Guba is one of the most popular regions of Azerbaijan for recreation. In 2016, about 82,000 local and foreign tourists visited Guba region. Guba is especially compelling in the spring, when fruit gardens blossom, and the parks are covered with emerald greenery.
Murad Hajiyev, director of the Tourist Information Center of Guba, in his interview with Azertac said that the interesting Guba district has prepared for tourists in the new season.
Question: Mr. Hajiyev, Guba invariably attracts a large number of tourists. What is the secret of the popularity of Guba region as a tourist destination? What unique attractions are represented here?
Answer: Guba is characterized by unique natural landscapes, attracting the attention of tourists. Many travelers who come to the region are eager to see the natural Afurdja waterfall, carrying its stormy waters from 75-meter height, and marvel at the sheer cliffs of the Tangaalty gorge. The high-altitude original village of Khinalig, whose hospitable inhabitants have preserved a unique language and traditions, is of unchanging interest.
The district has a large number of historical and cultural attractions - ancient mosques, bridges, baths, museums. Amazing carpets of the famous Guba school of carpet weaving are a dream of any collector, and delicious dishes of local cuisine will not leave indifferent any gourmet.
It is said that the writer Alexander Duma, who visited Guba in the 19th century, once stopping at a halt near the road, was invited to the fire by local residents who also decided to rest and refresh themselves. Duma was impressed by how artfully the Guba people cooked lamb and taste of the kebab, which they treated him. I assure you, from those, we did not lose our culinary skills!
Q.: The warm season has already begun. What innovations are waiting for the visitors of Guba region this year?
A.: The Tourist Information Center of Guba constantly develops and implements a variety of excursion programs. To this day, tourists could use the four routes of travel around the region. In the new season we have implemented the fifth route, covering the new direction of travel Guba - Alydzh, rich in interesting opportunities for the development of ecotourism.
Along with this, some popular hotels and recreation centers of the district announced a reduction in prices and in the new season will please the guests with a number of additional services.
Q.: There are many picturesque villages in Guba region, which of them have the best prospects for attracting tourists?
A.: Indeed, Guba region is famous for its settlements, in which along with Azerbaijanis live Jews, Lezgins, Tats, Meskhetian Turks, Khinaligs, Budukh, Gryz and representatives of other nationalities. Residents of such original settlements of Guba as Krasna Sloboda, Khinalig, Gryz, Jack and many others, belonging to different nationalities, cherish their customs, cultural and culinary traditions.
The Guba Tourist Information Center invariably includes trips to picturesque villages in its excursion programs, which will please the fans of ethnic tourism.
Q.: How many hotels and guest houses are in Guba district today? Is the infrastructure of the district, in particular, the hotel business, ready, to the fact that more tourists can come to the region?
A.: Currently there are about 40 hotels and hotel-type facilities in Guba district, as well as 2 guest houses. For the convenience and attraction of tourists in the region, the corresponding infrastructure is constantly improving - roads are being restored, the number of vehicles plying inside the district is increasing, and the staffs of hotels, cafes and restaurants are being instructed to provide a higher level of service to tourists.
The Faculty of Tourism, which operates in the Guba State Social College, annually prepares up to 20 professionals, who then join the ranks of skilled workers in the tourism sector of the district. At the same time, in our region in the field of tourism there are young specialists who have been trained in other professional educational institutions of the country.
Q.: Is the Guba area interesting to foreigners, if so, which attractions attract them most?
A.: Guba has long attracted travelers from all over the world. At one time, Guba was visited by the famous French writer Alexander Duma, the Russian writer Bestuzhev-Marlinsky, the famous Norwegian travel scholar Thor Heyerdahl. In recent years, we have also witnessed an increase in the number of foreign tourists visiting Guba region.
The most interesting for foreign guests are the historical, cultural and natural monuments of the region, museums and original villages such as Krasna Sloboda - a place of compact residence of mountain Jews, or Khinalig, which preserved the thousand-year lifestyle. Great attention is paid to the natural attractions - the Afurdja waterfall and the Tangaalta gorge, as well as the cultural traditions of the area, such as carpet weaving and national cuisine.
It is impossible not to mention the ancient Arched Bridge. The only bridge that has survived to this day, called Gudialchaysky, is one of the seven existing in Guba district in the XVII-XIX centuries. Fourteen of its spans with a total length of 275 meters and a width of 8 m are made of burnt bricks. A bridge of similar construction, built in the XIX century - the only one in Azerbaijan!
