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Gobustan district is one of political provinces of our country's historical area called Shirvan.
Climate in the region is predominantly semi desert. Cave labyrinths (kures) located in a canyon not far off the town in the village of Sunlu, attract a great number of tourists. Here one can observe an original natural phenomenon which the locals named Aghlayan Gala, "The Tearful Rock". The legend says these are the tears of a mother mourning her fallen sons. The caves represent a large system of natural galleries and grottos, artificially expanded for habitation in The Middle Ages, at the times when Azerbaijan was an arena of civil wars and raids of foreign conquerors.
Maraza town is the administrative center of Gobustan district. It is situated on Maraza plateau, near the main roadway of the district. Famous mounds of Sheikh Duzu, remainders of old settlements dated to the 1st-8th centuries BC, situated on ancient trade roads near the present village of Dag Kolani; the mausoleum of Diri Baba (15th century); on the town's outskirts; remainders of Shah Abbas caravanserai in the very center of the town remind of the fact that the place was already inhabited in ancient times. Since the earliest times the place has been a center of carpet production. The patterns of local carpets are known all over the world under the names of "Maraza", "Chukhanly" and "Dzhemdzhemli". Even today, "Nabur" carpets are woven in the village of the same name.
Maraza town is small, with no hotels, so for lodging one can rent a room or a private house. The hosts may take care of cooking meals of your choice.
Present Shamakhi district is the center of the ancient Shirvan, the former state of Shirvanshahs, a historical area of Azerbaijan.
The region is attractive both to tourists and to amateur foot travelers. Those who prefer walking tours make trips from here to Guba and Ismailli. Eco tourists and simply amateur travelers are eager to see Dzhalangin forest with crabs, pear trees and cherry plum along with springs of sulfurated water in its vicinity. In mountain villages locals weave famous carpets like "Shirvan", "Shamakhi", "Israfil" and "Ardzhiman".
There are many interesting places in Shamakhi district. On the right bank of Pirsaat River there is Chukhuyurt village inhabited by molokans, migrants from Russia. The village is famous for the production of delicious sunflower oil, specially pickled vegetables, mountain honey, vegetables and fruits. In a place called Girkh Bulag ("forty springs") there are countless springs of mineral water. Located near the village of Melkhem is a famous cave, renowned for its healing properties.
In the12th century, the poet Afzaladdin Khagani, renowned in the Orient, was born in this village. In general, this area became famous for its poets, philosophers and architects including Seid Azim Shirvani, Nasimi, Sabir, Hadzhi Zeynalabdin Shirvani, Magomed Shirvani, Azim Azimzade, Abbas Sikhkhat, Gamedi Shirvani, Feleki Shirvani (the frequent use of the word "Shirvani" comes from an ancient oriental tradition according to which newly renowned persons named themselves after the place they were born in or taught by famous masters).
Located 1400 meters above sea level, near Pirgulu village is Shamakhi astrophysical observatory (SAO) n.a. Nasireddin Tusi.
Baku schoolboys and schoolgirls always look forward a tour to the big telescope of SAO. They are especially eager to come here from snowless Baku in winter - to play with snow which melts quite late in Pirgulu. And in summer the residents setup horse rides for all comers.
Historical monuments of the region include Dzhuma Mosque (8th-19th centuries); mausoleums of Pirmardakan (13th-14th centuries); Shakhandan (17th century); 7 türbədən ibarət olan complex of seven mausoleums named Eddi Gumbez (18th century),remainders of the legendary fortress Kalai-Bugurt; near a mountain village of the same name - the fortress looks some how attached to a steep rock. Gulustan fortress (8th-15th centuries) where Shirvanshah Shakhrur set up a steadfast defense against Persian armies.
Located on the territory of the district is the reserve of Pirgulu. It was established in 1968. Shamakhi town is the administrative center of the district.
However, Shamakhi residents always found strength to restore the town and their lives. Alexander Dumas who traveled across Azerbaijan wrote that the town's residents could never know would they be alive tomorrow or not. Presently, there are plenty of antique remainders around Shamakhi.
Three of eight climate belts of Azerbaijan are represented on the territory of Ismailli district.
