Thanks to its mountain lakes, Ganjabasar is considered one of the most beautiful regions of Azerbaijan. Everything is wonderful here – mighty forests, snow-capped peaks, fast rivers, noisy waterfalls, healing mineral springs, crystal clear mountain air, colorful subalpine and alpine meadows.
The varied flora and fauna of the forests stretching along the Murovdag mountain range, clean air, an abundance of greenery attract nature lovers here in summer, who come with their families on vacation from the nearby districts and the capital of the republic. The most popular is the Khoshbulag eylag with its alpine meadows and cool springs.
In 1139, not far from Ganja, there was a strong earthquake, as a result of which eight beautiful mountain lakes were formed, one of which is the pearl of Azerbaijan, the amazing Goy-gol lake. Now the reserve of the same name is located here. The nature of the reserve amazes with the beauty of forests, blue lakes, enchants with the singing of birds, the scent of greenery and flowers.
Situated in picturesque surroundings, quiet villages beckon for a rural getaway, while game-rich forests and lakes full of fish tempt you to hunt and fish.
The beautiful and ancient city of Ganja is surrounded by greenery of gardens and vineyards. Its streets are distinguished by the correct layout, and modern buildings with elements of Azerbaijani architecture are interspersed with historical monuments – ancient mosques, tombs and the ruins of a fortress. This rich trading city arose on the Silk Road and has long been famous for its artisans and craftsmen, wines and fertile lands. And today, in Ganja, the appearance of a typical Asian city – colorful and temperamental – is unmistakably guessed. The bright character of the city was fully manifested in the local residents. In Ganja, travelers are expected to walk along wide avenues and flowering parks, get acquainted with its origins near ancient buildings and immerse themselves in the culinary traditions of the distinctive cuisine of Azerbaijan.
The city of Ganja is located at the foot of the Lesser Caucasus Range, on the Ganjachai River. Founded approximately in the 6th century. AD In the first half of the 7th century. Ganja was destroyed by the Persians, and in the second half by the Arabs. In the middle of the X century. Ganja, became the capital of the Shadadis – one of the small khanates in the territory of Azerbaijan.
In the middle of the XI century. Ganja was captured by the Seljukids. In 1139, a large earthquake struck, which destroyed the city, in this regard, it was moved to another place. As a result of the earthquake, a number of picturesque lakes were formed – Gek-gel, Maral-gel, Jeyran-gel, Ordek-gel, Zaligel, Aggel, Garagel and Shamlygel.
After the collapse of the Seljuk state, Ganja became the second capital of the Atabek state (XII-XIII centuries). In the XVIII century. Ganja is the center of the Ganja Khanate.
In 1804, the Ganja Khanate was occupied by Russian troops, and Ganja itself was renamed Elizavetpol. In Soviet times, Ganja was renamed Kirovabad and was the second industrial and cultural center of Azerbaijan after Baku. The historical name was returned to the city after gaining independence in 1991. During its centuries-old history, the city has become the owner of numerous historical and architectural monuments with a pronounced Azerbaijani national flavor. The cult complex Gay-Imam (XIV-XVII centuries), the Juma Mosque (XVII century) and many colorful old houses, famous stone sculptures of horses and other domestic animals, found in abundance in the surrounding mountains, have been preserved here.
The city is also remarkable for the fact that the greatest Azerbaijani poet Nizami Ganjavi was born in it. His mausoleum is a place especially visited by tourists.
In the historical part of the city, “old Ganja”, there are the remains of fortress walls, towers, bridges (XII – early XIII centuries), a caravanserai (XVII century) – a parking and resting place for trade caravans, the building of the former khan’s office (XVII century) , mausoleums (XIV – XVII centuries), mosques (XVII centuries).
The old fortress. The ruins of the once majestic fortress can be seen on the outskirts of the city. Now from its former greatness there are only shapeless boulders. The fortress wall stretched along the entire bank of the Ganjachai River. But over time, the water, which served as a faithful guard of the fortress, crept closer and undermined its already dilapidated walls.
