Take road to Ismayilli. One of the most beautiful corners of Azerbaijan at the foot of the Great Caucasus Mountains – the land of rivers, lakes and waterfalls. The itinerary passes through Lahij village, which is a commercial center. This village is inhabited by Carpet weavers, hereditary tanners, engravers, potters, blacksmiths, metal and wood carvers.
Lahic was originally a copper mining hub. When the precious metal was running out, locals started buying it in from elsewhere to keep their businesses going. At the beginning of the 20th century there were 120 workshops hammering out water jugs, bowls, dishes and trays, a tradition proudly showcased in the History Museum, an ancient mosque which was transformed into an “Alibaba’s cave” in 1992.
Wandering the cobble-stoned streets, popping into quaint workshops, and stopping for cups of tea are the village’s real attractions. For many visitors Lahic still represents the real Azerbaijan in a country that is changing fast.
It’s basically like one of those old towns in the center of a major city, except that just about the whole town is the old town. While a few new hotels seem to be cropping up here and there, there’s very little besides the original architecture, especially along the main avenue, where some of those adorable wooden balconies hang over the street to offer some shade.
If you’re wandering through town, it’ll be hard to put the camera away, as just about any street, viewed from any angle, will look like a postcard from an ancient era, or a perfect set piece for a period film.
The architecture is interesting in that they alternate between stone and wood, which offers some stability for the earthquakes that plague the region. This has proved stable enough that no one has really bothered building much else, which is both a testament to the success of the design, as well as the relatively unchanged lives of those living within the town. Though I must say that I was a little worried about this one.
You can wander right into the workshops, which are occasionally combined with souvenir stores, but are often just an otherwise unadorned workshop. It’s great to see how things are made, rather than viewing just the finished pieces displayed in souvenir shops. It really provides a sense of how much work goes into these projects, and the low-tech tools look like they haven’t changed in decades, and many of them look like they could very well be the actual tools handed down through the generations, from father to son.
Some 40,182 people visited Lahij State Historical and Cultural Reserve (in Ismayilli)