Sheki district is one of the most interesting, original and beautiful regions of Azerbaijan. The administrative center – the city of Sheki – is one of the most ancient cities of Azerbaijan and is located on the picturesque hillsides of the Caucasus Mountains in the background of snowy peaks.
Sheki is a sister city of the Bulgarian city Gabrovo. Residents of these cities have a lot in common, especially when it comes to a sense of humor and ability to tell jokes. There is Sheki’s theatre of laugh with summer and winter grounds in the ancient caravanserai.
There are many interesting historical monuments in Sheki. To the north of the city there are the ruins of the once impregnable fortress “Gelersan – gerarsan” (“come and see“) dated by the XV-XVIII centuries. There were many caravanserais in Sheki, which was famous for its trade. Two of them are still here today; the Upper and the Lower Caravanserais, both built in the XVIII century. Not to mention the Albanian temple in the village of Kish (I-II centuries), where the famous Norwegian Thor Heyerdahl has repeatedly researched, as evidenced here by the mounted bust of the traveler.
Sheki is rightly called the architectural reserve of the country. Of particular interest to visitors is the palace of the Sheki Khans (1762) – a rare example of a combination of national architecture and traditions of palace architecture. You can hardly find the second palace like this by the design and interior decoration. It is known that during the construction of the palace a single nail was not used. Mosaic in there is made in traditional style Shebeke (colored glass decoration).
Several crafts are still supported in Sheki. The city still has street names that indicate the ancient professions – Duluzchular (potters), Zargarlar (jewelers), Halvachylar (confectioners), etc. By the way, be sure to try the famous, mouth-watering Sheki baklava, which is manufactured and sold in numerous family confectionary stores in the city center.
By the way, you can stay in Sheki not only in modern hotels but also at “Sheki-Karvansaray” built in the 18th century as a place to sleep on the Great Silk Road.
Hotel – museum attracts tourists as the second most important attraction of the city after the Khan’s palace. Caravanserai still has its form of a castle with heavy gates. Here are retail shops and hotel rooms placed around the courtyard with a shallow pool. In the hotel restaurant you can taste Sheki specialities: piti (stew with vegetables in a clay pot), baklava, sorbet, etc.
There are all opportunities for it in Sheki: the Republican Center of Equestrian Tourism at the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Azerbaijan is located in one of the most beautiful places in Sheki region – the village of Dashyuz.
Several breeds are bred in the Center – Arabian horses, English Riding, German Trakhener, Akhal-Teke (Turkmen) – a total of 45 head. Horseback riders come to Sheki from all parts of republic and from other countries.
In the Center twice a year – in December and May are held competitions in Azerbaijani national game “Chovgan” (an ancient analog of the European polo) which attract teams from 16 regions of the country. Besides it there are held demonstrations in other horse games – “Sur Papag” (goal – to throw a hat into the basket), “Papag Oyunu” (goal – to disrupt hat from the opponent), and wrestling on horseback (goal –to throw the opponent off the horse).
Tourists are given an opportunity not only to observe the games but also to take part in them. Before that they can be trained by an experienced coach or just simply ride a horse.