Nij village – home to the ancient Udi people, an Orthodox Christian community in the Gabala district of Azerbaijan – AZERTAC

Baku, February 14, AZERTAC

Azerbaijan is a country with many ethnicities, which testifies to the tolerant environment and harmony that has existed here for centuries.

Azerbaijan has already become one of the centers of multiculturalism in the world, and this status is already recognized by the world community.

It is no coincidence that by decree of President Ilham Aliyev 2016 was declared the Year of Multiculturalism in Azerbaijan.

After declaring 2016 the Year of Multiculturalism, Azerbaijan first wanted to show that multiculturalism here is both a state policy and a way of life.

With a population of over 10 million, Azerbaijan is home to 20 ethnic minorities, which have retained their language, material and spiritual culture.

The Udis, the Orthodox Christian community of the village of Nij, in the Gabala district of Azerbaijan, are one of the 26 local Albanian tribes that established the Albanian state (3rd century BC – 8th century AD .-VS.).

Their central region is Karabakh – the area between the Kura and Aras rivers. There are 6,000 Udis living mainly in the village of Nij, which is mentioned by ancient Greek authors.

The largest number of Udi reside in Nij village, Gabala district. This original village, in which a large number of ancient monuments have survived, is of great value for anyone interested in ethnotourism.

Located just over 20 kilometers southwest of Gabala, the village of Nij is home to the largest Udi population in the world.

The Udis, a Christian people directly descended from one of the major tribes living in Caucasian Albania, actually still speak an endangered language that is essentially the same as that of the ancient Albanians.

There are three churches and two mosques in Nij, which is home to 3,700 Udis.

Visitors can explore the history and culture of this warm community by visiting the beautifully restored 17th century Albanian Church (Chotari Church) which sits in the shade of beautiful plane trees not far from the center of the village.

Every year, the Udis celebrate Christmas in this old church.

The renovation of the Cotari church in the village of Nij is a good illustration of tolerance in Azerbaijan.

The Udi people have never encountered discrimination or intolerance in comparison with other representatives of different nationalities and cultures who have always lived peacefully and as one family in Azerbaijan.

During their visit to Gabala district on May 16, 2021, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva and their daughter Leyla Aliyeva also got acquainted with the restoration works carried out in the Albanian church of the Blessed Virgin Mary located in the settlement of Nij. of the Gabala district.

The restoration of the Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary was initiated by the Heydar Aliyev Foundation in 2019 and completed during the 44-day war in November 2020.

President Ilham Aliyev once again confirmed Azerbaijan’s strong commitment to preserving its rich historical and cultural heritage saying, “The Udi people have a great historical heritage. You perform divine services both in the territory of the Gabala district and, at the same time, in liberated lands – both in Khudavang and Aghoghlan. There are also other temples belonging to the Udi people. Most of them are in ruins or dilapidated. Therefore, we will also restore them. You can also visit these churches. You have been to Khudavang several times.

As the Ministry of Culture of Azerbaijan has repeatedly stated, along with mosques and other Islamic monuments in the liberated territories, Christian heritage, regardless of its origin, will also be preserved, restored and put into use to the maximum high level.

Finally, all the above-mentioned factors reaffirm the fact that the restoration and reconstruction of historical and religious monuments of Azerbaijan, including churches and synagogues, is an integral part of the policy pursued by the Azerbaijani state in this field.

AZERTAG.AZ :Nij village – home to ancient Udi people, Orthodox Christian community of Gabala district of Azerbaijan

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