Local nature is very beautiful with mountains covered in forests, rocks and rivers (Girdiman, Ag-Okh, Geichai) and waterfalls (Galadzhig - 50 m, Chaigovushan - 30m, Istisu - 25 m, Burovdal - 50 m and Mudrusa - 25 m). There are three natural lakes at the level of 3500 m near the mountain of Babadag and three artificial ones -near the villages of Kurdmashi and Ashigbairamli are not only beautiful but also provide an excellent place for fishing.
On the territory of the district there is a reserve "Ismailli" established in 1981. Historical-cultural reserves have been established in Lagic and Basgal and many monuments have been taken under protection of the state, including the mosque of Bedoy Zevero (1791), Agali Mosque, Zevero spring and a mosque and bath dated to the 18th century.
Other monuments include Maiden's Tower (17th century), in Khanega village, Fitdag tower (18th century) in Sulut village and many other archeological objects. Interestingly, residents link one of legends about Alexander the Great to the tower. The great conqueror allegedly stopped here and his heralds would signal from golden horns from the top of a mountain. ("Fit" is the Azerbaijani for "a signal", "whistle").
On the top of another mountain, on the left bank of Girdiman River, near the village of Talystan there are remainders of the fortress (fortress Dzhavanshir) where, according to a legend, lived Dzhavanshir - one of the rulers of Caucasian Albania (7th century). In Sulut village there are also remainders of Girkhotag fortress, Kharam tower and Khiraki defensive wall as well as Juma Mosque.
The town of Ismailli is the administrative center of the district.
Gabala district is located on the territory of Shaki-Zagatala zone, in the northwest part of Azerbaijan on the border of Dagestan and Georgia.
Many monuments of history and culture have remained on the territory of the district. Their list includes a mosque of the 19th century in the village of Bum, an Albanian temple of the 4th century in Amili village, the Tower of Ustaszhan (9th century) in the village of Bayramkoha, the mosque of Gadzhi-Garib and the Albanian church Chotari in Nidzh, the mausoleums of Sheikhs Badreddin and Mansur (15th century), in Khazra village, a mausoleum of the 17th century in the village of Shefili and also "pirs" (burial places of people recognized as saint and pious persons during their lives): Shih-Baba(16th century) in Hamzelli village and Komrad on the top of Komrad Mountain.
On the mountain of Yaloylu archeologists found an ancient settlement site near the village of Nidzh. Archeological culture found here is typical for the north partsof Azerbaijan and was named "The Culture of Yaloylu Tepe". Among other findings there were weapons made of iron, wares of bronze and gold, millstones etc.
The village of Nidzh in Gabala district is a place of compact residence of Udines. This ethnic group is considered descendants of ancient Albans who managed to preserve their traditions, language, material and spiritual culture to present day.
Gabala town is the administrative center of the district. It is located on the slopes of Shahdag Mountain.
Gabala town is the administrative center of the district. It is located on the slopes of Shahdag Mountain. Ancient ruins of Kabala are located close to present Gabala (15 km) between Garachai and Jourluchai rivers. The mausoleum of Imam-Baba (13th century) and Juma Mosque remainedin the town. There is also a large Museum of Regional History collecting numerous archeological objects found on the territory of the district.
Oghuz district is located on south slopes of the Greater Caucasus in the Sheki-Zagatalazone. The region retains traditional folk crafts - carpet weaving (the village of Filfilli) as well as wood and metal engraving (Bash-Dashagil village). The place was inhabited already in the Late Stone Age. At the beginning of our era its territory became a part of Caucasian Albania, and in the 18th century it was incorporated into Sheki Khanate. Archeologists found ancient settlements sites near the villages of Kerimli and Garabaldir. Among the findings there were spear heads, bronze weapons, female sculptures made stone and staves.
On the territory of the district there are many ancient monuments of history and architecture:Dashuz Bridge (19th century) across Sari-Su River near the village of Khachmaz, a mosque of the 18th century in the village of Sindzhan, a mausoleum of the 15th century in Kerimli village, three-storied tower of the 14th century in the village of Muhas, Gabur defensive tower (7th-14th centuries) in the village of Khachmaz at the top of Galadag mountain, Gavurgala tower (7th century) located on the same mountain near Gabur tower but provided with drinking water, Surhaikhan tower (18th century) made of fluvial stone and located on the bank of Galachai river, near the village of Filfilli.
