By Laman Ismayilova
Ancient monuments attract travelers with the mysterious atmosphere of ancient times. If you are amongst those who tend to be smitten by the history of the ancient monuments, a trip to Azerbaijan's beautiful city Shamakhi is definitely a must for you.
The royal seat of the Shirvanshahs (9th to 18th centuries) is home to many impressive sites, which never cease to impress.
The region is maintained economic and cultural relations with India and China in the 12th century. Copper coins found in Shamakhi during archaeological excavations, porcelain containers produced in China, caravanserais serving international trade, prove the role of ancient Shamakhi in the Silk Road.
Owing to the vast history and ancient monuments Shamakhi is the favorite city of the history buffs.
On the way from Baku to Shamakhi there is Maraza village known for its unique monument - two-storied mausoleum-mosque of the 15th century called Diri-Baba.
The first store has a hall covered with an ogive, which has a passageway to an octahedral cupola from a small vestibule. Stairs leading to the hall of the second store have been carved on the cliff. The 15 sq m hall is covered with a spherical dome.
There is a fragment of a ligature, indicating a date – the year 1402, and also a part of the architect’s name – "…the son of ustad Haji" in the mausoleum.
Many legends and myths are connected to this place. For a long time the local residents have kept the legend that there imperishable Saint Diri-Baba had been buried. Therefore, since the 17th century it attracts pilgrims and history lovers.
Gulistan fortress (11th-12th centuries), the mausoleum of Addy-Gyumbez ("The Seven Domes") with numerous burial places of Shamakhi governors, Djuma cathedral mosque (10th century, reconstructed in the 19th century) and numerous ruins of the 10th – 17th centuries are also must see if you are interested in history.
Maybe you're more interested in looking at the spectacular images of celestial objects.
Observatory named by Nasreddin Tusi is a great destination for astronomy enthusiasts.
The largest astrophysical observatory in Azerbaijan and the whole Caucasus is located in Pirkuli, Shamakhi.
Observatory named by Nasreddin Tusi is equipped with modern facilities and with one of the largest in the CIS telescope with a mirror of 2 m by diameter.
Moreover, the city's diverse territory endows the country with some of the most beautiful natural sceneries.
Mild climate, picturesque nature, unique landscapes and a large number of beautiful national parks attracts a lot of tourists to Shamakhi.
The area in which the city is located is full of mountain forests and meadows. Oak, beech and hornbeam forests in the highlands, green fields and bushes, caressing eyes green meadows add special beauty to this place. More than 50 species of medical herbs grow here. The rich nature in forests provides with favorable conditions for birds and animals living there, for example deer, boars, bears, and wild cats.
The most favorite place of pilgrimage for tourists is the settlement Pirkuli which is located at the distance of 22 km from the centre of the district at an altitude of 1,400 m.
In winter it attracts lovers of skiing and skiing, and in summer is a favorite place for picnics. There are also a lot of springs in the wonderful place called "Forty Springs".
One of the best parts of traveling is getting to eat new and different cuisine. To discover the heart of Shamakhi, you should indulge in local cuisine.
Shamakhi cooking is very rich and famous for its 46 varieties of pilaf, 14 kinds of dolma, 16 kinds of shish kebab, 12 kinds of 1qutabs.
It is enough to mention one fact from its history. In 1662, when the famous English traveler and merchant Anthony Jenkinson visited the ruler of Shirvan Abdullah Khan Ustailey, he was struck by the variety of national cuisine. The Khan invited him to dinner and offered 290 kinds of national hot and cold dishes, salads, hot snacks and delicacies.
Shuyut pilaf (pilaf with dried dill, beans and fatty lamb meat); parcha bozbash (soup with pieces of meat); dolma of grape leaves (here it is especially finely wrapped); syabzi (seasonal dish - meat fried with herbs); shish kebabs are among the most famous national dishes.
In your next journey to this beautiful city you must also try lemon sherbet with the addition of coriander seeds and sudzhuk on a plate. The last dish is made from hand-made wheat starch, with the addition of sugar, walnuts and hazelnuts.
The city endows with some interesting and beautiful cultural, archeological and historical sites, buildings and museums.
Laman Ismayilova is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @Lam_Ismayilova
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