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Qabala bears the name of the ancient Qabala, a city which was the capital of the ancient state of Caucasian Albania. The ruins of the old city are located 20 kilometers to southwest of the present center of the district. The remnants of the large buildings, city gates, tower walls and patters of material culture prove that Gabala was one of the most prominent cities at that time.

Ancient Gabala was created as a city in the late 4th-early 3rd century B.C. and survived up to the mid 18th century A.C. A great many of changes occurred in the life of the city through the period of existence. Due to different historical events the city was damaged more than once.

Though the Roman troops attacked Albania in the 60s B.C they were not able to occupy Gabala. Quring the Sassani period, Qabala was a large trade and handicraft center. The situation remained the same in the times of the Arabian caliphate. Though Qabala experienced decline during the Mongolian invasion in the 13th century, it was restored later. Qabala lost its positions in the mid 18th century and the population gradually left the place.

The small feudal state Qutqashen Sultanate was established on the territory of Qabala in the mid 18th century. It was later included into the Shaki Khanate and was ruled by the Shaki naibs appointed by the khans of Shaki.

Following the downfall of the Shaki Khanate, Qutqashen sultanate was included into the Shaki province. The Qutqashen district was created in 1930. The district was renamed back to Qabala in March 1991, after fall of Soviet Union.