Oghuz town is the administrative center of the district. On its territory is located Jewish quarter with an ancient synagogue (1849), Albanian temple which presently hosts a local Museum of Regional Studies and one of the oldest schools operating on the territory of Azerbaijan.
Sheki region is located on picturesque slopes of the Caucasus Mountains. Numerous monuments of early medieval architecture remained in the vicinity of Sheki. They include fortresses, watch towers, churches and ruins of monasteries dated to the period of Caucasian Albania. Among the most interesting objects are the monuments in the villages of Bideiz, Bash Kungut, Orta Deizit (Albanian temple) and, of course, the church in the village of Kish (Kish temple) (2nd-4th centuries) built by St. Elias; it is considered the earliest Christian construction on the territory of CIS. Presently, the church is being restored and reorganized into a museum.
The town of Sheki is the major town of Sheki-Zagatala region.
Sheki is proud of Mirza Fatali Akhundov - a famous philosopher, writer and enlightener. Houses-museums of M.F. Akhundov and Sabit Rahman remain here, in the town. The Palace of Sheki Khans is a rare example of combination of folk architecture(wood engraving) with the traditions of Oriental palace architecture (varnished and wall paintings).
With their magnitude, the Ashaghi and Yukhary caravanserai (18th century) evidence the advancement of trade in the Middle Ages. Near Sheki, on the west bank of the Kish River remained ruinsof the ancient fortress "Gelersen-Gorersen" (come and you will see); the name suggests that the defenders of the fortress were confident in its unassailability and in their determination not to let the enemies pass. In his novel "Khadzhi Murat" Leo Tolstoy made this fortress a place of action. The place has been visited by Dumasand Kempfer; N. Raevsky wrote in one of his letters "our camp is situated in the forest of pomegranates, tamarisks and plain trees…Nuha is marvelous".
Other attractive cultural objects of the town include the Dramatic Theater n.a. Sabit Rahman, Museum of Decorative and Applied arts and the Art Gallery.
Even today Sheki residents have not lost their original traditions and ancient lore. Silk shawls "kelagai" which are exported to the Middle Asia countries to be used there by local craftsmen for silk paintings as well as wooden chests with special, Sheki paintings are also produced here. Local jewelers make adornments, the shape of which has undergone little changes since ancient times. The art of Tekelduz (chain stitch) embroider, which was made predominantly by men in ancient times, is one of the most advanced in Sheki. The town is also known for the production of caps and musical instruments and also Shebeke (open-work wooden grates with inserts of colored glass, usually used in windows and door frames). The original culture of Sheki includes also special cuisine, with no analogs in Azerbaijan. Unusual Sheki candies are delicate networks of sliced pastry of rice flour.
The district of Gakh is located in the northwest part of the republic and is bordered by Georgia.The district of Gakh is located in the northwest part of the republic and is bordered by Georgia.Located on the territory of the district is the State reserve "Ilisu" (covering an area of 9.2 hectares). In the region of Ganyg-Airichai Valley there are good places for hunt and fishing. There are remainders of historical monuments in the region. Mounds, found by archeologists, suggest that the region was inhabited already in the Bronze Age. An example of the original culture is the bridge Ulu Kerpu, dated to the 18th century. Sumug fortress, with a mosque in its center, is located in the village of Ilisu, the former capital of a sultanate of the same name. Here archeologists found unique pitcher burials dated to the 1st century BC. Here, in Ilisu, remained a square Watch Tower, 10 meters -tall, dated to the 14th century. About the village there are many sulfurated thermal springs.Near the village of Termechi, in forests of century-old oaks there is a grave of Khadzhi Murat, a commander of Sheikh Shamil. On his grave there is a mounted stone plate with an inscription in Arabic reading "A great martyr, Avar Hadzhi Murat Hunzah is buried here".
Remained near the village of Kum are monuments dated to the period of Caucasian Albania (fortress Sirtgala of 18th century, Kum Basilica, ruins dated to the 5th century, The Round Temple (7th century). In the village of Lekit there also remained a Temple Complex (12th century).
