NORTHERN ROUTE: KHIZI-SIAZAN-DEVECHI-GUBA-KHACHMAZ-NABRAN-GUSAR
Khizi district is located in so called Guba-Khachmaz region and is the least distant from Baku (70 km) among all administrative districts of the republic. Climate is temperate with low precipitations. The east part of the district is formed by the Caspian coast.
On the road to Khizi, 10 km away from Baku-Rostov road one can observe an interesting natural phenomenon: emergence of different geological layers on the surface forming an original pattern of landscape. Specialists believe that such geological phenomenon can be observed in only one more place on Earth - in the Valley of Death, in the USA.
Here, in Khizi district, is located one of the most beautiful reserves in the country - "Alti Agac". 90% of its area is occupied by forests. The reserve has been established with the purpose of restoration and prevention of erosion processes occurring in southeast mountainsides of the Greater Caucasus and preservation of rare animal and plant species. During Shirvanshahs rule a caravan stop was located here, in Alti-Agach. Since agach (a tree) is an obsolete unit of distance (7 km), the name "Alti Agac" means "six trees" i.e. 42 km which equals the distance from the reserve to Shamakhi. An ancient caravan route connecting Shamakhi with Derbent passed through this area. Even today amateur tourists make tours from here in the direction of Maraza and Shamakhi. Also located in Khizi district (not far from Sumgait) is Yashma game reserve covering an area of 4 hectares. Water birds hunt and fishing are available in Yashma.
Khizi town is the administrative center of the district. Its population is about 13500. It is located 104 km from Baku. The town is the hometown to a famous Azerbaijani writer and playwright Dzhafar Dzhabbarli, who made a significant contribution to the development of national cinematographic art.
Azerbaijan State Film Studio bears his name. Among other renowned natives of Khizi were such prominent figures of Azerbaijani culture as Mikail Mushvig and Dzhabir Novruz. Not far from the town there is a fine resort for travelers, tourists and local residents named "Dzhannet Baghi". It is situated in a mountain forest, on the bank of Atachai River, very close to "Alti Agach" reserve. Eight kilometers away from Khizi there is another resort named "Gizilgazma".
Siyazan district is located to the north of the capital and extends along the Caspian coast. Its climate is semidesert and dry and the landscape features fragments of sparse woods and bushes. Local fauna includes wolves, desert cats, jackals, hares etc. The coastal zone is a home to many water birds. Gilgilchai and Atachai rivers traverse the territory of the district.
Located here in the Early Middles Ages was the second line of the Caspian defense zone. It has been included in the list of historical and cultural monuments of Azerbaijan under the name of Gilgilchai Defensive Structures and is protected by the state. As a part of "Caspian Defensive Structures" it has been nominated by UNESCO for the inclusion in the list of World Legacy Monuments. Archeologists revealed that Gilgilchai Defensive Construction was built in ancient times, before our era, and that it was constantly reinforced and fortified.
The wall originates in the very sea (level of the Caspian Sea varies from year to year) and extends many kilometers, rising to mountains where it terminates with the grand watch tower of Chirag Gala (5th century). The tower is worth ascending to: aside of historical importance, it features an astounding view from the mountain top over the sea and nearby mountains.
Here, between the sea and ridges of the Caucasus Mountains there is a very convenient passage from Azerbaijan to the north, to other countries. Since ancient times the passage has been named the Caspian Passage. It was used by invaders from neighboring countries and distant lands. They would invade Azerbaijan and ransack Baku ports, sometimes reaching as far as the inland areas of the country. Therefore, the walls served to defend and alarm Absheron (Baku) and further, all borderland regions of the ancient Azerbaijan. The magnitude of the construction and defensive significance of the wall and fortresses (they also secured the approaches to the Great Silk Road) make them a rival of the famous Great Wall in China. However, this object has not been restored yet.
Not far from the tower of Chirag Gala there is a resort complex Gala Alti ("Under the Tower") with a health center named "Chirag Gala", known for its mineral springs with medicinal sulfurated water, especially beneficial for patients with urolithiasis and cholelithiasis. On the road to the health resort there is a number of shashlik houses, cafes and small camps a majority of which operate only in summer.
