Igdir went by the Armenian name of Tsolakert during the Middle Ages. When the Spanish traveler Ruy González de Clavijo passed through this region in the early 15th century, he stayed a night in a castle he called Egida, located at the foot of Mount Ararat. Clavijo describes it as being built upon a rock and ruled by a woman, the widow of a brigand Timurlane had put to death.Because modern Igdir has no such rock, and is a considerable distance from the Ararat foothills, it is believed that medieval Igdir was located at a different site, at a place also known as Tsolakert, now called Taşburun. Russian excavations there at the end of the 19th century discovered the ruins of houses and what was identified as a church, as well as traces of fortifications. The settlement may have been abandoned after an earthquake in 1664. In 1555 the town became a part of the Safavid Empire, remaining under Persian rule (with brief military occupations by the Ottomans in 1514, between 1534-1535, 1548-1549, 1554-1555, 1578–1605, 1635–36 and 1722–46) until it fell into the hands of the Russian Empire after the Russo-Persian War of 1826-1828.
Iğdır was taken by the Russian Empire from Persia after the latter's defeat in the Russo-Persian War of 1826-1828. It was organized as part of the Armenian Oblast in 1828 and made a part of the Georgia-Imeretia Governorate in 1840, and then the Surmalu Uyezd of the Erivan Governorate in 1850. According to the Russian family lists accounts from 1886, of the total 71,066 inhabitants of the districts 34,351 were Azerbaijanis (48.3%, mentioned as 'Tatars' in the source), 22,096 Armenians (31.1%) and 14,619 Kurds (20.6%).Under Russian rule, two primary schools, one for boys and the other for girls, and three churches were opened and 100 Armenian families were allowed to move to Igdir. The town's population rose to 10,000 in 1914 and largely busied itself with agriculture and commerce. Following the Russian Revolution of October 1917, the area came under the control of a temporary administrative committee created by the three main ethnic groups in the Caucasus. Though it attempted to negotiate a truce with the Ottoman Empire, Ottoman forces launched an eastward offensive and took Iğdır on May 20, 1918. They occupied it until the signing of the Armistice of Mudros in November 1918. The Republic of Armenia then assumed control over Iğdır. The Armenian population suffered heavily during the grueling winter of 1918-19, as famine, disease and the cold killed many. In May 1919, its status was elevated to that of a city.
Based on the boundaries drawn by US State Department in November 1920, Iğdır was envisaged as an integral part of the Armenian republic. However, in September 1920 the Government of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey led by Mustafa Kemal launched a war to eliminate the republic and overran Iğdır. Turkish General Kâzım Karabekir commanded the armies but his forces were initially unable to take Igdir due to strong Armenian resistance. However, within a few days, on October 20, 1920, Turkish army managed to drive the Armenian forces out of Iğdır. According to official Turkish documents, after their defeat in the Shahtahti area, Armenian forces abandoned Iğdır. They burned the Markara Bridge which spanned the Araxes River and retreated to the northern bank on November 13, 1920. Turkey annexed the region of Iğdır after the conclusion of several peace treaties, and its territorial gains were mainly formalized under the 1921 Treaty of Kars.
In the early years of the Republic of Turkey, Iğdır was a district of the province of Bayazıt. It was made a part of the Kars Province in 1934 and remained part of it until it became the seat of the newly formed Iğdır Province on 27 May 1992.
The city of Iğdır sits on a plain at a lower altitude than most of Turkey's eastern provinces. This allows agricultural production including apples, tomatoes, cucumbers, peaches, pears, sugar beet, watermelons and melons. However, the most famous produces of Iğdır are cotton and apricots.
On a peninsula close to the closed border with Armenia, and currently within a military zone, near the village of Sürmeli, stands the ruins of the medieval city of Surmari, with a citadel whose surviving walls date from 1224. A ruinous 13th century Armenian caravanserai known as the "Caravanserai of Zor" is another historical structure near Iğdır.
The Genocide Memorial
In August 1997, construction started on the "Iğdır Soykırım Anıt-Müzesi" (Iğdır Genocide Memorial and Museum). Turkish authorities erected the monument to commemorate alleged massacres of Turks by Armenians during World War I and the Turkish–Armenian War during the Turkish War of Independence. The Turkish argument states that "A need was expressed for the erection of this monument and this opinion was stated as follows in the final declaration of the International Symposium on Historical Realities and Armenians, held in Igdir from 24 to 26 April 1965. The Symposium resolved that a monument of martyrs should be erected in Iğdır and a cemetery for martyrs should be established in Oba Village in order to eternalise the memories of more than one million Turks that fell in Eastern Anatolia and to give a similar answer to those declaring 24 April as a genocide day and to the monuments erected in many places of the world for the alleged genocide perpetrated against the Armenians.
It was opened on October 5, 1999 by Turkish Minister of State Ramazan Mirzaoğlu. Its height from ground level is 43.5 metres. The monument's design contains symbols related to Turkish self-identity, history, and legends. The upper structure consists of five upright swords, their points touching to resemble Mount Ararat. On the hilt of the swords are a series of reliefs. Beneath the monument are a series of rooms intended to house a museum. The granite for the monument's swords was brought from China and other materials, such as marble, granite, and ceramics, were brought from other regions of Turkey.
Its construction is explained as a counter-argument by the Turks that Armenians also perpetrated massacres against Turks and is seen as a part of Turkey's ongoing denial of the Armenian Genocide.
Iğdır's culture is part of the larger culture of Turkey.
The rising agricultural production and the opening of a border gate with Nakhchivan in 1992 have enabled the town to be livelier and wealthier than its neighbours in the generally impoverished eastern Turkey. There are many cafes and restaurants. The best-known dish is a meat stew called bozbaş.
Iğdır has 12 local daily and weekly newspapers. The most prominent of these is Yeşil Iğdır which has been published since 1 September 1955.
The main economic activities in Iğdır are the commerce of agricultural and animal products.
The city of Iğdır is located between Kars and Ağrı. Despite the fact that it has three strategically important neighbours, the border gate to Armenia is closed and there is no direct access to Iran, therefore this situation diminishes economic possibilities.
About 70% percent of Mount Ararat's area lies within Iğdır's borders, however the investments for developing tourism in Mt. Ararat is paid to Ağrı Municipality.
Further information: Demographics of Turkey
The spring festival Nowruz is widely celebrated in Iğdır.
Transport to Iğdır is via roads or air. Iğdır Airport, opened in 2012, serves the city with internal flights to Istanbul and Ankara. Regular bus services connect the city to major national and regional centres. There is, as of 2016, no rail transport to Iğdır, but it will be a stop on the Nakhcivan-Kars railway when it is completed.