In the villages of Saribash and Dzhalai local craftswomen weave carpets with original patterns and sew woolen socks called jorabs. In the village of Gahbash the residents produce home-made wines.
Gakh town is the administrative center of the district. It is a small town located 500 m above sea level.
Zagatala district is located on ridges of the Greater Caucasus, in the northwest part of the republic. In 1929 here, on the south slopes of the Great Caucasus Range was established a State Reserve "Zagatala", with the present area of 23843 hectares. On the outskirts of the village of Gas there is a lot of snow in winter.
Aside of Azerbaijanis, representatives of other nations and ethnical groups: Russians,Avars, Lezghins, Tsakhurs, Tatars, Ingiloeses (a total of 20 nations) also live in the district.
Historical monuments of the regions are located in the villages remained from ancient times. Remained in the villages of Gezbarah and Galal is a mosque dated to the 18thcentury, in Kebeloga village - two towers (14th century), in the village of Mazih- a tower of the 12th century, in the village of Yukhary Chardakhlar - Peri-Gala fortress-grotto (5th century), Cin Djar village - Jingez tower (14th century) in the same village there is a museum of regional history, in Pashan village - an Albanian tower (13th century), and another Albanian tower (12th century) in the village of Ahahdere. In various villages of the district, e.g. in Aliabad and Mosul remained mosques of the 19th century.
Tourists often visit the village of Jar which is located 6 km northwest to Zagatala.It not only a beautiful nature spot; the local residents managed to preserve their original, region-specific architectural traditions and ways of life.
Tourists often visit the village of Jar which is located 6 km northwest to Zagatala. It not only a beautiful nature spot; the local residents managed to preserve their original, region-specific architectural traditions and ways of life.
Zagatala town is the administrative center of the district. It is situated on the bank of Tala-Chai River, 535 m above sea level.
There is also an ancient fortress (1830). It is not only interesting as itself but also because it was the place where seamen of the rebellious battleship "Potemkin" were imprisoned. In the local park there is a monument erected in honor of one of the participants of the battleship rebellion - S. Demashko.
Another memorial: Juma mosque (mosque of Tala village)
There is also an interesting monument of Sevil Gaziyeva, an Azerbaijani, the first woman to operate a cotton-harvesting machine.
In Zagatala there is a museum of regional history with a broad collection of medieval manuscripts. In summer lodging is available in cottages of the "Lezzet" resort located in a forest near the village of Dzhar and also at the "Tala" hotel located in the village of Ashagi Tala and at the "Turgut" motel.
There are many mountainous rivers and a beautiful lake near the Katekh Mountain, on the north the area is occupied by forests. More than a half of the territory of the Zagatala reserve belongs to the district of Balaken.
On the territory of the region remained many historical and architectural monuments. Archeologists revealed a number of places identified as ancient settlement sites dated to the Early Iron Age. E.G. 2 km off Mahamallar village by the rock Gubek there is a cave named Noho with the traces of a site dated to the Early Iron Age. At the same place, near the village of Mahamallar, there is a pitcher burial (2nd-1st centuries BC), a pir and ruins of residential buildings (5th-7th centuries), a mosque (18th century), a tower (19th century) and stronghold walls.
There are also an underground reservoir and mosque dated to the 17th in the village of Gullar, mausoleum of the 14th century in Tul, temple of the 14th century in Hanifa, mosque of the 14th century in Halatala, Albanian temples in the villages of Hanifa and Mazimchai, Peri Tower (12th century) in Gullar village on the bank of Gumbezriver. There are also remainders of an early medieval settlement site at the Meklakan Mountain.
Balaken town is the administrative center of the district. There is also an interesting mosque with extraordinarily tall minaret dated to the 17th-19th centuries.
Collected in the regional museum there are articles of traditional crafts, different archeological findings suggesting that the place was already inhabited in the Late Stone Age and other items evidencing the rich history of the region. The most popular crafts include copperware, Shebeke (open-work wooden frames for windows), wooden engraving and pottery. And, of course, the original type of embroidering, rarely met in Azerbaijan,- Tekelduz ("chain stitch"): rich, fantastic patterns with silk threads against a dark background.In Balaken there is a large town park covering an area of 7.5 hectares, to take a break after a walk in the town.