Akhalkalaki (Georgian: ახალქალაქი [ɑxɑlkʰɑlɑkʰi], for New City (from Georgian [ɑxɑli] meaning "new" and [kʰɑlɑkʰi] meaning "city" or "town"); Armenian: Ախալքալաք; Turkish: Ahılkelek) is a town in Georgia's southern region of Samtskhe-Javakheti. Akhalkalaki lies on the edge of the Javakheti Volcanic Plateau. The city is located about 30 km from the border with Turkey. In 2002 over 90 percent of the city's population were ethnic Armenians. The city was passed from Ottomans to Russians after Russo-Turkish War (1828–1829). On January 4, 1900, an earthquake destroyed much of the town and killed 1,000 people in the area. As of the 2014 census the town had a population of 8,295.
Akhalkalaki was founded in 1064. In 1066 the city was destroyed during the Seljuq invasions of the Kingdom of Georgia. Akhalkalaki had alternated between Georgian and Armenian rule until it passed to the Georgian Bagratids in the 11th century. In 11th century Akhalkalaki became political and economical centre of Javakheti. In the 16th century the city came under the rule of the Ottoman Empire and became a sanjak centre in Çıldır Eyaleti. Under the Ottoman rule, the town was known as "Ahılkelek". The city was passed from the Ottomans to the Russians after the Russo-Turkish War in 1828–1829.
The population was mainly Georgian but had been converted to Islam by 1829. After Russian takeover most of the native Muslims left the area for the Ottoman Empire and in their place Christian Armenian refugees from Erzurum and Bayazid settled here. Since then the city and the region of Javakheti has been largely populated by Armenians.
In April 2005, an agreement was signed to build a new railway connecting Turkey with Georgia and Azerbaijan, passing nearby Akhalkalaki. This would bypass an existing line through Gyumri in Armenia which has been closed by Turkey, blockading Armenia, for political reasons since the 1990s. The railway became operational on October 30, 2017. It is here where the break-of-gauge is.
The city was a home to the Soviet-era 147th Motor Rifle Division (part of the 9th Army of the Transcaucasian Military District) up until the early 1990s. After the fall of the Soviet Union the Division became the Russian 62nd Military Base. It was officially transferred, according to the Sochi agreement, to Georgia on June 27, 2007.
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