Trip TO Azerbaijan – Magnific Land of Fire!Trip TO Azerbaijan – Magnific Land of Fire!

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Activities in Zaqatala

Lazzat

Lazzat

 This is the name of Zagatala’s most popular recreation center. Its name is self-explanatory (enjoyment in Azeri). Located 4 km from the district center in the Jar village, it was established on the Zilban river and has existed since 1986. Fresh air, wonderful views and the rapid river make the place very special. It is extremely enjoyable to have a meal in the shade of a centennial tree and watch the surroundings. Hunting of mountain goats is an option. Dishes of the Azerbaijani, Dagestani and Georgian cuisine are widely cooked here. All are delicious, but there is one you can’t miss.

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Alban house

Alban house

These ancient Alban monuments located in Mamrukh, Pasan, Mukhakh villages and looking the same were studied by scientists in 1974-84. The temples are believed to have been built in honor of the holy three – Mitra, Ahuramazda an Anahida, who symbolized faith in the Sky, Sun and Moon. Prior to Islam, the local population worshipped the Moon, the Sun and Christianity.

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Mukhakh village

It is located 12 km from Zagatala on the right bank of the Mukhakh river. It has a population of 8,000 Azerbaijanis mainly engaged in farming, tobacco-growing, cultivation of hazel-nuts, vegetables, fishing and cattle-breeding. It is one of the “anti-stress” villages. Its best-known historical monument is an Alban house deep in the woods and a 19th century Juma mosque.

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Mosques

Zagatala has the highest number of mosques in Azerbaijan’s north-east – 40. Most have no minarets. Many mosques were knocked down in the communist time. Village mosques are built in the national architectural style. The central mosque commissioned in 1998-2002 was built in the Ottoman Turkish style by Adem Elmas from Turkey’s Giresun region. The 19th century Juma mosque in Ashagi Tala used to be the biggest in the Caucasus. Covering 20 hectares, the mosque can accommodate 2500 people at a time. The money for the construction of the mosque was donated by well-known philanthropist Hajı Zeynalabdin Taghiyev.

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Galaduzu park

Galaduzu park

A recreation park was set up in Galaduzu in 1947. This is the highest location in Zagatala. Covering 13 hectares, the park has 27 tree types. It is a popular recreation site with Jarousels, monuments, tea-houses and restaurants. After Zagatala became part of Russia in 1803, a cemetery of Russian officers serving here was established in Galaduzu. There is also a big church and a fortress here.

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Zagatala Fortress

Zagatala fortress

Russia, which has repeatedly attempted to seize the region in the early 19th century, suffered heavy human loss here. In 1804, ruthless and invincible Russian General Gulyakov was killed here. It was here that the wave of uprisings which engulfed all of the Russian empire in those days started. To prevent the rebellions, the Czar ordered to build a fortress to station troops in Zagatala. The construction of the strategic fortress commenced in 1804 and finished in 1830. It covers an area of nine hectares, has three access gates and around 30 different buildings. It used to house a garrison equipped with cannons, headquarters and a treasury. The fortress was crucial in suppressing village uprisings and was one of Russia’s biggest fortifications in the South Caucasus. It was large enough to enable training, living and recreation of thousands of soldiers and officers. The Russians also built a church nearby. The fortress is now seen as a symbol of Russia’s policy of grab in the Caucasus. Mountain peoples revolting against it first attempted to seize the fortress. The Czarist regime imposed heavy taxes on the local population, causing it to stage rebellions in 1830, 1863 and 1864. Every rebellion led to some destruction of the fortress. In 1905, sailors from the Russian ship Potyomkin revolting against the oppression were exiled to the fortress. I would think this is a great place for an exile. Years later a film, Unbeaten Battalion, was shot here after the said developments. The fortress has recently been refurbished and still houses a unit of the interior troops. However, there are plans to convert the place into a tourist destination.

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Zagatala State Nature Reserve

It was established on the southern slopes of the Greater Caucasus in Zagatala and Balakan Districts in 1929. It is the first reserve in the Caucasus intended to protect the local flora and fauna. It is 600-3600 meters above sea level, while alpine meadows start from an altitude of 2400 meters. Covering 24,000 hectares, it has over 800 plant, 32 mammal and 90 migrant bird species. Twelve plant species are included on the Red Book. With numerous fortresses and waterfalls, the reserve has ideal conditions for eco-tourism. When walking or riding a horse along tourist routes, one can take pictures and film animals and birds. There are tents for people to spend a night or two here. Hunting of pheasants, waterfowl, boars, hares, etc. is possible. One can also sledge in the Gas village in winter. There are several domestic tourism routes in Zagatala, enabling proper familiarization with the district.

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Mosul village

There are same-named cities in Iraq and Turkey. Zagatala’s Mosul village is inhabited by Ingiloys. Local weddings are very interesting as the whole village joins in. There is no need for invitations. A tent is put up and tables laid with food. Men and women sit together, eat and dance. Local weddings resemble dance contests as people display the best of their dancing skill.

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Pari fortress (4-6th centuries)

Despite its name, it is a Zoroastrian temple. It is a strategic military site. Since the roads to the fortress are comp-letely destroyed, it is inaccessible. Villagers say that one can only approach it by going up the hill for 45 mountains. It is impossible to enter it. The fortress is shrouded in numerous legends. Here is one by Iosif Gallakhov from a 1889 book “Caucasus names and descriptions”.

Conqueror of the whole world, Tamerlane once reached Azerbaijan. After facing stiff resistance, he mobilized his best commanders to subdue these lands. News about a beautiful and brave girl, who was one of those fighting against the occupiers, reached Tamerlane. In one of the fierce battles, the girl, called Pari, killed one of Tamerlane’s most trusted commanders with a sword. Infuriated by the news, Tamerlane ordered Pari to lay down arms and to marry him. Angered even more by Pari’s answer that “surrendering to an enemy is worse than dying”, Tamerlane ordered his commanders to be even more ruthless. Many people were killed, while Pari gradually reached the fortress but was already completely exhausted. Realizing that defeat was inevitable, she threw herself down from the fortress. After days of searching, Tamerlane’s soldiers discovered her body in the river. Tamerlane ordered to keep it in a tent for one night, while on the following day he left the place with his troops. It is said that when offered to attack the Caucasus again afterwards, he replied: “Even women fight there like men” and never set foot here again.

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Mamrukh village

Mamrukh village

This picturesque mountain village in the forest 23 km east of Zagatala is inhabited by Sakhurs. Most Sakhurs are fair-haired, tall and white-faced people. There is a saying about their hospitability: “There is no home without a samovar and guests.” Whatever house you go to, you will be treated to a meal. One of Zagatala’s most ancient villages, Mamrukh has an 18th century bridge, a mosque and a 5th century Alban house. The Mamrukh temple is said to have been built in honor of Selene, a goddess of the Moon.

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