Fragments of another defensive line, Beshbarmak, remained near the village of Zarat. Residents call these ruins Khizirzinda Baba. Not far from another village - Sedan, there are remainders of Dindar fortress.
The region is known for carpet weaving, inlaid wood engraving and production of folk musical instruments. Siyazan town is located 103 km from Baku with the population of 34500 inhabitants.
There is no hotel in Siyazan so one can stay at a private house or the health resort. Meals are provided at restaurants "Gerush", "Zafarran" and "Chiraggala". The town's proximity to the Caspian Sea determines a broad assortment of fish meals, aside of meat and vegetable ones, in local menus.
Devechi district is located to the north of Baku and its eastern border extends along the Caspian coast. The name of the district originates from the word "cameleer"; evidently, it is connected to the development of caravan roads. In ancient times residents of the town would hold camels and people from neighboring regions would come to local markets - not only to buy camels but also to purchase poultry, cattle, butter, milk products, honey, wool (of camels and sheep) and carpets and also to join a caravan or hire a personal cameleer.
On the territory of Devechi district, 12 km away from the coast, is located a hunting estate Agzi Bir which covers an area of 11,8 sq km. Water birds and otter hunt as well as fishing are available here. On the territory of Agzi Bir are located three communicating lakes with the outlet to the sea. With small houses and boats the place is well suited to accommodate hunters.
The district features plenty of forests (21500 hectares) with bears, foxes, wolves, jackals, wild boars and gazelles. Among birds (including water birds) there are francolins, partridges, gooses, ducks, swans, cormorants and kachkaldacks. The landscape is very diverse - plains, foothills, rocks and mountains. Very popular among local residents and tourists is Kechi Gaja with sulfurated mineral springs and a river flowing between rocks. Historical and archeological monuments of the region include ruins of the famous settlement Shabran (5th-18th centuries) near the village of Shakhnazarli. Shabran was one of the largest trade and craft centers of medieval Azerbaijan. Silk production, pottery and glass-blowing were especially developed in this area. Archeological excavations conducted in the 1980's revealed a large amount of ceramics - both local and of foreign origin evidencing the established trade communications with many eastern countries. During the excavations archeologists found fragments of a 14th century aqueduct which provided the city with drinking water from a spring located 10 km away.
The settlement Gulistani Irem (18th-19th centuries) is located in the village of Gandob. Numerous archeological objects dated to the 3rd-2nd millennia BC have also been found in the district of Devechi. One can survey the materials found during the excavation at the Devechi Museum of Regional History.
Devechi town is the administrative center of the district. Its population is 47200. It is located 122 km from Baku.
Local types of carpets - Pirabedil and Kherat Pirabedil that, according to the professional classification belong to the so called "Guba Carpet School", are original, distinctive and are popular among fanciers of hand-woven carpets.
Guba district is one of the most advanced agricultural districts in Azerbaijan - local vegetables and fruits are transported to the capital's markets for sale, undergo processing at local canning factories, and are exported abroad. In spite of a large number of various fruit and vegetable species growing in the district every Azerbaijani first associates Guba with its apple orchards. Sellers in the capital praising their goods will certainly call their apples "Guba apples". The immensely rich flora of the district includes broad spectrum of herbal plants - hawthorn, juniper, balsam, nightshade, valerian, plantain, sally-bloom, althea, ephedra, laserwort etc.
The most popular and frequently visited places in the vicinity of Guba are such charming nature spots as Geshresh, Balbulag, and the canyon of Tenggealti, 400 m. to 600 m. deep.
The famous Afurdzhi waterfall on Velvelichai River is included in the list of "Monuments of Azerbaijani Nature" and is protected by the state. There are other waterfalls too, attracting tourists and travelers with their uniqueness and originality.
Taking tourist paths over these picturesque nature spots and climbing higher to the mountains, one can observe tall trees being alternated with bushes and even higher, by the river of Khashichai, there are thermal springs with water jetting out the rocks of a mountain canyon. Long time ago local craftsmen carved three large hollows in the very rock here- some kind of baths coated by stone walls. In the bath one could revel in warm medicinal water from sulfurated springs. Experts maintain that the natural stone bed enhances the medicinal effect of the spring water.
