Azerbaijan: see ShamakhiShamakhi
or Shemakha
, city (1989 pop. 24,681), E Azerbaijan, at the foot of the Caucasus. Its chief product is wine. Known since ancient times, Shamakhi was an important silk center in the 16th cent., trading especially with Venice.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a city and administrative center of Shemakha Raion, Azerbaijan SSR. Located in the southeastern foothills of the Great Caucasus, on the Baku-Tbilisi highway, 122 km west of Baku and 72 km northeast of the Kiurdamir railroad station. Population, 19,000 (1974). The center of a large agricultural region, Shemakha has wine-growing sovkhozes, a winery, a carpet-weaving factory, and a building materials plant. Educational institutions include an agricultural technicum and a pedagogical school. A museum of local lore and the house-museum of the Azerbaijani poet M. A. Sabir are located in the city.

Shemakha is one of the oldest cities of Azerbaijan. Archaeological excavations conducted in the northwestern part of the city have uncovered a settlement dating from the fifth and fourth centuries B.C. It is possible that Ptolemy (second century A.D.) mentioned it as Shemakhiya. From the ninth to 16th centuries, the city was the capital of Shirvan and the residence of the Shirvan shahs.

Shemakha was one of the centers of the Shirvan-Apsheron architectural school and of decorative applied art, including rug making and miniature work. Located at an intersection of caravan routes, it was one of the major trade and artisan centers of the Near East, occupying an important place in the international silk trade. Its traders included Azerbaijani, Iranian, Arabic, Middle Asian, Russian, Indian, and Western European merchants, who had trading posts there; the city had numerous silk-weaving, cotton-spinning, and rug-making workshops. In 1222, after a lengthy siege, Shemakha was destroyed by the Mongol Tatars. In the mid-18th century it was the capital of the Shemakha Khanate. In 1805 it became part of Russia. From 1840 to 1846 it was the administrative center of Caspian Oblast; it then became the administrative center of Shemakha Province, which became Baku Province in 1859. In the early 20th century, the Gummet Social Democratic organization and a local party organization of the RSDLP were active in the city. After February 1917, a soviet of workers’, peasants’, and soldiers’ deputies was organized there. Soviet power was established in 1920.

Shemakha produced a number of outstanding Azerbaijani cultural figures, scholars, poets, and architects, including Khagani Shirvani (12th century), Zeinaddin Shirvani (13th century), Nesimi (late 14th to early 15th centuries), Nishat Shirvani (18th century), Hadji Zeinalabdin Shirvani (18th century), Seid Azim Shirvani (19th century), and M. A. Sabir (late 19th and early 20th centuries). The old buildings of the city, including the Dzhuma (Djuma) Mosque (tenth century), the palace of the Shirvan shahs (12th century), and the shah’s and other caravansaries (17th century), were destroyed by earthquakes and are known only from descriptions or partial remains. The city acquired a grid plan after its restoration in the 1820’s; a number of mausoleums were preserved, the most interesting of which is the group of octagonal dome mausoleums of Eddi-Giumbez (19th century).


Aleksandrovich, Dzh. (Nasyfi). “Shemakha.” Izv. Azerbaidzhanskogo arkheologicheskogo komiteta, 1926, issue 2.
Azerbaidzhán (¡storicheskie i dostoprimechatel’nye mesta). Baku, 1960.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
The Shemakha road leading to Icherisheher was forked at the fortress wall into three branches.
The story was staged by the Astrologer, a conjurer assisted by a beautiful lady who later turns into the Queen of Shemakha. These characters were wonderfully sung by high French tenor Jean-Paul Fouchecourt and Russian-born Greek soprano Elena Kelessidi.