Numerous towers, military fortresses, fortress-towns existed in historical Azerbaijani lands –present-day Republic of Armenia. Medieval and Russian invasion period sources inform on Irevan Fortress, Kechi Tower, Sardarabad Tower, Talin Tower, Gumru Tower, Shoreyel Tower which existed in the territory of the present day Armenia for fortification. The most grandiose and frequently mentioned in the researches still nowadays is Irevan Fortress. All the mentioned towers had been gradually wiped off the face of the earth by Armenians after the conquest of Irevan khanate by Russian troops.
The first written source on Irevan Tower dates back to the Safavids dynasty. In 1502 the troops of the Safavid ruler Shah Ismayil seized Irevan city defeating Garagoyunlu Emirs. In the 40s of the XVII century renowned turkish traveler and geographer Evliya Chelebi who travelled to Caucasus stated that in Hijri 915 (1509-1510) Shah Ismayil ordered his vezier Revangulu khan to build a tower which the latter had built for seven years that was named in his honor “Revan Tower”.
The seats of Irevan rulers, beys and khans was Irevan Fortress in the reigns of the Safavids, Nadir Shah, the Gajars and the Ottomans. In the wars between the Safavids and Ottomans Irevan Fortress changed hands 14 times.
After defeat of Safavid ruler Shah Ismayil in the Chaldiran battle to Ottoman ruler Sultan Selim in 1514, Irevan Tower was seized by turks and ruled by Ottomans for 7 years.
After Sultan Selim’s death in 1521, Shah Ismayil took Irevan back from turks. Irevan Tower was conquered by turks again in 1534 and Safavid troops liberated it in 1551 in Shah Tahmasib’s reign. During Sultan Suleyman’s marching to South Azerbaijan in 1554 Turks retook Irevan Fortress. Turkish historian Ibrahim Pechevi wrote that about July 19, 1554 AD, Turkish armies entered Revan city which was actually considered the heart of Iran and burned and destroyed palaces, parks, gardens of khans, sultans, particularly, paradise like garden called “Bag-i sultaniyye”.
According to the peace treaty between the Ottomans and the Safavids in 1555, Irevan was returned to the Safavids again. In 1579 during the reign of Irevan ruler Tokhmaq khan (his real name was Mahammad khan), Turkish armies attacked Irevan under Lele Mustafa Pasha, commander-in-chief of Ottoman armies, and destroyed all the buildings within the tower and razed them to the ground. Afterwards, according to the treaty between the two states, Turkish armies left Irevan province and in a short time, Tokhmaq khan rebuilt and turned it into well developed area again.
In 1583 in the reign of Sultan Murad Khan III, a commander of Turkish troops Farhad Pasha attacked Irevan Tower and took it without any fight. After taking the fortress, Farhad Pasha commenced building defensive installations. He rebuilt and extended Irevan Fortress. E. Chelebi wrote that an army of 150-thousand Ottoman soldiers rebuilt the tower within 45 days over the Zangi River and equipped it with military supplies in 40 days. Later, though Irevan Fortress changed hands a number of times, the fortress walls built by Farhad Pasha endured against all the attacks.
After eight-month siege in 1604, the troops of Shah Abbas I retook Irevan Tower from Turks. In August 1635, the troops of Sultan Murad IV conquered Irevan Fortress after the 9-day siege. The fortress walls, watchtowers, defensive installations were seriously damaged due to shelling of the artillery and the palace of Tahmasibgulu khan of Irevan was totally destroyed. Tahmasibgulu khan was taken a prisoner and sent to Istanbul. Turkish garrison of 15-thousand soldiers was deployed to the fortress. According to the Qesri-Shirin treaty signed between the Safavids and Ottomans in 1639, demarcation of the border between the two states was from western Arpachay and eventually peace lasted for about 80 years.
French traveler Jean Tavernier was in Irevan in 1655. In his book written based on his travel notes, he described Irevan city and fortress and included the city plan. According to Tavernier, built over the hill on the bank of the Zangi river, with 5 towers and strong defensive installations Irevan fortress had a gate opening to the north. Tavernier wrote that the inhabitans of the fortress were only Muslims.
French traveler and collectioner Jean Chardin who visited Irevan in 1673, described Irevan fortress: “The fortress is bigger than a small town. It is in oval form, its circle is 4000 footsteps and composed of about 800 houses. Only original Safavids live there… 3000 soldiers deployed for the defense of the fortress. The ruler’s palace is within the fortress… On the hill to the north of the fortress there is a small tower. The distance between them is about 1000 steps. It has been fortified with double walls and artillery. Its capacity is about 200 people. It is called Kechi (goat) Tower.”
Irevan fortress was one of the four living quarters. There was Bazaar Square between the fortress and other quarters (Shehri (or Old city), Tepebashi and Demirbulag).
The Ottoman troops invaded Tiflis in 1723 and one year later they seized Irevan though at the expense of big casualties. Commander of Turkish troops Rajab pasha strengthened the walls of Irevan fortress and a mosque was built inside it.
About eleven years later Nadir Shah liberated Irevan fortress from the Ottomans. After the assasination of Nadir Shah in 1747, the khanate of Irevan gained independence. Despite conflicts and disagreements among khanates, Irevan khanate could mainly keep its independence.
