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Sheki-Gakh

Sheki-Qakh

    To the north-west of Sheki in the flood plain of Kurmukhchay at an altitude of 518 m above sea level is a small town, the administrative center of Kakha (5,6 thousand people). There are many orchards here. In cozy courtyards-estates stand one-and two-storey houses of stone under the red tile roofs on stone supports. They are surrounded by stone fences or log fences, often overgrown with brambles.
Residents of Kakha and surrounding villages grow tobacco, eggplants, tomatoes, cucumbers, potatoes, onions, garlic. The city is famous for its cherry, fortresses, defensive structures.
Attractive and located in the vicinity of Kakhi villages, each with its own characteristics.
The village of Ahchay, located 6 km to the northwest of Kakha, hid in the deep and narrow gorge of the right-named right tributary of Kurmukhchay, named because of the comparative whiteness of its waters, and this color is attached to the white pebble that forms the bed of the river. Ahchay is a very picturesque village, dissolved among orchards and surrounded by virgin forest. And this in combination with the silence, disturbed only by the noise of the river.
Even more interesting is the high-altitude village of Ilisu, located at an altitude of 1400-1600 m above sea level, 12 km to the north-east of Kakha. This large, well-maintained and rich village stretched for several kilometers along the left side of the Gorge Kurmukhaya gorge. His houses are usually two-storeyed with narrow windows, located in the upper old part of the village, built of stone and river cobblestone, reminiscent of fortifications. There are preserved historical monuments: a four-foot ten-meter watchtower, standing on the southern outskirts of the village, a round tower, a fortress, in the center of which stands a mosque. There is also more gray-haired antiquity – a cemetery of pit burials, left from the Caucasian Albania.
Mountain slopes near the village are cut by canyons, covered with screes of clayey shales and sandstones. There are warm hydrogen sulphide springs here, which are used for medicinal baths. In Ilis a good climate. Even in the summer days, when the heat is down, it’s cool here. Often there are thunderstorms. Spruce forests, which are found in the decay behind the village, are rich in strawberries. The surrounding elevations are covered with subalpine motley grass and fragrant thyme, widely used in Azerbaijani cooking. Very good local park with shady crowns of walnut and chestnut.
6 km north-west of Ilisu, at an altitude of 2,000 m, where the Damiraparancha and Kunahaysu (also Ahchai) merge, the village of Sarybash is located. Often, it is captured by the raging river, and communication with it is interrupted, only the riding horses help out. The whole image of the village: stone houses under red tiled roofs, narrow streets, clothes of the old people – reminds something of a medieval, Azerbaijanis live in Sarybash, who are mainly engaged in sheep breeding. Some of the residents have already moved to the new Ganyah Valley for new arable land. The slopes of the mountains around the village are treeless – this is the zone of alpine meadows-yaglags, where so many sheep are driven for the summer, which is difficult to go through without escorts, otherwise they will be torn by shepherd wolfhounds that do not recognize anyone but the owner of flocks.
In the mountains near the shepherd’s houses, built of slate slabs, sheep cheese is produced – Azerbaijani cheese, very delicate.
The nature of these places is harsh, but at the same time it is impressively beautiful. There are few springs on the watershed, but there are single snow-covered lakes (depressions in the mountains in the winter are filled with snow, and in the summer melt waters forming lakes), the water of which is quite suitable for drinking. From here it is a stone’s throw to the sources of Kurmukhchay, originating in the failures of deep gorges, where even in the summer there is snow. Their bare slopes represent extensive cliffs of crumbling, collapsing, crawling black, gray, brown slates and sandstones. Here, giant plumes are born, waiting for their hour to break into the valley of Kurmukhchaya by a mudflow. With huge force from the cracks through the clumps of travertine in the ravines, not just springs are beaten, but real fountains of pure, icy water sparkling in the sun. These hard-to-reach places choose their tours, very timid and cautious animals.

