Some people think that there is nothing interesting here and that it is a very boring place. Those who think so are unaware that this place used to be called “The flower garden of Shirvan”. It is a place which travelers to the Caucasus visited and admired. The phrase “Shemakhanskaya Devitsa”, i.e. the Shamakhi princess in the poem “Golden Rooster” by A. S. Pushkin created association with the image of an oriental woman. In the district which is known as a center of vine-growing and wine-making, local wines have been made since time immemorial and have been spread through caravans. As one of Azerbaijan’s most ancient and greatest cultural centers, it has been the center of the Shirvan region for centuries.
The place-name of Shirvan
Historically, it has been pronounced as Shervan or Sharvan. In the Middle Ages, it stretched as far as the Caspian Sea, Darband, Gabala and the Kura River. In the 9th-10th centuries, Shamakhi was an important point on trade routes. In the 15th century, the city played an important role in international silk trade. Shirvan silk, which was known under the name of Talaman silk, was exported to a number of Asian and European countries.
It is located on the 120th kilometer of the Baku-Gazakh road. Eight per cent of its territory is covered by forests. Shamakhi lies from the northern edge of the Kura-Araz plain to the southern slopes of the Greater Caucasus Mountains. It covers the northwestern part of Gobustan and the eastern basin of the Agsu River. The height of its territory varies from 300 to 2,200 meters. The highest mountains are Gulumdostu and Dubar. The climate changes as the height increases. There are no natural lakes and waterfalls in the district. There are about 40 mineral water springs here.
Mugham and the saz
Shirvan is home to ashiqs and talented mugham singers who are the strongest rivals of Qarabag mugham artists and western ashiqs. The sounds of mugham and ashiq music which can be heard at the Pirqulu resort vary to please tourists in summer. Shamakhi’s most famous mugham master is Alim Qasimov.
Shamakhi, which is known as the homeland of geniuses, is the birthplace of masters like Khaqani, Nasimi, Shirvani and Sabir. The city’s historical Sixandan cemetery has the sepulchers of I. Nasimi’s brother Shakhandan, alias Dagniq Sachli, and S. A. Shirvani.
Imadaddin Nasimi (1369-1417)
His real name was Seyid Ali Imadaddin. He was known under the penname of Nasimi and was the most famous representative of the Hurufi trend and a favorite student of Fazlullah Naimi. He is known for his philosophical Aruz ghazals. At a time when the Hurufis came under strong pressure from Tamerlane, Nasimi was forced to leave Shamakhi. He traveled a lot as a dervish and lived in Iraq, Syria and the Ottoman state. He was executed by skinning in the Syrian city of Aleppo for his pantheist ideas. It is believed that one of the mullahs who issued a fatwa for the execution of the poet ordered that every place where the blood of this godless man drops be destroyed. When the executioner started to skin him, one drop of blood fell on the hand of that mullah. The mullah quickly wiped it off and hid. On seeing this, the poet pronounced his following famous ghazal:
“If you cut off the finger of an ascetic person, he will run away from justice out of fear
If this true follower is skinned from head to toe, he will feel no pain”
Mirza Alakbar Sabir (1862-1911)
Alakbar Zeynalabdin oglu Tahirzada (Sabir) is the founder of Azerbaijani satire. He studied at a mullah school until 12 and then continued his education at Seyid Azim Shirvani’s new school. He lived a very difficult life full of financial problems. He supported a family of 10 by making and selling soap. Together with Calil Mammadquluzada, Sabir published satirical poems in the magazine Molla Nasraddin and other publications. After his death, his wife Billurnisa and his friends collected all his poems and published as a book entitled “Hophopnameh”. Incidentally, “Hophop” was one of the poet’s favorite pennames.
Pirsaat shrine (9th-15th centuries)
Almost everyone stops at the shrine which is located on the edge of the road on the bank of the Pirsaat River at the entrance to the city. People make wishes, declare their intentions, sacrifice animals and visit the graves inside the sepulcher. Pirsaat is known as a miraculous ovliya from the prophet’s family. There is a famous legend about its miracle and the creation of the shrine.
