Shamakhi (or Shamakhi) is the ancient capital of Azerbaijan, a city located in the southern part of the Greater Caucasus, on the Baku-Tbilisi highway, 122 kilometers from Baku and 72 kilometers north-east from the Kurdamir railway station. Shemakha lies at an altitude of 800 meters above sea level. As of 2009, 43,300 people live in the city.
The area in which the city is located abounds in mountain forests and meadows. Most of the area is a resort area with many springs of mountain water, which makes the city interesting from a tourist point of view and attracts investment here.
In connection with the reduced dustiness of the atmosphere and the current number of bright days per year in 1957, the famous Shamakhi Astrophysical Observatory was built 22 kilometers from the city.You can go to Shamakhi by Shamakhi tour or by bus or car.
Shemakha has always been a city since ancient times known as one of the centers of carpet weaving in Azerbaijan. Here and today, the carpet factory functions. Also, a favorable climate for viticulture allows the development of the wine industry; At present, a complete reconstruction of the distillery is expected. As a result of the adoption of the “State Program for the Development of the Regions of Azerbaijan,” new productions were opened in Shemakha: Iranian-Azerbaijani joint venture for assembling passenger cars, Azsamand, plant for the production of electronic household equipment. Not so long ago, the Baku-Shemakha highway, 112 km long, was completely reconstructed.
Shamakhi at one time was sung by A. Pushkin (the Shemakha queen in “The Tale of the Golden Cockerel”) and G. Gagarin (“The Shemakha Bayadder,” “The Woman from Shemakha,” “The Dancer Nisa”). Such sympathy for Shamakhi women is because their dances were distinguished by their originality.
During the archaeological excavations carried out in the northwestern part of Shamakhi, a settlement was discovered, dating back to the 5th-4th centuries BC. In the works of the ancient Greek thinker Ptolemy (2nd century), the city is referred to as Shemakhia. At the beginning of the 10th century, the city received the honorary status of the capital of the Shirvanshah state. In 1222, after a long siege, Shemakha was captured and destroyed by the Tatar-Mongols.
At the beginning of the 13th century, the work of an unknown author about Shemakha states: “Shemakha is a city in Arran. This is a very fortified place, and the inhabitants are extraordinarily stubborn in matters of faith. “
The location of the city at the crossroads for a long time was the reason that it was in constant danger of raids on it. A considerable number of robberies were carried out by neighboring nations and troops of other khanates. They constantly devastated and destroyed the ancient capital of Shirvan.
In 1721, Shemakha was attacked by the troops of Hoxha Daud. As a result, the Russian merchants who were there were killed, and the Russian silk merchants suffered enormous damage. By the way, it was after this event that Peter I embarked on the Persian campaign (1722 – 1723; the result of the first of a series of Russian-Persian conflicts). In 1742, Shamakhi was destroyed by Iranian troops.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, Shemakha was the capital of the Shirvan Khanate; in 1840 – 1846 – the administrative center of the Caspian region; and until 1859 – the center of the Shamakhi province. On December 2, 1859, a devastating earthquake occurred, after which the center of the area was transferred to Baku, and Shamakhi later became the administrative center of the Shamakhi district as part of the Baku province.
For a long time, Shemakha was considered one of the crucial points on the Great Silk Road. This is because the city was one of the centers of the Shirvan-Apsheron architectural school and the school of decorative and applied art (carpet-making) and miniature. Located at the intersection of caravan routes, Shemakha was one of the major trade and craft centers of the Middle East, occupying an essential place in the silk trade.
In Shamakhi, Azerbaijani, Iranian, Arabian, Central Asian, Russian, Indian and West European merchants, who owned factories here, traded, there were numerous silk-weaving, cotton-spinning and carpet workshops.
Sights of Shamakhi
Fortress Gulistan (12th century).
