Goychay

Goychay is also called a city of plane trees. About 200 plane trees in the district are protected as a historical monument under the decision adopted by the Cabinet of Ministers in 1982. The plane trees make this place look beautiful and great. The pomegranate is another famous symbol of this part of the historical Shirvan area. Those who visit Goychay, the homeland of Ali Karim and Rasul Rza, are happy to discover this place and communicate with local people. This area where mountains gradually change into plains is a real pomegranate paradise.

Note

Goychay is located on the 220th kilometer of the Baku-Qazax road at a distance of 18 km from the Ujar train station. It was founded in the north of the Shirvan plain in central Azerbaijan. It has a moderate hot semi-desert and steppe climate with dry summers. The Yuxari Shirvan canal also passes through the district. Although the district is located at the foothills of the Greater Caucasus Mountain Ridge, only a small part of its territory is covered with mountains while most of it is covered with plains. Some areas are even below sea level.

Goychay River

Its length of 113 km. Clay gravestones have been discovered in the basin of the Goychay River which flows through Gabala, Ismayilli, Goychay and Ujar districts. There used to be Albanian settlements in the valley of the river. Legend has it that in the 7th century, an Arab traveler visited the settlement of Tahla on the bank of the Goychay River at a distance of 6-8 km from the town and recorded in his memoirs that people living on the bank of the river gave him dried apricots and mulberry free of charge. It is believed that the name of the river comes from that time. In fact, the name of the river comes from the fact that the water looks bluish in the upper reaches of the river. This name comes from the fact that the water in the river is limpid and reflects the sky.

White houses

Each of the classical one-storey Goychay houses is at least 100 years old. All of these houses, which were built after Goychay was declared a district center in the late 19th century, have one particularity. They are totally painted white. Local residents usually bleach their houses and fences from outside once a year.

History

While talking about the economic life of this region, antique authors Strabo, Ptolemy, Pliny and others recorded that local lands were productive, the local population cultivated grain and grapes and the trans-Caucasus trade route which connected Iberia and the Caspian coast passed through this region. Goychay district villages formed an integral part of various local feudal states at different times in history. Sources say that from 1025 to the 14th century, the right and left banks of the Goychay River belonged to the Gabala region. At the time of khanates, Goychay turned into an administrative unit of the Shirvanshah state. The district population formed from the population of the Qaraman principality who moved here from Turkey in the 15th century. Part of the population affected by the earthquake that happened in Shamakhy in the mid-19th century moved to Goychay and after that, this territory started to expand.

Goychay region

The Goychay region was established as part of the Baku province in 1867. Goychay was the center of this region or district. The region’s first Russian-Tatar school was opened in 1878 under the leadership of Nikolay Kalashov. Following the 1867 administrative reform carried out by the tsarist government in the Caucasus, nine districts were incorporated into the Goychay region. The region where the population was engaged mainly in cotton-growing, silkworm breeding and cattle-breeding was run by a Russian police officer. At the same time, under the supervision of the police officer, the town was divided into quarters and construction work began here. The brigand movement that began in the 19th century engulfed the Goychay region as well. The residencies of landowners were set on fire on a mass scale. Along with that, town planning work got under way in Goychay in 1886-96 and Goychay was granted status as a city. The Goychay region was abolished only under the Soviets in 1929-30 and several districts were created in its stead.

Turkish army in Goychay

On 30 June 1918, the Turkish Islamic army under the command of Nuru Pasha entered Goychay and liberated the district from Bolshevik terrorists after defeating Armenians Dashnaks in fighting. At that time, a shell fired by Armenians from a cannon installed on the opposite mountain hit a big plane tree in the centre of the city. It is strange that the plane tree never faded although it was badly damaged by gunfire. Conversely, its split trunk turned into five new branches. The traces of that explosion can still be seen on the trunk of the tree. The monument installed on the graves of the Turkish soldiers killed in the fighting is located at the entry into the village of Bigir.

Historical monuments

The Yuxari Mosque (1902-1906) and the underground bath (1902) in the district center, the Surxay fortress built under the Arab Caliphate in the 12th-14th centuries and four 19th century mosques in different villages are regarded as the main historical monuments in the district. There is a spring of medicinal water near the Surxay fortress located in the mountains. The fortress used to belong to Surxay Khan. Surkh means a castle wall in Arabic.