Legend has it that a person who was afraid of earthquakes once had a nightmare. He got up and made a fuss telling everyone to leave their homes because there would be an earthquake. But no-one listened to him. His nightmare became a reality later. A terrible earthquake occurred. Houses were razed to the ground. After that event, that person, whose house was destroyed, left his place of residence. After a lot of travel, he settled on the bank of the Pirsaat River. Those who heard the man’s warning, but did not listen to him and survived the earthquake started visiting him very often. Since then, Pirsaat has become a place which is visited by people who have seeing and hearing problems.
For centuries, Shamakhi, the center of Shirvan, has been repeatedly destroyed by strong earthquakes. Although it is located in the most seismic-hazardous area of the Caucasus, the city was restored all the time. The strong earthquakes of 1828, 1859, 1891 and 1902 damaged the city so badly that it was gradually forced to change its location. After the devastating earthquake of 1859, the center was partially relocated to Baku. The city was razed to the ground by another terrible earthquake on 31 January 1902. Underground tremors damaged the city so badly that it was impossible to restore it in full. After this earthquake, Baku, a port in the Caspian Sea, took over leadership as the center of northern Azerbaijan. Present-day Shamakhi is located roughly 2 km off old Shamakhi.
“Shamakhi will never be able to say that it will survive this day. But every time, Shamakhi people have the power restore their city from ruins and ashes.”
“…On the 8th day of the month, we arrived at famous Shamakhi. There is a big market in the southern part of the city. There are all types of goods and crafts in numerous shops and counters there. Many Jews come here for shopping. What surprised me most is that the city has been rebuilt anew, although not even three years have passed since it was totally destroyed and devastated. Earthquakes are quite common in this country, and during one year of our stay there, several earthquakes occurred; one day we even felt it three times. But the earthquake of 1667 was the strongest one in a long time. This earthquake continued for a full three months and its beginning was very strong. The foundations of the whole city were undermined so much that mosques, castles, houses and city walls were destroyed and all this happened so quickly that no-one survived. According to various estimates, more than 80,000 men who could carry weapons were killed in this terrible earthquake, and this figure does not include women, children and slaves…”
Ian Steis “Travel” (1670-72)
Frequent earthquakes have always caused serious damage to buildings. According to Arab historian H. A. Jiddi, the houses built in the city in the 9th-12th centuries were seriously damaged due to the seismic nature of the territory and as a result of following construction work. Riverbed stones were used as major building material for the construction of houses in Shamakhi, and lime was used as cement. Famous travelers who visited Azerbaijan and Shamakhi at various times mention Shamakhi in their travel notes.
Description of the Shamakhi fortress (1646-48)
“Shamakhi is an ancient and prosperous city. Recently, the capital city of Shirvan gave its key to the Ottomans and obeyed them. After that, Shah Tahmasib kept the fortress under siege for seven months and finally, took it. Although the shah promised to show mercy for those inside the fortress, he killed everyone and handed over management of the fortress to his brother Alkhas Mirza. Alkhas Mirza ruled for three years, but since he made his brother (the shah) suspicious about his behavior and feared for his life, he collected his loved ones and servants overnight in 1574 and fled to the Ottoman state. After 40 days of travel, he arrived in Istanbul and was warmly welcomed there. Alkhas Mirza’s arrival is described in the following way in historical sources: “Alkhas Mirza was subjugated under Suleyman – in the 954th year of hijrah.”
The Ottomans who invaded Azerbaijan in the same year kept Shamakhi under siege for seven days and took it from Tahmasib’s son. Fighting occurred frequently in Shirvan. After that, this fortress was taken over by the Persians. Now Shamakhi is a khanate. The castle is located on a high mountain. It is strong and prosperous. A detachment of soldiers lives at the fortress. There are 7,000 houses with clay roofing in the city. Water flows in front of every house and there are countless vineyards and gardens here. The city has 26 quarters. There is a great number of mosques, seven madrasahs, a palace belonging to the shah, about 40 schools and seven wonderful baths here. There are 44 caravanserais working here. Every person who lives in the caravanserai only closes the door and confidently goes to the market for shopping without locking the door. They leave their stuff in the caravanserai without guards. But the guards keep an eye on everything. See how secure and stable Shirvan is. The coffee houses which serve as a place for cordial conversations are cleaned very often. Everything grows on the fertile soil of Shirvan. Its climate is moderate and soft. The beautiful women of this area are known around the world.”
