I had travelled up to the North of Azerbaijan, to the town of Sheki (or Shaki). A beautiful and ancient City with a gorgeous backdrop of the Caucasus mountains, nestled not far from the borders of Georgia and Russia. I had spent some time in the amazing Sheki Khan Palace as I wrote about earlier, but now I had a couple of hours to wander and catch a small glimpse of this fascinating city. A city known throughout Azerbaijan for its people having a great natural sense of humour.
A City built on ages, with first inhabitants at least from 2700 years ago, the place had seen so much. Empires, countries, independence and kingdoms have helped to shape what we see today. The streets lined with old and gorgeous architecture, a real feel of stepping back in time. From the palace you do not need to walk more than a couple hundred metres before happening upon a gem, in the fog it looked surreal, a 5th Century Albanian Church. On its outside there are old gravestones of Christians and more. Inside you can take a tour of how it would have been used along with ancient artifacts of bread making, clothes and music of the era.
On one of the main streets of Sheki i found myself intrigued. Shops hidden away inside the old stone walls. Being on the silk road and a producer of silk for over four centuries it was no surprise to find the place having perfect examples of silk garments on offer amongst local art and jewelry to name just few things. There is still a silk factory in the City today.
Another must see is the Caravansarai. The old brown gates mark the entrance to what once housed the caravans travelling to and from China on the silk road. At the peak of the silk route it was the biggest in the Caucasus region. Inside it is beautiful with the high stone domed entrance that leads to stone passageways and open garden and water features. I tried to imagine the bustle from its original use. Traders passing through and meeting in the open space for deals and merriment.
Of course in just a couple of hours I could not see everything although I will be back soon for sure. But, there was always time for grabbing some of the local sweet delicacy. I was shown to a little sweet shop and my tastebuds had a chance to explode. There on the counter was an unmistakable great big round Sheki Pahlava. Made from honey, hazelnuts and flour it was so so sweet I tasted… and tasted… and bought like so many people do when visiting, it is a must