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Activities in Ismayilli

Galachig tourism zone

The Galachig tourism zone is located in the north-west of the district. It is rich in mineral Istisu springs. However, the­re is still no facility in place to use this water for recreation purposes. The area is a paradise of waterfalls. But you have to travel over impassable roads to get to the waterfalls. The largest of the wa­terfalls, known as the Ana (Mother) Wa­terfall, is 40 to 50 meters high. It comes down from a dense forest area with steep rocks. Another waterfall near the village of Galachig is 50 meters high. A waterfall near the village of Istisu is 25 meters high. These forests are rich in berries – blackberries, raspberries and mountain strawberries.

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Pir Davud residential area

Located near the Pir Davud cemetery, this is an old residential area dating back to 13th-14th centuries. Pir Davud was a bustling population center until the early 20th century. Over time, pe­ople moved to other places. But people have always visited Pir Davud as a shri­ne. The area of the Pir Davud shrine, 800 to 900 meters above sea level, is full of 400 to 500-year-old and 30-35 meter-high beech trees.

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Galachig village

Thirty kilometers from the district cen­ter, Galachig is the last village on this route. The place-name’s root is the word Gala. It means a small fortress. A famous episode of the movie Stepmother, the explosion of a mountain while Ismayil was collecting rosehips, was filmed here. That mountain lies right on the road leading to the village of Galachig. The road was under construction while the movie was being filmed in 1955, and it was a true explosion. Up until that time, the road leading to Galachig was impas­sable and long. Galachig, which has a beautiful landscape and fresh air, is also known for its high quality chestnuts. It is the only village with chestnut gardens in Ismayilli District. Large chestnut trees are everywhere in the village – along the roads and in the gardens. Galachig also hosts a very famous historical monu­ment located right between the districts of Guba and Gabala.

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Gasimkhan fortress (9th-14th centuries)

Built on rocks, the Gasimkhan fortress is located in an area called Sangar, some seven to eight kilometers north of the village, near the source of the Goychay River. It is a medieval fortification. The fortress was presumably built between the 9th and 14th centuries. The fortress bears the name of Gasimkhan, an uncle of Shamakhy ruler Mustafa Khan, who had it repaired in the 18th century. It is the worst damaged fortress in Ismayilli. Only a mud fence and debris of bricks have remained out of the fortress. In the past, a road near the fortress led to Da­gestan. Traces of that road are still the­re. It is said that carts would travel over what is now a wide pathway leading to the fortress. It is a very beautiful locati­on like everywhere in Ismayilli. You have to walk through the remaining 2-km stretch of the road to the fortress.

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Javanshir fortress (7th century)

This fortress, which is 7 km from the district center, is Ismayilli’s pride. It is located 4 km north of the village of Ta­listan, on the right bank of the Agjachay river. You can drive to Talistan, but have to take a horse or walk to the fortress from the village. The fortress is made up of the main part and Ich Gala (in­ner fortress). The southern walls of the main part of the fortress are 2 meters wide and over 10 meters high. The inner fortress has been built on the moun­taintop. It occupies 2 hectares of land. It is a magnificent fortification built in the early medieval period. There is a deep valley here. It is said that, in the past convicts were dropped into valley from the fortress. The fortress has been named after the famous Albanian ruler and military chief Javanshir (642-681). The Mehrani dynasty, which Javanshir was a member of, created the Girdman kingdom on the territory of today’s Is­mayilli. Under Javanshir, the rule of the Mehranis was spread to the whole of Albanian territory. A secret 7-km tunnel used to link the fortress to the Maiden’s Tower. The tunnel collapsed over time. Only some sections of it have remained to date. There is a waterfall on the ter­ritory of the fortress. Surrounded by a dense forest, it is an ideal location for picnicking.

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Lahij State History and Architecture Reserve

The reserve was established in 1980. Ninety-three buildings in 80 hectares of land are protected as historical and cultural monuments. Of these buildings, 71 are residential, while the other 22 are for various purposes. The reserve, which is part of the Shahdagh National Park, is like an outdoor museum. The Lahij mu­seum was established in 1985 in the Ag­holu mosque, which was built in 1914.

