Your Tour itinerary: Diribaba Mausoleum , Juma Mosque in Shamakhi City, Caravansarai, Shebeke workshop, Traditional Sheki Halva/Sweet Shop, Albanian Temple. 1. Diri-Baba Mausoleum in Maraza Village Diri-Baba is a unique monument, a two-story mausoleum of the 15th century, …
San Franciscans have passionate perspectives on every subject, especially their signature landmark.
SHEKI – This city of quiet beauty and clean mountain air lies surrounded by the Caucasus Mountains. And its inhabitants differ in their peculiar manner of speech. It resembles an earthly paradise. And it makes you smile just by hearing its name – Sheki. There is no quarreling or frowning here, everyone tries to be sociable and cheer each other up by telling jokes.Founded more than 2,700 years ago, Sheki is one of the most ancient settlements of Azerbaijan. It located on the southern slopes of the Greater Caucasus Mountains, 370km northwest of Baku. Travelers and visitors who come here leave unwillingly because of the clean air, picturesque landscapes and friendly inhabitants.
Sheki’s selection was celebrated on 29 April with a grand festival in the gardens of the historical Khan’s Palace, which hosted folk dancing, a handicrafts exhibition, and press awards ceremony. Sheki is no stranger to staging festivals and many foreigners take part each year. The Silk Way Festival features memorable performances of world music and was held for the seventh time this summer, with musical groups from Azerbaijan, Turkey, Japan, and Poland. The first Sheki Theatre Festival was held in 2014, within the framework of the Azerbaycan teatrı 2009-2019-cu illerde (Azerbaijani Theatre 2009-2019) programme, while the Naghara (Drum) Sheki International Festival of Percussion Instruments debuted here in the Caucasus last year.
The city is also the country’s capital of handcrafts. An example of one such skill is pottery: household objects and kitchenware made of clay. People made Products here, sold locally and abroad.
As Sheki is on the old Silk Road, silkworm breeding has been the main industry here for centuries. Mention silk in Azerbaijan and we immediately think of Sheki. The process of transforming mulberry leaves into silk is very delicate. Before becoming silk, the silkworm passes through several stages, to produce very fine silk, an example of tenderness and wonderful beauty. A favorite of guests and tourists is the kelegayi headscarf, which one making with Sheki silk. There is a special way to test the kelegayi’s authenticity: if the kelegayi, whatever its size, passes through a wedding ring then it is making from genuine Sheki silk.
The subtlest, most beautiful shebeke – locally produced, multi-colored stained glass – in the world decorates the Palace of Sheki Khans. You will be unlikely to see such stunning shebeke anywhere else in the world. It is manufactured with great dexterity and the main feature of this art is that the shebeke mosaics are put together without glue or nails. The patterns are formed of geometrical figures, the round, polygonal and star-shaped forms being the most important. An average-sized shebeke mosaic consists of 5,000 wooden and glass details. 10 to 15 steps are requiring to produce one detail, which means performing some 50,000 steps overall to produce an average-sized shebeke. This can take up to five or six months.
Caravanserais built along trade routes used to function as guesthouses. As Sheki was a city of trade and crafts. Two of the five large caravanserais that functioned in the 18-19th centuries. These are the Upper Caravanserai and Lower Caravanserai. Today the Yuxari Karavansaray functions as a hotel. Entering feels like traveling back three centuries, it feels as though this mysterious place has kept even the smell of the past. The lower row of rooms on the first floor is the basement, where trading merchants and guests would store their goods. The old walls, the pool decorated with ancient ornaments, the stone steps leading to the second floor from the wide courtyard – all this carries us back through the centuries.
There is a story in every detail and every corner of the Palace of Sheki Khans considered the brightest example of medieval Azerbaijani architecture. Palace built in 1763 by Huseyn Khan, the grandson of Haji Chelebi khan. Thousands of small pieces of glass used to produce the shebeke window mosaics, fitted together without glue or nails.
The 300-year-old oak and plane trees growing in the yard add a sense of mystery – to touch them feels like coming into contact with 300-400 years of history. Inside the palace the multi-colored patches of a light beam through the shebeke, playing with the sunshine and pleasing the human eye, the refined drawings on the ceilings and the various patterns on the walls – all this makes you wonder about the richness of the imagination and talent of the old Sheki masters.
Piti represents the best of Sheki cuisine and no visitor to the city should leave without having tasted it. It is unique in terms of the peculiar way that it is preparing and eating. The dish has a long history too. In ancient times piti firstly prepared by a man named Horuzoglu. Legend says that a high-ranking official sent a man to the dining room to fetch piti for his guests. But the cook refused to serve it, arguing that he couldn’t open the piti pot until it was absolutely ready. After all, preparing this dish requires careful observance of all the rules of Sheki cuisine. Piti is preparing in small clay jugs.
Usually, Sheki’s cooks begin preparing piti in the evening. It is traditionally cooking for five or six hours on a weak fire and serving hot the following morning. The process of eating is also interesting. First, bread is crumbled onto a plate and then the liquid from the clay pot is pouring on top, leaving just a little liquid at the bottom of the pot.
Then an onion is cutting into four large pieces. The second stage begins as soon as the first comes to an end. This time the peas and meat are removing and then flavouring is adding. Then the contents of the plate are squashing with a fork and eating with bread,onion and sumakh. Sheki’s residents do not recognize piti cooked or eaten in any other way!
There are various opinions about the origins of Sheki’s halva. Some claim that the recipe first appeared in the period of the Sheki khanate; others say it invented by locals. Real Sheki halva is cooking according to ancient recipes passed down from previous generations. Sheki halva is producing from rice flour. This dough is then pouring through a copper funnel into copper baking sheets. 10-12 layers are making and placing on top of one another. The surface is evenly covering with a layer of groundnut.Finally, a syrup is preparing from granulated sugar and evenly pouring over the halva.
These are just some of the many wonderful beauties and delicacies in Sheki. It is not without reason that they say a picture is worth a thousand words. 2016, Sheki’s year as the capital of Turkic culture, is the ideal time to visit.Share this tour
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