In order to strengthen her position in South Caucasus Russia started military operations in early XIX. After conquest of Ganja khanate in January 1804, the following target of Russian troops was Irevan khanate.
Khan of Irevan Hussaingulu khan Gajar succeeded to strengthen Irevan fortress in 1807 by involving French engineers. Cannon and powdermaking plants were built in Irevan fortress, additional troops were placed and the walls were strengthened. I. Gudovich wrote that Irevan tower was strengthened based on occidental military rules, it had two walls, ditches were dug in front of the walls, and soil and sand hills were created before the walls and cannons were installed, fougasse bombs were there which did not exist before.
The second attack of the Russian troops to Irevan fortress was in September 1808. The Russians seized Uchkilse (Echmiadzin) monastery on September 27 and built their camps around Irevan. But that time they could not occupy Irevan fortress either. Eventually, on September 15, 1827 the Russian troops seized Sardarabad tower after long blockade. After it, all the forces were directed to Irevan fortress under the command of Ivan Paskevich.
On October 1, 1827 the Russian troops first seized south-western tower of the fortress and then by breaking the northern gate (Shirvan gate) entered the fortress. After invasion of the fortress I. Paskevich in his report to Nicolas I wrote that the Emperor’s flag was already flying over Irevan fortress walls, the keys of the very famous fortress were in his hands, the whole garrison was taken prisoner, 37 cannons, 2 howitzers, 9 mortars, about 50 falconets were plundered. With the conquest of Irevan fortress which was called “unsurrendered fortress”, invasion of Northern Azerbaijan khanates by Russia was completed as a result of 23-year intermittent warfare. In conquest of Irevan Fortress, Armenian betrayal and treason again played a big part. Well familiar with the local area, Armenians guided for Russian military, fingered the weakest defence points of the fortress and spied.
For his deeds in the seizure of Irevan Fortress I. Paskevich was rewarded with the title of “Count of Erivan” and the II class St George medal. Other generals also received higher rewards. After a while a special medal was struck for “Seizure of Irevan Fortress”. By the order of the Emperor, Archbishop Nerses was rewarded with St Alexander Nevskiy Order for his service during the invasion of the Irevan Fortress.
The news on the conquest of the Irevan Fortress was delivered to Russian Emperor Nicolas I when he was in Riga. After the seizure of the fortress, brother of Irevan khan, Hassan khan’s sword was presented to the tsar, which is kept in Armoury Chamber of the Kremlin currently. In return, the tsar presented the sword to the city hall in the memory of being in Riga. Having returned to Petersburg, the Emperor went to the church in the Winter Palace with his family on November 8 to pray on the occaison of the seizure of Irevan Fortress. He displayed the keys and 4 flags taken during seizure of Irevan Fortress in the streets under applauds of the inhabitants of the capital.
Immediately after the seizure of the fortress in 1725 first, the crescent in the dome of the mosque built by Ottoman commander Rajab pasha was changed to a cross, a church bell was installed in its minaret and converted into Orthodox church. Sardar Mosque of the fortress was changed into arsenal of the Russian troops and harem of the khan into hospital.
A picture painted by artist, academician V. Moshkov who observed artillery attack of the Russian troops on the Irevan Fortress, called “Seizure of Irevan fortress” is kept in the History Museum of Irevan city at present.
Another Russian artist of battle scenes, academician Franz Rubo described the scene of seizure of Irevan fortress. That painting is kept in the History Museum of Armenia currently.
According to the calculations based on the scale of the scheme of the Irevan fortress compiled after its conquest, it was an approximate square with 850m length and 790 m width, covered 7 ha area. The height of dual walls was 10.5-12 m. One layer walls of the fortress passed over the rocks washed by the Zangi river. The fortress had three gateways: Tabriz gateway to the south, Shirvan (or Meydan) gateway to the north and Korpu gateway. The bridge was laid out over the Zangi river between Meydan gateway and the Old city in 1679 which was called Qirmizi Korpu (Red Bridge).
After the invasion, Irevan fortress was declared public property. In 30s of XIX century public enterprises and organisations were placed in more than 120 buildings of the Irevan fortress. In 50s various construction and restoration works were carried out in the fortress. The Russian military units and tens of cannons were stored in the fortress. The Irevan fortress retained its status as military fortress till March 12, 1864. After formal dissolving of the fortress as a military object, the inhabitants living around destroyed and took stones of the walls and towers. From 1880s buildings and defensive installations within the fortress had disappeared after one another.
A merchant called Nerses Tahiryan bought some part of the fortress in 1865 and had built a winery (present cognac plant) there.
After establishment of the Soviet Government in Armenia general plan of the city was approved in 1924. As the majority of the researchers confirm, the main objective of the plan developed under supervision of Alexandr Tamanyan was to erase Azerbaijani historic-architectural buildings from the earth. A new general plan of the city was prepared in 1936 and due to its realisation modern high buildings were constructed within the fortress. The pictures taken during WWII still show some parts of Irevan fortress. But later, the walls were totally destroyed and at present there is no sign of them.
