For the administrative district see Qabala Rayon. For the esoteric school of thought see Kabbalah.

Coordinates: 40°58′53″N 47°50′45″E / 40.98139°N 47.84583°E / 40.98139; 47.84583

City & Municipality

From top: Qafqaz Riverside Resort Center;
II left: The ruins of Qabala Fortress, right: A medieval Juma Mosque in Imam Baba Tomb;
III left: Statue of Ismayil Bey Gutqashenli, right: Gabala International Music Festival;
Bottom: Qabaland amusement park
Coordinates: 40°58′53″N 47°50′45″E / 40.98139°N 47.84583°E / 40.98139; 47.84583
Country  Azerbaijan
Rayon Gabala
Established 1973
  Total 1,548 km2 (598 sq mi)
Elevation 783 m (2,569 ft)
Population (2011)[1]
  Total 12,808
Time zone AZT (UTC+4)
  Summer (DST) AZT (UTC+5)
Area code(s) +994 160
Climate Cfa

Gabala (Azerbaijani: Qəbələ, Гәбәлә, قبه‌له; Lezgian: Кьвепеле, Q̇wepele, قوه‌په‌له‌), also known as Qabala, is a city in Azerbaijan and the capital of the Qabala Rayon.[2] The municipality consists of the city of Gabala and the village of Küsnat.[3] Before 1991 the city was known as Kutkashen, but after Azerbaijan's independence the town was renamed in honour of the much older city of Gabala, the former capital of Caucasian Albania, the archaeological site of which is about 20 km southwest.



Gabala is the ancient capital of Caucasian Albania. Archeological evidence indicates that the city functioned as the capital of Caucasian Albania as early as 4th century BC.[4] The ruins of the ancient town are situated 15 km from the regional center, allocated on the territory between Garachay and Jourluchay rivers.[5] Gabala was located in the middle of the 2,500-year-old Silk Road, and was mentioned by Pliny the Younger as "Kabalaka", Greek geographer Ptolemy as "Khabala", Arabic historian Ahmad ibn Yahya al-Baladhuri as "Khazar". In the 19th century, the Azerbaijani historian Abbasgulu Bakikhanov mentioned in his book Gulistani Irem that Kbala or Khabala were in fact Gabala.

In the 60s BC, Roman troops attacked Caucasian Albania, but did not succeed in capturing the Qabala territory. In 262 AD, Caucasian Albania was occupied by the Sassanid Empire, but preserved its political and economic status. In 464, it lost its independence due to years of invasions from the northern nomadic tribes and had to move its capital city to Partava (currently Barda in Azerbaijan).

Feudal era

Gabala was occupied by Shirvanshah Fariburz, King David IV of Georgia in 1120, Mongol khan Timurleng in 1386, Safavid shah Tahmasib I in 1538, Persian Nader Shah in 1734 but was able to preserve its culture and identity. After the death of Nader Shah in 1747, Azerbaijan split into independent khanates and sultanates and Gabala became a Qutqashen Sultanate. It was also called Gabala Mahali. After what is today Azerbaijan was occupied by the Russian Empire in 1813 through the consequences of the Russo-Persian War (1804-1813) and the resulting Treaty of Gulistan of 1813, it conducted administrative reforms and in 1841 Azerbaijani khanates were terminated and the territories were incorporated into governorates. Gabala area was added to Nukha uyezd of Elisabethpol Governorate. Due to archeological finds in Gabala, it was declared a National State Reserve in 1985.[6]

Republic era

The ruins of the gates of Albanian capital Gabala in Azerbaijan

After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Gabala embarked on a process of restructuring on a scale unseen in its history.[7] Thousands of buildings from the Soviet period were demolished to make way for a green belt on its shores; parks and gardens were built on the land reclaimed by filling up the foothill of Gabala.[8] Improvements were made in the general cleaning, maintenance, and garbage collection, and these services are now at Western European standards. The city is growing dynamically and developing at full speed on a north axis along the shores of the Caspian Sea.

As of 2010s, Gabala is emerging as a magnet for events, such as the summit of Turkic Council in 2013.[9] In 2013, the city was declared the Cultural Capital of the Commonwealth of Independent States, in recognition of its long contribution to the history of Azerbaijan and the region.[10]


The geographical position and mountainous relief of the city greatly influenced on formation of complex climate conditions in vertical droughty area, as well as on density of river network and richness of soil-vegetation cover.[11] Relief and humid climate conditions of Gabala region led to formation of a thick river network in the area. The rivers of the city refer to the left branches of Kura basin and runs directly into Kura or the rivers of Shirvan zone.[11]

The city is rich with chestnut and hazelnut trees.[2]


Qabala has a humid subtropical climate close to the borderline of the humid continental climate.

Climate data for Qabala
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 4.4
Daily mean °C (°F) −0.5
Average low °C (°F) −3.9
Average precipitation mm (inches) 43
Average precipitation days 8 8 11 9 11 8 6 4 5 9 8 8 95
Source: NOAA[12]


The economy of Gabala is partially agricultural, partially tourist based, with some manufacturing industries, mainly for food preserves, tobacco and silkworm cocoon drying.[13][14] The city's main manufacturing industries companies involved in; engineering, construction, brewing and distilling and food manufacturing.[15][16] There is also "Beltmann" piano factory, whose piano-maker is Hans Leferink - the grandson of Johann Beltmann who, in 1901, founded a similar business in the Kingdom of the Netherlands.[17][18]

Tourism and shopping

Gabala is considered a popular tourist destination due to the combination of a very good spring climate, woods along the mountains and excellent fauna was exploited by the construction of large numbers of hotels and apartments in city.[19] Many sizable world hotel chains have a presence in the city.[20]

The city contains "Gabaland" amusement park, an ice skating rink and a Greek-style theatre, built especially for outside concerts.[21] Gabala has several shopping malls; the most famous city center mall is Gabala Mall.[22]

Gabala is home to Tufan Ski Complex, one of the biggest ski resorts in Caucasus.[23] The complex serves up to 3,000 people a day.[24]


Since 2009, city has been home of Gabala International Music Festival, which included performances from classical and jazz performers such as Al Jarreau and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.[25][26]

Gabala also boasts many museums such as Historical Ethnography Museum of Gabala and Gabala Cultural Centre, most notably featuring Folk Theatre named after Jalil Mammadguluzadeh.[27]


A 1984 artist's concept of a Daryal-type (Pechora) bistatic phased-array early warning radar similar to the one deployed at Gabala.

