Trans Eurasia travel

Your virtual guide to Eurasia! Let's travel together!

History of Barda


In the 460s AD, King Vache II of Caucasian Albania, acting under the orders of the Sasanian Emperor Peroz I, had founded the settlement of Barda, which was initially called Perozabad, and replaced Qabala as the capital of Caucasian Albania. According to the seventh century atlas, the Ashkharhats'uyts', attributed to Anania Shirakatsi, Barda was known by the name of Partav (Partaw) during the period of late antiquity and was located in the region of Uti Arandznak in the province of Utik', which was at that time in the possession of Albania. (The same author also mentions it among the provinces of Armenia).

In 552, Partav was made the catholicosal seat of the Church of Caucasian Albania. In the mid-seventh century, Javanshir, the lord of Gardman, led a movement that expelled the Persian marzpan from the province of Utik' and made Partav his capital and constructed churches and other buildings. His deeds were chronicled by the Armenian historian Movses Kaghankatvatsi who hailed from a neighboring village.


In about 645, Partav fell under the control of the Muslim Arabs and was referred to as "Barda" or "Barda'a" in Arabic. In ca. 789, it was made the second alternate capital (after Dvin) of the governor (ostikan) of the province of al-Arminiya. Its governors strengthened the defenses of the city in order to counter the invasions of the Khazars attacking from the north. In 768, Catholicos of All Armenians Sion I Bavonats'i convoked an ecclesiastical council at Partav, which passed 24 canons largely concerning the administration of the Armenian Church and marriage practices. By the ninth to tenth centuries, Barda largely lost its economic importance to the nearby town of Ganja; the seat of the Catholicos of the Church of Albania was also moved to Bardak (Berdakur), leaving Partav as a mere bishopric. According to the Muslim geographers Estakhri, Ibn Hawqal, and Al-Muqaddasi, the distinctive Caucasian Albanian language (which they called al-Raniya, or Arranian) persisted into early Islamic times, and was still spoken in Barda in the tenth century. Thus, Ibn Hawkal mentioned that the people of Barda spoke Arranian, while Estakhri stated that Arranian was the language of the "country of Barda". During this time, the city boasted a Muslim Arab population, as well as a substantial Christian community.

Referring to events in the late eleventh century, the twelfth-century Armenian historian Matthew of Edessa described Partav as an "Armenian city ["K'aghak'n Hayots'"], which is also called Paytakaran and located near the vast [Caspian] Sea."

The same Muslim geographers describe Barda as a flourishing town with a citadel, a mosque (the treasury of Arran was located here), a circuit wall and gates, and a Sunday bazaar that was called "Keraki," "Koraki-" or "al-Kurki" (a name derived from Greek kuriakos, the Lord’s Day and Sunday, as the Armenian word kiraki is). In 914, the city was captured by the Rus, who occupied it for six months. In 943, it was attacked once more by the Rus and sacked. This may have been a factor in the decline of Barda in the second half of the 10th century, along with the raids and oppressions from the rulers of the neighboring regions, when the town lost ground to Beylaqan.

Although still the capital of a Barda raion, centuries of earthquakes and, finally, the Mongol invasions destroyed much of the town's landmarks, with the exception of the fourteenth century tomb of Ahmad Zocheybana, built by architect Ahmad ibn Ayyub Nakhchivani. The mausoleum is a cylindrical brick tower, decorated with turquoise tiles. There is also the more recently built Imamzadeh Mosque, which has four minarets.


Agriculture is the main activity in the area. Local economy is based on the production and processing of cotton, silk, poultry and dairy products. The cease fire line, concluded at the end of the Nagorno-Karabakh War in 1994, is just a few kilometers west of Barda, near Terter.