Shamakhi - the city of wonders

Shamakhi is one of the most culturally and naturally rich cities in Azerbaijan. It is the capital of the Shamakhi Rayon and has a population of around 40,000 people. Situated in southeastern foothills of the Greater Caucasus, it showcases the scenery so majestic and breathtaking, it can surprise even experienced travelers. Both summer and winter in Shamakhi region have their own pros and cons, but one thing is pretty much obvious which is the sheer amount of impact this region holds both in historic and cultural meanings.

To be honest, the actual city we all love today has been through a lot of destruction and rebuilding over the years. First mentions of this place are traced back to 5th century BC, and while this settlement is located a little further away from modern city, it is still considered to be a part of ancient Shamakhi. Slowly, the settlement started to gain features of an actual city, growing rapidly and becoming in 10th century a capital of states of the Shirvanshahs. The promising city was soon to be tragically destroyed by an earthquake that happened in 1192, the intensity of the earthquake so great that the whole place was nearly turned to ruins.

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In 13th century, the city was mentioned with the name it bears nowadays too in the Persian anonymous work “Ajaib ad-Dunya”, where it has been described as a place highly secure and fortified. Since then, it faced a dozen of different challenges from different battles to a series of earthquakes that have happened over the years. But now, we can safely say how Shamakhi city has been glowing with life and peace, turning into a beautiful place beloved not only by locals but by visitors too.

One of the reasons for the city's popularity has always been its defined and interesting weather patterns. During winters pretty much the whole region turns into a scene from a Christmas fairytale, the layers of snow falling on top of hills and flower fields. Here, not that far away from the main city lies Pirkuli, place where you can spot consistent snowfall every winter season, such a sick layer of snow opens up endless opportunities for winter outdoor activities: snowboarding as well as skiing.

During summertime however it starts to bloom and brightens up with colors, every corner of the region full of greenery and beauty of woken up nature. The views of the mountains peeking from the lush forests and dozens of alpine springs running down the slopes of those mountains. Those springs has gained severe popularity both with locals and travelers due to its delicious taste and high concentration of vitamins in it. During summers you can see a lineup of people all gathered around the springs to collect some of the water in large bottles they bring with them. This with the beauty of this corner of the country create an unforgettable experience worth traveling there on its own but the best part of Shamakhi is probably the cultural significance it carries.

Being around for more than 25 centuries, Shamakhi seemingly gained the culture of its own, which, while it shares a lot of traits with cultures of different regions and Azerbaijan in general, has the distinct aura that only appears to be fitting this region. Not far from the city the large ruins of the ancient settlement are still standing strong, a reminder of a long history it has been through.

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Probably the most popular tourist spot in Shamakhi is Juma Mosque, a huge majestic construction which was built back in 10th century and reconstructed in 19th century. A massive building, that is rumored to be the first ever temple built in Transcaucasia. It sees hundreds and thousands of tourists, both Muslim and not, who are visiting this magnificent spot in order to feel some type of emotional connection with this land and culture.

The next step we will be taking in the cultural discovery of the region is the Gulistan fortress, a castle that have been built in 9th century and located in few kilometers’ northwest from the capital city. The fortress itself has the height of around 200 meters, situated on the slopes of the mountain while the main citadel is placed right atop of it and inside the fortress were also found the remains of the palace complex. This place was secured and almost unbeatable, standing strong as a last resort of Shirvanshahs, place where they hid away for quite some time. It was originally built for protecting the city’s sides from unexpected attack.

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Not far from the Gulistan Fortress another unique architecture masterpiece is located. A group of seven mausoleums that serve as tombs of Shirvan khans are standing on top of the hill, called Mausoleum of Eddy-Gumbez (“Seven Domes”). The earliest mausoleum that still stands dates back to 1810, which is being indicated by the engraving on the wall. In all of the mausoleums were found 22 graves in total, 18 of which have some kind of indication of the people who were buried there.

Sadly, most of the mausoleums were destroyed beyond repair, most of them the fifth one. The seventh one however belongs to the family of the last Shirvanshah khan, Mustafa. His kids are both buried in there, there are some assumptions that it was built in the second part of 19th century, in the late sixties.

All in all, there is pretty much impossible to truly indulge in Azerbaijan’s culture without visiting the rich lands of Shamakhi region. It is overflowing with culture, natural scenery and long history. It creates a better understanding regarding the Land of Fire, the very soul of those fiery brave people who have lived there for generations. And we, as Azerbaijan Travel International, suggest you to join us on our Shamakhi-Gabala Tour, that not only takes you on various journeys through the main cultural capitals of Azerbaijan, but also create a space for everyone to enjoy the beautiful scenery that you’ll be faced with.

Tags: Azerbaijan , culture , Shamakhi , Tour , Shamakhi City , Juma Mosque , Tourism

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