Evliya Chelebi (1611-1682), “Sayahatnameh”
Materials acquired here during archaeological excavations show that this area was inhabited 2,500-3,000 years ago. The antique Greek philosopher Ptolemy mentions 29 Albanian cities and villages in the 11th chapter of the 5th book of his work “Geography”. According to A. Bakikhanov, Samakheya (Kamakheya) mentioned by Ptolemy is the present-day city of Shamakhi.
Shamakhi District has been heavily populated since the Bronze Age, i.e. the 4th-3rd centuries BC. Coins belonging to the pre-Christian period have been found in the village of Xinisli.
Persian historians link the foundation of Shamakhi to Sassanid King Anushiravan (531-579). The 14th century historian and geographer, Hamdullah Qazvini, also recorded that Shirvan’s main city of Shamakhi was built by Anushiravan the Fair. Arab historians link the foundation of the city to the 8th century Shirvan ruler Shamakh ibn Shujan or Arab poet Ash-Shamakhiyya. It was under the rule of the Arab caliphate for many years. After the decline of the caliphate, Shamakhi became the capital of the Shirvanshah feudal state. In the Middle Ages, it was also called Yazidiyya for some time.
In 1222, Shamakhi was invaded by the Mongols. At that time, the city had strong defensive walls. Although the walls of the Shamakhi fortress were repeatedly destroyed in the 9th century, they were restored many times in the 8th-19th centuries and the city always had a strong line of defense.
In 1382-1417, under Shah Ibrahim I, the city got stronger from a cultural, political and economic point of view. Shamakhi was one of the khanates that were established on Azerbaijani territory in the 18th century. After its annexation to Russia, it became the center of a district and region.
The city’s name was repeatedly changed to Ash-Shamakh, Shakhmakh or Shamukh. The place-name derives from the words shah (great) and makh (city). Ancient Albanians called the luxurious houses inhabited by people who differed from them Shamukh which meant “a place of kings”. According to another theory, the word Sham is the Arab name for Damascus and akhi means similar or alike. On seeing the greatness and beauty of the city, the Syrians who came here compared it with Damascus.
The Shamakhi region, which is famed for its architectural traditions started to live a difficult period after endless earthquakes in the 19th century. Although almost none of ancient and medieval monuments survived, the territory still boasts some historical monuments of national and local importance.
Qosa spring (19th century)
The spring with ice cold and brackish water is located in the district center where everyone can slake their thirst in summer. It is on the list of Shamakhi’s historical monuments and was restored in 1912.
Friday mosque (8th century)
The mosque, which is located in the center of the ancient city at the entrance to the district, has a non-standard structure. The mosque with four minarets resembles medieval European universities. It has three circles. Although the city used to have 36 mosques, they were all destroyed as a result of frequent earthquakes. Only one mosque survived. The most wonderful historical-religious monument of Shamakhi, which was one of the most important religious centers in the Middle East, is on the list of the most prominent monuments of the South Caucasus. It is the first mosque in the Transcaucasia.
The German astronomer, philosopher and geographer, Adam Oleari, recorded:
On 5 February 1637, some of our people and I passed through… the courtyard of a well-structured building. There were many rooms for men in this building. When we saw many old and young people walking around with books in their hands here, we wondered what this place was; we learnt that it was a madrasah, that’s a gymnasium or an academy.”
The Arabs first built mosques in countries they had seized in order to spread Islam. The Arabs who came to Azerbaijan in the 7th century built the first mosque in the Caucasus in Darband in 733 and the second one in Shamakhi in 743. The Arabs first built a small mosque in the city. The special commission that was set up after the earthquake of 1902 carried out excavations and research here. The commission discovered a fire temple and elements belonging to the pre-Islamic period here. All this proves that the mosque was built on a fire temple. The Friday mosque which has survived to date was actually built on the foundations of the ancient mosque, based on a project by the architect Zivarbay Ahmadbayov in 1902.
The Friday mosque received the greatest harm on 18 March 1918. On that day, Armenian Dashnaks fired at the mosque with cannons from the Lalayan quarter which was located on the city’s highest hill.