Gabala is renowned for the ruins of an ancient walled city, Chukhur Gabala, dating back to the 4th century BC.[28] The city has a large war memorial, numerous ancient stone houses and the Rashidbek monument, which is shaped as a huge book.[2]

Another landmark is the large Qabala Radar station, on the southern horizon as seen from Gabala, is one of only two Daryal-type missile early warning stations in the former USSR.[29][30]

Parks and gardens

Gabala has large sections of greenery either preserved by the National Government or designated as green zones. The city includes "Gabalaland", which is the largest amusement park in Azerbaijan.[31]


The city has one professional football team competing in the top-flight of Azerbaijani football – Gabala, currently playing in the Azerbaijan Premier League. The team was managed by former England and Arsenal player Tony Adams in 2010-11 season.[32] The clubs holds its home games in the Gabala City Stadium.

The Gabala Horse Racing Complex is used for horse-racing tournaments.[33] As of 2013, there is Gabala Shooting Club functions in the city.[34]


Public transport

The city has a large urban transport system, mostly managed by the Ministry of Transportation.[35]


Qabala Airport is the only airport in the city, serves a number of domestic and international destinations including Russia.[36]


There are 4 primary schools, 4 secondary schools and 4 special schools in the town.[37]


Gabala Central Regional Hospital is the largest hospital in the city, Gabala Children's Hospital and Gabala Treatment and Diagnostic Center, which specialises in rehabilitation and long term illnesses and conditions.[38]

See also


  1. Population of the region
  2. 1 2 3 Gabala, Azerbaijan
  3. "Belediyye Informasiya Sistemi" (in Azerbaijani). Archived from the original on 24 September 2008.
  4. Revisiting History
  5. History of Gebele city
  6. Qabala history
  7. "History of Qabala". Retrieved 11 November 2014.
  8. "Президент Ильхам Алиев: Сегодня Габала стала одним из культурных и туристических центров Азербайджана". Retrieved 11 November 2014.
  9. "The Third Turkic Council Summit Meeting was held in Gabala". Retrieved 11 November 2014.
  10. "Summit to See". Retrieved 11 November 2014.
  11. 1 2 "The climate of the region". Retrieved 11 November 2014.
  12. "Qabala Climate Normals 1961–1990". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved 22 March 2015.
  13. "GABALA / QƏBƏLƏ". Retrieved 6 December 2010.
  14. Qəbələ şəhəri on Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Azerbaijan Republic (Azerbaijani)
  15. "Wine Adventures of Italians in Gabala. Furor Magazine (March 2013)". Retrieved 11 November 2014.
  16. "Infrastructure of Gabala". Retrieved 11 November 2014.
  17. ""Beltman" piano factory". Retrieved 11 November 2014.
  18. Beltmann website
  19. Qəbələ rayonu on (Azerbaijani)
  20. "Recommended for you in Gabala". Retrieved 10 November 2014.
  21. Machlachlan, Fiona. "Getting to know Dmitry Yablonsky,". Visions of Azerbaijan. Retrieved 23 September 2011.
  22. "Grand shopping center to be opened in Gabala". Retrieved 10 November 2014.
  23. "Mountain-skiing tourist complexes". Retrieved 10 November 2014.
  24. "Ilham Aliyev reviewed progress of construction of the "Tufan" summer and winter ski resort in Gabala". Retrieved 10 November 2014.
  25. "Gabala International Music Festival programme". Retrieved 15 August 2010.
  26. "Second International Music Festival officialy [sic] opens in Gabala". Retrieved 15 August 2010.
  27. "Culture in Qabala". Retrieved 11 November 2014.
  28. Gabala International Piano Festival Archived 25 April 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
  29. Gabala radar for both Russia and US? Archived 2 April 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
  30. Gabala Radar Station: "Somebody is watching us" Archived 26 August 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
  31. "Travel to Gabala". Retrieved 9 November 2014.
  32. Tony Adams' grand plans for Azerbaijan football
  33. ""Qəbələ" atıcılıq klubu Dünya Kubokunun finalına ev sahibliyi edəcək". (in Azerbaijani). Retrieved 10 November 2014.
  34. "Target in Sight". Retrieved 11 November 2014.
  35. "Azərbaycan Respublikası regionlarının, o cümlədən Qəbələ, İsmayıllı, Oğuz və Şamaxı rayonlarının sosial iqtisadi inkişafının sürətləndirilməsinə dair əlavə tədbirlər haqqında". (in Azerbaijani). Retrieved 11 November 2014.
  36. Yagubov, Elvin (25 July 2014). "New flight launched from Gabala to Moscow". Azeri-Press Agency (APA) LLC. Retrieved 28 July 2014.
  37. "Qəbələdə Təhsil". (in Azerbaijani). Retrieved 12 November 2014.
  38. "Healthcare in Gabala". Retrieved 11 November 2014.
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