The walls of the Old city in Baku, Shirvanshahs Palace inside it, Khan’s Palace in Sheki which are of the same age as the Irevan fortress, stand today as relics of the past. There isn’t even a single medieval historic monument left in Irevan today. It is the result of razing Azerbaijani historic-architectural monuments that there is no monument left in Irevan above 200 years old. At present, a model of Irevan fortress prepared by modern Armenian architects is displayed in Irevan city History Museum. The model shows that not all the buildings which existed in the fortress are depicted there. “The key of Irevan fortress” allegedly, taken after Russian conquest is also displayed there.
In recent years, the leaders of Armenia are intending to carry out a new project under the title “Irevan fortress”. The Armenian officials have three objectives in this matter. First, to have opportunity to display a small sample from “old Irevan” to foreign guests, second, to have a chance to display tolerant attitude of Armenians to oriental culture, muslim heritage, third, to take enourmous benefit from “Sardar Palace”, trade stalls, bazaars, caravanserais, oriental baths, etc. to be built in XVII-XVIII centuries architecture style witihin “Irevan Fortress”. The estimated cost of the project to be built in 184 ha area in the suburb- former Yenikend, present residential area called Noragyoug is about 6-7 billion USD. During ex Moscow city mayor Yuri Luzhkov’s visit to Irevan in January 2010, Armenian officials pursuaded him and his stakeholders to finance the project of “Irevan fortress” and reached assent. But after Y.Luzhkov was ousted from his position as mayor, the project of “Irevan fortress” has been postponed until a new sponsor is found.
The most remarkable architectural monument of civil construction existed in Irevan city was Khan’s Palace or Sardar Palace in the Irevan Fortress. The headquarters of the Irevan rulers, beylerbeys and khans were in Irevan Fortress in all reigns of the Safavids, Nadir Shah and Gajars. In 1578 beylerbey of Irevan Tokhmaq khan had planted a garden opposite the Irevan fortress on the right bank of the Zangi River and built a new khan’s palace in the fortress. According to well-known Turkish traveler Evliya Chelebi who traveled to South Caucasus in 1640s, commander of Turkish troops Farhad Pasha leveled Irevan fortress and paradise-like palace of Tokhmaq khan in 1583 during the reign of Sultan Murad Khan III. Then he had the fortress rebuilt in 45 days and all supplies and armoury was equipped.
Afterwards, Irevan province was taken by the Safavids again. The fortress and Khan’s Palace was fortified when Amirghouna Khan Gajar (1604-1625) ruled Irevan. After being totally destroyed by the earthquake in 1679, Irevan fortress and Khan’s Palace were restored by Zal khan (1679-1688).
When Irevan province was ruled by the Ottomans, Rajab pasha (1725-1728) had considerable refurbishment works done in the palace. A new khan’s palace was built during the reign of Hussainali khan Gajar (1759-1783). The periods ruled by Hussainali khan and his son Mahammad khan (1784-1805) considered thriving of Irevan city and fortress.
Hussainali khan invited the celebrated architect of his time Mirza Jafar Khoylu to Irevan to built a new headquarter. Khan’s Palace in Irevan Fortress which survived till early XX century was reconstructed under supervision of architect Mirza Jafar Khoylu. Hussainali khan’s son Mahammad khan Gajar had built Mirrow Salon and Summer House in Sardar garden in 1791 and thus, the fascinating building was accomplished as architectural monumental palace complex. In 1810 the palace-complex was completely restored and a number of ancillary buildings were constructed.
Some parts of the schemes (figures) of Irevan fortress and Khan’s Palace drawn after the Russian invasion are kept in Irevan city History Museum. According to the scale of comprehensive scheme of Sardar Palace compiled in 1837, its area was about one hectar. The palace was situated to north-west of the fortress and a gate opened from fortress to the palace. A two-storeyed palace intended for official ceremonies was trapezium-shape (36x35x31x25 m). In the middle of the palace there was a big veranda for meeting shah solemnly. At the end of the veranda there was built bed area decorated with coloured glasses and separated with embellished gratings which opened to the Zangi river. In the Mirrow salon of the Khan’s palace, in front of khan’s couch there was a star-shape pool made of onyx considered good for health. The pool with a small fountain in the middle was described in Russian painter G.Gagarin’s picture of Mirrow salon. That pool is kept in Irevan city History Museum at present. Apart from it, there were two more buildings adjacent to Khan’s Palace- one for khan’s close people and the other as ancillary.
Attached Khan’s Palace and Harem with long facade comprised a single architectural composition. Harem was attached to the Palace with a small corridor. Rectangular shape harem’s was 200 feet (1 foot = 0.3048 m) length, about 125 feet width. Harem had a lot of rooms and corridors. After the Russian seizure of the Irevan fortress in 1827, it was converted into hospital. Sardar Harem had mable covering, its mosaic pattern bath also differed with its luxury. Harem had a big summer pool: a pool and a bath still existed till 1830 which were: 15 sazhen (1 sazhen = 2.1336 m) length, 4 sazhen width, 3 arshin (1 arshin = 71.12 sm) depth. These buildings were destroyed during “reconstruction” of the fortress along with a number of other buildings.
