Shamakhi District

Coordinates: 40°38′N 48°40′E / 40.633°N 48.667°E / 40.633; 48.667
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40°38′N 48°40′E / 40.633°N 48.667°E / 40.633; 48.667
Shamakhi District
Map of Azerbaijan showing Shamakhi District
Map of Azerbaijan showing Shamakhi District
Country Azerbaijan
RegionMountainous Shirvan
Established8 August 1930
 • GovernorTahir Mammadov
 • Total1,670 km2 (640 sq mi)
 • Total106,400
 • Density64/km2 (170/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+4 (AZT)
Postal code

Shamakhi District (Azerbaijani: Şamaxı rayonu) is one of the 66 districts of Azerbaijan. It is located in the east of the country and belongs to the Mountainous Shirvan Economic Region. The district borders the districts of Quba, Khizi, Gobustan, Hajigabul, Agsu, and Ismayilli. Its capital and largest city is Shamakhi. As of 2020, the district had a population of 106,400.[2]

In its history, eleven major earthquakes have rocked Shamakhi, but each time it was reconstructed by its inhabitants due to its role as the economic and administrative capital of Shirvan and one of the key towns on the way of the Silk Road. The only building to have survived eight of the eleven earthquakes is the landmark Juma Mosque (8th century CE).


Shamakhi was first mentioned as Kamachia by ancient Greco-Roman geographer Claudius Ptolemaeus in the 1st to 2nd century CE. It was an important town during the Middle Ages and served as the capital of the Shirvanshah state from the 8th to 15th centuries and capital of the independent Shirvan Khanate, also known as khanate of Shamakhi. The Catholic friar, missionary and explorer William of Rubruck passed there on his return journey from the Mongol Great Khan's court.[3]

In the middle of the 16th century it was the seat of an English commercial factory, under the traveller Anthony Jenkinson, afterwards envoy extraordinary of the khan of Shirvan to Tsar Ivan IV the Terrible of Russia.

Adam Olearius, who visited Shamakhi in 1637, wrote: "Its inhabitants are in part Armenians and Georgians, who have their particular language; they would not understand each other if they did not use Turkish, which is common to all and very familiar, not only in Shirvan but also everywhere in Persia."[4] The Russians first entered Shirvan in 1723 but soon retired leaving it to Ottomans who possessed it in 1723–35. In 1742 Shamakhi was taken and destroyed by Nadir Shah of Persia, who, to punish the inhabitants for their Sunnite creed, built a new town under the same name about 26 kilometres (16 mi) to the west, at the foot of the main chain of the Caucasus Mountains. The new Shamakhi was at different times a residence of the Shirvan Khanate, but it was finally abandoned, and the old town rebuilt. In the mid-1700s, the population of Shamakhi was about 60,000, most of whom were Armenians.[5] The Shirvan Khanate was finally annexed by Russia in 1805.

The British Penny Cyclopaedia stated in 1833 that "The bulk of the population of Shirvan consists of the Tatar, or, to speak more correctly, Turkish race, with some admixture of Arabs and Persians. . . . Besides the Mohammedans, who form the mass of the population, there are many Armenians, some Jews, and a few Gipsies. According to the official returns of 1831, the number of males belonging to the Mohammedan population was 62.934; Armenians, 6,375; Jews, 332; total males 69,641. The prevalent language of Shirvan is what is there called Toorkee or Turkish, which is also used in Azerbijan." The same source also states that according to the official returns of 1832, the city of Shamakhi was inhabited by only 2,233 families, as a result of the devastation from the sack of the city "in the most barbarous manner by the highlanders of Daghestan" in 1717.[6] The Encyclopædia Britannica stated that in 1873 the city had 25,087 inhabitants, "of which 18680 were Tartars and Shachsevans, 5177 were Armenians, and 1230 Russians." Silk production continued to be the main output, with 130 silk-winding establishments, owned mostly by Armenians, although the industry had considerably declined since 1864.[7]

