By Fuad Huseynzade

Azerbaijan is an ancient nation rich in cultural and national values. Monuments as well as mosques are the material wealth of its people. Examples from its territories, including unique monuments of special importance, are part of world cultural heritage. But among all territories, one region stands out in particular.
At a meeting with President Ilham Aliyev, Rector of the Azerbaijan University of Architecture and Construction, Professor Gulchohra Mammadova, highlighted Western Azerbaijan (the modern-day Republic of Armenia) as one of the country’s most historical regions with rich history, culture and traditions.
«Architecture, folk art and musical traditions in this region have deep roots and a unique face. The harsh climatic conditions of the mountainous regions and hard-working farming life also shaped the character of the people living on these lands. Hard work, tolerance, patriotism, loyalty to language, religion, national-spiritual values and traditions are the characteristics of the Western Azerbaijanis,» she noted.
Nature itself has crafted the image of these places, absorbed in our memory, from the banks of Goychi to Alagoz, and from the Bozabdal mountains to Zangezur. This land keeps traces of our rich history, our numerous tales, legends and songs, which bear the essence of the national and spiritual existence of Azerbaijani people. The petroglyphs of Deveboinu and Alageller prove that these places were one of the first human settlements. The Albanian-Christian temples, which are examples of pre-Islamic culture, along with the historical and cultural monuments of the Islamic era, paint a rich cultural heritage created here over thousands of years. and included in the world’s cultural treasures, showing the region’s inseparable link to not only the history and culture of Azerbaijan, but world cultural treasures.

One of the ancient monuments of Zangezur is the Goshundash monuments, dating back to the 4th and 2nd millennia BC. In the late 19th century, Russian archaeologist and anthropologist Alexei Ivanovsky emphasized the presence of eight such mounds on the western shore of Lake Goycha, between the villages of Kavar and Adiyaman, especially in the area called «Dry ruins.» Mounds located in the Minusinsk region, in the valley of the «Gok-su» in Altai, in the Orkhon steppes, and on the Tarbagatai heights, share a striking resemblance. Ivanovsky’s excavations of the mounds in the Lake Goycha basin revealed skulls and various household and military equipment in stone chests, identical to skulls found in the Altai mounds and the Khojaly-Gedabey mounds, proving this area was one of the original settlements of ancient Turks.
As in the entire geography of Turan, the ancient temples on the territory of Western Azerbaijan – Azerbaijan’s pre-Islamic places of worship – preserve traces of the Kipchak-Christian culture – the pre-Islamic Turkic culture. These monuments challenge many misconceptions about Caucasian Albania’s history (Caucasian Albania is an ancient state located in present-day Azerbaijan). Their stone inscriptions have endured the trials of history, revealing the truth about the region’s past.
The Center for Social Research presented its work on Western Azerbaijan’s material and cultural heritage to the Azerbaijani public at an event held on July 4, 2022. Continuing its efforts, the Center for Social Research published, «Return to Western Azerbaijan: Our Material and Cultural Heritage in the Historical Lands,» the second volume in a series documenting 388 monuments in Western Azerbaijan, was published on November 6th and presented to the public at an event held in 2023.

This research highlights previously little-known or unstudied sites, enriching Azerbaijani historiography.
Western Azerbaijan is also renowned for its rich cuisine. In this regard, the book «Regional Cuisine of the Iravan Khanate,» a result of extensive research by the Azerbaijan National Culinary Center, explores the ancient culinary culture of the region. The book, authored by esteemed experts including Professor Tahir Amiraslanov, honored cultural worker Oruj Aliyev, and Republican Youth Award Laureate Aygul Asgarova, provides a historical and ethnographic perspective on the cuisine of Iravan and Western Azerbaijan. It includes 413 types of dishes and drinks, kitchen utensils, and the rules for their preparation, transporting Azerbaijanis back to their ancestral lands.
Iravan Azerbaijanis were once local residents of the territory of the state now called Armenia, engaged in the study of the ancient culinary culture of our compatriots. The book contains numerous historical and ethnographic facts related to the cuisine of Iravan and the cuisine of Western Azerbaijan in general, which show the antiquity and richness of the material culture created by the peoples of this region.
Based on historical sources and ethnographic research, this monograph, which demonstrates the unfoundedness of Armenian claims, represents a valuable encyclopedic source on the material and moral culture of the ancient region of Azerbaijan.
Associate Professor Givami Rahimli, PhD, the head of the book project, emphasized the inclusion of historical paintings and photo documents detailing the cultural heritage of the Iravan Khanate, including the Sardar Palace and Iravan mosques, as «one of the values of the book.» These documents illustrate the destruction of medieval architectural monuments, including caravanserai, which formed the historical center of Iravan, underscoring the historical and cultural significance of these sites.
«The book transports every Azerbaijani to their native land, once again reminding them of the beauty of these lands, the aroma of tandoori and the taste of their food,» said Rahimli.
The Azerbaijani people deeply value their national, moral, and material wealth, recognizing it as an integral part of their identity and cultural heritage, preserved through the storms of history.

Fuad Huseynzade is Chairman of the Public Union for the Support of Journalists for Diaspora Activities.