According to the specialists, Irevan Khan’s Palace with its architectural form, style, plan, disposition and decoration of interior shared the traits of the palace-complexes built in Tabriz in the reign of Aggoyunlu ruler Sultan Yagub in 1483 and Hasht-Behesht (Eight paradises i.e. eight-layer paradise) built in Isfahan in the reign of Safavid ruler Shah Suleyman in 1669 which are regarded the masterpieces of oriental architecture. Another interesting point is that the palaces of Khoy, Irevan and Sheki khans somehow replicated each other in terms of selection of location and architecture. It gives grounds to say that all the three palaces were built or reconstructed in the style of famous architect of Mirza Jafar Khoylu’s school. There is information that ruler of Irevan Hussainali khan addressed to his relative, ruler of Khoy Ahmad khan (1763-1786) when he wanted to build a palace. Ahmad khan married to Hussainali khan’s daughter. Hussainali khan died in 1783 and his son Gulamali khan succeeded him. After assasination of Gulamali khan in 1784, his younger brother Mahammad succeeded him as khan of Irevan. To increase his influence more on the khan of Irevan, Ahmad khan made his 30 year old daughter marry to 12 year old Mahammad khan in 1785.
Well-known Russian writer and diplomat Alexander Sergeyevich Griboyedov was in Irevan khan’s palace in February 1819 as a secrectary of Russian delegation in Iran. Sardar Hussaingulu khan whom Griboyedov considered the first after God in that country (i.e. in Irevan khanate – N.M.), third for his reputation in the Gajars state, organised a feast in honour of the guests as per existing traditions. It would never occur to Griboyedov that a little while after the seizure of Irevan fortress in October 1827, namely in that Mirror salon Russian soldiers would stage his famous play “Woe from Wit” together with him. Griboyedov described the Mirrow salon in details where Hussaingulu khan xan had received the guests.
For a while, khanate of Irevan was on the focus of attention of a number of European and Russian researchers after the Russian invasion. French traveler, geologist and artist Frederic Dubois de Montperreux traveled to the Caucausus in 1833 and published his book “Travel around the Caucausus” in six volumes in 1839-1843 in Paris. The author also published atlases in five volumes covering maps, plans and paintings. Engraver Nicole Hercule created engravings of Frederic Montperreux’s paintings. The interior, wall paintings and patterns of Mirrow salon, pictures of the building from inside of the courtyard of sardar Hussain khan’s harem were included in the third volume of the atlases.
Irevan Khan’s palace was comprehensively described by German traveler August von Haxthausen who was in Irevan Fortress on August 27, 1843.
Famous Russian archeologist, countess Praskovya Aleksandrovna Uvarova was in Irevan fortress in October 1880 and she described dilapidated Khan’s palace. Armenian researcher Yervand Shaheziz in his book “Old Irevan” published in Irevan in 1931 quoted from the first volume of P.Uvarova’s book titled “Caucausus. Travel Notes” (Moscow, 1887) on the outcomes of the expedition to the Caucausus: “The Sardar estate (i.e. palace-complex) is situated inside the fortress walls and turrets with its underground passage through the Zangi river, courtyards with fountains, bathhs, harem and two mosques. Only reception hall (i.e. Mirrow salon) survived from Sardar estate decorated with purely oriental patterns, mirrows and paintings, looking like a fancy teabox.
The witnesses’ descriptions about the interior of Irevan Khan’s palace, paintings of Russian artist, academician Vladimir Moshkov, amateur ethnographer and artist count Grigory Gagarin, French traveler and atrist Dubois de Montperreux, the photos taken by photographer Dmitri Yermakov and English traveler Henry Lynch allow to judge the interior, artistic design, content, form and style of wall paintings, professional art and easthetic features of the palace.
According to art critic N.Miklashevskaya, Sardar palace was destroyed in 1914 and 2X1 m size portraits painted by Mirza Gadim Irevani on the walls of the palace in the second half of XIX centrury were taken from the walls and submitted to the Military History Museum in Tiflis. After establishment of the Soviet Government, the portraits were given to Georgia SSR State Museum, later Georgia Art Museum.
The photos depicting all the details of Irevan Khan’s palace which were taken by photoqrapher D.Yermakov in the 1880s are kept in Georgia State Museum under D.Yermakova’s collection. The issue of photocopying and bringing them to Azerbaijan should be addressed.
Among the pictures of old Irevan there are photos of Irevan fortress and Khan’s palace taken in 1916. It seems the ideas of some authors about razing Khan’s palace to the ground in 1918 are correct. Because in 1918 Armenian-Dashnak government was established in the territory of Irevan province and Azerbaijanis were massacred. Azerbaijani historic-architectural monuments in Irevan city were wiped off the face of the earth namely in that period.
Though Khan’s palace was erased from the world by Armenian vandals, information, archive documents, paintings, photos reaching us today allow to create full picture of Irevan Khan’s palace-complex.
