Gate to Arakül: Near Ghost Village in Azerbaijan’s Khojavend District

The gate to Arakül (also known as Arakel) ghost town in Azerbaijan, which was occupied by the Armenian Army in 1993 during the Nagorno-Karabakh War. (Image: Unface-Photography Holger Diedrich. Arakül ghost town in Azerbaijan)

This haunting image featured on Wikimedia Commons (by Holger Diedrich) shows the neglected approach to a village that has is described as “almost abandoned”. The lonely gate itself, which is devoid of life and straddles an apparently deserted roadway, could be the stuff of a Hollywood back lot. But this is actually the entrance to Arakül, a near deserted settlement in the Khojavend District of Azerbaijan.

The district is also known as the Hadrut Region of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, an unrecognised state in the South Caucasus on the border of Europe and Asia. Arakül (also known as Arakel) was reportedly occupied by the Armenian Army in 1993, as the bloody Nagorno-Karabakh War neared its end game.

The ruined church at Arakel St. Mariam Astvatsatsin (Image: Unface-Photography Holger Diedrich)

Hundreds of thousands of civilians were displayed on both sides during the violent territorial dispute, and today villages like Arakül are near ghost towns amid the aftermath of one of several frozen conflicts in the former Soviet Union. The above photograph shows the ruined church at Arakel St. Mariam Astvatsatsin.

Local folklore holds that Arakül (or Arakel) was named after Thaddeus, patron saint of the Armenian Apostolic Church, stayed there while preaching to the Armenians. Thaddeus is also identified as Judas Thaddeus, and better known in the Roman Catholic Church as St Jude, the patron saint of lost causes.

Related: Ghost Towns: 20 Haunting Abandoned Villages of the World


About the author: Alex Williams




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