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Azerbaijan Releases Video About Ancient Khudafarin Bridges

By Timucin Turksoy August 28, 2022

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One of the two Khudafarin bridges over the Araz River in the Jabrayil district of Azerbaijan / Trend News Agency

The Culture Ministry of Azerbaijan has presented the third installment of the "Azerbaijan – the cradle of ancient civilization" video series.

The third video of the series, titled "Bridges of Khudafarin", covers the history of the ancient Khudafarin bridges in southwestern Azerbaijan. The unique structure, located in the country’s Jabrayil district, is believed to have been built nine centuries ago.

The Khudafarin bridges span the northern and southern shores of the Araz River on the Azerbaijan-Iran state border. Two separate Khudafarin bridges with 11 and 15 arches were built in Jabrayil in the 11th and 13th centuries. The shorter overpass measured about 130 meters in length, 6 meters in width and 12 meters in height above the river level. 

The Khudafarin bridges are among Azerbaijan's ancient monuments. The bridge was built on the caravan road connecting the medieval cities of South Azerbaijan (the northwestern part of modern-day Iran) and North Azerbaijan (modern-day the Republic of Azerbaijan). The first bridge built in the narrowest part of the Araz River, surrounded by rocks, was operational between the 11th and 19th centuries. The brick bridge was built in the 12th century.

There is no information documented about the name of the person who built the bridge in historical sources. According to many researchers, both bridges were named "Khudafarin" because their foundations were laid on natural raft stones in the middle of the river. However, their secrets have not been fully disclosed yet. Some historians say they were built in 1027 by Fazl I, the Shaddadis, a medieval state established in the territory of Azerbaijan with its capital located in the Gandja city. This bridge was of great importance in the development of Azerbaijan's economic and cultural relations with India, Middle Eastern countries, Russia and Western European countries.

According to the historical facts, the bridge remained relatively intact and useful until the 1930s. At that time, the coastal arches of the bridge were destroyed. Since then, the local population refers to the structure as the "broken bridge". Currently, only three arches of the 11-arch bridge remain.

The historical buildings and monuments in Azerbaijan suffered serious damage from Armenia's cultural vandalism after the occupation of Jabrayil in 1993. The bridge was damaged due to neglect for nearly 30 years.

In October 2020, Khudafarin, known as the "bridge of longing", became a symbol of peace and hope after Jabrayil was liberated by Azerbaijani forces from Armenian occupation.

Armenia and Azerbaijan had been locked in a decades-old conflict over the Karabakh (Garabagh) region, which is the internationally recognized territory of Azerbaijan. Following the Soviet Union’s dissolution in 1991, Armenia launched a military campaign against Azerbaijan that lasted until a ceasefire deal was reached in 1994. Armenia occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan’s internationally recognized territories. Over 30,000 ethnic Azerbaijanis were killed and one million were expelled from their lands in a brutal ethnic cleansing policy conducted by Armenia.

On September 27, 2020, the conflict took a violent turn after Armenia’s forces deployed in occupied Azerbaijani lands shelled military positions and civilian settlements of Azerbaijan. During the counter-attack operations, Azerbaijani forces liberated over 300 settlements, including the cities of Jabrayil, Fuzuli, Zangilan, Gubadli and Shusha. The war ended with the signing of a tripartite agreement on November 10, 2020, by Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia, under which Armenia also returned the occupied Aghdam, Kalbajar and Lachin districts to Azerbaijan.