One of the historic-architectural monuments built in the style of Irevan Khan’s palace was Panah khan Makinsky’s house. The residential complex belonging to Deputy of Irevan city Duma, college adviser Suleyman khan’s son Panah khan was situated in the square named after him, on the address 19 Nalbandyan street (former Ter-Gukasov street). The complex comprised a two-storeyed house of the khan, a kitchen, a warehouse, a separate one-storeyed house for servants and stables. Though Panah khan’s house was included in the list of architectural monuments of Irevan protected by the government, it shared the same fate like any other Azerbaijani monuments in the 60-s of the last century which were wiped off the face of the earth.
One of the features endorsing any nation’s existence in certain area is religious shrines. As Islam proliferated in the territory of former Irevan khanate, present-day Armenia since VII century, there were hundreds of mosques and other shrines erected. Each mosque existing in the territory of Irevan khanate as well as Irevan city was a model of architecture. Some of the unique models of Azerbaijani brick architecture was namely created in Irevan city.
Despite existence of tens of mosques in ancient Irevan city where Islamic values became norms of life, due to frequent wars and earthquakes, the majority of them were wiped off the face of the earth. It is possible to obtain sufficient information about the mosques existed in Irevan city from the publications of travelers who visited Irevan in different periods and the authors who wrote about Irevan after the Russian invasion.
When commander Revangulu khan built Irevan Fortress by the order of Shah Ismayil in 1510, he also had erected a mosque there. That mosque which was called Shah Ismayil mosque was erased by the earthquake.
After the Ottoman troops under Farhad Pasha took Irevan in 1583, they built oval-shape interior and exterior walls and also erected a new mosque.
Famous French traveler Jean Chardin was in Irevan in 1673 and he informed about the mosque built of brick opposite the city bazaar which was dilapidated at that time. He wrote that the mosque was called Div Sultan (Div Sultan Rumlu is meant here who was baylarbay of Irevan since 1515) in honor of the person who laid its foundation.
As a result of his travel to the Caucausus and the Crimea in 1833, French geologist and archeologist, naturalist Frederic Dubois de Montperreux in his six-volume book “Travel around the Caucasus” published in Paris in 1839-1843 described Irevan fortress and Blue Mosque in details. His paintings describing the main entrance of Sardar Mosque and Blue Mosque itself visually display magnificance and perfect architecture of both mosques.
The names of “Sardar”, “Abbas Mirza”, “Shah Abbas” mosques in the vicinity of Sardar palace within Irevan fortress were mentioned in the works of travelers and researchers at different times. Analyses show that though presented under different names, in fact, the talk is about one and the same mosque which mentioned in recent researches and official documents as Sardar mosque – a unique architectural monument of that time. It means the mosque bore different names at different times. The name of this mosque was mentioned as Abbas Mirza mosque in some documents of Irevan fortress covering the period of tsarist Russia invasion. It seems the mosque was called so as it was reconstructed by prince Abbas Mirza in early XIX century. German researcher August Haxthausen traveled to Irevan city in August 1843 and he stated that one of the two mosques in the fortress (i.e. Rajab pasha mosque) was converted into Russian-Greek church, the other – Sardar mosque into arsenal.
Well-known Russian archeologist, countess Praskovya Uvarova was in Irevan city in 1880 and with heavy heart she described destruction of historic-architectural monuments built over the centuries. Armenian author Yervand Shaheziz quoting from P. Uvarova in his book “Old Yerevan” published in Irevan in 1931 wrote that she compared Sardar mosque near Khan’s palace to a piece of artwork painted by Verashchaghin’s brush. Y. Shaheziz wrote referring to P.Uvarova that the main dome, exterior walls, pillars, interior walls, a number of other domes of Sardar mosque were adorned with coloured glaze coating and beautiful paintings.
Azerbaijani archeologist and epigraphist Isa Azimbayov undertook expedition to Irevan in 1928. I. Azimbayov’s article on the outcomes of the expedition “Muslim Inscriptions of Tiflis, Irevan and Nakhchivan SSR” stated that the mosque (i.e. Sardar mosque- N.M.) erected in honour of Shah Abbas near Sardar Palace in the fortress was dilapidated and several Armenian refugee families were settled in the courtyard of the mosque.
After employment of Irevan fortress as military fort by the Russian troops was ceased in 1864, historic-architectural buildings inside it, including Sardar or Abbas Mirza mosque were subject to serious destructions. In early XX century Armenian refugees from Turkey had settled in Sardar mosque. In the period of Soviet Armenia Sardar mosque was destructed eventually and dwellings were built in its place.
Rajab Pasha Mosque
After the Ottoman troops reconquered Irevan in 1724, Turkish commander—Rajab Pasha took a number of actions for the development of the city. A new mosque was built in the fortress by his order in 1725 and named Rajab pasha in his honour. The mosque was a regular parallelepiped shape and had spheric dome, adorned with Oriental style geometric ornaments. A day after the invasion of Irevan fortress by Russian troops on October 1, 1827, the crescent in the dome of the mosque was taken away and replaced with cross and churchbell and converted into Russian Orthodox church. Subsequently, changes were made in the external view, cylinder pillars were added to its facade, its roof was covered and changed into Christian shrine. The picture of artist Franz Rubo devoted to the invasion of Irevan fortress describes Rajab pasha mosque and its dome in front and Sardar mosque near Khan’s palace in the background. Under the campaign of “Atheists” pursued in 1930-s Russian Orthodox church was also totally destroyed and wiped off the face of the earth.