These places were once visited by French writer Alexander Dumas. While taking a break at the camp near the road he was invited to the fireplace by Guba residents that had also decided to take some rest and refresh themselves. He was very impressed by the skill Gubans cut the ram with and by the taste of kebab (shashlik) which they served him. The greatest modern traveler, Norwegian scientist Thor Heyerdahl also stopped in Guba during his visit to Azerbaijan as he had been speculating that "aces" mentioned in the "Edda" epic were the most ancient ascendants of Azerbaijanis that moved to the north of Europe during the Great Migration of Nations. Here, in Guba district, 65 km from Guba is located a mountainous (2500 m above sea level) settlement Khinalig whose population constitutes a unique, separate ethnographic group. Residents of Hinalig speak an archaic language unrelated to any modern language of the world. The language is highly preserved although the locals also speak Azerbaijani. The phenomenon of Hinalig is a major enigma in not only in the history of Azerbaijan but in the world history, too.
Near Khinalig there is a sanctuary (9th century) where natural emergence of fire to the surface of earth can be observed. Due to this phenomenon the place was called Ateshgah by local residents, the name meaning "The Temple of Fire".
Remained in the village of Budug, whose population also constitutes a separate ethnic group with its rare language is an ancient construction named Dakhma - "The Tower of Silence", dated to the Zoroastrian ages. The towers were designed for Zoroastrian burial ceremonies.
Guba town is located on the bank of Kudial-chai River and on the northwest slopes of Shakhdag Mountain of the Greater Caucasus. This is the administrative center of Guba district with the population of 140000, located 168 km from Baku and 600 m above sea level. In the local Museum of History one can learn about the history of the town and Guba Khanate as well as about famous people that brought fame to this region. There is also a memorial estate of A. Bakhikhanov, a prominent public figure, writer and enlightener of Azerbaijan. One of his books, "Gulistani Irem" was devoted to the history of the country and virtually, was the first systematic research on the history of Azerbaijan.
In Guba there is also a center of carpet weaving, since this zone have been famous with its carpets 'Chichi", "Sirt Chichi", "Gimil", "Dzhimi", 'Erfi" that can be found in many museums and private collections around the world
Also remained in the town preserved are such historical monuments as the mosque of Sakine Khanum, Juma mosque, mausoleum of the 16th century and ancient eastern-type baths. In the first half of the 18th century territories of the present Guba district as well as present Devechi, Gusar, Khachmaz, Khizi and Siazan districts were united to form Guba Khanate. Initially the center of the khanate was in Hudat city but soon after Guba khan Gusein Ali made the town of Guba the capital of his khanate and relocated his residence there. The most renowned ruler of Guba Khanate, Fatali khan always struggled to unite disconnected khanates of Azerbaijan under his reign. He conquered the whole northwest Azerbaijan from Derbent to Lankaran. At that time Jews were invited for settling in Guba, on the left bank of Kudial-Chai River. Initially the settlement was called Jewish community; in 1926 it was renamed to Red community.
From the north Guba Khanate was always threatened by Dagestan khans. With Russia developing its own geopolitical interests in Caucasus and Transcaucasian territories it became significantly harder to secure an independent existence and protect the borders of the khanate. At the beginning of the 19th century (in 1813) Guba khanate was incorporated into the Russian Empire.
Guba is a small town but present territory of Guba district, occupying northwest mountainsides of the Greater Caucasus are very picturesque and one can immerse into its beauty just outside the town. Neither Azerbaijani nor foreign tourists ever pass by this area. Similarly, Baku citizens, especially if they visit Guba to recreate often make car rides from Guba to the coastal resort Yalama located relatively close to Guba. And vice versa, tourists in Yalama (Nabran) sometimes make trips to Guba to combine the delight of recreation on the Caspian coast with the pleasure to observe forest foothills of Guba, plentiful of springs and beautiful nature spots. Guba district is one of the most beautiful in the country and its proximity to the capital, the vicinity of a forest zone and the Caspian coast as well as numerous tourist facilities and resorts in the area make it an important recreational and balneal zone of the republic.
