By Laman Ismayilova
Azerbaijan is an increasingly popular travel destination, particularly among nature lovers and adventure seekers.
The Land of Fire has many amazing sights to offer for the travelers. Here you will find an array of stunning scenery, ancient monuments, natural paradise and much more. One the most intriguing places to visit in Azerbaijan is definitely Zaqatala.
Sublime natural scenery, architectural wonders, and magical atmosphere await travelers in country's region.
Azerbaijan’s hazelnut capital Zaqatala is located in the northwestern part of Azerbaijan, on the southern slopes of the Major Caucasus mountains.
The highest point is Guton mountain (3648 m). Climate at the plain is warm, in mountains – cold. The mid temperature of January on the plain is -1 C, in mountains it is -10 C, mid temperature of July reaches +24 C and +5 C respectively.
Half of its territory is mountainous and covered with forests which makes it a great destination for nature lovers.
The region is famous for its hazelnuts and walnuts. Mulberry trees are well adapted to the area, allowing Zaqatala to preserve the ancient tradition of silkworm breeding.
Zaqatala State Reserve is an exceptional natural area to visit any time of year.
Leafy forests extend to the foot of the mountains, mainly consisting of Oriental beeches (Fagus orientalis). The area is famous for plants, such as the rhododendron, cherry-laurel, blackberry, maple, and fern.
Glaciers and alpine meadows can be found at the higher altitudes. Among the local species, shikra (Accipiter badius) can be found along the rivers, and Caucasian snowcock (Tetraogallus caucasicus) is present on the rock falls.
The Reserve is home to the Syrian brown bear, Indian wolf, red fox, forest cat, Caucasian lynx, squirrel, weasel. It also has a diverse range of birds, including the golden eagle, Egyptian vulture, griffon vulture, etc.
With its wooded mountainsides and beautiful waterfalls, Zaqatala offers great hiking opportunities. Due to its climate the town became a mountain health resort.
The region is also of historic interest. The territory of modern Zaqatala was a province of Caucasian Albania. After that, the region was a separate kingdom within Georgian cultural and political influence. During the medieval era what later became known as Saingilo was mostly controlled by the kingdom of Georgia and Shirvan.
Numerous historical and cultural monuments can be found in Zaqarala. The 18th century mosques in Qalal and Gozbarakh villages, the Alban tower dating back to the 12th century, and the 18th century mosque in Mazikh village, two monuments built in the 14th century in the village of Kebeloba, Perigala in Yukhari Chardakhlar village, the 13th century Albanian Tower in Pashan village, and the Chingozqala tower from the 14th century in Jar village, are among them.
Moreover, Zaqatala is an international region where Azerbaijanis live alongside the people of more than 20 ethnic communities, including the Avars, Lezgins, Tsakhurs, Russians, Tatars, and Ingiloys.
Zaqatala cuisine is famous for its abundance of vegetables, and root crops (beets, carrots, radishes).
Among vegetables, a special place is occupied by potatoes. Nowadays it began to be used widely, so it enters the delicious Azerbaijani soup piti. Prior to this, its place was occupied by chestnuts.
Spices and various kinds of greens and spices, including pepper, cinnamon, cloves, dill, parsley, ginger, coriander, mint, sumac, cumin are also widely used.
Laman Ismayilova is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @Lam_Ismayilova
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