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Shaki - virgin beauty, ancient city, hospitable land of Azerbaijan

29 November 2013 [13:36] - TODAY.AZ
By AzerNews

Shaki, an ancient Azerbaijani town featuring a majestic landscape of flora and fauna framed by towering snow-capped peaks, has rich cultural and historical heritage.

According to historians, Shaki was founded almost 2,700 years ago and it has experienced ups and downs associated with repeated occupation by stronger nations and empires. Its golden years were during the Shaki Khanate.

Shaki's long and tumultuous history has contributed to the emergence of numerous archaeological and historical sites that can be found there today. It had been a major part of the Silk Road during the ancient times and one of its most famous destinations was the beautiful Caravansarai, which was used as a "hotel" for traders. Today, it is still used as a hotel for travelers.

Shaki, which is located 305 km from the capital Baku, is an attractive place for people with its stone-paved streets, caravanserais, ancient shrines, and hospitality of local residents.

This is the unchanged feature of Shaki from time memorial. Shaki, located at the foot of mountains, is split by Dayirmanarkhi and Gurjana rivers into the northern and southern parts. Alexander Dumas, Thor Heyerdahl and other well-known personalities narrated about the beauty of Shaki in their masterpieces.

Shaki has been one of the major cities along the Silk Road for centuries. The place also boasts the great silk factory that continuously produced silk products for over four centuries.

Every inch, every street of Shaki is ancient. Shaki is like a history museum. There are Gelersen-Gorersen fortress, Shaki Juma mosque, Omar Efendi mosque, Narin Gala and other buildings there...

The ancient Albanian church dating back to 1-2 centuries is one of Shaki's historical monuments. This shrine is considered the first church in the Caucasus. The archaeological finds there included ancient graves, material and cultural samples, and decorations. The church is now a place for Christian worshippers.

Shaki is rich in architectural monuments. The Palace of Shaki Khans is one of the most precious pearls of this place. The maples in the palace's yard are even older than the buildings there. This palace, which is embedded in the memory of tourists, is a unique site embodying the synthesis of people's and palatial architecture. What is attractive is the pictures painted with oil colors, the elegant ornaments all around the windows.

Shaki is home to a number of famous personalities. Founder of the Azerbaijani drama Mirza Fatali Akhundzade was born in Shaki. The house where he grew up is currently a museum.

Today, Shaki, which combines ancient and modern features, has new buildings, a modern park and playgrounds which attract visitors. There are modern healthcare, education, sport and cultural facilities in the town. The landscape also features a plethora of parks and museums that showcase the relics of the city's heydays. With its nearly unspoiled nature, it is a recommended destination for hiking and camping trips.

Shaki is also an industrial town, which rose to prominence with its silk. Shaki silk is famous not only in Azerbaijan but also the whole wide world.

After going through difficulties in the post-Soviet era, Shaki Silk Factory now scaled up its production. The new equipment acquired by the factory rolls out more quality products. The factory exports its products to Iran, Russia and Baltic states.

Shaki is famous for silk carpets as well. These carpets are eye-catching for being hand-made, their colors and quality. Shaki carpets, which stand out for their unique features in the Azerbaijani carpet-weaving art, are sold to local and foreign markets and are precious items in personal collections.

The first thing that comes to mind when we talk about Shaki is elegant decorated kalagayis (kerchiefs). These kalagayis, which became symbols of Shaki, draw one's attention with national ornaments and elegancy.

Shaki wines are known well not only in Azerbaijan but also far beyond.The region produces red and white wines. The products sell locally and are exported to Russia and other countries. Advanced equipment installed at the local factory enables to store products for a long time and improve their quality.

Shaki has unique and rich cuisine. Shaki people are fond of sweets. It seems like local people`s hospitality and joyfulness are associated with thier love for sweets. The smell of Shaki sweets and the popular Shaki halva can be felt all around the town.

There are halva maker shops in every corner of Shaki. Many make these sweets in their own small shops outside their homes. Some families which have made halvas for decades are known by their names. The way the Shaki halva is made is very interesting. Halva is made of rice flour, water, sugar and nuts.

Shaki is famous for its piti. They say that you can hurt Shaki people if you do not taste it. The way of making piti there is peculiar. Piti is made in faience pots. The dish includes peas, lamb, salt, water and onions.

Shaki is also an attractive destination for tourists. Tourists come here throughout the year. Shaki offers modern hotels and resorts. Prices for bungalows and hotel rooms range between 60 and 120 manats.

Ashagi and Yukhari caravanserais built in the 18th century are an exotic place for tourists. It is easy to escape summer heat and city noise there. Yukhari Caravanserai is used as a hotel, which charges 30-80 manats per day.

Shaki is home to a number of ancient arts. There are tinners, potters, hatters and musical instrument makers there.

Shebeke ornament is one of the ancient arts in Shaki and it famed Shaki around the world.

Shebeke takes approximately one to two months. Some shebeke ornaments may take as long as six months to make.

There are some shebeke ornaments in which 15,000 colored items of glass were used.

Shaki is a place where mugham (national folk music) and musical festivals take place. The events held there make Azerbaijan known as a cultural center.

Ancient history, rich cultural heritage, amazing architecture, and colorful art have made Shaki a unique place in Azerbaijan and the world. The present-day modernity has made Shaki even more beautiful as it brought about novelties. Shaki is a town combining the ancient and modern time periods.

Shaki is a land of fairy tales which has boasted its wonderful, witty and easygoing people for 2,700 years. Shaki, which is a cradle of art and culture of Azerbaijan, is currently developing as a result of the government`s firm economic policy.

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