Lodging is available at "Shakhdag" hotel and also in cottages and hotels of the newly constructed Olympic complex equipped with an indoor swimming pool (50 m), an outdoor stadium, indoor stadium for team sports, training halls, tennis and indoor football courts.
"LONG FOREST" RESORT
Here at your service are 10 furniture wooden chalets (conditioners, fireplaces), a restaurant with national, Indian and European cuisines, bar, conference hall for business meetings and workshops, sauna and sweating room, training facilities and swimming pools. For sporting recreation: mountain bicycles, billiard, darts, table tennis etc. Horse rides and tours to historical monuments are also available.
In Guba there are also resorts "Guba" "Dzhannat Baghi" and "Minaret". Meals are provided at numerous kebab houses along the Baku-Guba line and also in the forest tract Geshresh, 7-9 km from Guba on the bank of Kudial-Chai River. Here, along the road, there are many cafes, restaurants and various resorts for recreation and refreshment.
The district of Khachmaz occupies a part of Samur-Devechi lowlands and is located on the northwest part of Azerbaijan. On the north it is bordered by Russia. Its territory is traversed by major roads and a railway (Baku-Moscow). Climate in the district is of temperate dry semideserts and dry steppes. Nevertheless, over 20 hectares of its territory are occupied by forests. There are three artificial lakes and plentiful of springs, including thermal and mineral.
Here, on the border with Dagestan formerly was a road used by conquerors - Scythians, Alans and Huns. This became a primary reason for the building of Caspian Defensive Constructions - reinforced walls with towers extending to the territories of the present Khachmaz district. At the beginning of the 18th century one of ancient stronghold cities, Khudat ("The Gift of God") became the capital of Guba Khanate. An aqueduct from local Shollar village to Baku was constructed in 1914.
Traces of settlements dated to the late Stone and Bronze Ages have been found on the territory of the region. Scientists link the toponym "Khachmaz" to the foreign Hun tribes - "Khachmataks or Khachmats" that were later assimilated by local inhabitants. Interestingly, from the territory of Khachmaz these tribes relocated to Oghuz region where they also founded a settlement and (sometime later) a fortress of the same name.
About 60 monuments of history and culture have been found on the territory of the district. However experts believe that their number should be much higher since the region was already densely inhabited in the earliest times. Settlements and mounds of the Bronze Age have been found near the villages of Mollaburkhan, Khulovlu, Garadzhik, Khasangala, and the Middle Age settlements - near the villages of Dzhanakhir and Bostanchi. The Mosque of Sheikh Yusuf (15th century) remained in the village of Shikhlar. It belongs to the early onset of architectural mausoleum complexes, which became widespread later, in the 16th-17th centuries. In the villages of Morug Oba, Tagar Oba and Uzun Oba remained a mosque dated to the 19th century, in Garagurtlu village - a mosque and madrasah dated to the 15th century.
The town of Khachmaz is the administrative center of Khachmaz region with the population of 148400. It is located 157 km from Baku. Since carpet weaving is the most developed among local crafts a special faculty has been established at the local Lyceum. The faculty is often visited by city guests to see how deft fingers of young craftswomen are weaving magic carpet patterns, the patterns that have been preserved through hundreds of years, passing from generation to generation.
In Khachmaz lodging is available at "Khachmaz" hotel (Tel.3-40-40). On the territory of the district there is the second (in terms of size and comfort) resort on the Caspian shore, extending along the whole sea coast from the village of Mukhtadir to Nabran village and further. There are plenty of tourist facilities and pensions to stop by.
Nabran is the largest recreational region in the Khachmaz district, situated on the Caspian shore. An interesting feature of the place is that right after the edge of sand the beach directly turns to a forest which hosts various tourist facilities, camps, pensions and resorts. Their conditions vary from comfortable first-rate luxury hotels and cozy cottages for small number of visitors to camp towns.
"GREEN VILLE" RESORT
The resort is located in a forest, on the Caspian shore. There are 18 comfortable cottages with 4 separate rooms in each. Each cottage can accommodate from 2 up to 12 visitors at a time, Restaurants, conference halls, bars, pools for adults and children, children's playground, tennis court, volleyball, basketball, football, table tennis, badminton - there is everything for your recreation. Address: Nabran village, District of Khachmaz.
