Sheki is one of Azerbaijan’s beautiful towns which is snoozing among green pillows of forested Great Caucasus Mountains.
Sheki is one of Azerbaijan’s beautiful towns which is snoozing among green pillows of forested Great Caucasus Mountains. This is a small city, located in Sheki- Zagatala region of Azerbaijan on the southern picturesque slopes of the Greater Caucasus Mountains range about 325 km away from Baku and not far from Georgian border. Being most popular tourist destination in Azerbaijan, Shaki has population of about 63,000 people. City has a rich history the real atmosphere of authentic Azerbaijani town can be discovered here. Despite the many historical and architectural attractions, tourists here also enjoy strolling along the narrow streets with tiny houses famous for their red tile and carved wooden gates. Almost every house is surrounded by a garden and a fence made of river stones. Etymology of the town’s name is derived from the ancient tribe named “sakas” which inhabited in Azerbaijan 6-7 age BC.
On the weather conditions of the region surrounding mountains’ forests has great influence and prevents area of the city from floods and overheating of the area during summer. The average annual temperature in Shaki is 12 °C. In June and August, average temperature varies between 20 and 25 °C. Winters are cold, but the snow is only heavy during January and February. Spring is beautiful with the once-brown mountains turning green from the rain. Summers are soft. Autumns are quite warm during the day, but at night it gets a bit chilly, so pack a jacket and a thick blanket. The most optimal period for a trip here is the period from May to October.
Much of Sheki is at an altitude 675 m above sea level, like an amphitheater surrounded by many snowy peaks of the Greater Caucasus, in some places reaching 3,000m (10,000 ft). The main rivers of the city are the Kish and Gurjhana. Sheki is a real natural wonder which rises above beautiful alpine meadows and fields. The region around the city is very picturesque, with narrow gorges and green valleys, framed by dense woods and mineral water springs along alpine meadows.
Sheki is one of the most ancient cities of Azerbaijan. Archaeological findings suggest that the city one of the oldest settlements in the Caucasus, and the discovered pieces in its territory derived to 5 V BC. Till 1968 the name of the city was Nukha. Throughout its history, Sheki swung between independence and foreign domination. In earlier centuries, Sheki was the part of an Albanian kingdom, which was invaded by the Persian, Roman, Arab, Mongolian, accordingly. In the past millennium, Sheki fell under the influence and often the direct rule of Persia or the Shirvanshah of Baku. Shortly after the 18th century collapse of the Safavid Empire, Sheki became the capital of the independent Sheki Khanate, but Sheki’s independence did not last long. It was absorbed in the early 19th century by Russian Empire. The history of Sheki as an urban settlement has hardly been studied. However, the information in ancient sources and archaeological found around the city allow scientists to roughly determine the date of foundation of Sheki (2500-2600 years). Sheki in V century was one of the major cities of the Albanian state. The city was repeatedly attacked, destroyed to the ground and robbed. In this regard, most of the surviving monuments of architecture dates back to the XVI-XIXBB.
Shaki has always played a significant role in in the art and architecture of Azerbaijan. Numerous historical monuments of medieval architecture that have reached us from the depth of the history remained in the vicinity of Sheki. They include fortresses, watch towers, churches and ruins of monasteries dated to the period of Caucasian Albania. The church in the village of Kish derived to (2nd-4th centuries) built by St. Elias and considered one of the earliest Christian constructions on the Caucasus region. Presently, the church is being reсonstructured and reorganized into a museum. In the town, you’ll see old brick houses, shaded streets, weeping willow trees and canals carrying spring water. The majestic Palace of Sheki Khans, located in the city fortress, takes a special place with its magnificent wall paintings and colorful windows’ mosaic. The Palace of Sheki Khans is a rare example of combination of folk architecture (wood engraving) with the traditions of Oriental palace architecture (varnished and wall paintings). With their magnitude, the Ashaghi and Yukhary caravanserai (18th century) evidence the advancement of trade in the Middle Ages. Near Sheki, on the west bank of the Kish River remained ruins of the ancient fortress “Gelersen-Gorersen” (come and you will see); the name suggests that the defenders of the fortress were confident in its unassailability and in their determination not to let the enemies pass. In 1805 Sheki Khanate became a part of Russia and ceased its existence as a khanate. In 1819 Sheki was ruled by a Tsarist commandant and by the Tsar’s decree the province of Nuha was established in the region.
To the development of trade along the Great Silk Road, сraftsmen of the town made a great contribution. Different types of seeds, engraved ware, jewelry and silk were traded in the famous Sheki markets. Sheki was a significant center of silk production of the whole Caucasus. Even today Sheki residents have not lost their original traditions and ancient lore. Silk shawls “kelagai” which are exported to the Middle Asia countries to be used there by local craftsmen for silk paintings as well as wooden chests with special, Sheki paintings are also produced here. Local jewelers make adornments, the shape of which has undergone little changes since ancient times. The art of Tekelduz (chain stitch) embroider, which was made predominantly by men in ancient times, is one of the most advanced in Sheki. The town is also known for the production of caps and musical instruments and also Shebeke (open-work wooden grates with inserts of colored glass, usually used in windows and door frames).
Main street of the city – M.F.Axundov (Ave. M.F.Akhundov). It is the Mosque of Omar Effendi (on the left side, while the rise), Upper and Lower caravanserais. From the street you can get to the observation deck, which offers a picturesque view of the old part of the city. Palace of Sheki Khans and two museums – Sheki museum of folk arts and Sheki historical museum – located in the upper part of the city, in the quarter-Yukhari bash. Sheki museum of folk arts and crafts (Şəki xalq tətbiqi sənəti muzeyi) The building of the Albanian church in the museum are displayed finds from excavations, utensils, costumes. Sheki History Museum of Local Lore (Şəki tarix diyarşünaslıq muzeyi) presents a beautiful collection of documents about the history of Sheki.
Sheki is a home to ancient Caucasian Albanian churches. Due to its historical religious diversity religion is very important to the people of this pitersque town.There are many churches and mosques in the city. The main worship places in the city are The Omar Efendi Mosque, Khan’s Mosque, and Gileili Minaret are. There are also several ancient churches such as the Church of Kish in the vicinity of Shaki are thought to be approximately 1,500 years old.
Sheki is the compact but still the magnificent city and has interesting places to visit.
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