (1603-1618), Shah Abbas I of Persia retook Julfa from the Ottoman Empire and was seen as a liberator by its Armenian population. However, Abbas had realized that he was unable to defend the territory along the Aras River from incursions by the Ottomans. His solution was to evacuate the region, undertaking a scorched earth policy to prevent its wealth and population falling into Ottoman hands. In October 1605, the Shah issued an edict declaring that the entire population of Julfa must leave their homes and move deep into the Persian Empire.
According to 17th century chronicler Arakel of Tabriz, the edict stated that they had three days to leave or face being massacred. Another eyewitness, Augustus Badjetsi, Bishop of Nakhijevan, wrote:
|“||[The Persians entered the Armenian villages] like thunder from the sky... We left houses full of goods, the herds in the fields ... the entire population was turned out of their land ... how many were pushed out at the point of swords and spears ... their moans and groans reaching the skies.||”|
About three thousand families were deported from Julfa, and many drowned while attempting to cross the Aras. After the deportation was completed, the town was destroyed by fire to prevent the inhabitants from returning. The deportees were taken to an area near Esfahan in Persia (now Iran), where a new town, New Julfa, was established. New Julfa is now a district of Esfahan, and is the modern day center of the Iranian Armenian population in Iran.
In 1606, a second deportation was made of inhabitants that had escaped the first deportation.
In the 17th century a small settlement was founded amid the ruins of the destroyed town, which, in 1747, became part of the Iranian Nakhichevan administrative division within Qajar Iran. At the start of the 19th century this settlement moved to a new location three kilometres to the east of the historical town, at the point where the Yernjak River flows into the Aras. Following the Russo-Persian War of 1826-28 and the resulting Treaty of Turkmenchay in 1828, the village of Julfa became the official border crossing between Persia and Russia as the former was forced to cede its last remaining Caucasian territories, containing state customs services, a garrison and post office.
The town became part of the Armenian oblast from 1840 to 1847, and then part of the Erevan Gubernia of the Russian Empire between 1847 and 1917. According to the Russian Empire Census in 1897 Julfa was a village with a population of 763, of which 751 were Armenians. Following the Russian Revolution, between 1918 and 1920 Julfa was the subject of a territorial dispute between the Democratic Republic of Armenia and the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic. As a result of the Treaty of Kars, it became part of the Nakhchivan Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic under the Transcaucasian SFSR in 1922, which itself became part of the Azerbaijan SSR in 1936.
During the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the status of Nagorno-Karabakh from 1988 to 1994, the remaining Armenian population (which had been slowly declining due to emigration during the Soviet era) was either evacuated or was forcibly deported to Armenia.
The archaeological site of Old Julfa and destruction of the Julfa cemetery
At the beginning of the 20th century, the remains of the medieval settlement included a massive ruined bridge, two large caravanserais (one on the Iranian side of the border), the walls of a fortress, and several Armenian churches. The most notable remnant from old Julfa was the town's huge Armenian cemetery, located to the west of the ruined city, on three low hills divided by small valleys. It contained the largest surviving collection of Armenian khachkar tombstones, most dating to the 15th and 16th centuries. One of the earliest references to the site is that of the French Jesuit missionary Alexander de Rhodes, who wrote that during his visit in 1648 he saw over ten thousand tombstones. However, a large number of the stones were destroyed during the construction of the railway line to Julfa early in the 20th century.
In the 1970s, according to Argam Aivazian's investigations at the cemetery from 1971 to 1973, there were, either upright or fallen, 462 khachkars on the first cemetery hill, 1,672 khachkars on the second, and 573 on the third. In addition to these khachkars there were in the same cemetery more than a thousand ram-shaped, gabled, or flat tombstones. An additional 250 khachkars were counted in the cemetery of the nearby Amenaprkich monastery and in other parts of the city site. The number of khachkars and ram-shaped tombstones buried in the earth or in fragments, in the main cemetery and elsewhere, was estimated to be more than 1,400.
Between 1998 and 2006 the entire cemetery was destroyed. The various stages of the destruction process were documented by photographic and video evidence taken from the Iranian side of the border. However, the government and state officials of Azerbaijan have denied that any destruction has taken place, stating that an Armenian cemetery never existed on the site and that Armenians have never lived in Julfa. Azerbaijan has, to date, refused to allow investigators access to the site. The European Parliament formally called on Azerbaijan to stop the demolition as a breach of the UNESCO World Heritage Convention. According to its resolution regarding cultural monuments in the South Caucasus, the European Parliament "condemns strongly the destruction of the Julfa cemetery as well as the destruction of all sites of historical importance that has taken place on Armenian or Azerbaijani territory, and condemns any such action that seeks to destroy cultural heritage." In 2006, Azerbaijan barred the European Parliament from inspecting and examining the ancient site, stating that by passing the previously-mentioned resolution the Parliament had committed a hostile act against Azerbaijan. The Institute for War and Peace Reporting reported on April 19, 2006 that "there is nothing left of the celebrated stone crosses of Jugha."
