Nakhichevan - Encyclopedia

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NAKHICHEVAN, or Nakhjevan, a city of Russian Armenia, in the government of Erivan, 85 m. S.E. of the town of Erivan. It occupies the brow of a spur of the Kara-bagh mountains, 2940 ft. above the,sea, and looks out over the valley of the Aras. Pop. (1863) 6251, (1897) 8845. Built and rebuilt again and again, Nakhichevan is full of half-obliterated evidences of former prosperity. The present houses have for the most part been quarried from ancient ruins; of the palace of the princes of Azerbaijan there remains a gateway with a Persian inscription, flanked by two brick towers; and at a little distance stands the so-called Tower of the Khans, a richly decorated twelve-sided structure, 102 ft. in circumference and 75 ft. in height, dating, to judge by the inscription which runs around the cornice, from the 12th century. There are also ruins of a large mosque. Situated on the highroad to Tabriz and Teheran, Nakhichevan has a large transit trade. In the Persian period the city is said to have had 40,000 inhabitants; the population now consists chiefly of Tatars and Armenians, who carry on gardening, make wine and produce silk, salt and millstones.

Armenian tradition claims Noah as the founder of Nakhichevan (the Naxuana of Ptolemy), and a mound of earth in the city is still visited by many pilgrims as his grave. Laid waste by the Persians in the 4th century, Nakhichevan sank into comparative insignificance, but by the 10th century had recovered its prosperity. In 1064 it was taken by Alp Arslan, sultan of the Seljuk Turks, and in the 13th century it fell a prey to the Mongols of Jenghiz Khan. It afterwards suffered frequently during the wars between the Persians, Armenians and Turks, and it finally passed into Russian possession by the peace of Turkman-chai in 1828.

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