Place-name

The name derives from a same-name river. Since its water is extremely transparent and bluish, it was called Goychay. For Turkic peoples, the blue color is also a sign of mourning. According to ancient Turkic beliefs, mourning colors are a way of handing over the human spirit to gods. According to them, blue was also interpreted as the beginning of something good.

Estates and villages

Estate names such as Albatdilar, Qurdlar, Turkmanlar, Cuhudlar, Dordyol, Salyanstoy, Lazgilar, Omanbaylilar and others are still used by the local population. Goychay has 55 villages. When the most famous village is mentioned, everyone smiles.

Bigir village

Bigir is located 14 km southeast of the center, on the left bank of the Yuxari Shirvan canal and on the Shirvan plain. The area hosts three large ancient graveyards. Previously, the village was called Bigir Murtaz. It is believed that the population moved here after the destruction in 1537 of the Bugurt fortress which was located at the foothills of Mount Niyal in Shamakhy and settled on the territory of modern Bigir. In ancient Turkic, Bigir means a hunchback. At the same time, it is interpreted as flexible and a tower or a fortress. Bigir, which formed in the 16th century, is the one of the most populous and largest villages in Azerbaijan. Bigir is a real pomegranate paradise. Under the Soviets, the largest pomegranate state farm was located here. The area still has the largest pomegranate orchards. It is the main bread winner. During the pomegranate season, October and November, you cannot find anyone at home. During the harvest, they collect about one tonne of pomegranates per person. They use special sticks to pull upper branches down and collect the pomegranates one by one. They understand the language of pomegranates very well here and know how to slice it into various shapes for esthetic purposes. If the crown of the pomegranate and its surroundings are intact, it means that it is intact from inside as well.

Pomegranate

The pomegranate has been regarded as the king of all fruits in the East since time immemorial. According to the Koran, the pomegranate is one of the fruits growing in the paradise garden. In many peoples, pomegranate flowers and fruits are regarded as a symbol of wealth, abundance and productivity. The pomegranate is widely used in popular medicine in Azerbaijan. Not only pomegranate grains, but also its peel and flowers are used. It is very helpful in treating high blood pressure, gastrointestinal diseases, anemia, fever, coughing, cold, bronchial asthma, sore throat, malaria, burns, kidneys, liver, inflammations of the mouth cavity, ears and eyes.

Although it is cultivated everywhere in Azerbaijan, the Shirvan region is regarded as a center for the production of the best pomegranate sorts. A pomegranate festival is held in Goychay every year. Some 60-65 sorts of pomegranates are known here. The most popular sort is Guloysa. Sourish, juicy, sour-sweet, big, red and mouth-watering pomegranates are terribly moreish.

The pomegranate factory which was opened in 1960 produces narsarab, pomegranate juice and pomegranate syrup. It is recommended to drink pomegranate juice which is rich in vitamins B1, B12 and C. Nothing is lost from the pomegranate. Its peel is used to make dyes while its grains are used to make cosmetic oil. Its grains are also used to make juice, wine and syrup. The narsarab is served with oily food, qutabs and fried fish.

Dosamali pilaf

It is a dish that Goychay people take pride in. This dish, which is also known as dosama-pilaf is well-liked mostly in the Karabakh and Shirvan regions. It is called dosama-pilaf because all ingredients are spread on the bottom of a pot and cooked.

Ingredients:

  • 1 village chicken
  • 1 kg of chestnuts
  • 1 kg of onion
  • 1 pomegranate
  • 200 g of raisins
  • 200 g of dried apricots
  • 1 kg of rice
  • 1 glass of sour clotted milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 kg of butter
  • A pinch of saffron

Preparation:

The chestnuts are peeled. The raisins and dried apricots are washed. The onion is finely cut and mixed with pickled pomegranates. The chicken is cut into big pieces, scalded and then mixed with the opinion and pickled pomegranates. Rice is placed in cold salty water at least two hours beforehand and kept and filtered in boiling water for five minutes. To make the crust, sour clotted milk, eggs, saffron and a little bit of rice are placed on the bottom of the pot. Pieces of chicken, chestnuts, apricots and raisins are neatly placed on top. The rest of the rice is placed into the pot and is left on the stove. In order to brew it properly, a piece of calico is placed under the cover. Before it is finished, they melt butter and slowly pour it into the pot. At the end, the saffron, kept in water for a while, is added to the pilaf to give it some flavor. The Shrivan-style dosamali pilaf is ready to be served. You must definitely try it in Goychay.

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