The Imamzada mosque complex, located in the city center near the Friday mosque on Imamli Street, is one of the most ancient monuments in Shamakhi. One of the children of the fourth Imam Zeynalabdin, Allama Seyid Muhammad Saleh al-Mudarris, was buried here. It was founded in 1370. In 1910-17, it was rebuilt based on a project by the famous Shamakhi architect, Zivarbay Ahmadbayov. During the massacre of March 1918, Armenian Dashnaks filled Imamzada with about 200 people and burnt them alive.
The Armenian Dashnaks, supported by Bolsheviks, plundered Shamakhi after Baku, Guba and Lankaran in 1918 and massacred the local population. All Muslim-populated quarters and 13 mosques were set ablaze. They killed 8,077 Turks in 53 villages of Shamakhi district. Owing to the Turkish-Islamic army which entered Azerbaijan under the command of Nuru Pasha, an end was put to Armenian terror. As a result of the March massacre, up to 50,000 people were killed. After Azerbaijan gained its independence, 31 March was declared a day of genocide in 1997.
Seven Domes sepulcher complex (17th century)
It is located 3 km from the center. It is a mausoleum which was built for the family of Shamakhi Khan Mustafa in the 17th-18th centuries. Only one stone inscription has survived in the eight-pointed sepulcher. You can have a nice view of Shamakhi from the point where the sepulcher is located.
Kalaxana sepulchers (14th-17th centuries)
The village of Kalaxana is known for its 17th century complex of sepulchers. Its height and forms are the same. They are all eight-pointed. One of the nine sepulchers has been completely destroyed. The first one was built in 1663. The territory used to be a family mausoleum for Shirvanshah rulers. The chests with Arab inscriptions belong to the 14th century. Based on this, it is believed that the village was already inhabited at the time.
The territory of Kalaxana resembles a steppe. There is little vegetation here. It is very hot in summer. Scorched by the heat of the sun, Kalaxana is suffering from a lack of water. Despite the terrible lack of water, people are not leaving the area, and strange as it may seem, they have not even built a water pipeline to the village and continue to live like this.
Pir Mardakan sepulcher (12th-13th centuries)
It is located 6 km southeast of Shamakhi in the village of Goylar. The Pir Mardakan sepulcher in the graveyard is regarded as the village’s most famous monument. Based on the fact that the grave of Shirvanshah Ibrahim I is located here, the sepulcher is attributed to the 12th century. The sepulcher was built on the grave of Sheikh Imam Mardakani. The mausoleum which consists of two parts is 9 m high. People from various places visit the grave inside, make donations, make wishes and pray here. The name of the monument has nothing to do with the village of Mardakan in Baku. The only mosque in the village was built in the 19th century.
It is one of the largest and oldest villages in Shamakhi. Locals say that the village is called Goylar (blue people) because its first resident had blue eyes. It is believed that a blue-eyed man and his seven sons settled in the village. According to another assumption, there used to be seven lakes in the village, which is why it was called Gollar. In the course of time, the name turned into Goylar. It is believed that the village was inhabited by Tatars in the past. One of Shamakhi khans married a Tatar girl. After that, no-one bothered the khan’s relatives here. The name of the village remained Goylar. In the Shamakhi dialect, goy means a son-in-law. The goys, i.e. the khan’s sons-in-law lived in this village. Another assumption regarding the place name is that it used to be home to a tribe of blue Turks, one of the most ancient Turkic tribes.
Gulistan fortress (9th-11th centuries)
The castle was a residency for the Shirvanshahs and a military base of strategic importance. It was built 3 km northwest of the city and on a 200 meter high steep mountain. The best way to get to the fortress is from the south. It is called Shamakhi’s Maiden Tower. There is no accurate information as to when it was built. It is also called Axsitan fortress. It was named after Axsitan who restored it after an earthquake in 1174-1202.
It is possible to get to the fortress on foot maximum in one hour. There is a perfect view from the top. You can enjoy the most beautiful view of Shamakhi from here. When Shamakhi was threatened in the past, a bonfire was made on the highest point of the castle in order to warn surrounding areas. Currently, a bonfire is made in the same place only once a year. The bonfire made by young people who ascend the castle during the Novruz holiday signifies the onset of spring.
