Called Caparxana in ancient times, the district was named Mirbasir in Soviet years. The road leading to Istisu in Kalbajar lies through here. Until the 1960s, there was a healing water spring in the district. The water was used in the treatment of rheumatism, gastrointestinal and skin diseases. Revival of the water spring could bolster the development of tourism.
The distance to Baku is 337 km. Located in the west of the Kura-Aras lowland in the Qarabag plain and in the lower reaches of the Tartar river, the district is crossed by the Inca river in the north and the Xacin river in the center. It has a plain terrain. With a hot semi-desert and desert climate, its area is rich in chestnuts and has many meadows. An ancient caravan road used to both banks of the Tartar. The district is 17 km from Barda. There were many fortresses and caravansaries here. Fierce battles over Tartar were held in the early 1990s and the district still lives in the conditions of war.
The Cavansir district and the Tartar area were established in April 1920. Both were subsequently part of the Agdam and Qarabag districts. As an administrative district it was formed in 1930. In 1949, it was renamed into Mirbasir after communist revolutionist Mirbasir Qasimov. Although it was abolished and joined to Barda in 1963, it regained its status in 1965. By a decision of the Azerbaijan Milli Majlis (parliament) from 13 October 1992, Agdara district was abolished and, together with its Agdara settlement and 28 villages, joined to Tartar district.
There are 24 historical and architectural sites here. One of them is of international, 15 of national and the rest of local importance. All of them are in villages. Since Tartar is in a frontline zone, it is impossible to see most of them.
In the 1990s, Tartar was one of the worst affected districts in the Qarabag war. Although a ceasefire agreement was reached in 1994, the sound of gunfire is commonplace. A lot of livestock, farmland and people suffered severe damage. Forests are being set on fire and river water contaminated. The police and frontline positions of Shusha, which has been under occupation since 1992, are based in a remote Borsunlu village. Post-war ruins of some villages resemble dismal images from films about wars. There are many avenues of martyrs.
Tartar’s busiest location is Qapanli. Local residents have been struggling for survival shoulder-to-shoulder with soldiers for over 17 years. Following the Qarabag tradition of building nice houses, residents of Tartar had built beautiful two-level houses before the war. Since the 1990s, their second floors have been closed. The roofs are destroyed by cannon-fire, walls pierced with bullets and windows broken. They are mostly used by local soldiers and are quite dangerous to go to in the afternoon. During firing, people often hide in cellars or barns. This is still a reality, a bitter Qarabag reality. However, local people have no intention of leaving Qapanli. When asked about that, they answer with a verse from the Dada Gorgud epos:
If you can’t protect the soil, it is not worth cultivating,
If you can’t cultivate the soil, it is not worth protecting.