Travel suggestion

When in Shamakhi tourists always visit it in the vicinities of historical -architectural resort Lagich built in the 5th century AD in Girdimanchaj river canyon (The Major Caucasus). This village is named after Iranian tribe lagich which came there in the 4th - 5th centuries. There ancient mosques and baths, medieval water pipe and sewer system have survived.

In spite of the fact that the village is declared the historical and cultural reserve, the local residents live there engaged, basically, in agriculture and workmanship: they produce graceful household objects from copper ( cauldrons , trays, jugs etc.), leather and weave carpets. From time immemorial Lagich people have traded their goods known all over the Near East . Even you can get various hand-made items today in special workshops and souvenir shops: carpets, utensils, daggers etc.

The dirt road to Lahic winds up the Girdimanchai river gorge from the vineyards outside Shemakha, crossing the torrent on a flimsy bridge and skirting the sheer walls on narrow, roughly hewn ledges. Ice and snow cut Lahic off from the valley for weeks at a time in winter.

The drive up to Lahic is as stunning as dangerous, animals appear out of nowhere in winding 'roads' that hug the cliff face that plunges down into the valley below.

Isolation made Lahic a very atypical Azeri village: Tat, a Indo-European dialect of an old Persian tongue remains to this day the primary language in Lahic and a few surrounding villages. For centuries, the valley people have spoken, at various times, Azeri, Russian, Farsi and Arabic, but here in this mountain village of about 2000 people Tat resisted all invaders and remains as strong as ever.

The town was originally a copper mining hub, but that has died down. The mountain terrain above Shemakha is ill-suited to agriculture, hence Lahic's developed into a craft center. Tourism, carpet weaving, copper and brass work (pots, samovars...) sustain the village's economy. Less important in economic terms are leather goods, wood carving and (not always legal) handcrafted pistols and hunting rifles.

Due to frequent earthquakes the village developed it own building techniques, a traditional stone-and-wood cross-tie technique known in Tat as divarchu ("wood wall"). This technique has proven results - the damage provoked by quakes in places like Shemaka remains unseen in Lahic.

You can spend a few interesting hours in Lahic. Walk along the cobblestone streets, visit the History Museum and the Mosque, browse the shops, have a look the the copper workshop or try to visit the carpets cooperative.

To reach Lahic from Shamaxa you first head west on the main road from Shamaxa (not the road to Pirguli) and then go straight on where the main road takes a left down towards Agsu. Then before Ismailly there is a junction to the right to Lahij. It starts off as a tarmac road but then deteriotates into a potholed / mixed surface messy road, and then a track.

On the road to Lahic you can find the Qaya Hotel, a modern place with varied services. Not far there is a resort that rents decent cottages / bungalows. There's no accommodation in the town itself, so try to finish your day early or negotiate to stay at a private house. If you have time to spare visit the village's cafe, you may challenge the locals at backgammon.

There is a tourist office in Lagich where you can enquire about accommodation. Accroding to some reports Lahic tourist office has better prices for guides and horses than "Garden of paradise" and nice homestays.

Despite being recommended by Lonely Planet book and by Mark Elliot's travelguide on Azerbaijan try to avoid "Garden of Paradise" as many individual travelers mentioned that owner (guy named Mr. Ismayilov, he is actually working in tourist office and tries to send all customers to his property) there attepmted to cheat them repeatedly (from arranging horses, bus tickets to local souvenirs)

If you're planning a trip to Azerbaijan you may be interested ▶ Azerbaijan highlights - For those who prefer to go unbeaten path, to explore less visited places and check national charisma of this small country in Southern Caucasus on the edge of Europe.