In the 9th-11th centuries, the city of Shamakhi was defended by the Gulistan fortress. In the 14th-15th centuries, the ancient walls of Shamakhi and the Gulistan fortress were the main point of defense for the rulers of Shirvan. The Gulistan fortress has gone down in history as a castle which Shah Ismayil failed to seize. Although the Safavids, who had seized Shirvan, attacked Shamakhi several times, they failed to take the Gulistan fortress. After another botched attack, the young shah saw his helpless soldiers and angrily said:
– Do you need Shirvan or the fortress? Let’s take Shamakhi, and after the fortress loses support from its environs, it will surrender itself.
In connection with the invention of firearms, especially cannons, in the 17th-18th centuries, Gulistan and similar fortresses lost their significance. At that time, the Gulistan fortress became a temporary residency to protect the rulers of Shamakhi from hot weather.
Gulistan or Maiden’s Tower?
It is popularly known as the Maiden’s Tower. Some people link its name Gulistan to the natural environment in its surroundings. Indeed, the lower parts of the mountain on which Gulistan is located, especially its southern, eastern and northern foothills, are full of various flowers and plants in spring and autumn.
Only some towers have been left from the legendary Gulistan fortress to date. The area which resembles ruins is now a snake’s den. For this reason, going up the hill is not recommended in the heat of summer.
It has been one of the country’s most active tourist centers since Soviet times. The tourism information bureau is located in the city center near the Friday mosque. You can get all information about the must-see sights of Shamakhi here. There are no waterfalls or natural lakes in the district. There are about 10 artificial lakes here. Excursions also include Shamakhi’s natural sights.
Mud volcanoes have been discovered in several places, or to be more precise in three places. The biggest one is the Damirci mud volcano which is located on the road to the village of Damirci about 30-31 km off Shamakhi and 7 km off Pirqulu.
The famous Dadagunas shrine on the Shamakhi-Dadagunas road has been registered as a natural monument.
The village was home to the famous 12th century poet Afzaladdin Khaqani. Apart from that, the cave located near Malham is noted for its curative properties. People who suffer from asthma and other serious diseases recover after living in the cave for some time.
Pirqulu state nature reserve
The nature reserve was set up on the eastern edge of the Greater Caucasus Mountain Ridge on an area of 1,521 ha in 1968 in order to protect the 250 species of flowering plants and more than 50 medicinal plants growing in Shamakhi, as well as the district’s rich flora and fauna. The territory of the reserve includes the Cangi, Pirqulu and Bado forests. At the same time, the nature reserve belongs to the Shahdag National Park. Internal tourist routes in several directions have been opened here.
Sis, Kesmaddin, Qaleybugurt and Qala Darasi villages
It is one of the internal routes. The villages are located in the direction of Pirqulu and are picturesque and quiet mountain villages. The last village in this direction is the village of Qala Darasi. There is no infrastructure like a tourist base here. Qala Darasi used to be a bay’s or khan’s village, or to be more precise, it used to be a summer destination for local aristocrats. The village of Sis is one of the sites that have become very popular in recent years. It is an extremely attractive place with clear and arid air, a nice view and productive fruit gardens. The village is called Sis because of the constant fog here.
It is a mountain village 9 km off Cuxuryurd. There are only 210 houses in this village located at a height of 1,300 meters. The Bado natural recreation center is located here. The most famous monument here is Qaleyi Bugurt located on the peak of the mountain. The ruins of a legendary defensive fortification, attached to a steep rock, are still here.
Qaleyi Bugurt (11th-13th centuries)
It is located 20 km northeast of the center and 1,600 above sea level. The Bugurt fortress is famous just like the Barkut fortress. It was inhabited in the 11th-13th centuries. The castle which is believed to have been built in the 13th century is often mentioned in 15th century sources. When the Safavid ruler Shah Ismayil I invaded Shirvan in 1509 and 1518, Shirvanshah Sheikhshah retreated into the Bugurt fortress and defended it for several months. In that period, the treasury of the Shirvanshahs was kept at the Bugurt fortress. During the Safavid-Ottoman wars, the Ottomans seized the fortress and turned it into a base. The fortress was used until the end of the 17th century. The fortress which has a perfect water supply system has a shah’s palace inside. The remains of ponds built for storing water secretly supplied here, a water tower and a water pipeline are still here. Since it is very difficult to get to the fortress from the village of Qaleyi Bugurt, it is recommended that you go through the last village on this route – Qala Darasi. It is possible to get to the fortress in 40-50 minutes from there. On the high mountain standing opposite to the fortress, there are dense forests called Sahbulaq and Topxana, as well as picturesque places. It was a strategic point where Sahbulaq rulers spent their holidays, while Topxana was a strategic point where Shirvanshah cannons were deployed.