This is the most famous landmark of Shamakhi. Once it was a compelling structure, behind the walls of which, as historians believe, stood the palace of the Shirvanshahs, while Shamakhi was still the capital of their state. The earliest finds found on the territory of this monument; archaeologists refer to the 9th century. Therefore, it can be concluded that the age of the fortress is more than a thousand years. The legendary Shamakhi fortress, which was the last refuge of the Shirvanshahs, in the Middle Ages more than once found itself in the center of fierce battles for the Shirvan. The walls of the tower took the blows of the Arabs, Seljuks, Mongols, Ottomans. The entire territory of the fortress was surrounded by high walls with numerous round and quadrangular towers. The winding road led from the bottom of the fort to the citadel, located on the top of the mountain and surrounded by a solid ring of walls. The peculiarity of the fortress is a long secret passage cut into the rock with a width of 2 and a height of 3 meters. This course was dug in case of flight and led from the fortress to the stream flowing in the depths of the gorge. The course is equipped with steps carved into the rock. The fort lasted until the 16th century. However, the structure was heavily damaged by numerous earthquakes, although the ruins can still be seen today. The testimony of the rich historical past of the city is located at the entrance to the city.
Yeddi Gumbez. (Seven Domes)
Yeddi Gumbez Mausoleum or “Seven Domes,” whose appearance dates back to the 15th century, is located at the foot of the Gulistan fortress. So popularly called the tomb of the Shirvan rulers in Shemakha. Notable representatives from the Shirvanshah dynasty are buried here. Seven domes – just as many tombstones are in the crypt. Currently, they are half-destroyed stone domes, as if grown out of the ground in the middle of a deserted cemetery area. That is why the very atmosphere of this place seems fabulously mysterious.
Diri-Baba is a unique monument, a two-story mausoleum of the 15th century, located on the road from Baku to Shemakha in the village of Maraza opposite the old cemetery. For a long time, residents believed that a saint by the name of Diri-Baba was buried in this place and remained incorruptible. However, many legends and mystical details are associated with this monument.
Therefore, already from the 17th century, it began to attract many pilgrims and ordinary travelers. The peculiarity of the building is that the architect as if “built-in” the tomb in the rock, and it seems as if she is holding herself “on weight,” cut off from the ground. The tomb admires the severity of architecture, the purity of the lines, and against the irregularities of the dark rock, the light and smooth surface of its walls, standing out, seems solemn.
Interestingly, the main thing in the building is not the first floor, but the second. The hall is preceded by a small entrance hall, covered with an octahedral dome, where visitors rocked off. From the hallway, there is an exit to the semi-dark staircase carved in the thick of the rock, which leads to the second floor of the tomb. The hall, with an area of about 15 square meters, is covered with a spherical dome. A memorial text is carved on the wall, which mentions the name of Shirvanshah – Sheikh Ibrahim I. Decorative tier with the inscription as if encircling the building, separates one floor from another. The mausoleum adjoins close to the rock, in the massif of which the cave is carved. This is the burial place of the saint. This is a narrow passage in the north wall.
The Diri-Baba Mausoleum is surrounded by picturesque surroundings – rocks and green trees.
The full name of the architect Diri-Baba, unfortunately, has not been preserved, only a piece of stone with a part of the inscription “… the son of Ustad Haji” remained, and the date of construction of the tomb is 1402. Currently, the monument is under state protection.
This Azerbaijani mosque is the oldest and largest in the Caucasus. According to legend, it was founded in the 8th century, when Shemakha was chosen as the residence of the Arab caliph. The exact date of its construction is 744, which was established as a result of research conducted by a geological commission from Tiflis headed by Prince Shakuli Qajar.
This date was determined by the Arabic inscription on the facade of the Juma mosque, indicating the 126th year of the Muslim calendar as the date of foundation. It was at this time that the construction of new religious buildings (mosques) began on the territory of modern Azerbaijan. The Juma mosque in Shamakhi is the earliest mosque in the Caucasus after the Derbent Friday cathedral mosque, built in 734.
The mosque has a unique architecture – its vast prayer hall is divided into three independent sections connected by wide open apertures. Each part has a separate mihrab and entrance.
After significant damage to the mosque during wars and earthquakes, it was repeatedly reconstructed, and the modern look was already in the 20th century. The mosque was practically rebuilt, but it remained on the old foundation and preserved the basic principles of the structure. It also has three halls, the central hall is blocked by a huge dome, and two side rooms are smaller with domes; under the central dome, there is a belt of windows decorated with openwork grilles. The whole facade is decorated with ornamental decor.