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Welcome to Azerbaijan, Land of Fire, Warm hospitality, Deep contrasts, Delicious cuisine, beautiful Historical, Cultural and Natural attractions and traditions. Azerbaijan is recently becoming a favorite tourist destination for those who want something new and different.
START 9:00 AM End Tour 08:00 PM
Snoozing amid green pillows of beautifully forested mountains, Şəki (Sheki) is Azerbai-jan’s loveliest town, dappled with tiled-roof old houses and topped off with a glittering little khan’s palace. Historic Sheki was originally higher up the valley around the site now occupied by Kish. That town was ruined by floods in 1716 but rebuilt by rebellious Khan Haci Çhalabi, who set up a defiantly independent khanate there in the 1740s. by a second, even more catastrophic flood in 1772, Nukha became the new royal capital. After 1805, when the khanate was ceded to Russia, Nukha continued to flourish as a silk-weaving town and was a trading junc¬tion between caravan routes to Baku, Tbilisi and Derbent (Dagestan), with five working caravanserais at its peak. Nukha was re¬named Şhaki in the 1960s. He built a second fortress at Nukha (today’s Shaki). When the original Shaki was obliterated.
Palace of Sheki Khans – (Az: Şəki Xan Sarayı) This ornate 1762 palace build¬ing features vivid murals and dazzling coloured light streaming through Shabaka(stained-glass) windows making it Sheki’s foremost ‘sight’ and one of the South Cauca¬sus’ most iconic buildings. It was originally the Sheki Khan’s administrative building, just one of around 40 now-lost royal structures within the fortress compound. It’s set in a walled rose garden behind two huge plane trees planted in 1530. The facade combines silvered stalactite vaulting with strong geometric patterns in dark blue, turquoise and ochre. The petite interior is only one-room deep, but lavished with intricate designs. Most are floral but in the central upper chamber you’ll find heroic scenes of Haci Chalabi’s 1743 battle with Persian emperor Nader Shah complete with requisite swords, guns and severed heads. No photos are allowed inside.
Karavansaray – Swift development of trade in the Middle Ages enhanced importance of caravanserai existing in the territory of Azerbaijan at that time and favored construction of new ones. Generally, caravanserai was built in form of castles with one gate, closing of which made them impregnable during dangerous incidents. “Caravanserai” historical complex in Sheki is two magnificent caravanserais which reached present days and traditionally named “Yukhary” and “Ashaghy” caravanserai, which means “Upper” and “Lower” Caravanserai in translation from Azerbaijani into English. Construction of these caravanserai is dated back to the 18th-19th centuries.
Kish Albanian Church – The brilliantly renovated round-towered Albanian church in pretty Kiş village has been lovingly converted into a very well-presented trilingual museum. It’s the best place anywhere to learn about mysterious Caucasian Albania, the Chris¬tian nation that once covered most of north¬ern Azerbaijan. In fact, the church site goes back well beyond the Christian era, and glass-covered grave excavations allow visi¬tors to peer down on the bones of possibly Bronze Age skeletons.
Museums – Shaki hosts a wealth of historical museums and some of the most important in the country. The Shaki History Museum is one of the main museums, considered one of the most important for artifacts of the Khanate period. Tour groups are marched dutifully around the Rashidbey Afandiyev Historical-Regional Ethnography Museum, whose name is more impressive than its exhibits: archaeological oddments, ethnographical artefacts and the usual emotive panels on WWII, Karabakh and the Xocali massacre. Across the road is a late-19th-century Russian church in unusual cylindrical form, built on the site of a 6th-century Caucasian Albanian original. It now hosts the limited Museum of National Applied Art that displays fairly haphazard collections of Sheki crafts, including metalwork, pottery and embroidery. Hardly worth the money. More interesting is a Shabaka Workshop where local craftsmen (no English) assemble traditional stained-glass windows, slotting together hundreds of hand-carved wooden pieces to create intricate wooden frames without metal fastenings. Small examples are sold as souvenirs.