Zarat Xeybar, Safali, Damirci and Avaxil villages
Another internal tourist route in Shamakhi goes in this direction. The last stop is the village of Zarat Xeybar.
It is one of the remotest mountain villages and is located at a height of 1,850 meters. It looks like Xinaliq as the houses and fences are built from riverbed stone. The village survives by subsistence farming. There are 40 houses and one primary school in the village, but there is no hospital here. Once the weather gets cold, snow blocks the roads. The roads open again only after the Novruz holiday. For this reason, a lot of food is stockpiled for the cold winter.
Its official name is the village of Safali. There are only 21 houses here. The village is located 1,500 above sea level. It is one of the villages where the Azarbaycanfilm studio has set up most of its pavilions. Episodes from the films “Saddle the Horses”, “Wizard” and others have been shot in Safali. Almost all residents of the village have participated in film production. The only historical monument here is a 19th century mosque.
In this direction, it is the first stop that has good weather, many springs and numerous orchards. It is located 29 km from the center and 1,386 meters above sea level. The village has 85 houses and its population is only 531. The area has a 19th century mosque and ancient barrows. The weather is dominated by drizzly and foggy days. Drizzly weather has given a name to this place. Avaxil means foggy, hazy and gloomy weather. The only mosque in the village was built in 1873.
The village is located 1,500-1,600 meters above sea level. It has 68 houses and a population of only 515. The village’s previous name is Cayli. The village is known for a river under the same name flowing through its territory. However, since most of its residents work as blacksmiths, it was then renamed Damirci (Blacksmith). Its most famous historical-religious monument is a mosque built in 1892. The villagers moved here from Lahij. Legend has it that a ruler who placed an order with a local craftsman in the Middle Ages was so pleased with his work that he gave this land to the craftsman as a fee. That craftsman settled in the present-day village of Damirci together with his family 500 years ago. For this reason, all villagers are regarded as each other’s relatives. Just like in Lahij, the main business here is craftsmanship. Apart from the blacksmiths, saddle-makers are also popular here. Residents of surrounding villages visit Damirci in order to buy these goods. As you wander Damirci, you notice tandir ovens placed under the sun.
It is made mostly for sale. To this end, they bring special soil from the mountains, sift it, soak it and store it for several days, and then they dry it. The dried special soil is mixed with goat hair, metal dust and shells and shaped like a tandir. After the tandir totally dries within 40 days under the sun, it is sent for sale. The strangest thing is that all the hard work on the tandir is done by women. Local women are also good cooks. They bake delicious bread covered with saffron, sakar bura and paxlava in the tandirs of their own making. The most famous sweets in Shamakhi are the Shamakhi mutakkas. Tasting pan kebab, musamma and Shirvan dill pilaf is a must.
Locals say that they make the real dill pilaf. After the Qarabag, Ganja and Talysh zones, Shirvan dill pilaf is considered to be the main dish in the village of Damirci. Only copper dishes are used to make it. In general, the extensive use of copper utensils in Damirci makes local food extremely delicious.
- Lamb meat
- Lamb tail
- Dried dills
Soaked beans are boiled. Long rice, soaked in salty water for two hours, is boiled and mixed with the beans. They are both filtered together. A great amount of dried dills are added to this mixture in a colander. The lamb tail is placed on the floor of a big copper pan. Pieces of meat with large bones are placed on it and then, the mixture of dill, beans and rice is filled into the pan. The pan is covered and placed on the stove. It is left on the stove for about two hours, i.e. until the meat cooks completely. After that, the pilaf and the fried meat are filled into a bowl. The Shirvan dill pilaf is served with sour clotted milk. It is a high-calorie and delicious dish.
