Zaqatala is a rayon of Azerbaijan. The capital and principal town is Zaqatala. The rayon is an appendix of Azerbaijan territory wedged between Georgia and Dagestan (Russian Federation). It is served by the A315 road coming from Mingachevir and leading to the Georgian border at Lagodekhi as well as by a small airfield.Zaqatala district is situated in the north-west of the Republic of Azerbaijan in the Ganykh Ayrichay valley of the southern slopes of the Major Caucasus. It borders on Georgia in the south, Dagestan in the north and Balaken and Gakh districts in the west and east. Zaqatala city is the center of the district. The city is located at the height of 535 meters above sea level, 445 kilometers away from the capital of Azerbaijan.
Initially this territory of modern Zaqatala was a province of Caucasian Albania,. After that, the region was a separate kingdom within Georgian cultural and political influence. During the medieval era what later became known as Saingilo was mostly controlled by the kingdom of Georgia and Shirvan.In the Middle Ages seven Georgian schools operated in Saingilo which included the courses of theology, philosophy, orthography, church history, and the history of Georgia and for the students. These schools played an essential cultural and educational role. They put a vital contribution in establishing cultural relations among the peoples of the Caucasus.
Zaqatala has several sites of historic significance, most of which are centered on its 19th-century town centre. The main square, formerly called Lenin Square, features a pair of 700 year old plane trees.The city's most prominent feature is a ruined fortress, built in the 1830s by occupying Russian forces during the Caucasian War to defend the city from rebels. In the 1850s, the town was the site of battles between Russians and Dagestani leader Imam Shamil. It was center of Zakatala okrug (district) of Tiflis Governorate between 1860 and 1917. It was part of Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republic between 1917 and 1918 and Georgian Democratic Republic between 1918 and 1921 before passing to Azerbaijan in March 1922.
In the 20th century the town and its fortress became more famous when the fortress was used as one of the prisons for the mutinous crew of the battleship Potëmkin, whose actions in the failed 1905 Revolution were a precursor to the eventual 1917 revolution. The statue of one of the mutineers erected in the Soviet era still decorates Heydar Aliyev park not far from the fortress. Currently, the fortress still houses a military garrison as well as several Soviet-style apartment buildings. Near the northern part of the ramparts and off of the main square is a beautiful, but abandoned, Georgian church. The town now sports a sizable new mosque.