GREEN VILLE Resort
AZ 2724, Khachmaz region, Nabran sett
Mob: (+994 50) 331 80 32
Office in Baku:
AZ 1007, 3/139, M. P. Vaqif Ave.
Tel./Fax: (+994 12) 596 37 57
Mob: (+994 50) 225 53 13
"PALMA" RESORT CAMPUS
30 comfortable cottages (a conditioner, TV, bar and telephone in each), pools for adults and children, playgrounds, conference hall, restaurant, bar.
Address: Seidli village, Nabran, District of Khachmaz. Tel: (99455) 791-11-04, 789-89-92.
The resort is located in a forest near the beach. Territory - 1.2 hectares. There are 14 comfortable cottages (telephone, TV, refrigerator). Restaurant (smorgasbord), disco, banquet hall.
Address: Nabran, District of Khachmaz.
Tel: (99450) 324-74-59, (99455) 780-74-23.
The resort is located in a forest on the Caspian coast. 2-rooms and 3-rooms comfortable cottages, restaurant, disco, bar, medicinal mineral springs, pools, playgrounds, tours on bus, jeeps or walking tours. Boating and catamaran sailing for children.
Address: Nabran, District of Khachmaz.
Tel: (99450) 375-47-47, 810-47-47. Baku office tel.: (99412) 462-58-56, fax :( 99412) 441-58-48.
Population - 183500; Gusar town, the center of the district, has a population of 15800. The district of Gusar borders Dagestan and is located in the northeast part of Azerbaijan 35 km from the Khudat railway station. The name of the district, Gusar, tomonimically ascends to the name of the tribe of Khisar which inhabited the region and vanished during historical ethnogeny. The region is predominantly populated by Lezghins.
Landscape of the territory is an alternation of mountains and plains covered with forests. Deciduous trees: hornbeams, oak, and beech are prevalent. In riparian woodlands grow medlar, sumach, hawthorn, dogrose, wild fruit trees, gooseberries, wild vines and plenty of herbal plants. There is also a beech forest called "Alistan Baba" (7 hectares) protected by the state. Not the less diverse is the local fauna - wolves, bears, mountain goats, eagles, owls etc. A game reserve named "Gusar" (with an area of over 15000 hectares) has been established with the purpose of preservation and restoration of species of hunting and farm importance and their habitat.
In mountain canyons one may observe beautiful waterfalls, the most popular of which, Laza and Shakhnabaz attract a great number of tourists and fanciers of wild nature of the Caucasus. Mountains and peaks of the district attract many climbers while local waterfalls have lately become a center of winter competitions. There is a walking path from the village of Laza to Khinalig village located in Guba district, the route becoming increasingly popular among foot travelers.
If taking an ecotourist route from the town of Gusar in the direction of Laza waterfall on the way one will cross the village of Anig with the remainders of fortress walls dated to the 13th century and an ancient mosque located nearby. By the village of Laza there is a resort named "Suvar".
Taking a route from Gusar to the village of Sudug (75 km) located on the slopes of Shakhdag Mountain, in the village of Khazra one may survey the ancient mausoleum of Sheikh Dzhuneid (16th century), the grandfather of Shah Ismail Khatai, the founder of Azerbaijani State of Sefevids.
This land, as the whole land of Azerbaijan, retains traces of ancient culture and life of its inhabitants. Remained in the villages of Khazra, Khil, Balagusar, Anig, Yasab, Keine Khudat and Gunduz Gala are ancient mausoleums, mosques, remainders of antique settlement sites and fortresses.
Gusar town is the administrative center of the district. It is located 183 km of Baku. The town was visited by a brilliant Russian poet M. Lermontov. There is a museum bearing his name in the town.
Among folk crafts the most advanced is carpet production, especially weaving of fleecyless Sumakh carpets, woven both at home and at the workshop located in the center of the town. Installed in the same carpet workshop is the biggest loom in the republic. Ten people can work at this loom at the same time.
Lodging is available at Gaibulag and Suvar resorts. Aside of lodgings these resorts also provide meals.