In 1906-1911 technicist of Irevan city B. Mehrabov compiled the city plan and the list of architectural monuments of Irevan city. Mehrabov recorded 8 mosques in the city. The mosques were called: Tepebashi, Sheher (Zal khan), Sertib khan, Blue mosque (Hussainali khan), Haji Novruzali bey, Qala mosque (Sardar or Abbas Mirza), Demirbulag and Haji Jafar bey mosque.
Armenian researcher M.Qasparyan states that from the mosques existed in Irevan city in late XIX and early XX centureis, Blue mosque, Haji Hussain and Sheher (Zal khan) mosques were situated in Old city (Shehri), Tepebashi mosque in the area of the same name, Haji Novruzali bey, Haji Jafar bey and Demirbulag mosques in Demirbulag quarter
During the period of Armenian Dashnak government established in historic Azerbaijani lands 1918-1920 and early years of Soviet Armenia, Armenian refugees fleeing Turkey were settled in Sardar, Tepebashi, Sartib khan, Haji Novruzali bey mosques. After approval of the general plan of Irevan city in 1924, first of all, there started demolishing historic Azerbaijani architectural monuments situated in the centre of the city and erecting housing quarters, squares and parks in their places .
Archive document dated 1949 kept in the State Archives of the Republic of Azerbaijan informs about 15 architectural buildings recorded in the territory of Armenia SSR. The list stated the dates of construction, their assignment and existence of four mosques in Irevan city. The document noted that Zal khan mosque was built in 1649-1685, Blue mosque in 1776, Sardar mosque - 1807-1817, Haji Jafar bey mosque in the XVIII century. The works of all travelers and researchers describing Irevan city, first of all mentioned Blue mosque as the most grandiose architectural monument due to its scale and magnificence. Construction of Blue mosque which is considered one of the unique models of oriental architecture started in 1760 and completed in Hussainali khan’s reign in 1765.
Armenian historian Tadevos Hakopyan in his book “The History of Irevan (1500-1800)” writes referring to the bishop of Echmiadzin church Hovhanes Shahkhatunyans: “A part of the minaret and dome of the mosque is coated with blue faience”. The main buildings were to the south and north of the mosque. The ancillary buildings and cells were on the sidelines. A small pool was built in the courtyard of the mosque paved with raft stones and planted trees around.
Well-known British traveler and geographer Henry Lynch who traveled to Irevan in 1893-1894 and 1898, mentioned Blue mosque, Haji Nasrullah bey mosque (other sources show this mosque as Haji Novruzali bey mosque) and Sheher mosque situated in Tatar (Azerbaijani) quarter in his book about his journey published in 1901 in London. Giving detailed information about Blue mosque, Lynch included the photos of its minarets, a pool in its courtyard and facade in his book.
According to Armenian authors, though it was decided to pull down all the mosques in Irevan in 1930s, due to serious efforts of popular Armenian poet Yegishe Charents, Blue mosque which he called “Blue Diamond” was saved from being erased by turning it into a museum. Irevan city history museum was placed in Blue Mosque from 1936. After beginning of WW II Blue mosque was concurrently used as an arsenal for a while. It was used as the Nature museum after the war and planetarium from 1952 in its small prayer room for astronomy fans. After Armenia gained independence in 1991 and established diplomatic relations with muslim countries, necessity arose for functioning of Blue mosque as a shrine again. First, Nature museum in 1991 and History museum in 1994 were moved out of the mosque-complex. According to the agreement signed between Iran and Armenia in 1995, Iranian government undertook financing reconstruction expenses of Blue mosque. Nowadays the Armenian officials present Blue mosque to foreign guests as “Persian”.
Zal khan mosque
One of the mosques in the Old city quarter situated between Irevan fortress and Tepebashi area was called Sheher or Zal khan mosque. Though Sheher mosque was a bit smaller than Blue mosque in size, it was very beautiful. According to Lynch, on the Sheher mosque there was inscribed the date of construction 1098 Hijri with Arabic alphabeth in Turkish language, i.e. 1687 AD. It is understandable that the city mosque was built after the earthquake of 1679.
According to the researchers, Zal khan or Sheher Mosque was in the centre of Irevan city which is Republican Square at present. The big hall of Sheher Mosque was demolished in 1928 and hotel “Yerevan” was built instead. After reconstruction in 1999 that hotel is called “Golden Tulip Hotel Yerevan” at present.
An archive document of the year of 1949 kept in Azerbaijan Republic State Archives stated that Zal khan Mosque was used as an exhibition hall. After WW II the assignment of the madrasa of two-storeyed Zal khan mosque with a number of cells was changed. Nowadays, the exhibition hall of the Artists’ House is situated there.
The minaret of the mosque situated in Tepebashi quarter collapsed in 1960s. At present, an Armenian family lives in imam’s room inside the mosque which has 1.5 m width walls. There was a teahouse around the mosque where Muslims used to gather for drinking tea. Now that teahouse doesn’t exist either. Armenians built shantytowns in the courtyard and around the mosque. According to some sources, that mosque was built by Abbasgulu khan Irevansky, a member of Irevan city council, who was of khan’s descent. His house was also situated in that quarter. Armenians still call Abbasgulu khan’s house as Khan’s house which is in dilapidated state at present.