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Basgal village

Basgal, which in a way resembles the Old Town in Baku, is amazingly tidy. The village was the administrative center of the district until 1933. There is a piece of national music, Basgali, dedicated to the village. Parts of the movie “On Faraway Shores” were filmed here. Although the village is a reserve, modern buildings have been constructed here in recent years, damaging the historical architec­ture of the village.

Basgal is very different with its narrow streets paved with cobblestones, and also with its unique houses built with pebbles. The most interesting feature of the houses is that they all look to the kiblah. Unlike buildings in other parts of the district, the houses in Basgal had indoor bathrooms even in the 18th century. The streets are clean and tidy. There are yards outside houses built in lines. These are two-storey houses. The first floor is used as a living space after the owners become old. It is also used for agricultural needs. The houses are capable of withstanding earthquakes. There are wooden layers between every five or six tiers of pebb­le on the walls. This is what experts call “seismic belts”.

Residential quarters

There are five large residential quarters in Basgal. The larger ones are Goshabu­lag and the Damirchi bazaar. The oldest of the quarters is Galakucha. There is a red wormwood glade called Mullah’s Place on the top of the hill. There are 500-year-old graves in the Du­zan cemetery. Many of the gravestones contain information about the identity of the dead, their profession, the date of death, etc.

Damirchi bazaar

There is a large square in the center of the settlement. This square used to be Basgal’s cultural and commercial center for many years. There is a beautiful view of Mount Sayad, Mount Fit and the sur­rounding forests from the bazaar squa­re. The only historical bath of the sett­lement dates back to the 17th century. Basgal was a stop on the old Silk Road. Goods were in abundance on the Basgal square, where caravans used to stop for trade. A 16th-century plane tree in the quarter is so huge that a hollow in its trunk was used as a tea house and as a barber’s shop.

Haji Badal mosque (19th century)

There is the Seyyid Umulbanu tomb (1488) inside the mosque, which is lo­cated in the Damirchi bazaar residential quarter. The mosque, built by Haji Badal Mashadi agha’s son, was used as a sto­rehouse between 1924 and 1990.

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Fit fortress

The fortress has been named after a mo­untain 1,810 meters above sea level. The fortress, which used to be of military and strategic significance, was a residence and a shelter for the Shirvanshahs. The­re are many legends about the history of the fortress. One legend says that the fortress was connected with Alexander the Great. Mustafa Khan, a ruler of Sha­makhy, used the Fit fortress as a shelter during the fight against Tsitsianov, the commander of the occupying Russian army in early 19th century. A defence line has been built near the fortress. You have to walk or ride by force through the steep slope from the Haramchay River to get to the fortress. There is amedieval bathroom, small squares and a large fence outside the fortress.

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Haram fortress

It is located on a relatively high ground with a beautiful landscape near the village of Sulut, on the right bank of the Haram River. Locals call the fortress Girkhgiz or Girkhotag. It has over 40 rooms. It is said that Shirvan khans used to keep a girl in each room. The fortress was called Haram, as it was used as a harem. You can drive to the village, from where on you have to walk or ride by horse.

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Khanagah village

The first village on the route is called Xa­naya in the local dialect. It is located on the 7th km of the Ismayilli-Gabala high­way, on the left bank of the Akhokh River. It is viewed as one of the oldest popula­tion centers in Ismayilli. The name is re­lated to a shrine that existed here earlier. The first residents of the village were five people who moved in from the village of Khanagah in Guba District. Having resett­led in the village, they built the Khanagah fortress in the north of the village. A nar­row road running through the village le­ads to the Maiden’s Tower resort center. One can see picnickers and people living in tents along the 3-km road to the Is­mayilli state nature reserve. During rainy days of autumn and spring, mushrooms grow here in big numbers. Villagers, par­ticularly children, gather the mushrooms and sell them on the roadside. Mushro­oms fried with onion and eggs are really tasty. Villagers also pickle mushrooms.

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