Once there were two powerful towers at a distance of about 600 meters from each other. The famous gates of ancient Ganja served as the gates of the fortress.
The gate of ancient Ganja. The famous gates of Ganja were born thanks to the efforts of the blacksmith Ibrahim ibn Osman in 1063. He made them by order of the ruler from the Sheddadid dynasty. The gate is a masterpiece of handicraft art of the time, made of cast iron and embossed on the outside with ornaments and patterns. The name of the master and the date of making the gate were engraved among the ornament on the “kufi”. In 1139 an interesting event took place with the gate. Taking advantage of the recent earthquake, which practically destroyed the city and destroyed its inhabitants, the Georgian king Demeter I attacked Ganja and captured the city gates as a trophy. And the few Ganja residents who survived the disaster then carried gates weighing several tons on their own backs. Only one gate leaf has survived to this day. It is built into the wall of the Kelatinsky monastery, located opposite the grave of the Georgian king David IV.
The ancient settlement of Ganja. The settlement is located 7-10 kilometers northeast of modern Ganja. In total, taking into account all the suburbs, the territory of the settlement is 810 hectares, while within the fortress walls – about 250 hectares.
In the inner part of the fortress, the buildings were very tightly attached to each other and separated by narrow, crooked streets. Since the 1930s, excavations have been carried out on the territory of the settlement, thanks to which several cultural layers have been discovered at once and the world has discovered such sensational finds reflecting the life and economic life of the city, such as a ceramic water supply system, coins of the 10th – 11th centuries, glassware, faience, ceramics, copper and iron.
The results of the excavations even made it possible to put forward the assumption that the city was probably founded not in the 9th century, but much earlier. The remains of entire residential areas with ruins of brick houses, adobe hearths, tandoors, ancient lamps like kerosene lamps, ceramics with images of animals and ornaments from Arabic inscriptions were discovered in the settlement. In addition, clay animal statues were found, which is very rare in the culture of Muslim countries.
Currently, many of these finds are kept in museums in Azerbaijan.
Mausoleum of Imam-zade. The mausoleum of Sheikh Ibrahim, erected on the burial place of the son of Imam Muhammad Bagir, who died in the 6th century, is one of the main attractions of the city. The mausoleum is also known under the names “Gay-Imam”, which comes from the blue color of its dome, and “Imam-zade”, which is the traditional name of the mausoleums, where the descendants of the Prophet Ali are buried (literally “Imam-zade” can be translated as “Son of the Prophet” ).
The Imam-zade mausoleum is a Muslim shrine, where hundreds of believers make pilgrimages every year. The mausoleum complex includes a cemetery, small mosques, a caravanserai and other structures. All of them were subsequently surrounded by a brick wall. The ancient cemetery in Ganja is the only place in the country with the largest number of monuments with portraits.
The most beautiful in the whole ensemble is the dome of the mausoleum, faced with bright blue tiled tiles. The dark blue stamping pattern is clearly visible on the blue veneer. The height of the dome is 2.7 meters, the diameter is 4.4 meters. The height of the mausoleum itself is 12 meters. In the 19th century, the mausoleum was restored, but, despite this, it looks very dilapidated. The mosque at the mausoleum is still functioning.
Ensemble of Sheikh Bahauddin. The historical and architectural complex of the 17th century, created by Sheikh Bahauddin, includes the Juma Mosque (Shah Abbas Mosque), Chekyak Hamam (medieval bathhouse) and a caravanserai.
The Juma Mosque was built during the reign of Shah Abbas, which is why it is sometimes called that way. She is the undoubted pride of Ganja. The building was designed by the architect, astronomer and vizier Shah Abbas – Sheikh Bahauddin, a direct descendant of Nizami.