In his works on his visit to the Caucasus, French writer Alexander Dumas spoke in detail about kebab, cizbiz, pilaf and other national dishes of Azerbaijan, pheasant hunting with falcons in Shamakhi and his meetings with historical personalities. He shared his good impressions about Azerbaijani country, the Caspian Sea, the Kura, Samur, Qudyalchay and Shahdag. The writer noted that the Azerbaijanis were sensitive, sincere, caring, intelligent, hospitable, friendly, loyal, restrained, brave, slender and beautiful.
In connection with his travel, a route called “Alexander Dumas in the Caucasus” is being arranged. The route begins in the Dagestani city of Kizlyar and covers the Guba-Baku and Baku-Shamakhi-Sheki directions and ends in the Georgian city of Poti.
Cuxuryurd, Nagaraxana and Pirqulu villages
We would not be wrong if we said that it is the most popular internal route in Shamakhi. Let’s have a look at the villages located on this route.
The village is located 10-12 km from the center, on the right bank of the Pirsaat River and 850-1,200 meters above sea level. It is one of the most beautiful villages in Shamakhi. It is surrounded by meadows and forests. The village grows potatoes, cabbage and fruits and is famed for its sunflowers. There are springs of sulfur water on the heights surrounding the village. Cuxuryurd has a medicinal water spring rich in minerals. It is one of the villages where Molokans were settled as part of the tsarist policy in the 19th century. Most of them have migrated to Russia in recent years. When the Molokans lived here, they set up night life centers in order to make the village more attractive to tourists. Restaurants are operating around an artificial lake in the village. Cuxuryurd, which is regarded as a resort village, has a favorable climate. The weather is cool, windless and arid here. There is no humidity here. As a resort, it is good at treating muscle pains, cardiovascular diseases and at regulating metabolism. As a tourist paradise, Cuxuryurd has been the focus of attention for rich Bakuvians and foreigners living in Azerbaijan. Since demand for property is increasing here, prices are biting.
The village is located on the Pirqulu road, 17 km from the center and 4 km from Cuxuryurd. The village has 506 houses and a population of 8,000. It is located 1,445 meters above sea level. There is a settlement belonging to the Bronze Age and old barrows here. Merchants traveling with caravans running between the west and the east were well-aware of this place. The name of the village originates from a story related to those merchants.
One of two Indian merchant brothers, surnamed Multan, falls ill and dies in Shamakhi. The other brother set his body on fire according to the pagan tradition and takes his ashes to India. According to the then tradition, it was necessary to burn a woman together with the dead man so that she could accompany him in the afterlife. But it was very difficult to do so in a Muslim city. The wealthy Indian merchant finally found a Christian woman who agreed to do this for money. The territory of the present-day village of Nagaraxana was chosen to burn the body. According to the tradition, 50 drummers were invited. The ceremony began. As a bonfire was made, the drummers started beating the drums with all their power. Although the woman was scared and decided to quit, Multan did not allow her to leave and set her on fire alive with his dead brother. It is believed that the woman’s screams could be heard in the surrounding area. Since then, this village has been called Nagaraxana (nagara – drum). Because of Multan’s cruel behavior, residents of Shamakhi used his name Multan for a cruel person.
Pirqulu, which is situated 12 km northeast of the center and 1,400 meters above sea level, has perfect potential for winter tourism. The snow which is regarded as suitable for skiing begins to fall at the end of October and lasts until April. It is suitable for tourists and winter sports. The village has perfectly clear and arid weather. Tourist bases were built in the area in Soviet times. In recent years, the number of tourist facilities and hotels has been rapidly increasing. If the hotels are expensive, it is possible to set up a tent and relax on the territory of the reserve. This method is not recommended to those who are afraid of snakes, because Shamakhi, including Pirqulu, is famed for its snakes.
It is located 22 km from the center, on the northern slope of Mount Pirqulu and 1,435 meters above sea level. This scientific center, which bears the name of Nasiraddin Tusi, has been operating since 1962. When the observatory was established, a greater number of clear nights were the main condition. After four years of research under the leadership of Academician Yusif Mammadaliyev, it was discovered that Pirqulu had perfect weather conditions for an astrophysics observatory. The observatory has the biggest telescope in the former USSR. The diameter of its mirror is two meters. The equipment had been brought from Germany. All stars, planets and the sun are observed from six observatories located in this area.The requested album cannot be loaded at this time. Generic Facebook error.