Shamakhi was the capital of the Shamakhi Governorate of the Russian Empire until the devastating earthquake of 1859, when the capital of the province was transferred to Baku. The importance of the city declined sharply afterwards. According to the Brockhaus and Efron Encyclopedic Dictionary (vol. 77, p. 460, published in 1903), Shamakhi had 20008 inhabitants (10450 males and 9558 females), of which 3% were Russians, 18% were Armenians, and 79% "Azerbaijani Tatars." With regard to religion, 79% of the population was Muslim, of which 22% was Sunni and the rest Shiite; the remaining 21% was "Armeno-Gregorian" (members of the Armenian Apostolic Church) and "Pravoslav" (Orthodox).[8]

The "Queen of Shemakha" is a major protagonist in the poem "The Tale of the Golden Cockerel" by Alexander Pushkin, on which the opera "The Golden Cockerel" by Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov was based. The character, however, is totally fictional and bears no actual relation to the city.


According to the State Statistics Committee, as of 2018, the population of city recorded 103,900 persons, which increased by 22,500 persons (about 27.6 percent) from 81,400 persons in 2000.[9] 52,100 of total population are men, 51,800 are women.[10] More than 28 percent of the population (about 29,000 persons) consists of young people and teenagers aged 14–29.[11]

The population of the district by the year (at the beginning of the year, thsd. persons)[9]
Region 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Shamakhy region 81,4 82,3 83,1 84,0 84,8 86,0 87,3 88,4 90,0 91,4 92,5 93,7 95,3 96,9 98,3 99,7 101,2 102,7 103,9
urban population 34,3 34,9 35,6 36,3 38,0 39,9 40,8 41,3 42,3 43,2 43,7 44,2 44,9 45,6 46,2 46,9 47,6 48,3 48,9
rural population 47,1 47,4 47,5 47,7 46,8 46,1 46,5 47,1 47,7 48,2 48,8 49,5 50,4 51,3 52,1 52,8 53,6 54,4 55,0

Ethnic composition[edit]

Ethnic group Population % of total
Azerbaijanis 90,350 98.63%
Turks 879 0.96%
Russians 235 0.26%
Lezgians 87 0.09%
Georgians 21 0.02%
Tats 6 0.01%
Others 27 0.04%


  • The 1191 earthquake was so destructive that the capital of Shirvan was transferred to Baku.
  • The 1667 earthquake is considered to have been the worst with a death toll of 80,000;[12] one-third of the city collapsed, according to the Persian merchants' reports.[who?]
  • The 1859 Shamakhi earthquake on 2 December caused the shifting of the same-named government centre to Baku.
  • The 1872 earthquake triggered emigration to Baku, where oil production had started in industrial proportions.
  • The 1902 earthquake, a devastating earthquake destroyed the 10th-century Juma Mosque.


The productivity of lands in Shamakhi has always attracted people. The district has beautiful nature with a mild climate and mineral wells. The weather is not too cold and hot here. There are more than 50 medicinal plants in Shamakhi. The rich nature of the district allows various animals and birds to settle here. The fauna of the city has different animals such as roe, boars, bears and wild cats. 40–80 days of a year snow in this place. This district attracts tourists in summer and winter. Babadagh peak is also in Shamakhi. Rivers of Garachay, Valvalachay and Girdmanchay begin here in Babadagh.


Not only Azerbaijan but also the Middle East, Central Asia, Turkey and from the other countries had studied science in madrassah of Juma mosque since the end of the 19th century. Some of them such as Khagani Shirvani, Feleki Shirvani, Muslim Shirvani, Imadeddin Nasimi, Nishat Shirvani, Mir Nazim Shirvani, Seyid Azim Shirvani, Mirza Nasrulla bey Dede, Mahmud Aga, Habib Efendi, Seyid Ünsizade and others. was prominent intelligent educators.

