By Laman Ismayilova
With its breathtaking landscapes, Khinalig village in Guba has turned into one of the country's top tourism spots.
The oldest continuously inhabited place in the world is called an "Island among the Mountains" as it is surrounded by mountains Gizil Gaya, Shahdagh, Tufandagh and Khinalig. The first records of these people date back to the 1st century CE.
Unique language and traditions
The picturesque village has preserved its centuries-old cultural and historical heritage.
Nestled in the mountains, the village is well known for its unique language, architecture and traditions.
Since the slopes here are very steep, the houses in Khinalig are built very close to each other. So, the roof of one house is the courtyard for another one located above.
The ceilings are fitted with a smoke flap, through which the locals can also visit each other. The floors and walls are covered with cozy and warm carpets such as blankets, pillows, mutakka. Each family has its own patterns for carpets and clothing.
The villagers are mainly involved with sheep breeding. Shawls woven with wool in the village are famous throughout the entire region.
Khinalig has a population of about 2,000, who speak the Khinalig language. This language is classified as "severely endangered" by UNESCO's Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger.
UNESCO's Tentative List
In 2020, the Khinalig State Cultural-Architectural and Ethnographic Reserve was included in UNESCO's Tentative List.
The document was submitted to the organization by Azerbaijan's National Commission for UNESCO.
According to the rules set by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, State Parties should submit their Tentative Lists, properties which they consider to be cultural and/or natural heritage of outstanding universal value and therefore suitable for inscription on the World Heritage List.
They prepare their Tentative Lists with the participation of a wide variety of stakeholders, including site managers, local and regional governments, local communities, NGOs and other interested parties and partners.
In 2020, Khinalig was included in the preliminary list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites called "medieval mountain village".
Best Tourism Village nominee
Azerbaijan has nominated Khinalig village for the "Best Tourist Village" competition announced by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).
The contest aims to discover the best examples of tourism development in rural areas, as well as to identify villages that have retained their cultural and historical heritage and also meet the modern tourism requirements.
UNWTO will announce the results at the 24th annual session to be held in Morocco this year. Villages that have received UNWTO's "Best Tourism Village" rating will be included in the modernization program.
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