The red brick mosque is a squat, wide building. It consists of a prayer hall divided into two halves (for men and women) by a large screen and small adjoining rooms. The windows of the mosque are decorated with patterned shebeke lattices. In front of the massive gates of the mosque, there was once a market square surrounded by shops and century-old plane trees. The roof of the mosque is a huge metal dome with a diameter of 17 meters.
The mosque has two high minarets, crowned with towers for viewing the surroundings. The minarets were restored and slightly altered in the 19th century.
In the courtyard of the mosque there is a madrasah built at the same time, which, unfortunately, was destroyed during the Soviet era. However, both facilities have now been restored and are functioning perfectly.
Juma Mosque has one interesting feature. Since Sheikh Bahauddin was an excellent astronomer, he applied his knowledge to construction. So, exactly at noon, the shadow disappears, falling on the western wall of the building. This indicated to the faithful that it was time for the midday prayer. To this day, Ganja residents check the time by the disappearing shadow – the accuracy is absolute.
Cheyak-Hamam is a bathhouse consisting of two interconnecting halls. In the center of the large hall there is a swimming pool and a fountain (it is intended for relaxation), the small one is intended for swimming. Built of red brick, the bathhouse has two large and five small domes. At the top of the large domes there are semi-domes that played the role of a fan: from them ventilation pipes diverged along the space inside the walls, it was hot in winter and cool in summer. The bathhouse was heated with wood. There were two steam boilers in the basement. Steam was supplied to the halls through ceramic pipes, which also passed through the walls and floor of the bath. The steam circulated evenly and heated the entire room. This unique 400-year-old bath system worked perfectly until 1963. And all these centuries the bathhouse has been very popular among the townspeople.
Since 2002, Chekyak-Hamam has acquired the status of a cultural monument of international importance and is now under the protection of UNESCO.
The Caravanserai is the third construction in the ensemble of Sheikh Bahauddin. Today the building of the medieval caravanserai plays the role of the Temple of Knowledge. At the end of the 20th century, the Ganja Humanitarian College is located here. The caravanserai is a two-storey building that includes 15 halls and 54 rooms. The building also houses the museum of the poetess Meskheti Ganjavi.
Tomb of Javadkhan. Not so long ago, on the territory of the historical ensemble, in the courtyard of the mosque, on the site of the grave of the fearless ruler of Ganja – Javadkhan, who died on January 3, 1804 while defending Ganja from foreign invaders, a tomb was built. In the 1990s, the remains of Javadkhan were transferred here from the old city cemetery. The construction, which began in 2004, lasted several months. During its construction, the builders adhered to the requirements of the medieval architectural school. The monument was opened in 2005 and took its rightful place among other monuments of the 17th century.
Mausoleum of Nizami Ganjavi. Nizami Ganjavi, born in 1141, was one of the most educated people of his time. He gained worldwide fame as the author of “Khamsa” (Five), in which five poems were combined, reflecting not only the high skill of the poet’s pen, but also his ethical and philosophical views. Most of Nizami’s lyrics are devoted to love. Other world famous works of Nizami are the poems “Khosrov and Shirin”, “Leili and Majnun”, “Iskender-name”.
To this day, the mausoleum remains a place of pilgrimage and worship for poets. It is located at the entrance to the city from the southwest side. The tomb is a modern monumental structure of a cylindrical shape made of red granite, obt.
There are many establishments in the city where you can have a delicious lunch, sit with a company, and try traditional cuisine. Basically, they are small, quiet cafes where locals like to gather after work. Undoubtedly, it is necessary to taste the dishes of Azerbaijani cuisine in Ganja so that the trip does not turn out to be wasted. Gourmets believe that it is in Ganja that dishes are cooked much better than in any city in the country. The main meat in Ganja’s recipes is lamb, fresh meat of young lambs is especially preferred for dishes. Fish is also grilled over an open fire, combined with fruits or nuts, baked in a tandoor or simply smoked. Exclusive local cuisine – bozbash, dolma, chikhyrtma, bozartma, pilaf, hashil, piti, shashlik, govurma. Also here you will be treated to the freshest baklava and aromatic delight.