And, of course, all travelers are eager to visit the Guba memorial complex of genocide, built in memory of tens of thousands of Azerbaijanis who were victims of mass killings that were organized on the Azerbaijani land in 1918 by Bolshevik-Armenian armed groups. In 2007, during the construction work, a mass grave was accidentally discovered in Guba, near which a memorial complex and a museum with a rich exposition based on historical documents and facts were created.
Q.: In Goychay - a grenade festival, in Gabala - a music festival. And what major annual events are organized in Guba to attract tourists?
A.: It is known that Guba is famous for its apples, which are especially delicious. Apple is a symbol of Guba and every year in October, during the harvest season, the "Apple Feast" is celebrated in the district. These days the alleys of the Central Park of Heydar Aliyev serve as an exhibition platform for farmers who represent different varieties of apples and products from them. During the celebrations there are competitions, performances of musical collectives and folk performers. "Apple feast" invariably attracts to the region a lot of guests from Azerbaijan and various countries.
Also this year, for the first time in the region, in mid-May, a large-scale event called "Turizmin inkişafı, bölgənin rifahı" (Tourism development for the benefit of the region) will be held, within which the tourism potential of the three districts - Guba, Gusar and Khachmaz will be presented. In particular, Guba will present in the framework of the event the skill of its carpet makers and cooks.
Q.:You have already mentioned the popularity of Guba carpets, please tell us more about them.
A.: Undoubtedly, the carpets of the Guba school of carpet weaving are one of the factors that attract tourists to the region. Guba carpets represent more than 30 different compositions, differing in a variety of solutions, the complexity of geometric patterns, restraint of color harmony. So woven in 1712 in Guba carpet "Gollu Chichi" is now stored in The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
The Guba zone is the largest carpet center in Azerbaijan. In many villages of Guba residents are engaged in making carpets at home. At the same time in the city of Guba there are two professional carpet making enterprises - Qedim Quba and Aygun. Carpets of handwork of all sizes and colors are made in the workshops of enterprises. For making carpets, yarns are used, painted with both artificial dyes and natural, obtained from plant raw materials. In addition to the traditional patterns of Guba and other carpet schools in Azerbaijan, you can order a carpet, made according to the client's sketches.
Q.: In the historical bathhouse Chukhur Hamam in Guba, restoration work has been carried out for several years. Tell us, please, when the bath will be opened for tourists to visit?
A.: Until 1985, Chukhur Hamam was used for its intended purpose - as a bath, so there was a need for its thorough reconstruction. Fortunately, the restoration work is coming to an end, and this year the pearl of Azerbaijani architecture will appear in its original form and will act as a museum.
With this bathhouse, built in the 18th century from red brick, are connected several memorable events, as well as tragic pages of our history. Chukhur Hamam was visited by Alexander Dumas, during his trip to Azerbaijan, and 150 years later his great-grandson visited this place.
And during the genocide, committed in 1918 by Armenians in Guba, according to the stories of local residents, innocent people were also choked in the Chukhur Hamam bath with hot steam. Then the bodies were thrown into the pits. As I said, the Memorial is now located on the site of the mass grave.
Q.: What problems, in your opinion, hamper the development of tourism in the region?
A.: Among the factors negatively affecting the development of tourism is the unsatisfactory condition of some rural roads. Because of this, access to a number of remote villages is limited in winter. You can also note the unreasonably high prices in some individual hotels.
I am confident that the planned elimination of these problems will further improve the tourist attractiveness of the region.
Q.: What work does the Guba Tourist Center carry out to popularize tourism in the region? Can tourists contact you?
A.: The Tourist Information Center of Guba regularly prepares, publishes and distributes information materials aimed at popularizing the tourist potential of the area. Colorful booklets, brochures, maps and guidebooks are available to all comers in our office in Guba, at Heydar Aliyev Ave., 165. Along with this, a lot of useful information about the area tourists can find on the official website of our center (www.guba.travel) and on our pages in popular social networks. All interested persons can apply to our center by phone (+99423) 335-36-18 and (+99470) 530-76-70.
Q.: As a native of Guba, what would you advise to visit tourists wishing to rediscover this area?
A.: Guba, which has been one of the central regions of Azerbaijan since ancient times, has preserved its rich historical, cultural, architectural and natural heritage. At the same time I want to emphasize that in addition to the famous tourist attractions, the region has many amazing places little known to the general public.
I can mention the Ateshgah temple in the village of Khinalig and the beautiful Tufangol lake a few kilometers away from the same village, the picturesque waterfalls of the village of Hanagi, the Fortress gate, the pristine pine forest in the village of Alydzh, curative mineral springs in the vicinity of the Khashi and Khaltan villages and many other interesting undiscovered places.
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