In the Middle Ages, many madrasahs of large mosques functioned in several cities of Azerbaijan. In the 10th–13th centuries, many cities of Azerbaijan, including Tabriz, Maragha, Ganja, Nakhchivan, Shamakhi and Ardabil, were known as the centres of science, education, art and culture in the East.

According to 17th-century famous Turkish traveller E. Chalabi, there were 40 schools, 7 madrassas in Shamakhi.

Nowadays, there are 72 secondary schools in the region, Shamakhi branch of the Azerbaijan Teachers Institute, Shamakhi Humanitarian College, Shamakhi State Industrial Economic College and Shamakhi Astrophysical Observatory of the National Academy of Sciences.[13]


As one of the largest wine-growing regions of Azerbaijan, Shamakhi hosted the Grape and Wine Festival in August 2019 in Meysari village with the support of Heydar Aliyev Foundation. The festival was aimed to encourage local grape and wine production, as well as, to promote the history of wine-producing in Azerbaijan. The festival featured a wine exhibition, a parade of wine producers, an exhibition of different types of folk art of Azerbaijani districts including copper craft, carpet weaving and pottery.[14][15]

Twin cities[edit]

Notable natives[edit]



  1. ^ "İnzibati-ərazi vahidləri" (PDF). Retrieved 28 February 2021.
  2. ^ a b "Population of Azerbaijan". State Statistics Committee. Retrieved 22 February 2021.
  3. ^ Yule, Henry; Beazley, Charles (1911). "Rubruquis, William of" . In Chisholm, Hugh (ed.). Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 23 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 810–811.
  4. ^ Adam Olearius. Relation du voyage de Adam Olearius en Moscovie, Tartarie et Perse..., vol. 1, traduit de l'allemand par A. de Wicquefort, Paris, 1666, pp. 405–406.
  5. ^ "Shamaki, reckoned the capital of this province, stands on a river which falls into the Caspian-Sea, and is about sixty-six miles from Derbent towards the south, and ninety-two from Ganga to the south-east. This city was one of the best and most populous of Persia before it was destroyed by an earthquake. It is, however, supposed to contain near 60,000 inhabitants, chiefly Armenians and strangers, whom the pleasantness of the country and traffic have invited thither" (An Universal History: From the Earliest Accounts to the Present Time, by George Sale, George Psalmanazar, Archibald Bower, George Shelvocke, John Campbell, John Swinton, vol. 43, London, 1765, p. 138)
  6. ^ The Penny Cyclopædia of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, vol. XI, London, 1833, pp. 174–175.
  7. ^ The Encyclopædia Britannica, vol. 21, Philadelphia, 1894, p. 831, article "Shirvan."
  8. ^ "Шемаха / Энциклопедия Брокгауза и Эфрона".
  9. ^ a b "Political division, population size and structure: Population by towns and regions of the Republic of Azerbaijan". The State Statistical Committee of the Republic of Azerbaijan. Retrieved 18 December 2018.
  10. ^ "Political division, population size and structure: Population by sex, towns and regions, urban settlements of the Republic of Azerbaijan at the beginning of the 2018". The State Statistical Committee of the Republic of Azerbaijan. Retrieved 18 December 2018.
  11. ^ "Political division, population size and structure: Population at age 14–29 by towns and regions of the Republic of Azerbaijan at the beginning of the 2018". The State Statistical Committee of the Republic of Azerbaijan. Retrieved 18 December 2018.
  12. ^ NGDC. "Comments for the Significant Earthquake". Retrieved 27 August 2010.
  13. ^ "Təhsil - ŞAMAXI RAYON Icra Hakimiyyəti".
  14. ^ "First Grape and Wine Festival opens in Azerbaijan's Shamakhi district". State News Agency of Azerbaijan. Retrieved 6 September 2019.
  15. ^ "First-ever Grape and Wine Festival to be held in Azerbaijan with support of Heydar Aliyev Foundation". Trend.Az. 27 August 2019. Retrieved 6 September 2019.

Further reading[edit]

  • Каталог землетрясений Российской Империи (The Catalogue of the Earthquakes in the Russian Empire).