Shahbulag Castle

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Shahbulag Castle
Şahbulaq qalası
Azerbaijan Agdam Rayon, Azerbaijan (de jure)
Republic of ArtsakhMartakert Province, Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (de facto)
Coordinates40°03′56″N 46°54′22″E / 40.0655°N 46.9061°E / 40.0655; 46.9061
Site history
Built byPanah Ali Khan
MaterialsLimestone and Dimension stone

Shahbulag Castle (Azerbaijani: Şahbulaq qalası "Spring of the Shah"), is an 18th-century fortress in near Aghdam.[1]


After the death of Persian ruler Nadir Shah, the territory that is nowadays Azerbaijan split into several Caucasian khanates one of which was the Karabakh Khanate founded by Panah Ali Khan Javanshir. The first capital of the khanate was the Bayat Castle built in 1748. The capital was soon moved to the newly constructed Shahbulag Castle located in lowland Karabakh.[2] Eventually, Panah Ali Khan moved the capital to its final location, Shusha, a natural fortress located on a hardly penetratable mountain rock.[3] Once construction of Shusha castle was completed, Panah Ali Khan relocated all of his court, nobles, meliks.[4][5] Nevertheless, Karabakh khans kept about 3,000 strong horse cavalry in Shabulag Castle at all times for defense purposes.[6] Designs of Shahbulag, Shusha and Askeran castles resemble.[7]


The castle was called Shahbulag ("Shah's spring") honoring the nearby spring.[8] The complex which included mosques, houses, baths and a market was built in 1751–52.[9] During the construction, limestone and dimension stone were used. Only the castle itself and the mosque on its northwestern end survived. The castle has a rectangular architectural design and its external walls are reinforced with circular and semicylinder towers. The walls and towers contain embrasures and merlons typical for defense structures. The castle walls are 7 metres (23 ft) high, and the towers are 8.5 metres (28 ft) high. The entrance to the castle is in the middle section of the eastern wall. During the reign of the khan, it was protected by two story tower like premises. The top floor was intended for the khan with a stone staircase leading to it from the castle yard. The castle was built from half-hewn whole stones.[1]


The mosque built during the construction of Shahbulag castle is on the northwestern part of the castle. It includes a small stone prayer hall with a square dome 5.1 metres (17 ft) on a side and a veranda with a facade of 5.1 by 2.5 metres (16.7 by 8.2 ft) that faces east. The veranda beams are based on quadrangular 8-edge pillars. Shahbulag architecture is thought to have influenced later architectural designs of buildings in all Karabakh region and especially that of Shusha.[1]

Current state[edit]

Today, the Shahbulag castle remains an important historic and cultural remnant of the Karabakh Khanate period.[10][11] Following takeover of Agdam by Armenian forces during the Nagorno-Karabakh War in July 1993, the castle was restored and a small museum was opened inside the castle by local Armenians, storing artifacts found during ongoing excavation efforts at the adjacent archaeological site of Tigranakert.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Karabakh Foundation - Agdam; Shahbulag Castle". Archived from the original on 26 July 2011. Retrieved 17 August 2010.
  2. ^ "Karabakh Foundation - Shusha". Archived from the original on 4 October 2010. Retrieved 17 August 2010.
  3. ^ War Against Azerbaijan - Targeting Cultural Heritage. 2007. ISBN 978-9952-8091-4-5. Archived from the original on September 9, 2010. Retrieved August 17, 2010.
  4. ^ Тофик Кочарли. К истории Карабахского вопроса. p. 29. Retrieved August 17, 2010.
  5. ^ "Ministry of Tourism - Город Шуша". Retrieved 17 August 2010.
  6. ^ "История Карабага". Retrieved 17 August 2010.
  7. ^ "Castles & Towers in Azerbaijan". Retrieved 17 August 2010.
  8. ^ "Islamic Architectural Heritage Database - Shahbulag Castle ( Azerbaijan )". Retrieved 17 August 2010.
  9. ^ "КАРАБАГ-НАМЕ by МИРЗА АДИГЕЗАЛЬ-БЕК". Retrieved 17 August 2010.
  10. ^ "MIDDLE AGES GARABAGH MONUMENTS". Archived from the original on 6 July 2011. Retrieved 17 August 2010.
  11. ^ "Агдам (Азербайджан)". Archived from the original on 9 March 2012. Retrieved 17 August 2010.