Mother of Alban churches in Kish
By Nigar Orujova
Do you know what brings together the Caucasian country Azerbaijan and Scandinavian Norway? Are you ready to see a significant temple in a remote village? Then let's go to Kish, one of the oldest villages located in the northwestern Azerbaijan.
The village situated near by the ancient city of Sheki. It is well known for its unique ancient Albanian temple - mother of Alban churches. This ancient monument of Azerbaijani-Albanian architecture is believed to be the oldest church in the Caucasus, founded in the 1st century by the Apostle Eliseus.
For centuries, the church functioned as a spiritual center and place for enlightenment for people of the East.
The tiny village populated with some 6,000 inhabitants may not impress you at first glance. However, just walk the quiet cobble-stoned streets to the Kish church to see a captivated perspective against a background of lofty mountains.
This temple attracted famous Norwegian explorer and scientist Thor Heyerdahl in 2000. Study, restoration and conversion of the ancient church started the same year and finalized in 2003 jointly by Norway and Azerbaijan. Nowadays, the church is functioning as a museum that is open for all the curious tourists.
The excavation works here found interesting artifacts, including ceramics and bronze and gold ornaments, but they also discovered other evidence, including graves, showing that, the location was used as a religious centre for centuries.
Researches show that Kish church can be considered as one of the cradles of Christianity and embodies this country's ancient history and rich cultural heritage through the centuries.
The existence of the temple was not as tranquil as it may be for a church.
According to the studies, the temple was first built as a simple hall-vaulted structure. In the 7th-8th centuries, it was rebuilt with a dome added. Further, in the 12th-13th centuries the collapsed upper sections were rebuilt and completed.
The reconstructed temple seems amazing with the beautiful red colored roofs. Inside the church, it is cool and the air is saturated with divinity. The internal walls of the church were repeatedly repaired during the last two centuries. However, there is also a layer of ancient plaster.
Locals believe that people with clear soul can make a wish and attach a coin to this plaster. If the coin sticks to the wall, then the wish will come true. But the coin of the sinner never sticks to the stones of ancient sanctuary.
In the yard, you can find an ancient burial places covered with plastic so you can see the ancient people's bones. Holy people who had deserved the right to be buried at the foot of the church - the House of the God - are believed to be buried here. The length of each skeletons reaches to two meters.
The church has survived different period and various religious states to show its glory to modern people. It is the best place to learn about the mysterious Caucasian Albania.
After studying the church and enjoying its unique sights, you can also breath the clean air, enjoy sunny day and friendly atmosphere and taste delightful Azerbaijani cuisine while watching the peaceful life of the Azerbaijani village.