In the 1st century BC. the Saki tribes, together with the Albanian troops, fought against the Roman conquerors, which resulted in the destruction of the forces of Roman commander Pompey near Sheka. In the 5th century, Sasani feudal lords controlled Albania, which together with the Sheki region (mahal) became part of the Sassani state. The city was governed by the governors of the Sasani shahs (their closest relatives) and was their residence.
In 656, Sheki was captured by the troops of the Arab Emir Salman Ibn Rabiah, and in 706 – by Merian Ibn Muhammad, whom he mercilessly destroyed.
In 813, when the government of Arran Shah was formed in Arran, Sheki became subordinate to them. In 985 – 1030 years the city was in the power of the Sheddad dynasty, which appeared in Barda.
In 1118 the city was captured by the Seljuks. In 1396 Sheki was captured and ruined by the Mongols.
In the 15th and 17th centuries, the Sheki region, attacked by Iranian and Turkish troops, passed from hand to hand, was repeatedly looted.
In the 40s of the 18th century insurrections began to rise in Sheki against cruel feudal exploitation and Iranian oppression, and the liberation movement was expanding. This movement was then headed by the local feudal lord Haji Celebi Gurban oglu. In 1743, Haji Celebi killed his henchman Nadir Shah (ruler of Iran), the cruel ruler of Sheki, Melik Najaf with the help of his associates and declared himself a Sheki khan. Enraged by such actions, Nadir Shah, in order to compel the Sheki people to obey, attacked Sheki in 1744 with a large army and kept the fortress “Gelsersen-Gerersen”, where Haci Chelebi took refuge, for four months. By order of Nadir Shah, the city was destroyed, fields and gardens were destroyed. However, all this did not break the will of the people of Sheki who decided once and for all to put an end to the Iranian oppression. Nadir Shah was forced to withdraw the siege of the fortress and permanently leave Sheki.
Thus, the first independent state formation – Sheki Khanate – appeared in Azerbaijan. During the rule of Haji Chelebi (1743-1755) Sheki Khanate was the most powerful feudal state of Azerbaijan. After Haji Chelebi’s death, his son Aghakishi-bek (1755-1760) became Khan of Sheki, and then Hussein Khan’s grandson (1760-1782). Thus, the Chelebi dynasty ruled the independent Sheki Khanate for 64 years – until Azerbaijan joined Russia.
Since ancient times many historical and architectural monuments have been preserved in Sheki. The ancient roots of Sheki’s craft are related to what this land has always been rich in – fertile valleys, cool mountain pastures (iglagami). In the vicinity of Sheki there have always been many orchards. Since ancient times, forge, gunsmith, jewelry and copper business, pottery, tanning, tailoring craft, silk and carpet weaving, carpentry and shebeke manufacture have developed here. Many masterpieces of Sheki masters were known not only in Azerbaijan, but also entered the world market. Medieval life demanded protection from various invaders. The most common products here were the armor of soldiers, spears, axes, maces, swords, shields, helmets, daggers – in general, everything a warrior needs in battle.
The local jewelers used special honor among representatives of noble estate. They created complex products of gold, silver and precious stones. A noble estate was a clientele of local jewelers, who prepared complex compositions of gold, silver and precious stones. Sheki masters sought inimitable rabble on silver. Ornaments were mainly made for women. Gold earrings, bracelets, belts, rings, chest decorations, necklaces, buttons and other precious products have glorified Sheki jewelry workshops in the whole of Azerbaijan.
In addition, the ancient Sheki was a major shopping center. Until now, the Isfahan, Tabriz and Lezghin caravan-sarai medieval Sheki have been preserved in excellent condition.
The inhabitants of the ancient Sheki used a branched network of water pipes made of pottery.
Since ancient times, Sheki has been famous for his silks and silk items – “kelagai” – with colorful women’s scarves. Sericulture played a big role in the lives of urban artisans. In addition to silk weaving, dyeing of fabrics, production of chisels, embroidery developed here.
To this day in Sheki there are folk crafts: jewelry, chasing, the production of copper dishes, embroidery.