In early XX century three mosques were recorded in Demirbulag quarter where once only Azerbaijanis lived. The mosques were: Haji Novruzali bey, Haji Jafar bey and Demirbulag. As Demirbulag Mosque situated near the bridge over the river Ghedar, it was also called Korpougoulag (near bridge) Mosque. The two of them – Haji Novruzali bey and Korpugoulag mosques fell victims to the general plan of Irevan city in the 1930s. The only mosque that functioned till 1988 was Chatirli mosque or Damirboulag mosque, the same name as the quarter it placed was built by Haji Jafar Bay. According to the inscription on the mosque, it was built in Hijri 1327 - 1909 AD. The mosque didn’t have a minaret. Instead, a small square of 1.5-2 meters high was built on the roof of the mosque in the open air and iron railings were installed on it.
After emergence of Armenian separatism in Nagorny Karabakh in February 1988, continuous meetings were being held in Irevan. On February 23 Armenian vandals set fire to Demirboulag mosque and Azerbaijani secondary school #9 named after M.F.Akhundov in Irevan city. But later, in order to demonstrate foreign journalists their goodwill towards Azerbaijanis, they painted the burned walls of Damirboulag mosque to cover up the traces of the fire.
US researcher Robert Gullen in his article in “The New York” on April 15, 1991 dealing with his visit to Irevan wrote about the only funcioning Azerbaijani mosque- Demirboulag mosque in the city. R. Cullen wrote that one night his friend in Irevan took him to the rubbles behind house 22 Qnuni Street. His friend whispered R.Cullen that there had been an ordinary mosque of Azerbaijanis when they lived in Armenia. R.Cullen write that his friend told him that during massacre and displacemnet of Azerbaijanis in Irevan, Armenians pulled the mosque down with iron bars, then leveled with bulldozer.
In 2000 British researcher Thomas de Waal went to the site which Robert Cullen had described. Thomas de Waal writes: “ Yerevan has many secrets. One of them, I believed, lay among a jumble of garages, outhouses, and vegetable plots behind a tall apartment block at No.22 Vardanants Street, not far from the city centre. At the top of a narrow flight of steps was a small open space, surrounded by rusty green garages and piled with bricks and sand. In 2000 British researcher Here, I was pretty sure, had been amosque, used by Yerevan’s Azerbaijanis, that had had the misfortune not to be classified as “Persian” and demolished. (here is meant Blue Mosque restored under the name of “Persian mosque”).
In order to demolish the only Azerbaijani mosque functioning in Irevan, Armenians spread a rumor in one of the meetings about destruction of Armenian church by Azerbaijanis in Baku. The hearsay about demolishment of Armenian church in Baku was spread deliberately in order to Armenian-like justify razing of the Azerbaijani heritage left in the territory of Armenia. More than two decades after Armenian aggression against Azerbaijan, the only Armenian church existing in Baku has not only been destroyed but on the contrary it is also protected as historic-architectural monument by the state.
According to the residents who fled Irevan in 1988, there was a Muslim sanctuary near the present French school in Nar-Dos street which natives called “Hazrat Abbas Ojaghi (hearth)”. In the enclosed sanctuary there was a black stone. Not only Azerbaijanis but also Armenians who had troubles used to visit that sanctuary, make wishes and give their alms there. The city authorities decided to demolish that sanctuary during construction of the Nar-Dos school. After the death of the excavator driver with stone falling on his head accidentally while pulling down the building, demolishment was stopped and the building was enclosed later. Now there is no sign of that sacred place either.
One of the Azerbaijani historical monuments in Irevan city was madrasa located in Tumanyan street behind former Azizbayev, present Sakharov square. It seems, nowadays madrasa of the mosque is being used like dwelling house although the mosque existed there had been torn down. But for some reason or another that madrasa has not been included in the list of historic monuments of Irevan city.
Massacre of historic monuments, material cultural heritage of Azerbaijanis was carried out not only in Irevan city but also in the territory of the whole country called Armenia who attempts to present herself as a civil country to the international community.
In 2007 Government of Armenia submitted the list of the shrines and historic monuments of ethnic and religious minorities in the country protected by the government to the Council of Europe. The list includes Blue mosque situated in 12 Mesrop Mashtos Street and a mosque in 40 Khorhrdarani Street. The Blue mosque has been presented as Persion in the list, the protection of the cage (skeleton) of Abbas Mirza mosque stated. Nevertheless, as the picture shows only a small part of the walls of Sardar mosque-complex with 2-3 meter width and 3-4 meter height survived. An 18 block 14-storey house has been built in that area by “Qlendale Hills” construction company.
The fact that only rubbles left from Sardar mosque-complex of the Irevan fortress which was called remarkable and unique architectural monument by XIX century European and Russian travelers and researchers is an obvious sample of Armenian vandalism and hostile attitude of “cultured” Armenians toward cultural heritage of Azerbaijanis who are original inhabitants of that territory.
