Shining Şeki

Leaving Lahıc was pretty straightforward.

Marshrutky are the public minivan transport common all through these countries.

This one had set departures at 08:30 and 13:00 for Ismayıllı. 2 manat (Cdn$1.60)

The father of my house owner insisted on carrying my backpack, and made sure the driver knew I wanted to connect for Şeki.

The marshruska dropped me off at a traffic circle, and I understood I should wait by the petrol station by the exit for Şeki for the next marshruska.

There was a swarm of taxi drivers that offered to drive me. 40 manat (Cdn$32) for the two hour drive.

After 45 minutes freezing in a misty 8 oC, and an offer of 35 manat (Cdn$28), I gave in.

Şeki or Sheki because ‘Ş’ is ‘sh’

Çay becomes Chai, which is tea here, though not spiced liked Indian chai.

The Çay shops are full of men wearing flat top caps and occasionally slapping down Backgammon pieces while drinking tea.

This is the samovar at my hotel. It’s a common design with a reservoir of hot water heated with charcoal, and a pot of tea concentrate on top.

Şeki has a history going back to the 1th century BC. It was one of the major cities of Caucasian Albania (not related to the country of Albania).

Şeki has belonged to the Romans, Parthians, Arabs, Mongolians, Persians and the Russians.

It’s location between Baku and Tbilisi put it on the Silk Road. It is also a major silk producer, with the perfect climate for mulberry trees that silkworms eat.

Breakfast also included a delicious mulberry syrup.

The river through town has been made into a canal.

Haci Çələbi’s Nukha Fortress has 1300 metres of walls with 15 defensive towers.

There are lots of green space in town but the most stunning green are the hills.

Within the Fortress walls there is a palace, former church, craft workshop, museums, a restaurant and the tourist office.

Şəki Xan Sarayı (1762) was the palace of Şeki Khan.

There was mirror mosaic (upper half) which was very striking.

The windows had ‘Shebeke’ – wooden lattices filled with stained glass and held together without using glue or nails.

Shebeke first appeared in Azerbaijani architecture in about the 11th century.

The interior was amazing but unfortunately photos were not allowed inside the Palace. And the guide stuck to me like glue so chance of a stealth shot. Google found these photos

The guide told me that there were silk carpets that mirrored the ornate detail of the ceilings. But the Russians took them to St. Petersburg.

There were also other similar buildings but the Russians destroyed them while using this one as an administrative property.

Dair əvi məbəd – Round Temple was originally an Albanian church but is now a museum.

Magnolia coming into bloom.

North Gate

Karavansaray Hotel was originally an inn for travellers. But no camels now.

There were hundreds of beautiful buildings and little streets.

Omar Afrandi Mosque

Juma Mosque

The Khan’s winter palace was very similar but less ornate.

I’m going to confess I snuck this photo.

Wood carving is a local tradition.

Embroidery is also famous here. This is on camel wool. 40 manat (Cdn$32)

Marshrutkas and taxis all jammed around the Təzə Bazar.

Mysterious jars….

Prices are in manats per kilogram (1 manat = Cdn$0.80)

Halva was super saturated with honey and sweeter than the one from Quba.

The chocolate version looked interesting though it still had that lake of syrup!

I love the bread here though. The elongated loaves are nicely chewy!

Saffron. 1 manat for the little cupful (125 ml).

Fresh vine leaves for making dolma, a specialty of this area.


This must be the entry to the meat section😉

From the Bazat I caught a marshruska about 6 km north to Kiş.

Kiş Albanian Church (the ‘other’ Albanians) site goes back to the Bronze Age (2000 BC-700 BC) with skeletons to match.

Caucasian Albania had paganism, Christianity and Zoroastrianism (one of the oldest organized faiths). The Albanian Church dates to 1st to 3rd century.

Albania adopted Christianity as state religion in the beginning of the 4th century.

I have to tell this story to show how kind the people are here. I was waiting for a marshruska and I wanted to see if I had the right spot for ‘11’.

The very kind man called his son in another city to give me an answer 😊

This shop sold clay pots for ‘piti’, a local specialty.

The meal is eaten in two courses. First you tear bread into small pieces, pour the broth over and sprinkle with sumac.

I did decide I like my bread on the side, not mushy, so I never ordered it again.

Then you mash the lamb, chickpeas and tail fat with more sumac. With pickles, 10 manat (Cdn$8)

For lunch, lentil soup and dolma with yogurt. With Ayran to drink and bread, 8 manat (Cdn$8.50)

Borscht and Buglama (lamb shank)

Breakfast at my hotel in the dining room with a lovely view.

Tomorrow I leave Azerbaijan and cross over to Georgia.

It has been an amazing three weeks!

Lovely country. Lovely people.

4 thoughts on “Shining Şeki

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