Palace of the Sheki Khans.
This palace is one of the valuable monuments of architecture of the 18th century. It was built in 1797 by the architect Haji Zeynalabdin from Shiraz.
The palace, which at one time was part of a complex of palace constructions and served as the residence of Sheki khans, is a two-story building. The facade of the palace has lifting grating frames with a set of shebeke – colored small glasses. The multicolored shebeke colorfully complements the murals that cover the walls of the palace.
This masterpiece of Azerbaijani architecture, the writer and historian A. Kornilovich, gave the following description: “In Nukha, the main city, in the fortress, I saw their palace, now turned into the presence of the place. Several steps in the high portico lead to a vast, quadrangular courtyard occupied by a garden: sixteen Italian poplars of an extraordinary height, symmetrically located, divide it into four alleys. On the sides of this garden-wing, in which lived courtiers, khan’s wives, their servants and others; behind it is a tall one and a half man’s height terrace, on which a pool with three fountains, overshadowed by two high charming plane trees, and on the terrace is the palace itself. He launched, but also in startling astonishes the wanderer with the remains of grandeur. I ascended the narrow, dark, stone staircase … into a high rest, the genus of the waiting room, all covered with flowers; to the right and to the left of the room, where instead of the walls of the frame of the walnut tree with the patterns of the smallest work and in these through patterns the glass of all colors: blue, blue, yellow, red. The rooms … all in colored glass: on the cornice connecting them, painting … “. Kornilovich also mentions the walls of the palace, painted with scenes depicting war, hunting for bears, wild boars, etc.
By the way, it should be noted that structures similar to the palace of Sheki Khans were erected in Shusha, Ordubad, Lahic and other localities of Azerbaijan in the 18th and 19th centuries.
The Shekihanovs’ House.
This is another interesting architectural monument of the late 18th century. He belonged to close relatives of Sheki Khans. Here, the windows of the rooms of the first and second floors, as well as the windows of the palace of Sheki Khans, are made in the style of the wall mural of the palace. In the Shekihanovs’ house there was an amazingly beautiful decorative Bukhara fireplace, faced with tiled plates.
Caravanserai.
Since ancient times Sheki has been famous as a city of craftsmen, craftsmen and, of course, merchants. Merchants and merchants from the countries of the Great Silk Road came here from all sides. That is why the construction of the caravanserais was given special attention. So, for example, in the 18th – 19th centuries, 5 large caravanserais operated in Sheki. Up to now, only two of them have survived: the Upper and Lower ones, built in the 18th century. Even then, the masters sought to provide a decent service to their guests. Therefore, the caravanserais were built taking into account all the amenities that would be necessary for both traders and the safety of their goods. In Sheki caravan-sheds, merchants usually put their goods in the basement, traded on the first floor, and lived on the second.
The area of ​​the Upper Caravanserai was 6000 square meters, and the lower one – 8000. Their height is about 14 meters. In each caravanserai there are more than 200 rooms. Traditionally, the caravanserais had gates from two, and sometimes even from four sides. When the gates closed, they turned into an impregnable fortress.
Currently, the Upper Caravanserai is used for its intended purpose – as a hotel complex.
Sheki fortress.
During the reign of Sheki Khan Haji Chelebi (1743 – 1755) in the north-eastern part of the city built a fortress in order to protect him. The length of the fortress wall is about 1300 meters, its height in length is about 8 meters in the south and 4 meters in the north. The thickness of the wall is about 2 meters. Along it along the entire length of the route, there were 21 defensive towers. From the north and south the fortress was closed by an arched gate. The wall and towers of the fortress were once heavily destroyed. And in 1958-1963 it was restored and restored.
Fortress Gelsersen-Gerersen. Presumably the foundation of the fortress was laid in the 15th century. Currently, its picturesque ruins can be seen on the banks of the Kish River, which is 4 kilometers from Sheki. The fortress is located on the top of the mountain Garatepe. For many years, she truly protected the approaches of the city from foreign invaders. In this she was also helped by several rows of thick walls. During its existence, the fortress became famous as impregnable and very strong, which was even mentioned in written sources. The name of the fortress “Gelsersen-Gerersen” in Russian is translated as “You will come – You will see”. With the appearance of this name, a whole page of the history of the city is connected. So, in the 18th century, when the Iranian ruler Nadirshah attacked Sheki, Sheki’s khan Haji Celebi refused to surrender. The furious Nadirshah wanted to find out where he was hiding, that he was so sure of his safety. Then Haji Celebi sent an answer to Shah: “You will come, you will see.” And indeed in 1744 Nadirshah with a large army approached the fortress, but could not take it and retreated. After that, the fortress became

Sheki is one of the majestic cities of the East in the past. Sheki was formerly the capital of the Sheki Khanate, one of the oldest cities in Transcaucasia (Sakashen). The ancient traditions of this sunny place were embodied in the traditions of the national cuisine, passed down from generation to generation. Sheki cuisine is a source of health and longevity. It’s hard to imagine Sheki’s cooking without seasonings, cherry plums, etc. If you do not put that or another ingredient in the dish, the taste will change. There are special rules for serving dishes on the table, their order, which ends with a dessert that includes sweets and fruits.
Sheki-Gakh region is famous for its very rich cuisine. Sheki is famous for Sheki Petit, Sheki Halva, Sheki Baklava and other sweets. Sheki people cook plov depending on the season. They make pilaf with minced meat in winter, and with chykhyrtma in the fall. The dishes from Gakh, Balaken and Zagatala are different from other regions of Azerbaijan, including Sheki. “Sulhullu”, “syhma”, etc. are local dishes of these regions. White cucumber, loquat and cherry plum pickles, decorating dishes belong to this area