Alinja Fortress: Extraordinarily beautiful setting on mountain top
By Amina Nazarli
Very soon Azerbaijan will enjoy its city in the sky not inferior to the historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu in Peru.
Like the mysterious city of the Incas, Azerbaijani Alinja Fortress is located on a mountain slope, rising up to the top in a stepped form.
The fortress, dated back to the 6th-8th centuries, is located at the eponymous mountain near the town of Julfa in the Nakhchivan.
The restoration of the fortress is nearing to completion and this unique historical monument will officially open soon.
Nakhchivan, which is considered one of the centers of civilization development in the East, has more than 1,500 historical and cultural monuments, and about 60 of them including the fortress city Alinja Gala have great international significance.
At the time, reigning over the whole surrounding area it was able to become a reliable fort located at the commercial and military road, passing through Nakhchivan. The fortress was one of the most powerful fortifications of its time and was mentioned in many historical sources.
Alinja is more widely known as treasury-house of the Turkic Seljuks, and the residence of Azerbaijani Atabek Eldanizids-state’s ruler Muzaffar al-Din Uzbek, where he spent his last years.
The fortress saw many conquerors, destroying and rebuilding several times. The famous commander and Turco-Mongol conqueror Tamerlane was admired by the majesty of Alinja and even came here to personally make sure that his troops seized the impregnable fortress.
Alinja was a kind of a small town, with its residential and public buildings, treasury, army and stables. Spanish traveler of the 15th century Ruy González de Clavijo described the fortress in this way: “Alinja stood at the high steep hill, surrounded by walls with towers at the bottom. Inside the walls, on the lower slopes of the mountains there were a lot of vineyards, orchards, pastures, springs and water tanks.”
The restoration of the historical monument started in 2014 and archaeologists “had to sweat” to restore the fortress as close as possible to its original appearance.
Head of the archaeological team Veli Bakhshaliyev told Moscow-Baku news portal that restoration work began in one of the lifts to the fortress. Through a road constructed to the mountain, workers carried the building materials by hand to the top.
In a short period of time, the archaeologists almost managed to turn the Alinja Gala into original condition. The walls were strengthened and western and eastern gates of the fortress acquired the original state.
“During the excavations residential and public areas, stables, barns, tandirs, pools of water and underground water pipes kyahriz were found. Houses were located close to each other and were heated by a small stove. All discoveries such as hand mills, pottery, axes and coins allow us to imagine the lifestyle of people living here,” he said.
Today, Alinja Gala admire many by its extraordinary view including walls, starting from the foot of the mountain, rise row upon row of the slope, protecting its top placed with residential facilities within it. A museum, which collects exhibits found during the archaeological excavations, is built near the monument.
The opening of Alinja Gala is scheduled for spring. This event will be of great importance not only for the history and culture of Azerbaijan, but will also attract tourists to the Nakhchivan region.