The government of Armenia should be held accountable for wiping off mosques and other places of worship of Azerbaijanis the face of the earth in the territory of Armenia.
Amir Saad tomb
Amir Saad tomb in Jafarabad village situated on the Irevan-Echmiadzin road is the only monument that survived among Azerbaijani historic monuments existed in Irevan city and around it. As after restoration-refubishment works the official circles of Irevan present the Blue mosque as “Iranian” or “Persian”, they also call medieval tomb in Jafarabad village “Turkmen tomb”.
The purpose of Armenians is apparent: After implementation of ethnic cleansing policy against Azerbaijanis in the historic Azerbaijani lands - present day Armenia, also to wipe off historic-architectural monuments belonging to them the face of the earth, if it is not possible, to mislead by changing their names.
The name of Jafarabad village of Zangibasar (Masis) region territorial-administrative division was changed to Argavand by the order dated April 4, 1946 of the Presidium of Supreme Soviet of Armenia SSR and the name of Goykumbet village to Ghekhanist from December 1, 1949.
There had been a cemetery of Saad subtribe leaders under Garagoyunlu tribe. There were some tombs in the cemetery, only one of them – Amir Saad tomb survived to our days.
Amir Saad tomb was erected in 1413 by Amir Saad’s son Pir Hussain, one of the Garagoyunlu amirs. The areas under Amir Saad’s rule was called Chukhur Saad, i.e. Saad’s valley still in his time. The territories of Chukhur Saad emirate included lowland part of present Igdir province of Turkey former Surmeli area and Agri Dagh valley. During the reign of Pir Hussain, Kars city and surrounding areas was in the boundary of emirate. According to Armenian historian A.D.Papazyan, the name Chukhur-Saad in Armenian sources was first noted in the trade document of 1428 which is kept in Matenadaran now. The sale-purchase document of Uchkilsa (Vagharshabad, present Echmiadzin) village noted that Uchkilsa village was one of the villages of Karpi area which was situated in Chukhur-Saad vilayet of Azerbaijan. In the document which was compiled in Arabic, witnesses called themselves “Saadis”.
One year after Amir Teymur’s death in 1406 Gara Yusif, the head of the Garagoyunlu tribal federation, defeated Amir Teymur’s grandson Abu Bakir in Chukhur-Saad and made him flee. That was the end of the Teymurid dynasty. Gara Yusif assigned the governance of that area to the chief of Saad tribe Amir Saad again who governed that territory till the end of the XIV century. Amir Saad died in 1411.
Two years after Amir Saad’s death in 1413 Pir Hussain built that tomb on his father’s grave. The main feature differing that tomb from other medieval monuments was that it was made of local red tuff stone not brick. In 1939 renowned researcher of Azerbaijani architectural history Leonid Bretanski made measurements in Amir Saad tomb along with G.Yelkin, L.Mamikanov, D.Motis. L.Bretinski called Amir Saad tomb a unique form of “transition” from Momina Khatun tomb’s brick architecture to the lithic one.
The first part of the inscription of the tomb begins with the name of merciful Allah and Ayat 255 of Sura 2 of Koran in Arabic like in many other tombs. After that, the names of historical figures of Azerbaijan Garagoyunlu state are enumerated. The inscription says: This sacred tomb has been erected by the order of Amir Saad’s son Pir Hussain- the pillar of the greatest, the most graceful, kindest padishahs and sultans, protector of the poor and vagrants, guardian of the wise and hungry for knowledge, patron to the poor and sufferers, the love of his state. Long live his just ruling. May pure be the soil of the kind, late, embraced by the kindest, Amir Saad. May Allah make ruling of Pir Budag khan and Yusif noye eternal in padishah’s reign, kind sovereign, shah of the shahs of the East and West, pillar of the state and religion, Rajab 15, Hijri 816”. That date corresponds to October 11, 1413 AD.
Armenians’ position is renaming historic monuments of Azerbaijanis which survived in Irevan, as “Persian”, “Turkman” or “Mongol” by falsifying the history and thus concealing the original owner of them. Armenians included the name of that tomb which has been discovered in Abovyan street in the list of the monuments that are under the protection of Armenian government like a ‘Mongol monument’ .
Official Iravan used ‘Turkman monument’ card during the official visit of the new president of Turkmenistan Gurbangulu Berdimuhamadev to Yerevan. On November 28, 2012 in the Great Concert Hall of Irevan there was a presentation of Gurbangulu Berdimuhamadev’s three books (“Полет небесных скакунов”, “Туркменистан” and “Туркменистан – край исцелений”), which were translated into Armenian. The following day they took the president of Turkmenistan to Jafarabad village and showed how they protected Amir Saad tomb as a ‘Turkman monument’. Moved by the “care” of Armenians, the president of Turkmenistan signed partnership agreements in different fields with Armenia which of no geopolitical and economic importance for his country and even he articulated Turkmenistan’s intention to export electrical energy to Armenia.
Amir Saad tomb - the relic of Azerbaijan Garagoyunlu state has been included in the list of the protected monuments in Armenia as ‘a mausoleum of Turkman Amirs’ family’.
Nazim Mustafa Irevan city, Baku – 2013