Ganja is Azerbaijan’s second largest city with a population of around 325,200. It was named Elisabethpol in the Russian Empire period. The city regained its original name, Ganja, in 1920 during the first part of its incorporation into theSovet Union. However, its name changed again in 1935 to Kirovabad and retained that name through most of the rest of the Soviet period. In 1989, during Perestroika, the city regained its original name.
Even though some sources from medieval Islamic time attribute the building of the town to a Muslim Arab ruler, modern historians believe that the fact that the name Ganja derives from the New Persian ganj (“treasure”) and in Arabic source the name is recorded as Janza (from theMiddle Persian ganza) suggests that the city existed in pre-Islamic times and was likely founded in the 5th century. The area in which Ganja located known as Arran from the 9th to 12th century; its urban population spoke mainly in the Persian language.
According to medieval Arabic sources, the city of Ganja founded in 859-60 by Muhammad ibn Khalid ibn Yazid ibn Mazyad.
The Arab governor of the region in the reign of the caliph al-Mutawakkil, and so-called because of a treasure unearthed there.
According to the legend, the Arab governor had a dream where a voice told him that there a treasure hidden under one of the three hills around the area where he camped.
The voice told him to unearth it and use the money to found a city. He did so and informed the caliph about the money and the city.
Caliph made Muhammad the hereditary governor of the city on a condition.
That he would give the money he found to the caliph.
Foundation of the city by Arabs is confirmed by the medieval Armenian historian Movses Kagankatvatsi, who mentions that the city of Ganja was founded in 846-47 in the canton of Arshakashen by the son of Khazr Patgos, “a furious and merciless man”.
Historically an important city of the South Caucasus, Ganja has been part of the Sassanid empire, Great Seljuk Empire, Kingdom of Georgia, Atabegs of Azerbaijan, Khwarezmid Empire, Il-Khans, Timurids, Jalayirids, Qara Qoyunlu, Ak Koyunlu, the Safavid, the Afsharid, the Zand and the Qajar empires of Persia/Iran. Prior to the Iranian Zand and Qajar rule, following Nader Shah’s death.
It ruled locally for a few decades by the khans/dukes of the Ganja Khanate.
Who themselves were subordinate to the central rule in mainland Iran and were a branch of the Iranian Qajar family. Ganja is also the birthplace of the famous poet Nizami Ganjavi.
The people of Ganja experienced a temporary cultural decline after an earthquake in 1139.
When the city taken by king Demetrius.
I of Georgia and its gates taken as trophies which still kept in Georgia.
And again after the Mongol invasion in 1231.
The city revived after the Safavids came to power in 1501.
And incorporated all of Azerbaijan and beyond into their territories.
The city came under brief occupation by the Ottomans between 1578–1606 and 1723-1735 during the prolonged Ottoman-Persian Wars.
But nevertheless stayed under intermittent Iranian suzerainty from the earliest 16th century up to the course of the 19th century.
When it forcefully ceded to neighbouring Imperial Russia.