After several more postponed visits, a renewed attempt was planned by Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) inspectors for August 29 - September 6, 2007, led by British MP Edward O'Hara. As well as Nakhchivan, the delegation would visit Baku, Yerevan, Tbilisi, and Nagorno Karabakh. The inspectors planned to visit Nagorno Karabakh via Armenia, and had arranged transport to facilitate this. However, on August 28, the head of the Azerbaijani delegation to PACE released a demand that the inspectors must enter Nagorno Karabakh via Azerbaijan. On August 29, PACE Secretary General Mateo Sorinas announced that the visit had to be cancelled because of the difficulty in accessing Nagorno Karabagh using the route required by Azerbaijan. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Armenia issued a statement saying that Azerbaijan had stopped the visit "due solely to their intent to veil the demolition of Armenian monuments in Nakhijevan".
Julfa in culture
The sudden and dramatic downfall of Old Julfa in the 17th century made a deep and lasting impression on Armenian society and culture. During the 19th century, poets such Hovhanness Toumanian and historians such as Ghevond Alishan produced works based on the event. The emotions raised as a result of the destruction of the graveyard in 2006 indicates that the fate of Julfa still resonates within contemporary Armenian society.
- (in Armenian) Ayvazyan, Argam. «Ջուղա» (Jugha). Armenian Soviet Encyclopedia. vol. ix. Yerevan, Armenian SSR: Armenian Academy of Sciences, 1983, pp. 549-550.
- The Encyclopaedia of Islam, by Hamilton Alexander Rosskeen Gibb, Union académique internationale - 1960- p. 275
- Julfa, Encyclopedia of Brokgauz and Efron
- Армяно-Иранские связи в эпоху правления шаха Аббаса Первого. Родионова Е. М. 2007 Archived 2010-02-26 at the Wayback Machine
- ArmSSR, Great Soviet Encyclopedia
- Visions of Ararat, By Christopher J. Walker, p. 13
- Julfa, Great Soviet Encyclopedia
- Apocrypha, Pseudepigrapha and Armenian Studies, By Michael E. Stone, p. 810
- Julfa, Словарь современных географических названий
- History, Arakel Vardapet Davrizhetsi, Vagharshapat, 1896
- Quotes are from the English translation in Aivazian's Djugha - the original source being Choice Selections from Armenian Chronicles, K. Patakanian, St. Petersburg, 1884, page 6 (in Armenian)
- Первая всеобщая перепись населения Российской империи 1897 г. "Населенные места Российской империи в 500 и более жителей с указанием всего наличного в них населения и числа жителей преобладающих вероисповеданий, по данным первой всеобщей переписи населения 1897 г.", Санкт-Петербург, 1905, стр. 53
- Yuri Rost, Armenian Tragedy, London 1990, p81.
- "The Medieval City of Jugha", Lucy Der Manuelian and Steven Sim, in "The Destruction of Jugha", Berne, 2006. p19-46.
- "World Watches In Silence As Azerbaijan Wipes Out Armenian Culture". The Art Newspaper. 2006-05-25. Retrieved 2006-05-25.
- "Tragedy on the Araxes". Archaeology. 2006-06-30. Retrieved 2006-06-30.
- Armenica.org: Destruction of Armenian Khatchkars in Old Jougha (Nakhchivan)
- "Will the arrested minister become new leader of opposition? Azerbaijani press digest". REGNUM News Agency. 2006-01-20. Retrieved 2006-01-20.
- European Parliament Resolution on the European Neighbourhood Policy - January 2006
- European Parliament On Destruction of Cultural Heritage
- Castle, Stephen (2006-05-30). "Azerbaijan 'Flattened' Sacred Armenian Site". London: The Independent. Archived from the original on 2006-06-15. Retrieved 2006-05-30.
- "Azerbaijan: Famous Medieval Cemetery Vanishes". Institute for War and Peace Reporting. 2006-04-19. Retrieved 2006-04-19.
- "Pace Mission to Monitor Cultural Monuments", S. Agayeva, Trend News Agency, Azerbaijan, Aug 22 2007.
- Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Armenia, Press Release 29-08-2007.
- (in Armenian) Ayvazyan, Argam. Ջուղա (Jugha). Yerevan, Armenian SSR: Sovetakan Grogh, 1984.
- Argam Aivazian, Nakhijevan: Book of Monuments / Նախիջեւան. գիրք հուշարձանաց, Yerevan, 1990. OCLC 26842386
- Baltrušaitis, Jurgis and Dickran Kouymjian. "Julfa on the Arax and Its Funerary Monuments" in Études Arméniennes/Armenian Studies In Memoriam Haig Berberian. Lisbon: Galouste Gulbenkian Foundation, 1986.
- Switzerland-Armenia Parliamentary Group, The Destruction of Jugha, Bern, 2006.
- Pickman, Sarah (June 30, 2006). "Tragedy on the Araxes". Archaeology Magazine.
- ICOMOS Heritage at Risk 2006/2007 (June 2007). "ICOMOS Heritage at Risk 2006/2007: Destruction of the Armenian Cemetery at Djulfa" (PDF). ICOMOS.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Julfa, Azerbaijan (city).|
- Azerbaijani vandalism against Armenian cultural monuments in Old Julfa tape on YouTube.
- Old Jugha page on Armeniapedia
- Djulfa Virtual Memorial and Museum Documenting Cultural Destruction in Nakhichevan
- Destruction of Jugha khachkars by Azeri soldiers captured in photos and movie clips.
- Regnum News Agency report. giving response of Azerbaijan to reports of the destruction of the cemetery.
- IWPR report by a reporter who did not actually visit the graveyard site.
- The New Tears of Araxes Documents the destruction of thousands of ancient Armenian headstones by the Azerbaijani authorities in Julfa (Jugha), Nakhchivan.